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Cycling Video Cameras

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Cycling Video Cameras

Old 11-19-22, 09:11 PM
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Robert A
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Cycling Video Cameras

I am looking for recommendations on rear-facing cycling cameras. I have been looking at the Cycliq 6 and the Garmin Varia RCT715, but the issues seem to be battery life (I often ride 4-6 hours). Are there others on the market? Do people have a fav they can recommend?

The main purpose is in case there's an incident.

Thank you,
Robert

Last edited by Robert A; 11-20-22 at 12:22 AM.
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Old 11-20-22, 12:12 AM
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What is your intended use? Is it for safety and to capture incidents? Or is it for action footage for YouTube videos and whatnot?

I own both the Cycliq Fly6 and the Garmin Varia RCT715.

The video quality is far better on the Fly6. It's certainly not GoPro Hero 10 quality, but it's more than good enough for it's intended purpose. It'll capture number plates and record incidents without any worry.

The Varia footage is "adequate" for capturing number plates and some paceline footage for Strava if you're into that. It's not perfect, but it does the job. If your roads are SUPER rough it may not be good enough though. No image stabilisation. It also saves videos in 30-second sections, which can be a little annoying! That said, I rarely ride without it now. The radar function is fantastic.

You can use the Varia while plugged into an external battery pack to charge / extend run time. Not sure if the Cycliq can do that, you may need to consult Google.
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Old 11-20-22, 12:24 AM
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Originally Posted by tempocyclist View Post
What is your intended use? Is it for safety and to capture incidents?
It's for safety and to capture incidents. I updated my OP to clarify that point.

How long is the battery life on the Cycliq, and do you wish you also had front-facing? Does GoPro make anything better for cycling?
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Old 11-20-22, 12:28 AM
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Drift Ghost X may be the best value in a no-frills ride documentary video camera. I've been using a pair for more than two years (might be three years in December, I'd need to check my purchase records). No complaints.

Note: I've run video on almost every ride from 2015-2018. The one time I didn't, because I'd forgotten to recharge the camera (an older Ion with 90 minute runtime -- I could have strapped on a USB battery pack and cable and recharged while recording, but didn't do so that day), was the day I was hit by a car that failed to yield on a flashing yellow left turn and smacked me down. I had the green traffic light and pedestrian walk signal, so the flashing yellow on left was a safety hazard, but common in my city. No video evidence. Cop was at the intersection but shrugged it off and wrote it up implying that I failed to dodge the errant driver. Took three years to settle, didn't even cover my medical expenses. I will never ride without video again. Even on fast group or solo rides, it doesn't weigh that much. And the Drift cameras are sorta wedge shaped and fairly aerodynamic. I usually mount them front and rear on the bike, or on the top of my helmet.

The Ghost X original came with a 5-hour battery pack, and it delivered an honest 5-hour runtime the first year on at least 200 rides, many of those several hours long. It gradually dropped to about 4 hours for the second year, and rapidly declined in about a month or so recently. I replaced it with the 8-hour battery module, which I think is now standard on the Ghost X.

Basic HD video to 1080/60p, good image quality, color, contrast, dynamic range, etc., better than most at night. But don't expect reliable recording of US license plates at night. US plates are too small, seemingly by design to thwart surveillance. Many traffic documentary video cameras are reviewed in England or elsewhere in Europe where license plates are larger and easier to record, giving an impression that they'll perform similarly in the US. Meh, don't count on it. Daytime, sure. Nighttime, depends on the angle of the light, whether the plates are black characters on white, etc.

No image stabilization. No preview/review screen, just a simple lighted LCD control screen. It's easier to set the camera from the phone app. Plenty of modes and options, including continuous recording, or always-on but not recording until the user presses a button to save the previous 30 seconds or so and subsequent 30-60 seconds. I don't use that option. I know from having been hit by cars it's unlikely I'll remember to hit the save button, or my arm might be disabled, or I might be unconscious. So I use the "Car DVD" mode, which records and saves continuously, in 5 minute segments, until the media card is filled or the battery runs out. The 5-hour battery needs a 64 GB card, otherwise it'll begin to overwrite from the earliest files with 32GB or smaller cards. The 8-hour battery probably needs a 128GB card, which I don't have yet.

They're designed in England (not sure about assembled from parts made in Asia), primarily for motorcycle/scooter commuters. The cameras come with two basic mounting shoes that use heavy duty and dependable 3M adhesive: one is slightly concave, the other flat, to accommodate most motorcycle helmets on the side or top, or luggage carriers, rear racks, etc.

However to get the desired angle when top-mounting on my Bell Formula MIPS and POC Omne Air SPIN helmets, I used Blue Tack and 3M adhesive putty, which is detachable but sticks extremely reliably. Never had a failure in years of using the stuff for purposes beyond the manufacturers' designs. It's more like heavy duty Post-It Note adhesive than gummy adhesives, with a consistency and tack similar to Silly Putty, but far more secure. Peeling it off just takes a little patience to carefully lift it from an edge and gradually work it away from the surface. So far it's never damaged any surface to which I've applied it: bicycle helmets, photographic prints on RC paper (family snapshots), painted walls, exterior brick (to temporarily hold wire antennas for my shortwave radios, to hide them from the landlord), etc.

