A Survey of Motorcycle Toll-Tag Holders
by Bill P. for webBikeWorld.com
They're known as "highway toll-collection transponders".
They are the used in highway transportation systems throughout the world.
Here in New York State, where I live, we have E-ZPass (Wikipedia).
E-ZPass is either the primary or an accepted secondary toll collection system in 14 states ("E-ZPass: Where Can I Use It?", mostly along the east coast of the United States.
These RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) transponders, or "tags", are designed primarily for cars and trucks.
They are generally designed to be mounted on the inside of the windshield of those vehicles.
The E-ZPass normally comes with 3M Dual Lock sticky tape for a semi-permanent mounting.
While these tags are not primarily intended for motorcycles -- what else is new? -- there are several good reasons to use them, should you find yourself on a toll road, bridge, or tunnel that is compatible with a given system:
Now, I agree with you that superslab riding is not a lot of fun. But sometimes it's a necessary evil, and if you're going to do so, you might as well encounter less grease, not have to stop, and save some money.
The only downside is that the otherwise-free E-ZPass gets the float on a little of your money: when your account nears zero, they will zap another $15 (here in New York, anyway) from your charge card (which replenishment amount can go up, if you run through that too quickly, too often).
Glad you asked. You can always use the stock Dual Lock tape. The problem here is that the tag is vulnerable to theft every time you park the bike. And it's unsightly. And if you don't have a windshield, this is not an option.
Similarly, if you have a bike with a fairing or saddlebags or top case, you can use this stock mounting on the inside of the top of a fairing or lid. I know some riders who do this. I even experimented with just keeping my E-ZPass in the inside breast pocket of my mesh riding jacket, with very little between the tag and the elements.
I don't recommend these methods, especially not in New York.
In my in-the-pocket test, for instance, my E-ZPass was successfully read three out of four times on one bright sunny day. That's getting on to the Thruway; getting off; visiting friends; getting back on; and a non-reading second exit.
Now, I'm aware that in some states your actual license plate is read in these (and other) situations, you're charged as usual, and it's no big deal. Not in New York. What happens is that you are charged as if you made the longest possible journey on the Thruway -- given your known entrance or exit -- which could turn a 15-cent trip into a ten-dollar one. It is then incumbent on you, once you get your monthly statement, to contact E-ZPass and see if you can get this bureaucracy to revise your charges (been there, done that, don't want to do it again).
Keep in mind that E-ZPass provides a microscopically thin foil-like baggy to put your tag in, if you don't want it read for some reason. Also, the official mounting instructions tell you not to put it behind that tinted upper portion of a windshield. So I'm a firm believer in out-in-the-air, unobstructed, mounting systems, which I've never had fail.
My first system was to attach a clip to the E-ZPass. I used a gob of black plastic tape to secure the clip, similar to the ones that are sold to hold rolled-over snack bags closed. On the inside of the clip, I glued some left-over material from Grip Puppies hand grips. Grip Puppies are installed over hand grips to cushion them and to increase the diameter.
The material is very tacky on the outside, and so I mounted a piece of it with the tacky side contacting the windshield. This meant that not only would the clips not mar the surface of the windshield, they were very resistant to sliding around or coming off.
There are a couple of downsides to this system. The added clip makes the toll tag very bulky to put in or get out of a riding-jacket pocket. Also -- as I discovered on my latest bike -- this system does not work well with windshields that have a curved lip on top; the clip is unable to close securely, or part of the tag itself will be in contact with the windshield.
The one definite plus to attaching a clip to the windscreen to hold the toll tag is that this system was usable on my Suzuki Burgman 650. Like a lot of scooters, the Burgman's handlebars are completely covered in "Tupperware"; this means that you can't just clamp anything on them.
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My next system was the Gunslinger Motorcycle EZ Pass Holder ($34.99). This is a three-sided slip-in holder, and includes a wrap-around, padded, handlebar mount. It wasn't bad, but had a few problems.
First, the motorcycle-only version of the E-ZPass RFID tag (at least in New York) has a piece of plastic with big "M" affixed to one side; my guess is that this is intended to discourage illegally using this in a car. In any case, the extra thickness of this meant that I had to bend the aluminum slots of the Holster so that the tag could drop in.
Second, the provided clamp wasn't tight enough. This makes it easier to snap it on and off the handlebars, but lets it pivot downward too easily. Also, that clamp means that, like my DIY-clip system, it's too large to fit conveniently in a pocket. This didn't matter to me, because I was looking for a tag holder to permanently mount.
I discarded the handlebar clamp that came with the Gunslinger holder, and attached the Holster to a mount from Techmount. Techmounts are machined works of art, with superb, rock-solid, adjustability, but they are probably over-kill for supporting a tag holder, especially given their cost; however, I had one lying around from a now-sold bike, so that wasn't an issue.
