Helmet camera for cyclists

With the War on Britain’s Roads “shockumentary” still fresh in people’s minds, I want to update a roundup we covered a while back on helmet cameras for cyclists.

If you’d like to use a helmet camera for safety, or even if it’s just for recording your mountain bike rides, here’s a roundup of the best options.

As always, feel free to chime in with your own suggestions in the comments.

A camera for less than £12.85

First off, you don’t need to rush off and buy an expensive new piece of kit. In fact, most of us already own a camera that can be mounted to our handlebars. All you need is an attachment.

Mount a camera to your handlebars

This one sold by Arkon on Amazon has lots of positive reviews. Not only do you save £100 but you also don’t have to learn a new piece of kit.

Obviously, there are some downsides to this method.

Primarily, the lack of a waterproof case. Not only does this mean you can’t use this in the rain, but it also means that if you fell off your bike, you could damage the camera.

Obviously if you are using some kind of rugged camera, such as the Kodak Playsport, then this is less of an issue.

Mount your smartphone to your handlebars

Alternatively, you could also use your smartphone as a helmet camera. Albeit, one attached to your handlebars. The Tigra bike mount is available for iPhones and Samsung Galaxies.

Samsung Galaxy S3 tigra bike mount

Thanks to the clear space at the back of the mount, you can easily adjust the camera so it is recording your ride. The biggest downside here for cyclists is the battery life issue. However, you should be able to record your entire bike commute and simply charge up when you get to work.

A helmet camera for £35 – £50

At the entry level there are two options from a company called Chilli Technology. They sell a HD quality camera for £50 and a VGA quality one for £34.

Helmet camera for cyclists

The big advantage is that the cameras are fairly discreet and they come in a weather-proof casing. Also, included in the package, is a helmet mount and a handlebar mount.

However, it has to be noted that reviews on Amazon are mixed.

James Bond’s helmet camera

A camera we’ve extensively tested here on London Cyclist is the Veho Muvi. It costs £35 for the camera and an additional £10 for all the mounts.

Veho Muvi helmet camera held by a hand to show how small it is

The Muvi is tiny and the recording quality can be described as “good enough”. With the supplied memory card, you should be able to get around 90 minutes of recording.

For more on the Muvi, read our review.

Go big, Go HD

Of course, if you want to go all out, the real deal are the cameras sold by GoPro and Contour. These feature very clear image with HD recording. They also have a wide range of mounts.

The GoPro is great but the new version has yet to arrive in the UK. What doesn’t make it that great for cyclists, is the design of the camera body. This means it will look rather odd when attached to your helmet.

On the other hand, the Contour camera fits to the side of the helmet, so you don’t look so odd!

image

The price tag of the Contour helmet camera is a bit of a shock to the system. It costs £300 which is roughly £100 more than the GoPro. However, there is an impressive list of features. From the waterproof case, to the GPS recording and the connectivity to your smartphone. It essentially offers everything you could need, which is why helmet camera cyclists such as CycleGaz who was featured in the BBC documentary, use it. You can check out the reviews on Amazon here.

Join 9,241 fellow cyclists who are subscribed to the London Cyclist newsletter

Sign up for our free newsletter to get...

  • Advice on the best cycling gear
  • A Friday roundup of all the latest London cycling news
  • Exclusive content not available on the blog

Subscribe today, and get exclusive access forever! (It's free)

*No spam, ever!

As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.

13 Responses to Helmet camera for cyclists

  1. steven fleming 10/12/2012 at 9:00 pm #

    Surely a helmet mounted camera increases the risk of rotational injuries in the event of a fall. They could also encourage users to go fishing for footage that incriminates drivers, rather than choosing the safest possible route.

    • Gaz 14/12/2012 at 10:30 am #

      Depends on the quality of the mount. This is something I looked at when getting mine camera, I went for a Contour which has break away clips on the mount. I found it just how it worked when I came off my bike last year at nearly 30mph. The camera came detached from my helmet as soon as it hit the ground (note i’ve fallen over handful of times and the mount doesn’t break with the smallest of knocks).

      As for fishing for footage. Anyone that does that is a flipping idiot and will often get brought up about such behavior if they post it online. That is the interesting thing about using cameras and posting the footage online. There is a community based around it, all giving each other advise on how to avoid situations and what the best plan of action is.

  2. John Somers 10/12/2012 at 10:25 pm #

    I use the Contour 1080P HD video camera with the Contour Vented Helmet mount on the top of the lid as it gives me a panoramic view (unless I’m using a bike with drop handle bars!) where ever I look which is what I want for the cycling I do.

    The biggest issue that I have is the audio quality and lack of an external microphone socket ’cause the pinhole mic hole on this model just creates horrendous wind noise.

    When ever you look at buying and then using a video camera it is all based on a series of compromises (the biggest being the depth of your pocket) but to two biggest benefits has been the serious moderation of my language (even muttering under my breath, normally at the state of the roads!) without needing RRR rating for the videos and by having a visible camera has reduced the near misses by my estimation of around 10% – over 17k miles a year that is significant!

    • Gaz 14/12/2012 at 10:31 am #

      17,000 miles a year? DAMN!

  3. Dan 10/12/2012 at 11:21 pm #

    John raises a very valid use on a helmet-mounted camera – increasing driver awareness of their driving behaviour. And for that matter, increasing rider awareness. Hardly looks good if I post a clip of a driver screaming out of a minor road into what’s left of my my left leg if only seconds before I’ve gone through a set of red lights and mown down a baby buggy on the pavement.

