Ask RideApart: Best Motorcycle Dash Cams

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Motorcycle Dash Cam

You ask, the community answers. It’s Ask RideApart. This week: What are the best motorcycle dash cams?

This question comes to us from reader John Conway, who asks, “What would you guys suggest for a dash cam setup for motorcycles? I’ve been in several close calls in my first year of motorcycling and would like to have some video evidence to show if the worst would happen. I’ve seen some guys strap GoPros to their helmets, but GoPros don’t have a looped recording feature – and that’s necessary in my opinion. Also, I’d really rather not strap anything to my helmet.”

 

So we’re all on the same page, a “dash cam” is a video recording device which works sort of like the black box in an airplane, recording on a loop and saving its video only if an incident occurs. They were first popularized in Russia (epic compilation video above), where insurance fraud is common. There, they prevent unscrupulous motorists from hitting your car on purpose, then going after your insurance company for a payout. Most action cams — like GoPro — don’t have that continuous loop feature. Do you know of any onboard cameras that do or ways to make existing equipment function like a dash cam?

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  • Archie

    Most – if not any – dash cams that have the usual sticky windscreen mount can be attached to a motorcycle screen with ease and used exactly as you would in a car. If you’re on a naked bike or anything without a screen you’re going to be limited in your options. Keep in mind that the main inhibitor for most motorcyclists will be the lack of an auxiliary power source on their bikes to power the dash cam itself continuously. The whole point of a dedicated dash cam is the convenience of it simply being there and never having to be touched except when you need to get the recording off it.

    If you don’t have an auxiliary power source on your bike (12v/24v outlet) then you’re going to need to take the action cam route. Don’t bother with a GoPro if you ride for more than 2 hours between charging opportunities. Contour’s Roam cameras offer better battery life, ease of use and ergonomics at the expense of video quality – they aren’t up to scratch with GoPro’s offerings but they are still well on par if not superior to your average dash cam. Other options include Drift’s Ghost cameras; excellent quality and functionality all round, even better battery life than the Contour but a lot more expensive.

    With all that said, mounting points are going to be a huge issue. I can’t stress enough the risk you take by attaching an action cam to your helmet. In the event of an accident, a GoPro stuck in with one of their ridiculously strong mounts has the potential to seriously compromise your helmet’s ability to stop an impact, or even cause further damage than you would have sustained without it attached. Helmets are designed in such a way that their exterior surface is free of any points that can catch on a surface in the event you go sliding down the road on your head. Think about what would happen if you’re tumbling and your GoPro attached to the side of your helmet gets caught on one of the bounces and jerks your helmet – and your head – violently to one side. You’re going to feel it, it’s going to hurt, it might even kill you. Of all the places to mount an action cam on your helmet, I would say the top of the helmet would be the safest, provided it has a relatively discrete profile (Drift Ghost / Sony Action Cam – NOT a GoPro). Chin-bar is another risky spot; since it’s a common place of impact in a crash, you don’t want a camera between your helmet and the impact surface.

    Best place to mount an action cam is therefore anywhere you can on your bike, out of your way and preferably away from any likely impact points. Side of the bike is not ideal, whereas under the windscreen or clipped on to your handlebars are perfect spots. Also consider having a second camera facing behind you, to help in the event of being rear-ended or similar incidents. Mounting a camera on the back of a bike should be easy and obvious; avoid areas you or your passenger may need to be or maneuver around, and avoid areas of compression (don’t mount it on your rear mudguard where it may get crushed under the subframe under rear shock compression).

    Personally, I highly recommend getting a chest or torso mount of some sort. You get an excellent view of what is happening around you without having to mount the camera to your helmet, it is easily accessible and discrete enough for daily use. Not ideal if you ever find yourself in the full tuck position on your daily commute, but fine for crouching behind a windshield when giving it a good squirt. Food for thought; the local motorcycle constabulary where I live either use shoulder mounted Contour Roam 2′s or helmet mounted Drift Ghost HD’s.

    • Bad Kev

      Routing auxiliary power from the battery is not all that difficult and would solve all of the action cam problems.

    • Csorin

      I had a GoPro mounted to the visor cap of my Arai helmet (the little plastic covers on each side of the helmet where the visor rotates). It ripped off the cover when I wrecked at 60 mph. No idea if it tweaked my head or not, but it didn’t make a bad situation worse probably thanks to mounting it on that cover rather than the actual shell of the helmet. If I do another mount I’ll definitely use the same place.

