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Get on yer Bike: Ram U-Bolt Mount Review

9th November 2002 

 Reviewed by Mike Barrett



A famous UK politician once advised the unemployed to get on their bikes and look for work. Well today you can take your navigation system with you. This review looks at the Ram U-Bolt Mount for the iPAQ. The unit reviewed cost 18.99 including VAT supplied by GPS Warehouse. 


The Ram mounting system is a very versatile modular system. Based on a ball and socket principle. The core of the system is two ball joints which are attached together by a spring loaded link arm. The ball joints then attach to a number of PDA/Phone/GPS holders at one end and your vehicle at the other.


Disclaimer. The author and Pocket GPS present this article as an evaluation of the Ram Mount based on their own experience.  It is your responsibility to ensure that it is used in a safe manner and is suitable for your requirements.  
The Author and Pocket GPS accept no responsibility for accident, loss, damage or injury however caused.


What do you get?
There are a number of components supplied in the mounting kit. The picture on the right shows (from left to right) The iPAQ PDA holder, The PDA ball joint, The spring loaded link arm, and the U-Bolt ball joint.


The holder has been designed to take the iPAQ with a sleeve. I have used it with the Navman sleeve and also the Compaq single CF card sleeve. The holder will actually accept the iPAQ without a sleeve and will probably stay in the unit but will rattle around a lot. You could of course place a couple of elastic bands around it to hold it in place, but as weight is not an issue why not use a sleeve with an extra battery and boost your storage and power or if you have an iPAQ 3800/3900



Ram U-Bolt mount kit of parts

series, why not use the protection sleeve that comes with the iPAQ as this will also protect your screen!


The construction quality of this mount is excellent. This is a very sturdy system.  A great deal of thought has obviously gone into the design, the mount has hexagonal recesses for the nuts, the nuts are self locking, the link arm has been designed to pivot and remain fastened to one ball joint like a clothpeg.  But probably the best design feature is the ball heads themselves. These are rubberised which provides excellent griping when the link arm is tightened.  There is no chance of it moving!!!


The mount came as a collection of components in the box. The holder has a choice of three mounting points on the back. The bolt holes are precisely positioned and have hexagonal guides on the other side.  No need for a spanner or pliers, just screw in.


Back of the iPaq Mouint

View of the u-bolt mount fixture

Ram U-Bolt mount when fitted to bike

The U-Bolt fitted onto my bike perfectly. The only thing that was not supplied was a small strip of rubber, which I added to really secure the ball joint to the handlebars. 


This was a little more tricky installing basically because of the locking nuts and I found that the best way to do this was with a socket set.


Access is a bit tight with a spanner and you have a lot of turns to make.

Notice that I have mounted the ball joint facing forwards and not facing up.  Why? Personal safety. I have been over the handlebars of my mountain bike so many times that I have learnt not to place anything solid in the way to stop me.  If you do have an "incident" then you or your clothing are not going to catch or tear on the mount.


Connecting the two units together is simply a matter of locating the sprung side of the link arm to the holder and then opening the arm enough to slip over the ball joint on the bike and tightening the wing nut on the arm.


In Use
Although I used to do a lot of off road biking I would never have thought to take my expensive iPAQ and Navman with me.  My main concern was hurtling down a hill and the me my bike and my iPAQ parting company, well that still exists.  My secondary concern was going over a bump and the iPAQ coming out of the holder.  Let me assure you that wont happen with this mount.


The first time I put my iPAQ with Navman jacket into the holder I thought that I had the wrong one. It really snaps in tightly and is clipped in (which is good!).


It is very easy to adjust the position of the mount due to the two ball joints to get the complete unit exactly where you want it.  I found that with a little experimenting the position shown in the two photos suited me best.


Whilst actually using the mount I attempted a number of terrains from roads, to footpaths, woodland tracks, and downhill riding.  I found that in all cases the whole mount and iPAQ were held firmly at all times.

Ram mount on Bike

Ram U-Bolt mount when fitted to bike


Ram mount on bike

Ram U-Bolt mount when fitted to bike

The most useable environment was when cycling on paved roads where there was little vibration and the screen could be easily read.


The least useable was downhill cycling where I was more concerned about my safety rather than that of the iPAQ.  I really do not advise using the mount in any situation where you may overtake the handlebars on your journey.


It can be painful coming off a bike at the best of times, and it can really make you cry to loose your iPAQ as well.



Other Uses
This mount can be used wherever you have a rail or bar to attach to.  So this extends it's use to all sorts of applications such as marine, or aviation.


You can make the system even more flexible by buying additional mounting ball joints and suddenly all you need is a ball in the car, one on the bike, one on the Quad, one on the boat, etc.


Strengths and Weaknesses
OK this is the part where we look at the products strengths and weaknesses, and I really like to find something that can be improved.  Well I am sorry I honestly could not find anything that I would want in addition to what Ram have provided.  This is a well designed, and manufactured product.  Obviously a lot of thought has gone into it's usability and it just has a maturity and robustness about it that inspires confidence in its use.


The flexibility of the system is incredible, again showing good vision in the design.  With a mix and match mounting system you can customise to just about any application.  I believe that I have now found the perfect mount and will be looking to install it in my car by buying another ball joint soon.


Ok I did find one slight thing, that was adding a small strip of rubber to the installation kit to ensure that the U-Bolt mount would not slip.


The Ram U-Bolt Mount can be purchased direct from

Also check out our Ram Mount section for full pictures of Ram Mounts



Manufacturers Website


Suppliers Website



Pocket GPS Reviewer

Mike Barrett

Pocket GPS Reviewer Website








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