Very rugged, durable and dependable. It comes reasonably weather-resistant. I've ridden in rain several times, no leaks or internal fogging. A weatherproof housing is available but I've never needed it. I've dropped one a few times, no problems. I neglected to securely snap the camera into the stem mount once and it bounced off and tumbled along the street while I was riding about 15 mph. No problems, barely a nick in the rubberized armored covering.

I just replaced the depleted 5-hour battery module with the larger 8-hour, and haven't yet run it dry during a single session. The only quirk I noticed was the 8-hour battery runtime was only about 2-3 hours the first time, 3-4 hours the second charge, and 5 hours or more the third. I plan to run it dry from a full charge next time. Drift says this is normal for the first few uses of the 8-hour battery and recommends running it until fully discharged a couple of times, and recharging completely. So I've followed that practice. We'll see. If it runs longer than 5 hours next ride, I'll buy another for my backup Ghost X.

They also sell 4k versions but I have no use for that. My PCs are too old and slow to handle 4k and I don't have a YouTube channel and don't do anything creative. It's just traffic documentation for evidence if I'm hit again by a negligent driver, wildlife on rural rides, whatever. My family and friends know I run video every ride so hopefully if I'm unconscious they'll ask the investigators to look for my camera(s).
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Old 11-20-22, 12:35 AM
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Drift Ghost X looks good. Yours is helmet mounted? Ever find a need for both rear AND front?

Last edited by Robert A; 11-20-22 at 12:54 AM.
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Old 11-20-22, 02:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Robert A View Post
Drift Ghost X looks good. Yours is helmet mounted? Ever find a need for both rear AND front?
Due to chronic neck pain from cervical spine stenosis, I prefer as little weight as possible on my head. So I usually mount the Drift Ghost X cams front and rear on the bike.

Drift's own mounts are functional but not compact or good looking, or at least discreet. I mount the front under the handlebar on the stem, with the camera upside down. Not a problem with the Drift cameras because a damped ring around the lens adjusts the video orientation to wherever the user chooses. (I'm guessing it either rotates the sensor, or sends a signal to the camera to reorient the video, not sure which)

But the rear mount has been tricky with some of my bikes. It's fine on my old school steel bike and my 1993 Trek 5900 OCLV. I can mount the rig low enough that the protruding thumb screws on the clamp don't jab me. But I haven't been able to find a way to mount the rear camera on my 2010-ish Diamondback Podium 5 in a way that the thumbscrews don't rub the insides of my thighs.

So when I'm on the Diamondback I mount one camera on my helmet and skip the second camera. I can look pretty much wherever I need to, but there's a risk I'll miss recording someone hitting me from behind. In my experience riding bicycles and motorcycles, the biggest danger is being hit from behind at an intersection while stopping for red lights, stop signs, or even slowing out of caution. I've lost track of the number of times I've been hit from behind since I began two-wheel commuting in the 1970s -- and a few times when I was driving a car. And the negligent drivers always say the same stupid thing: "Oops, I didn't see you." Didn't see me. Right, Directly. In. Front. Of. Them. In. Broad. Daylight. With flashing lights, etc.

A couple of times I tried mounting the front camera on the stem as usual, and wearing the second camera on the helmet facing the rear. But it's not intuitive, trying to remember how to orient my head to actually capture anything useful behind me. So I gave up on that idea.

I'm scheduled for an ablation procedure in December to zap the neck nerves to deaden the pain. If it's effective I might switch to mostly the helmet mounted camera.

But I'm still looking for a better solution to the rear facing camera mounted on the seat post. I might use a moto tool to grind down the oversized plastic thumbscrew knobs. Or see if I can adapt a mount designed for a GoPro to fit the Drift cameras.
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Old 11-20-22, 03:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Robert A View Post
How long is the battery life on the Cycliq, and do you wish you also had front-facing? Does GoPro make anything better for cycling?
The newest generation Cycliq Fly6 has a shorter battery life. They shrunk the overall size of the unit, but that meant using a smaller internal battery. I struggled to capture a full 4 hour ride.

A GoPro is probably the "gold standard" for video quality. Battery life is way down though. We're talking an hour or two tops. With a GoPro you really do need an external battery pack plugged into it. A GoPro Hero would make a very good front or rear camera if you don't mind also having the battery packs strapped to your bike.

