VeloClub is CyclingTips’ membership program which brings us closer to our members, and connects likeminded cycling enthusiasts.
by James Huang
June 28, 2017
Photography by James Huang
TECH NEWS BROUGHT TO YOU BY BIKEEXCHANGE
K-Edge introduced its first CNC-machined aluminum computer mount in 2012, sparking an entire aftermarket industry dedicated solely to fancy ways of attaching Garmin computers (and other popular models) to your handlebar. Other brands have since followed suit, but it’s only recently that Tate Labs — K-Edge’s biggest competitor — has decided to go head-to-head with K-Edge, moving more upscale from its usual molded plastic construction with its own machined aluminum computer mount, the new Bar Fly 4 Prime.
K-Edge has steadily refined its mount design in the five years since, and many still consider it to be the first choice in premium computer mounts. Bar Fly’s new entry, however, can seemingly go head-to-head in terms of basic construction, and is also more feature-packed. So who comes out on top?
On paper, both mounts are very similar, using CNC-machined aluminum (American sourcing for the K-Edge, Asian manufacturing for the Bar Fly), anodized and laser-etched finishes, and interchangeable molded plastic inserts for use with different computer brands and models. Both also offer accessory mounts underneath the computer head for things like cameras and lights, plus compatibility with 31.8mm and 35mm-diameter handlebars via handy hinged, single-bolt clamps.
Both the K-Edge and Bar Fly feel impressively solid on the bike, with nary a wiggle when you push a button on your computer, unlike plastic mounts that invariably feel like, well, plastic. Both clamps hold tenaciously to both aluminum and carbon fiber bars, too, and the plastic computer interfaces are similarly secure and silky-smooth to use.
There are a lot of things that are similar between the K-Edge Combo mount (foreground) and Bar Fly 4 Prime (background), but also a number of differences, too.
Weights are also similar with the K-Edge Combo mount coming in at 65g (with Wahoo Fitness insert, GoPro mount, and 31.8mm bar clamp), and a similarly configured Bar Fly 4 Prime tipping the scales at 76g.
The differences, meanwhile, are found in the details.
While both mounts accommodate a wide range of bikes and computer types, Tate Labs simplifies the process of choosing the correct configuration by including all the options in one box. Inserts for Garmin, Wahoo Fitness, Cateye, Polar, Magellan/Mio, Bryton, and PowerTap head units are all included with the Bar Fly 4 Prime, and a small plastic shim adapts the clamp to either 31.8mm or 35mm bars. There’s no guesswork involved whatsoever.
Moreover, the front of the Bar Fly 4 Prime uses a two-position cradle that lets you place the computer nearer or closer to the stem, either for personal preference or to handle large-format displays like the Garmin Edge 1000. In addition to all those computer mounts, the Bar Fly 4 Prime also includes a mount for Shimano Di2 or Campagnolo EPS junction boxes, an accessory mount for the underside that fits anything using the GoPro interface, and a universal O-ring-style mount for attaching just about anything else.
Tate Labs includes a lot of extra mounts and accessories with the Bar Fly 4 Prime, and the two-position head lets you move the display closer to or further away from the handlebar.
The K-Edge mount can be similarly versatile, although buyers need to choose the correct configuration up front. K-Edge makes its mounts in specific 31.8mm or 35mm-diameter clamp diameters, for example, and although K-Edge offers two computer mounting positions, they’re separate and distinct setups that can’t be changed later on. Likewise, inserts are offered for Garmin, Wahoo Fitness, and Sigma Sport computers, but only one is included; the rest are sold separately. And while the Bar Fly 4 Prime includes junction box and universal accessory mounts, neither are even available as part of K-Edge’s computer mount.
Add in the fact that the Bar Fly 4 Prime is a tad less expensive, and it would seem like the easy choice.
The Bar Fly 4 Prime may have an advantage over the K-Edge in terms of convenience and flexibility, but after months of living with both, I don’t think the decision is quite so clear-cut.
The included universal accessory mount on the Bar Fly 4 Prime is very handy, easily accommodating a wide range of items with the stretchy O-rings – provided they’re at least roughly cylindrical in shape.
Tate Labs definitely makes it easier to get the right mount for your bike, but most potential buyers will already know what they need — and rarely will they need to change that configuration later on. From a conservation standpoint, it’s perhaps also worth noting that while it’s nice that all of those inserts are included with the Bar Fly 4 Prime, few people will want or need more than one. According to Bar Fly co-founder Greg Hillson, those leftover chunks of nylon can be recycled, but without clear markings to denote the material, many municipal programs won’t accept them.
Those who value a minimalist aesthetic might prefer the pared-down look of the K-Edge, which uses a more slimmed-down handlebar clamp and extension than the Bar Fly 4 Prime, as well as a thinner computer and accessory platform. And whereas K-Edge also uses machined aluminum for its admirably tiny GoPro mount, the plastic one on the Bar Fly 4 Prime one is notably bigger and bulkier. The K-Edge positions computers a bit lower and more inline with the stem than the Bar Fly, too.
K-Edge was the first company to offer computer mounts made of machined aluminum, and while Tate Labs is now challenging its position with the new Bar Fly 4 Prime, K-Edge’s latest versions are still a top choice.
So which one is the winner in my book? From a convenience and versatility standpoint, the Bar Fly 4 Prime is the clear victor as it just simply offers more function for less money with few downsides.
But if you’re more particular about how things look on your bike, you don’t need (or want) all the ancillary benefits that the Bar Fly 4 Prime offers, and are willing to pay slightly more, the K-Edge Combo mount is still the more elegant choice.
Price: US$60 / AU$80 / £55 / €60 (Bar Fly 4 Prime); US$65 / AU$93 / £65 / €63 (K-Edge Combo Mount)
The Bar Fly 4 Prime computer mount is notably bigger and bulkier than the more pared-down K-Edge, but depending on what computer you have mounted, much of that difference will end up being obscured.
The K-Edge (foreground) places the computer lower and more inline with the stem than the Bar Fly.
The difference in computer display height between the K-Edge (left) and Bar Fly (right) will be a matter of personal preference, but if you like your screen to be more inline with your stem, the K-Edge will be the way to go.
Like the rest of the mount, K-Edge makes its GoPro accessory mount (foreground) out of machined aluminum, whereas the bigger Bar Fly one (background) is molded plastic.
Without doubt, the Bar Fly 4 Prime wins the battle of which mount offers more functionality for the money.
Whereas K-Edge requires you to choose between 31.8mm and 35.0mm clamp diameters, Bar Fly just uses a shim. The latter arrangement is certainly more convenient from a buying (and stocking) perspective, but it also makes the 31.8mm version of the Bar Fly look a tad bulkier.