Review: Fotodiox Aftermarket GoPro Mounts

aftermarket GoPro mounts
Some of the aftermarket GoPro mounts from Fotodiox.

I’ve been on the hunt for aftermarket GoPro mounts. Every few months, I break one of the stock plastic mounts that come with the Helmet Hero cameras. I have a grab bag of spares, so it’s not the biggest deal.

But I really want to some tougher aftermarket GoPro mounts, preferably made from aluminum. I’ve found a few over the past year, and I recently thought I’d hit the jackpot when I ran across Fotodiox. The company has a laundry list of aftermarket GoPro parts, including aluminum extender arms. I ordered enough of its GoTough accessories to help me get creative with camera angles.

Now, Fotodiox doesn’t have a compact handlebar mount – so I stuck with using my K-Edge GO BIG (I’m tempted to say the K-EDGE stuff is overpriced. There’s just one little thing, though: It’s never, ever failed me.) mount for the handlebar and suspension fork.

What I’m about to tell you about the aftermarket GoPro mounts from Fotodiox pains me. I don’t want to say it because the Fotodiox crew is friendly on social media and ships promptly when you place an order.

But holy cow, I broke one of the GoTough extender arms within 30 seconds of riding on my local trail. On a hardtail singlespeed with a short-travel, lightweight, cross-country suspension fork. Less than 30 seconds.

The guy in American Pie lasted longer.

aftermarket gopro mounts
Broken already – the Fotodiox aftermarket GoPro mounts.

And I feel a bit bad hanging Fotodiox out to dry in these terms. But as friendly as they are on social media, they dropped the ball when I sent an email on May 13 outlining the problems I had with their GoTough extenders. I sent the same info to them via their email form, too. If a company doesn’t at least say "Hey, we got your message" after a few days, my goodwill melts. And I tried to be nice about it (see text of the letter).

So, why did the Fotodiox aftermarket GoPro mounts blow up?

Each GoTough arm is made from at least two pieces of aluminum – I’m guessing it’s cast since I don’t see the telltale signs of CNC machining. The pieces are held together with either two or four tiny machine screws.

I noticed problems from the moment I test-mounted some the GoTough extenders. There was wiggle in all of them; I found the screws when I started looking for the source of the play. I then tightened all the screws with small screwdrivers.

It seemed OK, so I went for a ride. I figured a milk run to a trail nearby would provide an adequate test. Everything was fine as I rode to the trail. It all went to hell when I went off-road.

The Fotodiox aftermarket GoPro mounts have other problems, too.

There’s a lot of space between the "knuckles" that connect the GoTough extensions to each other. This means I had to tighten the pieces so much that the aluminum crimped noticeably. If they were each as little as a quarter of a millimeter thicker, Fotodiox might solve this problem.

As for the other problem -- the extenders need to be one piece. Screwing them together is screwing them up. They won’t be able to withstand the pounding of mountain bike or extreme sports with such small-diameter screws with just about two millimeters of metal to bit into. It just won’t work.

I’ll update when/if Fotodiox responds to my email. I hope they have some ideas.

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Riding the Zorb Sphere – Rotorua, New Zealand

I don’t know exactly what goes on inside Kiwis’ heads, or why they invented the Zorb. Is it that they have just eight television channels? Or that range animals overwhelmingly outnumber humans? The proximity to Antarctica?

Sarah's sphere races downhill.
Sarah’s sphere races downhill.

There has to be some reason that Kiwis dream up contraptions and activities like bungee jumping, jet boats that spin in circles on the water and Zorbing.

Today, let’s talk about that last one … the Zorb sphere. Explaining this verbally is kind of tricky, so you’re lucky I have videos and photos to go along with the written word.

Imagine a giant beach ball with really thick walls. Let’s say it has a little tunnel leading to a human-sized inner chamber. You then dive into that chamber, and someone squirts a few gallons of water in there, seals the entrance and then rolls you and the ball down a hill lined with berms and turns.

Yep, that’s a Zorb sphere.

Sarah and I arrived in New Zealand with a full knowledge of Zorbing, and we were determined to

Zorb
Sarah shakes off her Zorbing legs.

try it. We had some time to kill in Rotorua between geyers and stuff, so we headed out to the Agrodome, which has a number of crazy activities, some of which apparently involve sheep.

We had an array of Zorb choices: The twisty course, the straight course, wet, dry? We selected the wet twisty option, eliciting many choruses of “Good on ya” from the employees. Apparently, this is the favored option. If I recall right, it was $45 NZ.

Sarah went first as I shot photos. She emerged feet first, like the Green Giant’s golf ball giving birth to a human, complete with a rush of fluid. And like a newborn, she had a bit of trouble standing for a few seconds – the Zorb-O-Port employees had to prop her up a bit.

Zorb
A perfect view of the entry chute and the inner chamber.

Then it was my turn. Clad only in a pair of shorts, I sat in the back of a truck with another couple. We drove to the top of the hill, where a conveyer belt-like device delivered the giant spheres. I was the first to go.

“Awright, mate,” one of the blokes told me. “Just back up, get a running start and dive into the hole!”

Click to watch … you can see me slosh about and nearly go over the berm!

I did as I was told, landing face-first in a puddle of water at the bottom of the inner Zorb chamber. The sphere was more opaque, so I couldn’t see out much. The bloke’s face appeared in the tunnel to the outside world.

“Awright, mate (most everything male Kiwis say starts with this phrase) … just push hard that way [points down hill], sit down and enjoy the ride,” he said.

So it began. The Zorb sphere quickly gained speed, and soon it crashed into a berm, bouncing me all sorts of ways around. Water was flying everywhere, and so was I. At this point, I was already laughing and gesticulating like an idiot to nobody in particular.

Moments later, it was all done. The blokes at the bottom corraled the sphere, aimed the hatch

I see the feet!
I see the feet!

downward, and out I slid with a hard THUMP! on the butt.

I was all excited and started telling my Zorb tale to the throngs waiting for their ride. Then I realized my wedding ring had slipped off – not to worry, though. We found it about five minutes later between the landing spot and the conveyor. Without further ado, on to my Zorbing tips!

1. Wear nothing but a swimsuit or shorts.
2. That means no jewelry, especially not rings!
3. Don’t be a wuss – choose the Zydro (wet and twisty).
4. Don’t hesitate when you enter, or you won’t make it all the way through.

To wrap it up, I simply want my own Zorb sphere and a decent hill. Or at least for Zorbing to become the next big thing here in the States.