Handlebar-Mounted Map Holder

Handlebar-mounted map holders are one of those esoteric outdoors items that only complete cartographic nerds and adventure racers can wax silly about. Since I fit both molds—and add orienteering to my topographic confessional as well—the Rotating Map Holder from Adventure Racing Navigation Supplies caught my eye.

ArNav-BikeMapMount-1-W.jpg

Last month, I employed the plastic platform on an adventure race along the St. Croix River in Minnesota, navigating trails and county roads for about 20 miles with relative ease. The 9×9-inch platform did not flex or flap, and the bungee cords held the map in place fine while on the go. The board does add wind drag, though less than I expected.

Made to fit all standard bike handlebar setups, the Rotating Map Holder mounts via a lever-activated clamp. You put in rubber shims to fit it tight against your handlebars. When putting the clamp on my bike, however, I had trouble getting the lever to snap down tight, though the platform stayed stable while I rode.

For reading the map on the ride, the platform rotates 360 degrees, allowing you to spin and orient the map with the lay of the land. This alone is a huge advantage to simply using an over-the-shoulder map case and trying to read a wrongly-oriented road map while riding on a bumpy road.

ArNav-BikeMapMount-2-Wt.jpg

Indeed, pedaling and navigating has got to be one of the most dangerous parts of adventure racing. Several times while coasting downhill during races—the one time when I finally get a second to stop pedaling and try and peek at the map—I’ve squinted at bouncing details on a page and almost crashed. It’s like driving and talking on a cell phone, though much worse.

The Rotating Map Holder, on the other hand, keeps the map flat and easier to read. It costs $55 and adds just 8 ounces of weight to your bike setup.

ArNav-BikeMapMount-3-W.jpg

While they seem hokey, the dual bungee straps pretty much keep the map in place. I had my map come out and blow off the bike once during my race. This was because I folded it a bit too small, and one side slipped out of a bungee, and the wind caught it, and . . . time to hit the brakes and head back for the page.

One feature that would be nice—and something I plan to add to my Rotating Map Holder—is a small stick-on compass. This way you would not have to check the lanyard around your neck for north before looking down each time at the page.

Anything you can do to make map reading easier (and safer) while riding is a good thing by me.

Price: $55

Company contact: Adventure Racing Navigation Supplies, http://www.arnavsupplies.com

Posted by Mark Manning - 07/08/2008 07:44 AM

Thanks for the review. I wanted to take a minute to cover some of the issues that you saw. . .

1. The first is the clamping issue that you had. I’ve seen this happen before and here is what causes it. The lever is designed to close across the opening of the clamp. If the lever is rotated through 180 degrees and you try to close the lever to the locked position along the curved side of the clamp it will not lock in place correctly. Try closing the lever over the clamp opening.

2. The bungee cords were designed to hold a map that is in a map case. It is designed to use any size conventional map case and allows you to easily switch from bike to run and back again without having to take the
map out of the case as you have to do with other designs.

3. As you noticed a map that is not in a case can take flight at high speed. A way to avoid this is to put a twist in the bungee cords under the map board before looping them over the board. This will tighten the cords and allow them to hold the map more securely.

4. For the compass, I normally just stick an orienteering compass inside the map case when I place it on the board. This allows quick orientation of the map without loosing board space due to a stick-on or clip-on compass.
—Mark Manning, www.ARNavSupplies.com

Posted by scott sattler - 11/05/2010 12:41 PM

maps get wet when not in a map case- try sticking a small flat compass in the map case on top of the map- I’m a fan of these map holders- but have seen a devastating facial injury on a guy that crashed the bike and took the map holder right in the face…beware.

Posted by Alex - 02/13/2013 08:18 PM

Is the platform and bungee big enough for a AR map in a waterproof map case to fit? I made my own but find many things I could do better.

Add Comment

  1. Add link by using "LinkText":http://google.com