This worked well, except for one, um, glaring fault, which I now make you aware of if you're shopping for a tag holder: when riding without the tag slipped into place, a highly polished or chrome tag holder can result in blinding reflections, given the proper angle of the sun. Yeah, I know, "D'oh!" The Holster is available in black as well as polished aluminum, so if I bought another one it would be black next time.
I'm currently using the E-Z Pal EZ001 Electronic Toll Pass Holder ($8.68). This is a black plastic drop-in holder. It comes with a single suction cup, which I promptly discarded. I don't know about you, but I don't trust suction cups for anything important, at least not outside, on the open road.
I drilled a hole in the bottom of the plastic, and put it on my TechMount. Works perfectly. The E-ZPass just drops in, with a tiny amount of friction, and the "well" is sufficiently deep that anything short of a motocross triple jump won't let it bounce out. The Bracketron Universal Toll Pass Holder, from what I can tell by looking at a single picture, seems very similar, but not identical, to the E-ZPal.
(Editor's Note: in gov-mil-speak, these are COTS: Commercial Off-the-Shelf solutions!).
Okay, that's it, on a personal basis. Here are some more tag holders for your consideration that I haven't tried but which have potential:
Motorcycle Pass Transponder Holder: The Motorcycle Pass Transponder Holder ($34.99), in black or stainless steel, is an enclosure is similar to the Holster I used, substituting a tab and hole for the handlebar clip. In the chrome version, another bar is added across the opening. This looks like a nice system (in black), if you have a suitable bolt handy.
Aerostitch Cycle E-Pass: The Cycle E-Pass ($22.00) looks like a black plastic holder, with a securing clip and a handlebar mount. Aerostich notes that the "Sportbike version includes adapter for mirror stem mounting." This seems like a potentially inexpensive solution for most riders. It also seems remarkably similar to the basic JJCyclePass (below).
JJ Cycle Pass: The JJ Cycle Pass Toll Pass Holder for Motorcycles ($18.62) starts out with what looks like something very similar to -- or perhaps the same thing as -- the Cycle E-Pass (above), i.e., a plastic, handlebar-mounted tray. What optionally increases the price is that it is also available with assorted RAM Mounts attachments.
For those who don't know, RAM is the granddaddy of mounting systems -- everything from mounting your PC in a truck cab to a fish-finder in a boat to a GPS on your bike.
If you already have a RAM mount, one of the pre-configured RAM variants of JJ Cycle Pass may be a practical solution, and it also may be a cost-effective way to acquire some RAM pieces for those who don't already have them. One of these variants, by the way, is similar to the Motorcycle Cradle (below).
Motorcycle Cradle with RAM Mount Attachment: The RAM Mount for EZ Pass ($52.95) from MountGuys is, again, similar or identical to the basic JJ Cycle Pass (above), this time with a single RAM ball attached.
RAM Motorcycle Fork Stem Mount: MountGuys also offers a RAM Motorcycle Fork Stem Mount ($29.99 and up). This looks like a solution of last resort, because this is by no means a just drop- or clip-in system for your toll tag. On the other hand, you can loosen the RAM extension and pull the entire top ball-mounted unit out, I suppose.
Other motorcycle toll tag mounts not tried but with potential include the RAM Mirror Frame Mount and the Quality Toll Pass Clamp (a minimalist but elegant three-sided holder, with a securing thumb screw). The Easy Holder (looks like it consists of an angled bar and a flat surface, with a hook-and-loop securing strap with a hole in the support stock such that it mounts underneath a mirror stalk).
Less expensive motorcycle toll tag holders with possibilities include the Toll Tag Holder ($6.95, several colors, works with a variety of transponders); a plastic slip-in mount, held in place by two suction cups. You'll need a windshield and confidence to use this one.
The EZ-Pass Clip ($6.69) seems ubiquitous when you're looking for tag holders. This is another black plastic, suction-cup, slide-in mount.
The Ez Toll ($6.99) is your basic mesh sack with a locking draw-string. Yeah, I know what I said about putting an E-ZPass in the pocket of my jacket, but this is a very open weave, and if you hang this off your handlebars, a mirror stalk, or maybe even the grocery-bag hook on your Vespa, this will probably do the trick.
Actually looks like a reasonable solution, if you don't want to mount something semi-permanently and don't mind it flapping in the wind.
There are many types of toll transponder holders for motorcycles, but perhaps the optimal solution has yet to be designed. If you have a favorite tag holder, please let us know! -- Editor.
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From "M.B." (February 2013): "Not sure why we all need these devices to hold the EZ-Pass; I just use the 3M Velcro it comes with and stick it right to the windshield. In 10s of thousands of miles, on and off road, spring, summer, winter or fall, across a wide range of bikes, I have never had one pop off and even on curved windshields you can find a spot to stick it.
If you need to remove it due to rain or theft concerns it pops right off. Sometimes the best solutions are those that do not reinvent what is already there."
