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SP Connect review | SPC+ motorcycle phone mount tested

Consumer Editor of Bennetts BikeSocial

Posted:

24.07.2023

SP Connect review best motorcycle phone mount_01

 

Date reviewed: July 2023 | Tested by: John Milbank | Price: From around £70 | sp-connect.co.uk

 

I’ve been using the SP Connect phone mount system for almost four years now, and have to say I’ve been thoroughly impressed: the slimline design of the mounts and cases meant I was able to attach my phone to any bike very quickly and easily.

With the new SPC+ system recently released, I’ve been testing the new mounts on a Kawasaki ZX-6R, BMW R1250GS and other machines as and when I need to…

 

SP Connect review best motorcycle phone mount_08

An adaptor allows you to use SPC+ phone cases on the previous design of mount

 

What’s new with SP Connect SPC+

While the original SP Connect ‘SPC’ system is still available, the new SPC+ (or SPC Plus) is a different design that isn’t directly compatible with the old brackets. New phone cases do currently come with an adaptor though, and you can buy additional SPC+ adaptors for just £4.95 if you have multiple previous-style mounts. Of course, it does add a little height to the old mounts, but nothing too drastic. Here’s what’s new with SPC+:

  • Phone case is thinner than before

  • Mounts are claimed to be 25% stronger

  • Locking system is more secure

  • MagSafe charging compatible

  • Magnetic mount compatible

As before, you can use a standard wireless charger with the SP Connect phone cases, but MagSafe compatibility is now standard too.

SP Connect claims than the SPC+ cases are 40% thinner, though my measurements of the Samsung Galaxy S21 SPC case (5.5mm) compared to the SPC+ model (4mm), I found it to be 27%. Still, it’s very noticeable in use, and the phone now sits a lot more flat and stable on the desk.

 

The new SPC+ case is shown on the left – it’s noticeably slimmer in use than the previous version

 

SP Connect SPC+ phone case

Most SP Connect phone cases cost £39.95, which can seem a lot when compared to cheap cases from Amazon, but they’re well made and, having lost my last phone off a bike at 60mph and seen it bounce down the road with an SP Connect case fitted, I can say that the protection offered is excellent.

The new case design is noticeably slimmer, and comparing the Samsung Galaxy S21 SPC case with the new SPC+, it’s obvious how much more compact it is.

I also have an SPC+ case for my Google Pixel 7 Pro, now that I’ve upgraded my phone, and again the fit and finish is excellent. My only minor gripe is that the aperture on the back of the case for the Pixel’s camera bump looks a bit, well, square. Some rounded internal corners following the lines of the left camera might have made it look a bit more premium. I’m nit-picking of course, but the case for the Samsung looks a lot better to my eyes.

The soft matt finish does show marks easily, but it provides an excellent surface to grip, and if it’s anything like the old case I had on my S21, it shows no signs of severe wear or going sticky like some cheap plastics can.

As with any case, dust will still collect inside, so it’s worth popping your phone out every so often for a clean. The interior has a soft fabric to protect your device, but grit around the edges will, inevitably, cause some marks eventually. I’ve yet to see any phone case that avoids this.

Wireless charging works fine with the new cases, and the MagSafe compatibility means a suitable charger can snap into place, rather than having to hunt around for the sweet spot. I should say though that performance might depend on your phone – my Galaxy S21 will easily juice up wirelessly with its case on – even with a cheap charger I bought from the Pound Shop – but my Pixel 7 Pro seems to be very unreliable with wireless charging. This is a fault of the Google device though, not SP Connect, and problems appear well documented online.

I really can’t stress enough just how much slimmer the SP Connect SPC+ case feels, and I should point out too that the buttons are very easy to press still, thanks to slots cut around them that help them move easily – a pricey ZAGG case I had before was much more intrusive thanks to a less considered design.

The only disadvantage of the new SPC+ design is that it’s a little more fiddly to mount your phone: whereas with the original it was easy to rub your phone in the general area of the mount to locate it and rotate the phone to lock it into place, the new one is a little harder to find, so can take a few more seconds to get fitted. Muscle memory soon overcomes this, but I did find the SPC+ a little frustrating to use at first. Now, it’s second nature.

 

This is all the damage sustained after my phone bounced down the road at 60mph in an SP Connect case

 

How safe and secure is SP Connect?

While new new SP Connect SPC+ system can be a little more fiddly to mount than the previous vesion, it is much more secure.

