Optimisation, part 3: no Garmin, no rules.

29 04 2017

As much as I have come to believe in the ethos of ‘no Garmin, no rules‘ provocation, there is no doubt that in certain circumstances they are worth their weight in gold.

A long time ago, I chose to buy an eTrex 20, which has the benefit of being able to run on lithium AA batteries. These last for ages and in a pinch can be replaced with normal alkaline batteries ‘in the field’.

Mounting hardware for GPS units has moved on over the years and is now elegant, functional and ergonomic. Except for the eTrrex series.

With these, you are stuck with a large, ungainly, zip-tied on plastic unit that can be mounted to stems or top tubes or bars, but never seems to be in the *right* place, no matter where you put it.

They also break, take up large amounts of real estate and are fugly when not in use.

I wanted an ‘out front’ style mount, to optimise the position of the screen. Because I use Jones bars, this is a touch more difficult, as the unit needs to sit within the ‘loop’ of the bars.

I mainly use them bikepacking, so I did not want it to interfere with a bar harness set up and as I sometimes use feedbags, I needed it to allow me to mount these close to the stem, in order to avoid my knees when out-of-the-saddle climbing.

The initial idea came from Ricky Feather – who posted this image to his instagram account.

I also need to give a nod to K Lite mounts, who also posted an inspiring instagram image.

The breakthrough was finding a Japanese based mount seller – Rec Mounts – who make various eTrex compatible mounts, the GoPro one being the most important for me.

I then utilised a Raceware GoPro bar mount and the missing piece was supplied by Kevin at Pacifier in the USA, who custom machined me a small aluminium slab with a longer base in order to mount the Rec Mounts piece.

Rather than use the two M4 bolts for combining these parts, I bought an imperial 20tpi bolt so that it would be a little sturdier (the Rec Mounts part has a camera tripod fitting as well, which I measured to find the thread pitch).

In the end, I used an aluminium M4 bolt from ProBolt, as the stainless 20tpi bolt takes the load, so it is only there to stop rotation.

The Pacifier mount was drilled, de-burred and then fitted to the RaceWare bar mount. Unfortunately, the RaceWare mounts seem to use a interface that has a *slightly* different tolerance than the aluminium GoPro stuff so a little judicious filing was required to make everything fit well. I filed the Pacifier part, as I wanted to have the option to mount the RaceWare 31.8 ‘tube’ mount which can also be used for my Niterider light – a much better position than on top of the bars.

The drilling went well and was accurate. In saying that, I wish I had used a spotting drill bit, as my pillar drill is not a precision tool and in truth I would have liked to thread the holes and connect things a bit differently. I now have a spotting drill bit – thanks to Sean for his advice!

In use, the bar mount has been excellent. Good position, further forward and improves screen visibility.

The RaceWare bar loop is very clean, narrow and thanks to the material used and the rubber ‘pad’ integrated in the clamp section, it is carbon bar friendly and does not slip, even in the roughest terrain.

Lastly, it allows use of a bar roll bag or harness with no issues whatsoever. Questions? fire away…

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4 responses

29 04 2017
Vik

Interesting solution. I hope if works for you. I’ve also got the Etrex 20 and use the plastic mounts each ride. Going on 4yrs I’ve never had an issue with any of them. I mentally have given Garmin kudos for developing a mount that works well and is reliable.

30 04 2017
Jay C

Rec Mounts also makes a “quarter turn” style base for the garmin etrex which works with mounts for garmin’s bike gps line.

I have used one for the last two years, including two trips on the iditarod trail. It works great, and it is easy (but not too easy so it falls off) to get the gps off the bike, if you are worried about theft.

30 04 2017
velopest

That is good to know and sounds like it would make for a much easier franken-mount to get the unit out front- thanks! I ordered a couple of other parts from Rec Mounts- a steerer spacer w gopro mount and a flat plate that attaches to it and is drilled w recessed bolt holes forvtge standard 2 hole mounting that a lot of different bar gadgets seem to use, but didnt know much about the quarter turn standard. I’ll have to get hold of one… cheers!

30 04 2017
Jay C

I think this is what I have – https://www.rec-mounts.com/products/adapter/gm-ghg/ , https://www.amazon.com/Rec-mountsTM-Handhelds-eTrex-30x-Touch25-Touch35-GM-GHG/dp/B017G5458E/ref=pd_lpo_sbs_107_t_0?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=ABYGKB00187KQ8E7FSN6

I should note I use a little lanyard from a camera and loop it though the body of the mount as a fair safe in case the gps does get ejected. I don’t think I have needed it before though.

happy biking!

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