I love cycling and it’s great to see bicycles becoming popular with people trying to maintain social distancing and avoiding public transportation. If you read about my woes in Japan when I cycled during my travels there, you’ll know that the Loop Mount Twist would be something I would be interested in.
What is it
Loop Mount came to life with their first Kickstarter campaign for the original Loop Mount, a minimal bicycle phone mount that funded over GBP 389,000. They are back again with a second generation called Loop Mount Twist. As the name suggests, this new version can rotate unlike its predecessor.
Having a phone mount for your bicycles can save you from serious cycling mishaps, especially if you are bad with directions like me! They are a great way to give you a hands-free, instant view of your phone while you cycle.
The success of the original Loop Mount is down to its minimalist design. It mounts on handlebars of all shapes and sizes. When not in use, it gets out of the way and shout that it’s a phone holder. In fact, its slim profile that makes it look like it is part of your bicycle.
The Loop Mount Twist continues the design philosophy while adding the ability to twist your mounted phone to your preferred orientation.
Both versions of the Loop Mount have sufficient grip strength to keep your phone securely mounted even over bumpy terrains. While it makes sense to clamp your phone as tightly as possible, I’m a little paranoid about this metal claw gripping my phone.
Who is it for
If you cycle and often find yourself reaching for your phone to check the map app for directions, you probably need a Loop Mount Twist. Please, if you don’t have a phone mount, you should just stop your bicycle and check your phone. Don’t try to pull your phone out and fiddle with it while you’re cycling. You don’t want to tempt Murphy’s Law. I speak from experience.
For those of you who have a bicycle phone mount, you’ll want a Loop Mount Twist. I’ve seen what’s available in the market and they are hideous. I bet your phone mount is, too.The designers behind Loop Mount have done a commendable job of creating a simple but highly functional product.
The Loop Mount Twist blends in with your bicycle instead of being an eyesore sticking out from the handlebar.
What problem does it solve
Crashing your bike. Dropping your phone while you cycle. Crashing into innocent pedestrians. Crashing into innocent walls. Been there, done that. I can say with certain authority, based on my history of crashes, that bicycle phone mounts are imperative to cycling safety.
Loop Mount Twist makes cycling safer by allowing you to easily access your phone to help you navigate. It lets you keep your hands on the handlebar. It doesn’t keep your eyes on the road, however. Nor does it solve the problem of being an inconsiderate cyclist.
What I’m trying to say is, that this product helps you to a certain extent, but you still need to exercise caution and common sense, as uncommon as it is. Be mindful of your surroundings and treat pedestrians and motorist with respect.
Is it innovative
Have a look at what’s available in the market. Grotesque is an understatement.
It’s as though the first designers who came up with phone mounts decided that the mount should imitate a hand holding the phone. But somehow they thought a hand that represents chicken feet makes more sense, and all the other designers agreed on repulsive design choice.
So, kudos to the Loop Mount team for their thoughtful design that makes not just the product but also your phone blend with your bicycle. That said, I came across similar designs quite some time back, so my initial reaction was that it wasn’t an innovative design.
Then, I noticed the creators mentioning on their Kickstarter campaign that there have been several Chinese companies have copied their designs. They claim they have the patent but IP protection is a slow process. So I rung up the Dr Pawtent to run a check.
The patents filed in China are for exterior design patents and are held by Alexander Hulme, one of the creators. The first patent for the Loop Mount was filed on 12 June 2020, and the second on 12 October 2020. The first Loop Mount Kickstarter campaign went live on 30 June 2020.
Contrary to popular belief, intellectual property protection is very well enforced in China in recent years. Since they already hold the patent, they can actually start to enforce it. Drop us a message if you need help with that.
However, the caveat here is that they filed for an exterior design patent. This means that others can easily bypass the patent by making some changes to the exterior design of the product. So, these alleged copies could have actually have bypassed the patent.
So why didn’t they file for an innovation patent that would give them better protection? It is possible that there is an existing innovation patent, hence they could only file for an exterior design patent to bypass the innovation patent.
Unlike the exterior design patent, this is a lot more work and Dr Pawtent is still on it. I’ll report back with his findings.
There is also a possibility that the product was jointly developed with a Chinese factory. The factories often already have a solution for the use case (and potentially hold the innovation patent), and they provide ODM services where you can use their solution but make changes to the exterior design of the product to file for a design patent.
In this video, the factory is showing the phone mount to a group of foreign clients. Update: The factory has reached out claiming that the video showed clients visiting to see their RC car accessories.
More investigative work needs to be done to find an answer to this. We have reached out to the Chinese factory selling this on the Alibaba’s Chinese platform, and we welcome the Loop Mount team to get in touch with the full story. If you are a backer and want us to do more investigative work on the ground, let us know and we can arrange to visit the factory.
Is it worth it
The Loop Mount Twist retails for $36. As you can see the factory is selling it at CNY39.9, that’s $6. Factor in shipping cost of around $10 to $15 and it is still a lot cheaper. Of course, there’s the product development and marketing costs on top of their manpower cost.
The bicycle phone mounts on Amazon are going for an average of $15. So the Loop Mount Twist is a little pricey. However, it trumps them with its sleek design and that for me is worth paying extra for.
What are the alternatives
There are tons of ugly bicycle phone mounts. If you can live with these repulsive products, go ahead. I’ll judge, but go ahead.
However, I would recommend taking a look at the Beeline Velo 2 if you are willing to dole out a bit more cash. It is a smart bicycle GPS navigation gadget that might cost more than a phone mount, but would be a cheaper option to risk crashing thank your thousand-dollar phone.
As we always say, if your product is successful, it’ll be copied. If you’re not, then people won’t bother copying your product. So Loop Mount’s success could have brought about its woes, but we also believe that they could have protected themselves better and can still enforce their copyright.
If you have a product you plan to launch and want to know the precautions to take, get in touch. We are Critical Bears but we have a soft side too. And we don’t bite.
That said, the Loop Mount Twist is a good iteration of their first successful product and is one worth getting if you’re in the market for one.
10 September 2021
The factory reached out claiming that they have bypassed the Loop Mount patent. This usually means that they made enough changes to the design so they would be granted patent for the product, even if it has a similar function as Loop Mount.
They posted the application on their Chinese Alibaba page after we wrote this article. It is interesting that the application was only submitted on 8 August 2021, around 2 weeks after we published this article. However, do note that it is only an application and we’ll have to see if they are awarded the patent. It is a process that takes a few months.
The way I see this, there are two possibilities here for us to consider. Let me know in the comments if you have further deductions or insights.
Scenario A: Alexander found a good product designed in China, dressed it up with a nice brand and did a good Kickstarter campaign with it to establish the Loop Mount brand.
Scenario B: The product is an original design created by Alexander’s team and the product was then copied by a Chinese manufacturer.
There are two facts that point to the Scenario B as the greater possibility.
Firstly, Loop Mount ran their campaign first in 2020 and the second in 2021. This new version is a second generation that improved and iterated on their first version.
Secondly, Loop Mount received their patents in 2020, whereas the factory’s patent was only filed a few weeks ago in August 2021, after we published this article.
We are not taking any sides and are here to help consumers understand the situation better. Hence, we look forward to hearing from either parties to share more with us.
20 November 2021
There has been no follow up from the factory after more than two months. Instead, the product has been removed from their Alibaba store completely. This suggests that they indeed have no claim to the patent and copied this product design from Loop Mount.
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