Musings on Biking Camera Uses

by Bike Shop Girl

Over the last year, I’ve been doing a concerted effort in testing and reviewing various cycling cameras for specific on-bike uses. There are many reasons to be using bike cameras and so the tests and reviews often are shaped around what the specific use case is for the camera and setup. I have a lot of thoughts on this, and also want general feedback from the community on how they may use cameras and the different language we could be using. Grab a cup of coffee and let’s talk cycling cameras!

Why Everyone Needs a Cycling Camera

The number one reason to have a cycling camera rolling at all times is in the case of a crash. Unfortunately, many bike/car crashes are hit-and-run, or not well documented by reporting officials, leaving uncertainty for the legal case of a cyclist.

Having a cycling camera for “safety” is really to cover your ass – document the experience, license plates, people, infrastructure failures, and so forth. I haven’t figured out what to call these cameras like the Cycliq Fly series or the new Garmin Varia. “Cycling Dash Camera” seems to offend anti-car folks but that is the closest I can think of.

As someone that was hit biking, the only reason my case had any payout was that a witness gave me their info. The reporting officer took the driver’s word that they think I was somehow in the crosswalk biking (why this is illegal I don’t know, but I wasn’t in the crosswalk), and the witness is the only reason my case happened. If I didn’t get their info, I would have been out a ton of medical bills and unpaid work time. A camera would have recorded the experience.

My Requirements for a Good Cycling Dash Camera

The footage has to be good even in shadows. I don’t expect it to see in the dark, but it needs to be able to see license plates. This means good resolution and stabilization.

2-hour+ run time and replaceable battery. The battery has to last or be able to run while being charged. Some people go for 3-6 hour bike rides but I don’t think a battery lasting that long is a requirement. This may be more extreme than most, but I think the camera should last at least 2 hours without external charge, and be able to charge while running. Oh, and have a replaceable battery.

Nice to Have

Looping record feature. This feature makes it so you never have to delete footage. Simply let the camera roll and it will erase previously recorded video in predetermined increments. I think these increments should be 20-30 minutes, not the very short increments Cycliq gives you.

Footage lock. Almost as important as the looping feature is that if there is impact, the camera is turned due to the bike falling over, or something like that then the camera “locks” the footage from 5 minutes prior and ongoing so that the incident isn’t recorded over.

Waterproof. Pretty obvious.

Solid mounting options. I’ve been having to rig up different options on some of the Cycliq lights that seemed to be designed only for road bikes.

Why hasn’t anyone invented this?

One last thing I want is auto start/stop with my Garmin. If bike lights can do it, why can’t the cameras?! Maybe the Garmin Varia has this ability and I just haven’t figured it out…I believe Cycliq did this on an older model but removed the feature for battery life.

Cameras for Documenting the Ride or Infrastructure

The other part of this whole cycling camera idea is to document bike rides, the bike infrastructure, and show your city and town where they could make improvements. This can be used for good and bad. The goal is storytelling and showing lived examples. Examples below.

The camera can be a GoPro, Insta360, or your iPhone as it doesn’t have nearly as many requirements as the true dashboard cam.

Who Should Be Biking With a Camera?

Here’s the thing, I believe everyone should be biking with a “cycling dash camera” if they are on the road. We are too vulnerable and drivers’ are too distracted these days. We need proof if we are hit. Then layer on top the idea of storytelling and documenting to share your good/bad adventures.

This idea of two different levels of documenting and the reasons for using different cameras is important to really flush out as I review more and more cycling cameras for “dash” and cameras for documenting and storytelling.

On to you – what are your thoughts on cycling cameras? What are the necessary features? How do you use them or want to use them?

Let me know in the comments below!

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Richard Wolf March 19, 2023 - 8:43 pm

Hi Arleigh,

I have enjoyed your reviews as you stay focused on the use cases. It seems to me that the action/360 camera market is very fragmented due to the variety of use cases so the typical feature list type of review does not help very much.

There is a third use case which I think quite a few cyclists would be interested in, myself included. I do primarily road cycling, that is 3-10 hour bike rides in the countryside or suburbs, typically with a group of like-minded riders.. The bike ride is the primary focus and videography or photography is only incidental. The group is moving constantly so I can’t stop to set up a camera and thus it needs to be ready to go from the start of the ride. The purpose of the photography is to give my riding companions or others (family, friends) a sense of the ride. I would typically shoot short clips of 5-30 seconds, that would be stitched together into a 60 second video for posting to Strava or other social media or posted and shared via a text.

My requirements would be:
Safe to use so most likely mounted rather than hand held, although I have used hand held cameras in the past;
Easy to aim to capture scenery to the side or capture my companions.;
Aim without a viewfinder as it’s too dangerous to try to frame a shot while moving.
Easy to activate/deactivate as I am just shooting short clips
Detachable to take video/stills in scenarios when the group is stopped

Non requirements:
Long capture time
Road safety / dash cam – would use a separate camera designed for this
Extreme conditions – if it starts to rain I can detach the camera and put it in my back jersey pocket. I don’t need to document every minute of every ride..

Any thoughts on what would be a good camera for this scenario? I am thinking an Insta360 Go 2 or X3 as they don;t require aiming. Or perhaps a GoPro on a swivel mount might work. Or maybe my iPhone with a Peak Design Out Front Bike Mount that is rotated so the camera is aimed ahead would be fine.

Do you have thoughts on what would work for this use case?


Bike Shop Girl March 20, 2023 - 1:20 pm

Hey Richard,

I personally use a mix of the Insta360 attached to my handlebar and then the GoPro to get more A-roll.


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