Last updated on December 10th, 2018
There are plenty of ways to mount a phone holder to a motorcycle. But not all are equal. If you’re looking for a reliable smartphone mount, as OEM looking as possible, that leaves the phone in a symmetrical, stable position, this is as good as it gets. At least on anything smaller than a Gold Wing. What’s better, it’s easy and cheap to do. If you are looking for the best way to professionally mount your smartphone to your bike, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading to see how to install a Ram Mount motorcycle phone holder on the 2017+ Kawasaki Ninja 650.
Tool Requirements: Easy-Intermediate
Time: Less than 1 hour
Easy, Bolt-On Option – Ram Mount Fork Stem Base
Okay, I recognize some people don’t want to permanently modify their bike or waste time. They simply want to buy a single item and bolt it on (without damage to the bike). If that’s you, just get this Ram Mount motorcycle phone holder option:
This is also the easiest option for installing a Kawasaki Ninja 400 phone holder. So if you have a Ninja 400, you’ll want to consider it as a smartphone mount. The Ram mount bolts straight into the hole under the black cap in the center of the handlebar. It only takes a few minutes to install, and you can remove it just as easily. See the pictures above for more information.
It comes with everything included so you wouldn’t need to buy any other accessory. It’s a great option if you don’t want to tap your handlebar, which is understandable. To see how to install it, click here.
Another option for an even better fit would be this one: 1″ Ball 12mm Hexagon Hole GPS Mount. Many users prefer the metal mounting stem rather than the rubber one on Ram Mounts Fork Stem Mount.
For more options or a more OEM looking solution keep reading.
Ram Mount Motorcycle Phone Mount Options
Here I’ll go into a more detailed explanation of the Ram Mount motorcycle phone holder options.
As a GPSaholic myself, there are two things I do to any bike I’ll be riding for any amount of time. Find a way to mount a phone, and find a way to charge a phone. This guide takes care of the first part.
Thankfully, plenty has already been said about the subject. When it comes to Bluetooth helmet intercoms, everyone’s going to point you to Sena. And when it comes to phone mounts, they’ll point you to Ram Mounts. It’s almost fair to say that, for the moment, there isn’t even a second-best choice. They’re currently the industry standard.
That said, there are still a few decisions to make. More than a product, Ram Mounts offers a Lego-like system. You pick and choose what you like and what you need, depending on your application. The phone mount itself is called the “Universal X-Grip”. You have one model for “normal” small and medium smartphones and another model for large Smartphones. They are both identical, except that the “large” version is for phablet sized phones.
The real options come at the mount-to-bike side. Here you’ll have plenty of choices. I have my favorite, but I’ll step you through a few. Just in case any of them should suit you better.
Ram Mount Motorcycle Phone Holder Options
- RAM Handlebar Rail Mount – Suitable for semi-permanent mounting to a handlebar. It might very well be among the better options for a continuous handlebar (motocross style). It’s perfectly stable, but not the most aesthetically pleasing option. Though it’s great for portable or temporary use.
- Ram Mount Motorcycle Fork Stem Base – This is an excellent option if you have a hollow steering column or triple tree bolt head. Especially if the other options don’t fit. This is the quick & easy solution from before.
- RAM Small Tough-Claw Base – There are different sizes for different size tubes. This is the best portable, temporary option for quick on and off. Nonetheless, it is not the best option for permanent or semi-permanent use.
- RAM Torque Handlebar/Rail Base – A more aesthetically pleasing and permanent alternative, compared to the “RAM Handlebar Rail Mount”.
- RAM Combination Brake/Clutch Reservoir U-Bolt Mount – Honestly, I don’t like this option. At all. Mostly because the GPS would be both non-centered on the handlebar, as well as move around every time I turn. That’s something I find annoying, not to mention a risk if using a charging cable. Nonetheless, the option exists, and some people like it.