From "R.K." (March 2013): "I use EZ-pass in Pennsylvania on my commute to work. I have always put the transponder in the clear map pocket of my tank bag . Never had a problem. Zero dollar fix."
From "M.R." (January 2013): "Tank bag. No issues 3 years."
From "T.G." (January 2013): "I'm using the mesh bag in Florida and secure it to my clutch side mirror with a Ty Wrap. My wife has hydraulic clutch so I put it on the top of her master cylinder also with a Ty Wrap. Card Sound Bridge in Key Largo does not take SunPass so I will pull over prior to the bridge and take 2 clothespins and stick a dollar bills-one for each in the group on my shield and the attendant will take it. I Love webBikeWorld."
From "C.F." (January 2013): "I got the Arkon Slim Grip and put one of the 3M Dual Lock sticky tapes on the mount to ensure the tag didnít move around. I got it for about $12 on Amazon.com. If I know I donít need the EZ Pass, I can put my iPhone or another item on (the Slim Grip), so itís multipurpose. I can also use this on my mountain bike.
Another one I would have also considered is the iOttie Bike Mount.
From "K.R.S." (January 2013): "In Florida, we have a "Sun-Pass" system with transponders. My simple DIY holder (shown below) uses Velcro behind a split windscreen. Itís weather, vibration, and wind resistant, with clear line-of-sight, and no one-off holder required."
From "H.H." (January 2013): "Mounted the EZ Pass on my Triumph Tiger 1050 inside the stock left hand guard. Almost invisible, doesnít interfere with operation of clutch lever, even when wearing heavy winter gloves."
From "B.H." (January 2013): "After years of trial and error I place my EZ Pass in my left breast pocket of my riding jacket but it is attached via rubber Velcro to a strap that goes around my neck. As I approach a toll plaza I pull it out of the pocket and hold it up to be read.
If for any reason I need both hands I can just drop the EZ Pass and it dangles by the neck strap until such time it is safe to tuck it back in my pocket. Many riders may feel uncomfortable with this but the ability to drop everything and respond works for me and I donít have to mount anything on the bike for infrequent times I take the toll road."
From "L." (January 2013): "On a recent motorcycle trip in Brazil I found they had very narrow motorcycle lanes at toll stops. You go trough with no toll whatsoever. I got to thinking about this and it eventually made sense.
When you roll up to a pay lane on a motorcycle you normally have to stop. Take off your gloves, dig around for your wallet and pay the toll. Then you have to do the reverse when you get your change. Assuming you do not drop anything this takes a bit of time. If things do not go well and you drop something you take more time. While all this is happening you are holding up the cars and trucks behind you.
I guess some one in the Brazil toll road authority realized it was probably better to just put in a motorcycle lane and try to keep the traffic flowing. While such thinking is unusual for Government Bureaucrats I believe a lot of the toll roads are run by private corporations in Brazil which could explain such a practical solution."
From "M.H." (January 2013): "For me, the easiest mount for my EZ-Pass transponder is in a breast pocket in my riding jacket. It doesn't appear to interfere with the signal, and as I only have 1 riding jacket I don't worry too much about keeping track of where it is.
Frankly, it would be nice if the tolling authorities made a plate-screwed-mountable version available for motorcycles like they do for certain cars that have radio-unfriendly windshields."
From "A.B." (January 2013): "I have EZ Pass in Virginia and I just put my bike's licence plate number on my account info. I never actually carry the EZ Pass when I ride. When I go through a toll they take a photo of the plate and charge my account. If I get to a gate that isn't already open I just give a little lift with my hand it and raises."
From "B.W." (January 2013): "In Washington state we use (the Good to Go passes). Maybe I'm cheap but I wasn't thrilled by the idea of having to purchase an $8 sticker for every motorcycle and a pass for my car so I bought the movable popsicle stick pass despite the warnings that they weren't for motorcycles.
Finding a location on the bike proved harder than I thought. I tried the upper front pocket of my Roadcrafter (fail). I tried the Velcro on my Roadcrafter sleeve (fail). I went to their "convenient walk-in center" and had them test the pass with their handheld scanner and of course it worked fine even while in my pocket. Annoyed, I just left it in my laptop bag stored in my plastic top case and it worked. It now remains Velcroed under the lid."
From "D.N." (January 2013): "Here in Houston motorcycles get the older style plastic box EZ Pass, I just put mine in the compartment on the right side of the fairing and works great. No other holder needed, works on both the K1200GT and my older Trophy. I think the plastic fairing does not impede the signal."
From "K.S." (January 2013): "Here in Washington we have a system similar to EZ Pass called "Good to Go". Instead of issuing a plastic box and requiring the rider to figure out how to mount it, Washington state motorcyclists are provided with a clear radio tag sticker that can be placed on the headlamp or windscreen.
Stickers seem intuitively more cost efficient and convenient than a plastic box that can be dropped, broken or forgotten. I would recommend petitioning the EZ Pass folks to make a change."