      • Archie

        That’s actually a great example; a lot of the extra bits on Arai helmets are very easy to rip off, it’s one of their design features to minimize the effect of them catching in a slide. Mounting your camera on the plastic cover is definitely the best spot if your helmet features one or similar.

  • BryonCLewis

    I’ve recently purchased a Mobius ActionCam to use as a dash camera for in my car and on my bike. It comes with a variety of mount options plus an optional waterproof cover. The best part it is it is relatively cheap (~$70) when compared to the gopros and drifts. Look it up on google it seems to work fairly well.

    • Martin

      Could you give any links to that? Especially interested in waterproof cover as i couldn’t find any on eBay. Thanks!

    • Braden

      Quite curious about the Mobius now. Been planning a big trip for the summer and want to document it. The only thing that’s still attractive about the GoPro for me is being able to see a live view on my phone as a view finder, remote controls, and wireless doodads. Any cheaper workarounds to get some of those?

      • Lourens Smak

        Liquid Image EGO. It costs about half of a Gopro, and has wifi with remote viewfinder/control. The remote view has significant lag, but to aim the camera it’s okay I guess. If you do a search on youtube you’ll find several reviews of the camera, plus lots of footage shot with it.

  • TheUst

    Sigh, I realize now that I seriously asked for the wrong thing for Christmas…

  • anthony

    Another vote for Mobius ActionCam http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oqQ77nXSfVw Best bang for the buck!

  • zedro

    Newer go-pros now have looping, drift hd as well

  • Mofles Gutz

    I suggest a V.I.O. POV HD. Camera and recorder are separate units. So if the camera is damaged, it won’t ruin your footage. The loop feature is excellent. You can set it to record from 20 seconds up to 30 minutes. Video resolution of 1080 or 720 HD or low quality of 480. All at different frames per second. All in MP4 or MOV format. You can also have a time stamp display on video play back. It uses 4 AA Batteries. I carry spares in case my rechargeables fail. I aatached it to the base plate on my Arai using the Velcro mounting option it came with. I can’t seem to attach a photo. I’ll try and post it later on.

  • Bruce Steever

    Rivera Primo has looping feature, haven’t tested it yet…

  • Benjamin Kuo

    I got a setup with a Sony Action Cam AS-30V with a suction mount over the holidays, and it’s worked well. With a 64 GB memory card, the camera can record 7.5 hours of video at 1080p/30fps. I don’t think it has loop recording. It can record 120°/170° view and has a decent motion stabilizer. Image quality is superior to the GoPro, especially at night.

    Battery life is a bit less than 2 hours, but extra batteries are pretty cheap on Amazon. If power is an issue for you, you can try connecting it to some sort of USB power adapter. Note that you will not be able to use the camera in the waterproof case and you’ll need the skeleton case to expose the charging port. That case offers no crash protection or drop protection.

    One thing that is really nice is the camera allows GPS overlay (when you import the video and do post-processing with free software), so you can get information on speed and location.

    I just attach the suction mount to the gas tank and the connection is solid. The camera comes with an awkward helmet mount, but since all the mounts are standard camera mounts, there are a ton of accessories available.

    Product links: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00EVIBN8U/ref=oh_details_o01_s00_i02?ie=UTF8&psc=1
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0092W8BNA/ref=oh_details_o01_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    Video I made: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nkaiEdtHzfU

    Good luck!

  • Cufflink

    I’ve actually mounted my Samsung Galaxy S3 onto my handlebars using a RAM mount with the Universal X-Grip. I then installed AutoGuard Blackbox and Tasker from the Play store. Whenever I connect my bluetooth on my helmet AND plugin the power cable to the phone, my Tasker profile launches the AutoGuard background app automatically and begins to record/loop. Here’s a video example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fowZcT7kIKk (Turn on Closed Captioning to see Lat/Long, Date/Time, speed, etc!)

  • DerekB

    My only experience with dash/action cams has been with my gopro hero 3 black edition. DO NOT BUY THIS GENERATION. The battery life is embarrassing, like 45 minutes at best. It overheats and the software is extremely buggy.It does take gorgeous video though.

  • runnermatt

    I mounted my GoPro Hero HD to the front of the gas tank on my CBR250R. The faring protects the camera from most wind noise, but there is some vibration. There is also a little glare from the windshield. Depending on the angle you can see all, part or none of the gauge cluster; convenient if you don’t want to post your speed online. I’ll try to reply to this comment with a picture of the setup later, but here is the only video I’ve posted online using this mounting location. I couldn’t think of any other locations that would protect from wind noise and give a decent camera angle.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPnymBQnJ4c