    I should stop rewatching Premium Rush :D

  4. Simon Wilcox 11/12/2012 at 12:32 pm #

    I too have a Contour 1080P, mine mounted on the right hand side of my helmet. Surprisingly, for a relatively large device, it doesn’t seem to pull down and I hardly notice it’s there.

    I certainly don’t go fishing for incidents. I ride defensively and choose quiet routes so most of my journeys are supremely dull and I’m quite happy with that :-)

    The worst I’ve seen are actually other cyclists, some of whom are lucky to be alive after pulling some crazy stunts.

    Like John & Dan, I find I’m more aware of my own riding style with the camera on board but still find it hard to keep my head still instead of shaking it when someone does something particularly rude or idiotic.

  5. Mike 12/12/2012 at 3:38 pm #

    I have the HD 120degree version of the act20 which is just a re-branded chilli tech cam as shown above, it certainly is discreet, the quality for such a cheap cam isn’t too bad either but my only problems with it is that even after you mount it you still have to fiddle with it to get the orientation just right, the pin hole mic has the same problem that has been noted that the contour has with wind noise even at relatively low speeds and the mic also has a problem of being prone to water ingress when it’s raining but I plan to upgrade soon to the sony AS15, reading and watching many reviews I have decided it’s a better choice than a contour or gopro, plus i found one on ebay for much less than the RRP.

    • Gaz 14/12/2012 at 10:33 am #

      Only downside to the AS15 is the current lack of mounts and the misting in the case. Those can be fixed, and should be fixed shortly.
      Apart from that, it’s a great camera. The low light performance is amazing.

      • Mike 14/12/2012 at 11:32 am #

        I’m planning on making my own mount out of the curved one meant for the adhesive as I’ve noticed in, photos that there seem to be slots either side that do nothing and don’t get blocked and covered up, so I was going to make a pair of straps and attach them to the curved base to make a mount similar to what the gopro uses, as for the misting, I believe that might be solved when I replace the standard housing door with the sound door, if not then I’ll have to use the inserts they make, also, if I encounter wind noise with the sound door I will place a bit of foam in front of the mic holes and I agree, from all the video reviews I have seen, the sony does appear to out perform even the gopro hero 3 in low light, this is probably in part due to sony sticking the exmor cmos sensor in to it, I’ve also read reviews that shows the sony also outperforms the contour and gopro in terms of battery life.

  6. Gaz 14/12/2012 at 10:26 am #

    Contour, like GoPro has a wide range of cameras, with the original version of the ROAM coming it at around £120 – http://www.amazon.co.uk/ContourROAM-Waterproof-HD-Action-Camera/dp/B005MIZ046/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1355480608&sr=8-1

    The ROAM is full HD, has internal battery and is fully waterproof. The usual laser alignment and 270degree rotational lens makes the Contour ROAM one of the best buy cameras on the market.

    Speaking from experience of using various cameras and watching plenty of videos recorded by them. You are better off buying a decent camera with a decent mount. The Muvi’s whilst cheap and small, are a pain to mount and have a small FOV. Using a digital camera mounted on to your handlebars can produce good footage but the mount needs to be solid to avoid vibrations in the video.

    I wrote a guide on what to look for in a camera some time ago, probably needs updating now. http://www.cyclecamera.tv/guide-to-buying-a-helmet-camera/

  7. Rob 14/12/2012 at 11:32 am #

    Word of warning on the Muvi – I had a high-speed head on with a fellow cyclist who decided to ignore all rules of the road and pull across in front of me. When the stars had cleared and I had staunched the blood, I located the muvi in the ditch and was very much looking forward to viewing the gory footage,. When back at the laptop, however, the impact had resulted in the footage for my commute being lost.

    On a more positive note, it has saved me from incident a few times with people getting out of their vehicle to come and, err, discuss the time of day(no doubt). They see the camera, or I point it out and ask if they want to add anything, and they suddenly view the incident from a different angle and hop back in the car/van/taxi!

    Also be aware of the new offering from JVC.

  8. Rob Elliott 14/12/2012 at 7:44 pm #

    I’d like to point out the DogCam Bullet, one which I intend to buy in the new year (or when I’m rich enough). I know it’s £100, but it comes with a whole bundle of stuff to get you started immediately.

    http://www.dogcamsport.co.uk/dogcam-bullet-hd-camera-WIDE.html

    Thank you for the Chilli Tech one though Andreas, it’s one I’ll have a look at and maybe consider too.

  9. SteveP 05/02/2013 at 12:32 pm #

    I’ve never been a fan of attaching my phone to my bike – seems likely to get damaged or pinched. Similarly the GoPro and variants – nice kit but possibly worth more than your bike.

    For daily use, I do like the common HD “keychain” cameras – some 1080P and cheaper 720 cameras available as well for just a few pounds. So cheap you can get several (a bit fussy to use). Not waterproof, but what do you want for a few pounds? Search on the online auction sites but be careful as there are many models.

    I wear these on my helmet – looping a cord through the vents to prevent loss and attaching with Velcro. Works a treat and costs 1/10th (1/100th?) as much as a GoPro for similar results (sound is noisy, though). Plus less noticeable and “dork-like” (but can still be pointed out in the event of road rage). Look for models that accept the largest micro SD cards as the card will be the recording time limit. And if you don’t need the highest definition, skip t as it fills the card more quickly.

    The jitter or vibrations from recording on the move can be much reduced with free software – some even allow you to upload a video and have it processed.

    http://sheldonbrown.com/image-stabilization.html

    (scroll down)

Leave a Reply