8 Ways to Carry Your Phone While Biking (+ How to Keep It Safe)

Whether for maps, music, ride stats, or just old-fashioned communication, most of us carry a phone while cycling. The question is, what’s the best way to do it? Phones are expensive and fragile, and a fast-moving bike isn’t the safest place for them. What’s the best way to carry your phone so it’s both safe and accessible while you ride?

The good news is, you have plenty of options. But which is best for the type of riding you do? Are you a mountain biker or road cyclist? Is it best to carry your phone on your body or on the bike itself? Will your phone be safe in the rain or if you fall while riding? Can you use the screen easily? Will you be comfortable?

I’ve cycled tens of thousands of miles while carrying a phone (and a lot of other things too, since I often travel on my bike). I’ve tried nearly every method listed below on a mix of pavement, gravel, and dirt. Some work better than others, and you can learn from my mistakes. I’ve only killed a couple phones while out biking… 😉

Read on for eight ways to carry your phone on a bike, and how to choose the best option for your needs.

Taking my phone out of a top tube bag for a mid-ride map check while mountain biking.

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Quick Answers

The best way to carry your phone while biking depends on what you need most. If you need to:

For more options, plus some pros and cons you may not have thought about, read on.

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Handlebar Mount

Examples: Lamicall Bike Phone Holder, Quad Lock

  • Usable while riding: yes
  • Crash protection: no
  • Rain protection: no

Pros: Best option for using phone while riding
Cons: Cheap mounts can sometimes break on rough ground, good mounts are expensive

The handlebar (or stem) mount is the ideal way to use your phone for navigation or ride stats while cycling. It’s the only method in this list that gives full access to the touchscreen while riding.

There are many options available, but the flimsier ones aren’t suited for rough riding. This is why you’ll typically see handlebar mounts used to carry a phone for road cycling and commuting, but not mountain biking. The Quad Lock, though expensive, is known to be reliable. Among the cheaper options I prefer this clamp style for its easy mounting / unmounting and secure grip.

Top Tube Phone Pouch

Examples: RockBros Top Tube Case

  • Usable while riding: yes, in theory
  • Crash protection: yes
  • Rain protection: yes

Pros: Good combination of protection and usability
Cons: Case may not fit phone, touch screen may not work perfectly, too bulky for some

This clever type of bike bag is designed to both protect your phone and keep the screen usable while riding. Your phone slips into the plastic sleeve on top, while the other pockets offer storage for small essentials like tools or snacks. It offers decent protection in case of a crash, but might be too bulky for some cyclists.

This type of bag is really handy for keeping an eye on a map while navigating a new route, especially in wet weather when you don’t want your phone unprotected on your handlebars. It’s not the best for heavy touch screen use though. It’s easy to see the screen, but interacting with it through the plastic cover can be glitchy.

Bike Accessory Bag

Examples: RockBros Top Tube Bag, Moosetreks Stem Bag, Rhinowalk Handlebar Bag

  • Usable while riding: no
  • Crash protection: yes
  • Rain protection: sometimes

Pros: Good protection for phone, handy for carrying other things too
Cons: Can’t use screen while riding, minor annoyance to move between bikes, can’t use for other activities

If you’re serious about outfitting your bike for longer rides, consider adding an accessory bag. There are three main types: top tube bags, stem bags, and small handlebar bags. Stem bags can also be used for holding a water bottle (but not at the same time as your phone), while top tube and handlebar bags hold snacks, tools, and perhaps a light jacket.

These types of bags keep your phone close at hand and protect it from rain and impact, while leaving your pockets empty and your body unburdened by a backpack or hip belt. They’re a great solution as long as you don’t need to use the screen while riding.

When it comes to bike bags, a small accessory bag is just the beginning. You can even load up your bike with a full set of camping gear and go bikepacking!

Backpack

Examples: CamelBak Chase Bike Vest, Vibrelli Hydration Pack

  • Usable while riding: mostly no (minimally usable with chest pocket)
  • Crash protection: yes
  • Rain protection: depends (pack phone inside waterproof bag for heavy rain)

Pros: Also carries water, tools, layers, and snacks; can be used for other activities
Cons: Uncomfortable for some people, sweaty in hot weather, not “aero” enough for road riding, hard to access phone (unless there’s a chest pocket)

If you also need to carry water, spare layers, tools, or anything else, a backpack is an easy solution. Any pack will do, but consider one that holds a hydration bladder for drinking on the go and a chest pocket for easy phone access. You could choose a slim hydration vest that you’ll barely feel, or a larger backpack with capacity for more gear.