Remember I said how I’d dropped my phone off the bike? It was mounted to the S1000XR I owned then – so about a meter and a half off the ground – and while riding at a good 60mph the phone was suddenly waving in front of me, attached to the USB cable that was charging it. Before I could react, it disappeared behind me and bounced down the road.

Luckily I was able to pull over and get it back before it got run over, and besides a small chip in the corner, the phone was absolutely fine.

This happened because, with the previous SPC mount design, it was possible to locate only one of the lugs when fitting. If you didn’t realise, the phone could shake loose, so it was important to take care when fitting your phone.

The new SPC+ design might be a little more fiddly to attach, but try as I might, I can’t get it to attach anything other than totally securely. It’s slimmer, stronger and MagSafe compatible, but most importantly, the new SPC+ is much more secure.

 

SP Connect mounts tested

Fitting an SP Connect SPC+ mount to your bike will vary depending on which you’ve bought, but generally it’s a simple process that just requires one or two Allen keys (which aren’t supplied in all the kits).

When fitting you’ll need to decide whether you want to have your phone in a horizontal or vertical position, as apart from on the universal mount, you can’t change it without unscrewing it due to the way the phone attaches with a 90° twist. Most of the mounts have adjustment in 6° increments, so you should be able to get your phone to sit straight to most parts of the bike.

The SP Connect SPC+ phone cases are magnetic (and strong enough to hold my phones to the fridge), but this isn’t used on any of the motorcycle mounts, which all require the mechanical latch. Only the car mount and office stand rely solely on magnets.

 

 

Charging Anti Vibration Module | Price: £99.96 | Link: sp-connect.co.uk

The SP Connect Charging Anti Vibration Module includes the company’s vibration damping system (details below), and is made from machined aluminium that’s well sealed against the weather.

The mount has a short lead with a USB-C socket and a cable to plug into it, but if you don’t have a QC 3.0-compliant USB outlet on your bike, you’ll need to also buy the £34.95 12V Hard Wire kit. This needs to be wired to an ignition-switched supply, so I used the Hex ezCAN I have on my GS. While the USB outlet of the hardwire kit has a silicone weather protector, do still consider where you’ll mount it to avoid water finding its way in.

Once attached, the phone is well damped yet only shakes a little very occasionally just off idle on the GS, which is no surprise considering the two chunky pistons wobbling back and forth. The phone’s very easy to read, and while it can seem odd to use at times due to it not being solidly mounted, gently holding the back while touching the outer edges of the screen soon becomes second nature.

The mount’s impressively compact, and I have it fitted it to the screen cross-bar of the GS using the mirror mount. Before this, I’d attached it to the bars using the Moto Mount Pro. Strangely, I have found that the phone appears to be fractionally off-square on the charging mount, despite adjusting the brackets several times. It’s not always noticeable, and the phone is perfectly located on the other mounts.

 

The hard wire kit is sold separately

 

Despite my Pixel 7 Pro being very finickity when it comes to wireless charging, I’ve had no problems with this mount and hard wire kit, and it’s great to be able to simply pop the phone on and see it fill up without having to faff with a cable. During testing, my Pixel 7 Pro charges at around 8W on the SP Connect Wireless module, receiving about 1,900mAh – plenty to add charge while using various apps with the screen on. My Galaxy S21 charges at just under 6W, receiving a shade under 1,500mAh, which is again plenty to keep it topped up.

Wireless charging can produce a lot of heat, and the instructions with the charging mount do point out that power efficiency can be affected, suggesting to use adaptive screen brightness, locally-stored maps to avoid data use, turning off background apps and WiFi, and even turning the screen off occasionally.

This isn’t an SP-Connect specific issue, and it’s one you do need to be aware of. Fortunately though, despite the large screen of the Pixel 7 Pro, and using online mapping, I haven’t had any charging problems here in the UK at least. It might help that air is blowing over the phone through the screen aperture, but if you have a wireless charger and are travelling to hotter climates, consider leaving enough slack in the cable that supplies the mount to be able to plug it directly into the phone instead (assuming your phone has a USB-C charging port).

While admittedly rather expensive, I am impressed with the wireless charging mount, and find it ideal for fitting the phone to and following Calimoto routes for a few hours, or Google maps when I have to get somewhere sharpish.

 

 

Universal Mount | Price: £29.95 | Link: sp-connect.co.uk

With two different length straps and a very effective grip thanks to a silicone band bonded to the rear of the straps, the Universal Mount could be ideal for swapping between motorcycles, and for using on the push-bike – it’ll fit on anything between 20mm and 90mm in diameter, so there’s plenty of versatility.

