There are a few main reasons I capture photos or videos from the bike using an action camera or iPhone, and the #1 reason is when I’m riding on the road to document if anything is to happen to me. The other two reasons are to share my bike ride or the route and highlights with others, and to document any good or bad biking infrastructure I come across to share with the local town or transportation department.
Over the last few years, I’ve really been making a concerted effort in testing and reviewing various cycling cameras for different types of biking content creation. Sharing dozens of videos, photos, and stories along the way but also receiving hundreds of examples from others. The biggest takeaway I’ve had while testing bike cameras and sharing the biking footage with others is that everyone should be biking with a cycling safety camera.
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You Need a Cycling Safety Dash 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. I strongly believe that if you ride on the road, you need to have at least one cycling camera documenting at all times.
Having a cycling camera as a bike dash camera for “safety” is really to cover your ass. You want that biking footage to 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 cycling dash camera would have recorded the experience.
My Requirements for a Good Cycling Safety 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 being used. Oh, and the biking dash camera should have a removable and replaceable battery.
- Waterproof and drop proof. In the case of rain or sweat, I don’t want to have to worry about the camera. If I have a bike crash, I also want the camera to survive or at least be able to be fixed if it is damaged.
- Full coverage of your front, back, and sides. This can be achieved with two cameras, one on the front and one on the back, or a 360º camera off your helmet.
Nice to Have Cycling Safety Cam Features
- 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.
- Auto on/off accelerometer or tied to my biking GPS. 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.
Biking 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. This can be done with the cycling dash cameras and tied together with additional footage or voiceovers explaining where you are.
Some bike ride documenting examples:
The camera can be a
Yes, You Should Be Biking with a Cycling 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. There is also the component of storytelling and documenting to use all that footage you may have to share your good/bad biking adventures.
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!
My Top 3 Recommended Biking Cameras
If you are new to bike cameras, make sure to check out my Ultimate Bike Camera Guide. If you are looking to purchase a biking camera, here are my top 3 recommendations. You can also read my full article on top bike cameras here.
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