First published on February 8, 2019
There are a few good reasons to ride a bike with a video camera. You might want to record some interesting hikes – for example the ascent of Alpe d’Huez or the descent of Sa Calobra – or you might want to collect videos that could serve as evidence in the event of an incident of the traffic, the same way a car dashcam does.
The videos from road.cc Near Miss of the Day show the potential value of driving with a camera. Many incidents would be a matter of one person speaking against another without the video evidence.
6 of the best action cameras for 2021
Here’s what you should look for when deciding what to buy.
Start looking at the picture quality and all of a sudden you’ll come across a whole lot of jargon regarding pixels and resolution.
• 720p consists of 1280 x 720 pixels (so over 900,000 pixels)
• 1080p consists of 1920 x 1080 pixels (just over 2 million pixels)
• 4K consists of 3840 x 2160 pixels (over 8 million pixels)
1080p is capable of giving finer detail than 720p, and 4K again offers more detail. On the other hand, a higher resolution tends to cost more and takes up more memory for the same amount of time.
You’ll also experience fps, or frames per second, which is exactly what it sounds like.
The Cycliq Fly12 HD camera and front light (£ 269 for the upcoming new version) takes photos in a maximum resolution of 1080p and 60fps.
It also has 6-axis electronic stabilization, which means images don’t bounce when you try to read the license plate of a car that has cut you up.
“The images are very good”, Dave Atkinson said in his review for road.cc. “The 135 ° angled lens offers a nice wide view and the image is crisp and clear, making it easier to read car license plates, for example.
“Six-axis image stabilization does a great job of making the recorded image look nice and smooth, although horizontal stabilization means you get a bit of lag and then a sharp movement when you start a turn. not so much of a problem when switching from one road to another, but it can make the video a bit choppy when you’re not in the saddle or struggling to climb a steep climb. “
The GoPro Hero7 Silver (£ 199.99) will give you 30 frames per second at 4K, while its big brother, the Hero7 Black at £ 259.99, will shoot in 4K up to 60fps and as Dave Atkinson discovered when he examined it, do a lot more besides.
While you can still find them, both of these cameras have been discontinued. We haven’t reviewed the latest GoPro’s yet, but we’d be surprised if the 259.99 € GoPro Hero8 Black and 319.99 € GoPro Hero9 Black are not as good.
You can get some really good standard action cameras for not a lot of money if you don’t think you need something like a Cycliq. A QUMOX SJ8 Air, for example, is very popular and you can buy one online for £ 110.
It runs at a maximum resolution of 1296p, records in a three, five or ten minute loop (see Loop video, below) and has a runtime of 90 minutes.
Another aspect of recording to consider is the sound.
When reviewing the (now discontinued) Acer Xplova X5 Evo GPS Bike Computer, Jez Ash said, “The device’s microphone is pretty much usable when fully stationary, but no matter what. how fast it becomes unnecessary – the combination of road vibrations and wind noise (even at low speeds) overwhelms all other sounds. “
“When you put cameras like this in a rack, the sound quality is awful most of the time,” warns Matt Howes, road.cc’s resident videographer. “In fact, the sound quality of action cameras is usually not very high, although that’s not really their goal; video quality is much more important to most people.”
Looping video allows a camera to record continuously. When it runs out of memory space, it starts overwriting your existing footage. This is a very useful feature which means that you don’t have to manually delete unnecessary footage and you will never find that the camera has stopped recording because the memory card is full.
If something noticeable happens while you’re riding – anything you want to keep as recorded evidence, for example – you can save it before it’s overwritten.
The Cycliq Fly12, for example, splits the video into 5, 10, or 15 minute segments (depending on your preference) and when the card is full, it deletes the oldest footage.
It incorporates an incident detection system. If the camera detects that it is tilted more than 60 ° from the horizontal, it triggers an automatic process that locks the current sequence and the segment on either side. You can also press a button on the Fly12 to do the same.
Height and weight
Chances are, you want a small and unobtrusive camera, especially if you plan to mount it on a helmet rather than the bike, but you might want to balance that with battery life; a very light camera can sometimes have a rather short autonomy.
The least annoying camera we have reviewed on road.cc is the 62g RoadHawk Ride R + Cycle Edition Camera, but unfortunately this is no longer available.
Something like the GoPro Hero7 Silver is considerably larger – 62 x 45 x 28mm and 94g – while the Cycliq Fly12 measures 103 x 59 x 35mm and weighs 195g, but it’s as good a light as it is a camera.
Battery life varies considerably from camera to camera and as mentioned above there is often a balance between size / weight and range, so be sure to choose something something that suits your needs.
The Cycliq Fly12 has a battery life of around eight hours with the camera on and the light off, five hours with low light and a few hours with the light on full power. With regular recharging, this will cover the needs of most people.
Cycliq Fly6 taillight camera (£ 199 for the upcoming new version) gives you up to five hours of continuous recording in camera-only mode and four hours with the lights on.
GoPro estimates that you will get 1:20 to 2:30 continuous recording from a fully charged battery in its Hero cameras, depending on the video mode.
Chances are you want to mount your camera on the handlebars or a helmet, or rear facing on your seat post. You can also get chest supports, which are great for mountain biking videos, but we found them a bit bulky and not particularly comfortable for long rides. If the frames you want aren’t included in the package, you’ll need to budget for them separately.
A Cycliq Fly6 taillight / camera, for example, comes with a standard mount, but a rear pannier mount costs £ 22.99.
A GoPro Hero camera comes with adhesive mounts, but a vented helmet strap mount costs £ 19.99 and a handlebar / seatpost mount costs £ 34.99. A combo bike mount for a Garmin Virb Ultra 30 also costs £ 34.99.
It’s worth checking what’s in the box before handing over your money.
Most helmet mounts just point the camera forward, but we were impressed with the Techalogic DC-1 Dual Lens Helmet Camera (£ 179.95) which, as the name suggests, has two lenses, one facing forward and the other facing back. Read our review.
Nowadays, cameras have applications that can make the user experience much easier.
For example, you can connect your Cycliq Fly12 to your smartphone and have access to all the settings, so you can configure the camera as you want and control it (if you are riding off-road, you need to activate the tilt function and l emergency alarm off, otherwise it will sound when you lean too far into a berm or put your bike down). You can also change the settings through a desktop application on computer, while another desktop application allows you to edit the video.
If you just want to use a camera to record road traffic incidents that occur, you won’t spend a lot of time editing footage, so the ability of the app can afford to be pretty basic. GoPro’s desktop app, on the other hand, is designed to create more impressive action videos. You can add photos and time-lapse footage, for example, and sync music with your videos, way beyond anything you’d want for everyday footage of driving in traffic.
Applications are also used for firmware updates. Of course, you need to make sure that any app is compatible with your phone and / or computer.
Most cameras come with a 12 month warranty. Cycliq, Garmin, and GoPro, for example, give you a warranty that their cameras will be free from defects in workmanship and materials under normal use for one year.
We would really like to know which cameras road.cc readers are using and whether they are good or not. Please tell us in the comments below.