The bracket on the top can be lifted and rotated through 360°, so it’s easy to find the right position for where you put it. Note though that, unlike the other mounts on test, the indexing is only every 45°, so you can’t fine-tune the position. Of course, as this is intended more as a temporary and versatile mount, that’s not really an issue.

I did have a problem with this mount when I tried one of the previous models – it broke when my pushbike fell on its side due to a cracked circlip inside. This was replaced under warranty, and I didn’t have any problems after that.

This really is an extremely useful mount, which I’ve found great for swapping quickly between bikes, especially on road tests and launches.

 

 

Mirror Mount | Price: £29.95 | Link: sp-connect.co.uk

The tough nylon SP Connect Mirror Mount is suitable for mirrors and other round parts of your bike (like the cross-brace on the Kawasaki ZX-6R, or the accessory bar on many adventure bikes) with a diameter of 16mm, 14mm, 12mm or 10mm thanks to the provided adaptors.

Fitted to my ZX-6R, which I like to keep as simple and original as possible, this is a wonderfully compact mount that works perfectly. It’s supplied with both SPC and the new SPC+ heads, and offers a very versatile mounting solution.

 

 

Mirror Mount Pro | Price: £49.95 | Link: sp-connect.co.uk

The mirror Mount Pro is basically the same as the Mirror Mount, but with an additional machined-aluminium extension arm that allows you to pivot the phone during mounting.

Coming with both SPC and SPC+ heads, it could be ideal if you’re mounting the phone into an awkward spot, though for all the locations I came across, the £20-cheaper Mirror Mount was all I needed.

 

 

Bar Clamp Mount Pro | Price: £69.95 | Link: sp-connect.co.uk

The Bar Clamp Mount Pro was the bracket I had fitted to my BMW S1000XR when I was using the previous generation SPC system. This was a very tidy solution for my bike, though it does of course only work with machines that have handlebars, rather than clip-ons, where the Moto Stem Mount, Clutch Mount Pro or Brake Mount could be a good choice.

Setting the perfect position is very simple thanks to the fine-toothed 6° adjusters that give plenty of range, but still prevent accidental rotation.

M8 set-screws are supplied in 40, 45 and 50mm lengths so you should be able to fit this easily to most machines; just carefully check the length you need by holding the assembly against the existing bolt, and don’t forget to include the supplied spring washer.

Ideally, check the torque settings required before fitting this to your bike, but if you’re not confident, ask your dealer. On my 2019 S1000XR, the bar clamp requires 19Nm.

 

 

Moto Mount Pro | Price: £69.95 | Link: sp-connect.co.uk

Made of aluminium, the SP Connect Moto Mount Pro is an extremely versatile mount, allowing you to position your phone in any number of positions on a wide variety of bikes. I mainly used it on my S1000XR until testing some other mounts, but it also spent a lot of time on my push-bike during the Coronavirus lockdown.

Setting it up is easy thanks to the fine teeth on the two rotating mounting points, so you should be able to find a position that works for you. I also appreciate the fact that you can remove the extension arm if you want, making this a very versatile mount.

 

 

Adhesive Kit | Price: £9.95 | Link: sp-connect.co.uk

The SP Connect Adhesive mount kit is a pack of three slim, very sticky mounts that can be semi-permanently attached to pretty well any clean, fairly smooth surface. When I made an adaptor to convert a TomTom charging mount to a mobile phone charger, I stuck one of these onto the 3D printed plastic and never had any problems at all. You could pop one on the dashboard of your car, a wall, the edge of a shelf… anywhere really. Potentially even on the tank of your bike, though there are plenty of better ways to mount your phone.

 

 

Handlebar Mount | Price: £39.95 | Link: sp-connect.co.uk

Made of tough nylon, the SP Connect Handlebar mount is designed for push-bikes with 25.4 or 31.3mm diameter bars. It clamps on securely, and comes with a bracket that can be mounted to the bottom to hold a GoPro or other action camera with the same mounts.

The kit I received to test was the old SPC-only version, but the new bracket comes with both SPC+ and the previous-generation mounts. I used the adaptor that came with the case to mount my phone, which has proved very useful for running maps while cycling.

 

 

Charging Suction Mount | Price: £89.95 | Link: sp-connect.co.uk

At £89.95, the charging suction mount is an expensive bit of kit, but the magnetic suface that securely grips your phone (no matter how hard I drive my old Honda CRV over bumps and potholes or even off-road) is impressive.