- RAM Large Gas Tank Mount – If you are attracted to this style of mount, and it’s compatible with your bike, go for it. For the sport bike crowd with a leaned-over position, the viewing angle would not be great. In that sense, I’m hard pressed to see the advantage over other methods. Plus, refueling next to a charging, hot phone (or having to remove it to refuel) doesn’t sound attractive at all.
But my favorite choice is…
As you can see, there are plenty of choices. But by far, my favorite choice for a OEM looking, aesthetically pleasing, non-obtrusive design is the simplest of all. And that would be: “Ram Mount 1-Inch Ball with 1/4-Inch 20 Male Threaded Post“. To boot, it’s one of the cheaper options, too. This DIY will be centered around installing a phone mount via this option.
Ram Mount Motorcycle Phone Holder – How-To
Step 1 – Gather what you’ll need
Today I’m installing this Ram Mount motorcycle phone holder on a 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650.I’m doing so with a X-Grip Mount using a 1/4-20 Male Threaded Ball. After doing a handful of phone mount installations on motorbikes, this is definitely my favorite way to do this. Regardless of the bike, the tools needed and process are virtually the same. Note – The items within parenthesis mean useful, but not crucial.
- Ram Mount 1-Inch Ball with 1/4-Inch 20 Male Threaded Post – This is the actual part we are installing.
- Ram Mount Cradle Holder for Universal X-Grip Cellphone/iPhone with 1-Inch Ball – For small to medium size phones , this is my favorite phone holder. That includes your typical Samsung Galaxy smartphone. If you have a phablet or large smartphone, buy this one instead.
- Ram Mount Composite Short Double Socket Arm for 1-Inch Ball Bases – Depending on your application, you might want a shorter or longer arm. Or even multi-articulated. But for most people this will work just fine.
- Hand Drill (preferably pneumatic) – I prefer pneumatic since it’s lighter and easier to control one-handed in delicate tasks like this. However, the day I made this DIY my pneumatic drill was being repaired. I used a regular electric drill instead.
- Center Punch – We’ll use this to prevent the drill bit from slipping and ruining your day. A must have in any toolbox.
- Tap Wrench – I personally prefer the ratcheting variety since it’s quicker. Of course, you can use whatever you have at hand.
- Pencil – Cus’ measuring twice and cutting once only matters if you’re marking where you’re cutting.
- (Mechanic’s Gas Tank Apron) – If you work on your bike regularly, this is another must have. A single paint chip on your gas tank will cost you a lot more than this apron. Specially when you have a 200 lb ratchet-wielding gorilla (aka your buddy) helping you work on your motorcycle. Thankfully, it’s one of those “buy once, use a lifetime” items which makes it pretty worthwhile.
- (Drill / Tap Guide) – While by no means necessary, for jobs like this I really like using a drill / tap guide. It definitely helps make sure the drilled hole is 100% perpendicular. Drilling straight is the most important detail when it comes to tapping, so it’s crucial to get it done right. Regardless of using crutches like this or not.
- (Tapping Oil) – Motor oil (or any viscous oil) will typically do just fine. But if you tap with any frequency, tapping oil is nice to have. It helps make nicer threads and reduces the risk of breaking a tap.
- (Superglue) – Just your typical cyanoacrylic glue. Not essential, but it’s useful if you have it on hand.
- Measuring tape and/or rulers – Because missing the mark would really, really suck.
- Thread locker – Either blue (medium strength) or red (high strength) are fine.
- Masking tape – Just to help prevent markings and marring. A few old towels or rags wouldn’t hurt, either.
- Drill Bit Set or a 5mm Drill bit / #7 / 13/64 Drill Bit – This is used to make the hole, prior to tapping.
- 1/4-20 Tap Set – I really like these small tap sets from Irwin. They include all three taps (the third being for blind holes), as well as a nice carry case. It’s certainly nice to have around in the sizes you need. Note – If the hole you’re drilling is blind, you’ll need a blind tap. A blind hole is one where the drill bit doesn’t go all the way through the material, like in triple tree head bolts.
Step 2 – Prepare the area and pick a location
The first step would be to pick where you want to install the bolt for the Ram Mount motorcycle phone holder. My personal favorites are the triple tree head bolt itself, or on the handlebar mount.
