Motorcycle cameras can be split up into two types: fixed to the bike or fixed to the rider. Both of these systems carry pros and cons. Systems fixed to the bike can normally be hardwired into the bikes power supply, leaving no issue for battery life whilst in use. Still, these will only record while the ignition is on or a short time after while the internal battery drains. Conversely, systems attached to the rider can be used when off the bike, as they are more mobile and flexible, but with modern cameras getting more powerful, battery lives are shortening, meaning filming time is reduced before needing a charge or a battery swap. Either multiple battery setups to swap between cameras or a large portable power bank can be used to charge cameras. However, if doing a moto vlog style video, this will usually affect the microphone input. Here are some tips on how to get a good moto vlog setup.
Bike mounted camera
These are usually hardwired into the bikes power system and permanently attached to the bike. Innovv makes hardwired types that usually have a front and rear-facing camera, which will record onto an SD card, usually hidden under the seat. Their new K5 system is the first 4k sensor on a motorcycle dashcam style camera. The forward-facing version records in 4k, and the rearward facing version is a full 1080p HD sensor. Innovv’s systems have been used worldwide and are frequently specified by motorcycle police forces and blood bike charities. The Innovv K5 also comes with a smart control allowing pause, start and stopping of recording separately. There is a handy app to download footage straight from the camera to the phone for near-instant playback and GPS and speed data built-in. If you don’t need 4K video, there is a K3 system that is more discrete and compact.
Slightly cheaper than the K5 system is the K3 which is more compact and easily mountable. Both of these systems use an external microphone which can be mounted out of the way of the wind for ambient noise, or in theory, inside the helmet with some modification for easy Motovlog footage.
This kind of camera system can be beneficial in the event of an accident, as any footage recorded can be used as evidence, but remember this also works both ways!
GoPro for motorcycles
GoPro cameras are rapidly increasing in quality and price, arguably one of the most versatile cameras. The mounting system allows positioning in pretty much any orientation using either chest mount, sticky mounts, suction cubs, permanent mounts or chin mounts to your helmet. GoPro’s ease of editing using the phone app, but the file formats can also be used in aftermarket software like premiere pro for that even more professional feel. I personally have a Gopro hero 6 black, which is great quality, but it does feel old compared to the modern hardware. Using sticky mounts, chest mounts, suction cups or even hard fixed using fasteners, there are minimal limitations to where a GoPro camera can be mounted.
GoPro’s new 360 cameras can capture great footage, which can all be edited afterwards to provide great clips. They are easy to mount and as usual with GoPro’s software, it is easy to use. These cameras will normally be allowed on trackdays as long as they are securely fastened to the bike only, and tethered securely.
Of course, you can mount a GoPro to the helmet using sticky mounts or even chin mount adaptors, but there are also dedicated helmet-mounted cameras. The camera’s from Drift innovation can be helmet-mounted, and the sleek profile allows for minimum interference once mounted. Ranging from the top of the range Ghost 4k to the Ghost X, there is something for all needs.
Alternatively, leading communications experts, Sena combined a forward-facing camera with an intercom system into the 10C Evo and Pro models. These feature all the usual functionality of a Sena headset with the added camera sensor.
Extra battery power!
With the quality of modern cameras comes a power thirst. While manufacturers want to keep the profiles of cameras small, battery life also suffers. Some modern cameras can have short battery lives of around 45 mins. Replacement batteries are not expensive and can be used in rotation, as they are simple to swap. Alternatively, a power brick can be used with some extension cables, but sometimes cameras will only have one USB port, so may take away some functionality.
Remember to tether it!
Any camera is a hefty investment, with some costing a large amount of money. Take it from my experience that no matter how it is mounted, be it a suction cup or sticky mount, it can still come off! As good as modern action cameras are, they don’t bounce well, even worse at speed. A tether cable is cheap and can be looped around parts or mountings; keeping the camera attached should something slip. Better to be safe than sorry!
If you are looking to do a Moto Vlog style video, then an external microphone is required. You can either run this through the GoPro using the GoPro 3.5mm adaptor, but this is quite large and will need to secure your helmet near the camera itself. The microphone needs to be TRS style, not TRRS, which has an extra ring on the jack. Adaptors can be bought to convert from TRRS to TRS. Some test and development is required to get the positioning within the helmet correct to minimise noise from the wind and maximise voice audio.
which is best?
Well, it’s hard to say as everybody’s needs are different. Hardwired systems are great, secure and get power from the motorcycle charging system so need to worry about batteries. They do have drawbacks as they are not portable for off the bike, and can’t be moved around like a gopro. Helmet camera’s show where the rider is looking, compared to a static gopro which does not. All in all, it’s hard to say which is best, but this list serves as a great list of options.
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