Backpacks are an especially popular way to carry a phone while mountain biking, since mountain bikers sometimes need to carry extra supplies while keeping their bikes nimble. A backpack is also a safe(ish) place for a phone in case of a crash.

Hip Pack

Examples: Zomake Fanny Pack, Thule Rail Hydration Pack

  • Usable while riding: no
  • Crash protection: yes
  • Rain protection: depends (pack phone inside waterproof bag for heavy rain)

Pros: Also carries water, tools, layers, and snacks; cooler than backpack in hot weather; can be used for other activities
Cons: Uncomfortable for some people, especially if too heavy or waist band is too thin

If a backpack sounds uncomfortable, consider carrying your phone in a hip back. It’s breezier in hot weather and keeps your center of gravity lower. You have tons of options, from a bulky hydration pack to a mid-size hip bag or even a slim running belt.

Most people find a smaller and lighter pack more comfortable. A wide and stretchy belt also helps; you don’t want it digging uncomfortably into your belly while you ride.

Arm Band

Examples: Tribe Cell Phone Arm Band, Loksengtech Rotatable Arm Band

  • Usable while riding: somewhat
  • Crash protection: no
  • Rain protection: usually

Pros: Affordable combo of usability and weatherproofing, can be used for other activities
Cons: Vulnerable in a crash, may not fit small or large arms well, touch screen can be hard to use

Runners often use arm bands to carry their phones, and this solution can work well for cycling too. You’ll be able to see and use the screen somewhat (though not as well as with a handlebar mount), and the phone is attached to your body instead of the bike. There are even models that go on your wrist and let you rotate the phone so you can see it better – perfect for cycling!

In practice, not all arm bands work as well as advertised. Sometimes the touchscreen cover is glitchy or the band is uncomfortable, so choose a model that fits you well. I personally wouldn’t use an arm band to carry my phone while mountain biking since it’s so vulnerable to damage in a crash.

Jersey Pocket

Examples: Pearl Izumi Quest Cycling Jersey (men), Pearl Izumi Classic Jersey (women)

  • Usable while riding: mostly no
  • Crash protection: no

Pros: Easy and cheap (if you already have a jersey)
Cons: No protection in case of a crash

If you want to carry your phone while road cycling, the back pockets of your jersey are a simple place to start. You won’t be able to use your phone while riding (unless you’re a one-handed riding pro) but you can easily check it from time to time.

Your pocket is an especially good spot to carry your phone (as opposed to on the bike) if you ride with wired ear buds. Everyone occasionally dismounts before remembering to take their ear buds out, and with the phone in your pocket they won’t be violently ripped from your ears.

Shorts Pocket

Examples: Baleaf Men’s Padded Cycling Shorts, Troy Lee Designs Women’s MTB Shorts

  • Usable while riding: no
  • Crash protection: no
  • Rain protection: no

Pros: Cheap and simple
Cons: Vulnerable in case of crash, may be uncomfortable, choosing good cycling shorts is already hard enough

If you’re not too particular about your cycling shorts or pants, you might choose a pair with a phone pocket. Options include a tight liner short (either padded or not) with a stretchy pocket on the thigh, or a baggy mountain bike short with a zipper pocket large enough to hold a phone.

The biggest downside to carrying a phone in your shorts pocket while cycling: it’s a very vulnerable place in case of a crash. For this reason I don’t do it when mountain biking, but on a casual road ride I might take the risk.

Other Useful Items

As you’re thinking about the best way to carry your phone while biking, here are a few other items to consider:

Protective Case: If you carry your phone in a pocket or on the handlebars, an impact-resistant case like the Otterbox could save the day in a crash.

Waterproof Pouch: If you ride in the rain, add a waterproof pouch to many of the above methods for extra protection. Even “waterproof” bike bags don’t always work perfectly when it’s really pouring. If you’re on a budget, a sturdy ziplock bag can also work.

Wireless Ear Buds: If you like to ride with an ear bud (I recommend just one ear for safety) it can be awkward to carry your phone on your bike as opposed to your body. If you choose a bike accessory bag or handlebar mount, consider a set of Bluetooth ear buds like my favorites, the Jabra Elite, so you don’t accidentally yank on the cord when you dismount and forget you’re connected to the bike.

More Cycling Resources

If you found this article helpful, you might also like these:

Or visit the cycling and bikepacking sections for lots more!

About the Author

Hi there, I’m Alissa. I’ve traveled over 17,000 miles by bike and still can’t stop planning my next ride (and helping you plan yours). Pavement and panniers or singletrack and seat bag, I love it all. On my bike I feel free. Learn more or say hi.

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