Since I was doing other installations, the front fairings of my bike were mostly removed already. This is by no means necessary, of course. If you feel like removing something to reduce the risk of damaging it (like the windshield), go ahead.
Step 3 – Measure and mark the drill location
Measure and mark where you are going to want to drill. Make sure that it is centered and exactly where you want it before bringing out any tools. This may very well be the most important step of the Ram Mount motorcycle phone holder project.
Step 4 – Center-punch the drill location
In an area like this, I’d consider using a center-punch non-optional. Here, the drill bit dancing off-center would mean one horrible day. Thankfully, it’s trivially easy and only takes a few seconds. Even if you don’t have an Automatic Center-Punch like the one pictured (which I prefer). Center-punch with anything at hand (even a nail) before even thinking about drilling.
Step 5 – Protect the area
Mask around the drill zone to prevent any marks made by mistake. In my case, I knew that the drilling guide used later on tends to leave marks where it contacts the work surface. That’s why I covered the surrounding zone.
Also, lay around some rags just in case you drop a tool, or simply to protect any surfaces from the machining chips.
Step 6 – Drill
Once you’re ready, drill.
I used a 5mm drill bit (I’m a metric guy, what can I say), but the “proper” size is #7 or 13/64″. Since motorcycles vibrate a lot, you want a tight thread. That’s why I went with the slightly undersized 5mm.
Make sure the drill bit is completely perpendicular to the work surface. To facilitate in doing so, I used a drill guide. Regardless, go really slow to keep the drill bit from damaging whatever is underneath the drill location. At least if you’re drilling all the way through. Since in this case we were indeed drilling a through-hole with another component beneath, I placed rags underneath the drill location to catch and stop the drill bit once it had gone through the handlebar mount.
After that, brush or blow away the chips.
Step 7 – Tap the hole
Now it’s time to make threads suitable for the Ram Mount attachment. Depending on if you’ve ever tapped a hole before (boy is it hard to say that with a serious face repeatedly…), this may seem either trivial or intimidating to you. But don’t worry, it’s easy. And it’s the most OEM-looking way to install a Ram Mount motorcycle phone holder.
All you need is a drill bit (slightly smaller than the thread you will be tapping), a tap, and a tap wrench. You first drill a slightly undersized hole, and then use the tap (which has a cone shape) to slowly remove material little by little. That until it’s created a thread in the size you need. There really isn’t any more to it.
The only tips to keep in mind are to lubricate, start perpendicular, go slow, and backup a turn every time the tap gets stuck. If you have any more specific questions, feel free to ask in the comments below.
Step 8 – Mount the Ram Mount ball
In my case, I used a Ram Mount 1-Inch Tough-Ball, rather than the more typical “non-tough” version. Basically because I was curious if there were any differences between them. But honestly, I don’t have a clear preference between either. I suppose the hex threads are nice on the tough model, but the other model looks simpler which I also like. Pick whichever one you like most. Either will work with any of the Ram Mount motorcycle phone holder options.
I put a nylon washer under the ball to keep it from marring the handlebar mount, but that’s totally optional and unnecessary. What isn’t optional is using threadlocker. Motorcycles vibrate a lot, so make sure you Loctite every bolt you install yourself.
Step 9 – Finish it up
Finally! All that’s left is to make the finishing touches. Screw on the extra Ram Mount pieces and put the fairings on.
You’re done! Now you have a Ram Mount motorcycle phone holder properly installed on your bike! The only thing left is to install a Kawasaki phone charger. Hopefully all went great and now you have an excellent way to check your emails while at red lights. Just like the rest of the cagers out there! But hopefully you’re more sensible than that and will use it for GPS above all.
In any case, I hope it was helpful! If you completed this project, I’d be more than happy to see the results and your bike in the comments below. Also, if you want to check out what other mods and upgrades I’ve done to my bike, check out my 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650’s upgrades list.
If you found this interesting, check out the homepage to see what other projects I’ve been up to — here are some you might like: