Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Time for some Austrian rubber bondage.

After reading the Road.CC review it took about 10 seconds to decide to order one of these puppies: http://getfinn.com/

UPDATE 3 Feb '13: these are now available in the UK from pOcpac:  (pair it with one of their waterproof cases for another £8 - review of that combo coming soon)

£10 / €12 - and you get a free €5 city cycling nav guide to download too. It arrived from Austria (Oomp-pa-pa Oomp-pa-pa) in 3 days.

As Road.CC found the first few times you put it on the bike you need 5 hands and a degree in Origami, but you quickly get used to it.

Basically it does what it sets out to do, and does it very well. It will fit to any bar, including 38mm oversized roadbike bars and even a stem, for a landscape-mode orientation if needed - although not the best for a bike with limited knee clearance.

On a long, fast road-ride over typical Hampshire country roads the phone stayed solidly in place - no hint of movement, even after an hour. The grippy nature of the silicone rubber means it stays put, and pressure from swiping or pressing the screen didn't result in any movement either. Fine adjustments to position left/right/up/down are possible by lifting the phone slightly off the mount and repositioning. The strap that runs over the charging port can be stretched down to accommodate a charging cable if needed for long days. Likewise, the stretchy bands mean you'll have no problem at all fitting any phone inside any case, should the weather dictate.

The Finn could also be used to mount a phone on pram handlebars - again, handy when walking or jogging somewhere new.

This will become a must-pack item for holidays to cities with rental bike schemes, to hold the phone for strange-place nav. Or for local rides on unknown roads. I haven't tried putting it on a BorisBike though - the design of the handlebar might not quite work. Next time I'm in London I'll give it a go.

Quick and easy bikecam mount

Another use is as a quick and easy bike camera mount. With most smartphones now featuring HD video recording, the Finn + phone can be a cheap and fast way to record rides - for fun or for internet hating on crap drivers. Portrait mode is the easiest, as most bikes have a horizontal bar to mount the Finn on. However if you ride a Really Useful Bike it will have a front rack with a vertical bar too. This will allow you to film without incurring the wrath of the Portrait Orientation Movie Haterz.

Using an iPhone the image was good enough to get stills of most car licence plates. No, it's not a GoPro Hero - but then it cost £10 not £300+, and when you get off your bike you just pop it in your pocket, no faffing with mounting hardwear you don't want to get nicked.

Quick and easy get-you-home bike light mount

These days smartphone owners always have a torch in their pocket - the LED flash doubles as a pretty bright light source. With a Finn mount, you could use your phone's torch app as a temporary solution if your front light breaks / gets lost / nicked etc.

...and here's possibly the best portrait-orientation footpath-riding Finn-mounted iPhone footage you'll see in the next minute or so:

(Note that this is not a great test of camera ability or YouTube resolution/playback - it's the fact the phone stayed on the bike and not in a million bits that's the main point. If you want RedBull-quality footage, Google is your friend)

...and in Landscape mode (RackCam!):