Action cameras are a great way to capture your rides, whether you want to relive epic trails or wear one as the cycling equivalent of a dashcam. But which one makes the best cycling camera?
In this article, we’ll go into what to look for in the best cycling camera and give some excellent examples of ones you should check out.
The Best Cycling Cameras
1. The Best Cycling Camera For Safety: Drift Ghost X
The Drift Ghost X is a versatile cycling camera, but it has a few features that make it ideal for capturing any misdemeanors while you’re riding. One of the most significant features is its battery life, as it lasts up to 8 hours.
This camera is also reasonably priced, especially considering what it can do. It’s a good camera for those new to capturing footage, as it’s easy to use and has reasonable quality.
It is a 1080p camera, which gives you HD footage and can take 12-megapixel photos. The battery life drops to 5 hours in HD mode, but this is still plenty for most people’s rides. You can also retrieve your footage via WiFi, so you can put it on your phone with little effort.
You can mount the Drift Ghost X on your helmet, handlebars, or shoulder with a harness. However, the mounts only work with this camera, so you can’t use them for anything else.
Drift has given the Ghost X a loop recording mode, so it continually overwrites the footage until the battery dies. You can archive the footage with a single tap, so you can intuitively save footage in the heat of the moment.
2. Best Action Camera: GoPro Hero 11
GoPro is the biggest action camera brand, and you’ll see many riders in the bike parks with one strapped to their chest or helmet. The GoPro Hero 11 is the latest version and allows you to capture footage like a pro rider.
If you want one of the best cycling cameras that’s rugged and versatile enough for all kinds of sports and activities, the GoPro Hero 11 will deliver beyond expectation.
The GoPro Hero 11 is small and powerful, with top-notch 5.3K quality and a whole host of features packed into it. It is waterproof, so you don’t need to buy a separate casing to protect it. You can even buy one that allows you to live stream, so people can watch your progress in real-time.
One of the best things about GoPro cameras is their mounting options. The mounts allow you to get creative and capture footage from unique angles. Therefore, you can make your footage more exciting than just using the standard handlebar mounts.
3. Best 360 Camera: Insta 360 One X2
The Insta 360 One X2 has two lenses, one on each side. It captures everything around you and magically stitches the two images together to create a perfect 360-degree viewfinder.
When you mount this camera on your helmet, you can capture incredible footage, but you don’t have to worry about positioning your camera like you would with a GoPro.
When you edit the footage, you choose what the viewer looks at. This means if you’re riding in a group, you can point the camera at your buddies behind you or in front of you, perfect for mountain bike trails.
There are a few mounts available, and the camera is compatible with GoPro mounts. However, the plastic handlebar mount isn’t very robust, so it’s best to upgrade it to an aftermarket metal version if you’re riding technical terrain.
This is a superb camera, but if you haven’t got much patience, it’s not the one for you, as editing takes a while, as you need to “point the camera” as you go through the footage. But if you like the editing process, you’ll love it.
4. Best Cycling Camera With Rear Light: Garmin Varia RCT715
Sometimes you need evidence of what has gone on behind you in a crash. The Garmin Varia RCT715 is an excellent way of capturing footage and saving it automatically before, during, and after an incident.
You can get the footage via the Varia Smartphone app, which also alerts you to traffic as you ride, thanks to the built-in radar warning system. On top of this, it has a bright LED taillight to alert road users to your presence in low-light conditions.
What To Look For In Cycling Cameras
Once you’ve thought about what you want to do with your cycling camera, it’s not too tricky to pick the best one for your needs. So let’s go into the details of what you should consider.
Cycling Cameras For Safety
Riding your bike around urban areas can be pretty dangerous. You’re vulnerable to accidents, road rage, and other acts of violence. These incidents are much less likely if you have a camera running while you’re out and about.
If anything did happen, you’ve got evidence that will go in your favor (as long as you’re not in the wrong), and aggressive people will tend to back down when they realize they’re on camera, in fear of prosecution or becoming the next online viral trend.
The best cycling cameras at this level are not too expensive, and you don’t really need an action camera if safety and protection are your main priorities. However, you need to ensure that it has some specific features.
The first thing it needs is a loop setting, which constantly records until the battery runs out. But the camera overwrites the memory card until you choose to archive the footage.
Your cycling camera needs to be intuitive to use. When you’re face to face with an angry motorist, you need to be able to archive the footage with a single press of a button while under stress.
If you’re not very technical, you need to choose a camera that makes retrieving and sending the footage to the authorities effortless. A good way to do this is by choosing a camera that has a smartphone app that will convert the footage into a usable format that you can share.
Mounting Your Cycling Camera
Most cyclists mount their cameras on their helmets or on the handlebars. You can also use a chest mount if you want a more dramatic camera angle that gives you a better idea of speed.
A helmet-mounted camera captures footage in an almost POV style. This is great for mountain biking or if you get in an altercation with a disgruntled driver on the roads.
However, it adds weight to your helmet, so you can feel strain on your neck. Also, controlling it can be tricky unless your camera has voice activation like a GoPro. Expect to annoy your riding buddies by asking them to check if it’s recording all the time.
Mounting your camera to the handlebars is easy and gives you a great view pointing forwards. Ensure your handlebar mount is strong, as the vibrations can cause them to break. These mounts allow you to mix up where you put your camera, so you can make your footage more interesting. But you may need to buy a waterproof case, depending on your camera.
Camera Quality And Recording Time
You can buy cameras with incredible recording quality, but you must know that high quality means shorter videos. High-quality videos take up more memory card space, so it’s a good idea to use a larger card.
Most cameras now have 4k resolutions, which gives you better quality than HD. However, 4k is still pretty good and is perfectly acceptable for capturing footage while not taking up as much memory card space, which is ideal for safety.
These days you don’t need to physically plug things in with wires. Most cameras are now equipped with WiFi, so you can wirelessly connect your camera to your phone or computer.
These cameras are easy to use, as they use iOS or Android apps that also add to the camera’s functionality.
If you buy a camera with built-in screens, you’ll find it much easier to use on the fly. You can set the perfect angle, review footage, change settings, and even edit in some cases. Screens aren’t that important if you only use your camera for safety.
The best cycling cameras are easy to use and have features that suit your needs. You may not need the best quality footage, but this will give you longer recording time while serving a purpose.
However, if you want to create a cinematic masterpiece of your trail riding, you’ll want the highest quality, but remember you’ll get quality, not quantity.
You also need to remember that a camera is only of any use if it’s positioned correctly. So, carefully consider your mounting positions to get the optimum camera angles.
Also, if you’re creating an edit, move your camera around to create a more dynamic video that makes people want to watch it until the end.
Tom Fortune has been reviewing cycling products for several years from his home in the French Alps. As the owner of mtb-threads.com, he mainly reviews mountain bike products but also reviews road cycling products independently.