The suction bracket works extremely well, never letting go of the windscreen like cheaper phone holders, and while the first time you use the phone in the car you’ll probably knock it off as you jab it with your finger, you quickly realise that you need to touch gently, or place a finger behind it when touching the extremities of the screen.

Problems with my Pixel 7 Pro’s wireless charging are very noticeable here, and I have seen it losing power despite being correctly mounted while using Google maps. As I haven’t been able to find a cure yet, I wouldn’t recommend this for a Google phone (and would be cautious when buying any wireless charger). This does not appear to be a problem related to the SP Connect cases, or specific to the Charging Suction Mount, and the wireless charger with hard wire kit I have on the bike is fine with the Google device.

My Samsung Galaxy S21 has no such issues, immediately entering fast wireless charging mode when used with a QC 3.0 cigarette lighter adaptor. There’s nothing wrong with this mount, but be aware that Google’s Pixel at least can be very awkward when it comes to wireless charging.

Disappointingly, the SP Connect Charging Suction Mount does not come with a USB adaptor. As many cars now have USB outlets, I guess it’s not an issue for a lot of people, but do budget for a good-quality QC 3.0 one if you have an older motor like me.

I’d consider this a luxury item in many ways: there are cheaper methods of mounting – and charging – your phone in the car, but once you use a magnetic charging mount like this, faffing with cables and levers seems archaic.

 

I have the anti-vibration charging mount fitted to the  accessory bar on the GS

 

Will vibration damage my phone with SP Connect?

An SP Connect anti-vibration module is available for £29.95, which attaches to your chosen mount. I haven’t tried this device, but I have used it in the version fitted to the charging mount (reviewed above), where it seems to work very well.

After using SP Connect for almost four years on a very wide variety of bikes, the only time I had an issue was after mounting my Galaxy S20 directly to the bars of a Kawasaki W800 using the Universal Mount. When I stopped to take a picture, the camera was shaking continuously and couldn’t settle but after restarting the phone it was cured.

Based purely on anecdotal evidence, I’ve long had a theory that it’s mainly Apple devices that have a problem with vibration on bikes, but when I bought my Pixel 7 Pro I was worried about the telephoto lens, which rattles when you shake it. I’m pleased to say though that after several months on my R1250GS (using the Anti-Vibration Charging Mount), I’ve had no problems at all, and my S21 (and previous S20) were mounted direct to various bikes without any issue other than that day on a W800.

I spoke to SP Connect to get their angle on vibration problems…

 

When did SP Connect first identify vibration issues?

Our Anti Vibration Module was first released in July 2020. It was developed internally with consultancy from an external team of frequency specialists. The tests were carried out in the laboratories of the FH Wr. Neustadt (University of Applied Sciences - Austria).

 

What frequencies appear to cause an issue with phones?

According to our tests, frequencies in the range of 30-60Hz cause the issues. Actual peak frequencies can vary depending on the weight and setup of the phone mount.

During testing, vibrations were measured from 20-150Hz, with peaks in the 30-60Hz range.

Tests conducted on motorbikes showed that they experienced acceleration forces of up to 4G, and our laboratory tests were conducted with forces of up to 7G.

 

Is it more of a problem with some devices than others due to the construction of the optical image stabilisation (OIS), and if so, what is the difference in the devices?

We have had reported issues with all brands we make phone cases for. However, other than with Apple, there have been too few issues with the other brands to name any model or brand as being at risk.

So far, over 95% of the issues involve Apple smartphones. Of these, mostly devices in the iPhone X, 11 and 12 series are affected (there are no issues with the iPhone 12 Pro Max, which has an OIS design called Sensor-Shift OIS). Issues associated with the iPhone 13 series are very rare. No issues have been reported with the iPhone 14 series. (All models of the iPhone 13 & 14 series use sensor-shift OIS.)

A significant difference between most Samsung and Apple devices is that the OIS in Samsung devices is deactivated when the camera is not being used, whereas the OIS in Apple devices is always activated.

 

Are there any other risks to a phone through vibration?

None that we are aware of.

 

Have you seen any patterns in the bikes people are riding causing issues?

No, a pattern cannot be discerned. The reported cases were a broad mix of makes and models – models that occurred more frequently corresponded to the quantity of respective motorbikes on the market. Furthermore, there is no difference between the type of engine.

 

Is it the bike’s engine vibration that’s causing the issue when it happens, or vibration from the road?

The vibrations from the motorcycle engine cause the impairment – the vibrations from the road are not an issue as they are too volatile.

 

What frequencies does your vibration damper reduce?

The maximum acceleration occurring is reduced across the entire spectrum. This means that the peak values of all vibration frequencies are reduced, not only in the range of 30-60Hz.

 

Would you recommend the damper more for certain bikes?

No. However we recommend it to anyone wanting to mount a smartphone that features mechanical OIS.

 

What other activities can cause vibration damage?

None to our knowledge. Many people are concerned about cycling or mountain biking, but we have not had a single issue yet in these or any activity other than with motorcycles.

 

Mounting your phone to the bike can be hugely useful – this is with the Universal Mount

 

Best motorcycle phone mount alternatives to SP Connect

While I’ve been thoroughly impressed with the SP Connect system, there are other options. Here are a selection of others to consider…

  • The most obvious alternative is Quad Lock, which I've reviewed here. Quad Lock tends to be a slightly more bulky mounting system (though not by much), but it also tends to be a little cheaper than SP Connect.

  • We haven’t tried it, but Oxford’s Cliqr is an interesting alternative that sticks to the back of your existing phone case. Packages come with the bracket and the adaptor to stick to your phone so it can represent good value for money, though it’s not as elegantly designed as the SP Connect or Quad Lock.

  • Interphone’s QuikLok has a limited rage of mounts at the moment, and it’s primarily designed around a universal adhesive pad that sticks to your existing phone case, though Sportsbikeshop does list some iPhone cases.

  • Mous has also developed a range of motorcycle mounts to suit its cases, though options are rather limited for now, and prices seem to be on the high side.

  • Peak Design has a small selection of motorcycle mounts for its range of phone cases, though some of the prices are quite high.

  • The RAM universal X-Grip mounts are popular with many (including road-test legend Simon Hargreaves), but they’re far from a subtle design, and some users report the phone’s buttons being pressed by the mount’s arms.

These are just some of the alternatives. Be sure to check out our other reviews at BikeSocial, and always check the BikeSocial membership pages for discounts on a huge range of products and services, as well as exclusive competitions and events.

 

 

SP Connect review: Verdict

It’s worth pointing out that there always appears to be a 10% discount running on the SP Connect site, plus if you buy on there using the email address associated with your Calimoto account, 20% should be automatically deducted at checkout; check out your profile in the Calimoto app for details if you’re a user of it. At the time of writing, SP Connect is running a Facebook campaign offering 20% off as well.

I used to be reluctant to use mounts that are phone-specific as when you change your device you have to buy the mount again. However, we nearly all buy cases, and £39.95 (£35.96 with the 10% off) isn’t too extortionate for a quality one like this considering the very effective mounting system incorporated; I don’t mind paying that every two or three years.

Of course, you’ll have to keep buying the most popular phones if you want to use an SP Connect case, but you can get around that with the stick-on ‘universal interface’, universal clamp and universal phone cases if needs be.

What impresses me most is the build quality and attention to detail of the SP Connect kit, plus the fact that it looks fairly subtle on my bikes. Yes, it can work out pretty pricey to get brackets for your motorcycle(s), push-bike and car, but if you’re looking for a solid, reliable way to mount your phone, I thoroughly recommend it.

If you’d like to chat about this article or anything else biking related, join us and thousands of other riders at the Bennetts BikeSocial Facebook page.

 

SP Connect phone compatibility

At the time of writing, SP Connect offers cases for a wide range of smartphones:

Apple iPhone 14

Apple iPhone 14 Plus

Apple iPhone 14 Pro

Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max

Apple iPhone SE (2022)

Apple iPhone 13

Apple iPhone 13 Pro

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max

Apple iPhone 12

Apple iPhone 12 Pro

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max

Apple iPhone 12 mini

Apple iPhone SE (2020)

Apple iPhone 11

Apple iPhone 11 Pro

Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max

Apple iPhone XR

Apple iPhone 8

Apple iPhone 8 Plus

Apple iPhone 7

Apple iPhone 7 Plus

Apple iPhone 6/6s

Apple iPhone 6/6s Plus

Apple iPhone 5/5s/SE

Samsung Galaxy S23

Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy S22

Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy S21

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE

Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy Note20

Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy S20

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE

Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy Note10

Samsung Galaxy Note10 Plus

Samsung Galaxy S10

Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus

Samsung Galaxy S10e

Google Pixel 7

Google Pixel 7 Pro

Google Pixel 6

Google Pixel 6 Pro

Xiaomi 13

Xiaomi 13 Pro