I've never really bothered with a front mounted safety camera. The new Cycliq Fly 12 Sport looks good though.
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Old 11-21-22, 07:48 AM
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I use a GoPro 10 mounted on my handlebar for YT video. I also own a Drift Ghost XL that I sometimes use for longer rides. The battery life on the Ghost is 8+ hours but the image quality does not come close to the GoPro. I had not thought of mounting the Ghost as a rear facing camera. You would need to engineer a mount but I adapted it to connect with a GoPro type mount. Sound is another issue with the Ghost. The builtin mic does not pickup much sound. Motorcyclists mount the Ghost on the side or top of their helmets.
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Old 11-21-22, 09:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Robert A View Post
Drift Ghost X looks good. Yours is helmet mounted? Ever find a need for both rear AND front?
Yes, if you live in a state where a front plate isn't required.
I use the Varia radar/light/camera on the rear, and a GoPro Hero 8 facing forward on the bars with an external pack to power it (which means you have to change the battery door, and it's no longer water resistant, so be careful riding if it's going to rain.)
I've caught footage of intentional close passes (Varia captures the car actually moving closer towards me) and then the GoPro grabbed the rear plate as he passed. Video was sent to the local sheriff, and the driver was cited.
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Old 11-22-22, 03:34 PM
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I have the garmin Varia camera, and have not had any issues with it. I run it at 720 just to help battery life, and the picture quality is really clean. I was surprised, the initial reviews were not that good. It doesnít what I need it to do.
My only complaint is the mount. The one that comes with it, just isnít that great, I have had the rubber band type fastener come off on a couple of rides.
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Old 11-22-22, 07:05 PM
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Originally Posted by bampilot06 View Post
My only complaint is the mount. The one that comes with it, just isnít that great, I have had the rubber band type fastener come off on a couple of rides.
Oh wow that's not good! My rubber band seems super tight, hard to get on/off so I hope it doesn't ever come off during a ride. I actually bought a second mount (not cheap!) for my TT bike that I've cable tied to the bike for added security.

I really wish it used the standard Garmin quarter-turn mount like everything else, but I guess that wasn't secure enough for the beefier unit.
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Old 11-22-22, 07:26 PM
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Originally Posted by tempocyclist View Post
Oh wow that's not good! My rubber band seems super tight, hard to get on/off so I hope it doesn't ever come off during a ride. I actually bought a second mount (not cheap!) for my TT bike that I've cable tied to the bike for added security.

I really wish it used the standard Garmin quarter-turn mount like everything else, but I guess that wasn't secure enough for the beefier unit.

I wish the same. I had a 3d printed mounted made for the standard varia for my madone, I canít use the varia camera on my madone currently.
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Old 11-23-22, 01:20 AM
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I use zip ties to reinforce mounts I don't trust for heavy or pricey devices. Works fine. Just remember to replace them every few months or once a year. Zip ties can become brittle after long exposure to sunlight.
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Old 11-23-22, 03:32 AM
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I ride with a Fly6. It's a few years old, not the latest model. It gives me piece of mind while I'm riding but I rarely pull the footage. A big reason for that is the image quality isn't so great. Maybe the newer model(s) have higher resolution and frame rate than mine, but the videos recorded on my unit is such that license plates can only be confidently read under really ideal conditions (adequate lighting, not too fast speed). My rides rarely exceed 2hrs long, but I feel like I've still got at least half the battery life remaining after a ride (guessing based on the beeps when the unit turns off/on), and that's with the lights running at max brightness for 1.5-2 hours.
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Old 11-24-22, 11:23 PM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
I use zip ties to reinforce mounts I don't trust for heavy or pricey devices. Works fine. Just remember to replace them every few months or once a year. Zip ties can become brittle after long exposure to sunlight.
big fan of zip ties
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Old 11-25-22, 01:02 AM
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I purchased a Tooo Cycling camera a year ago and Iíve been very happy with it.
https://www.tooocycling.store
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Old 11-25-22, 09:58 AM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
Drift Ghost X may be the best value in a no-frills ride documentary video camera. I've been using a pair for more than two years (might be three years in December, I'd need to check my purchase records). No complaints.
Thanks for bringing this up. I'm going to look at this again. I need to come up with a better solution for rear facing than I currently have now (Cycliq 6)

Originally Posted by tempocyclist View Post
The newest generation Cycliq Fly6 has a shorter battery life. They shrunk the overall size of the unit, but that meant using a smaller internal battery. I struggled to capture a full 4 hour ride.

A GoPro is probably the "gold standard" for video quality. Battery life is way down though. We're talking an hour or two tops. With a GoPro you really do need an external battery pack plugged into it. A GoPro Hero would make a very good front or rear camera if you don't mind also having the battery packs strapped to your bike.

I've never really bothered with a front mounted safety camera. The new Cycliq Fly 12 Sport looks good though.
I have the Cycliq 6 prior to the version that they just released a year ago. I don't use it because the light is pretty inadequate and because I use a Varia Radar for rear facing. I have found the front facing Fly12 CE to work pretty well and I've used it to get drivers up close and personal with law enforcement on countless occasions. I think it works pretty well although - to your point - having both would be the best solution. I've also found it's extremely successful with commercial drivers when the video goes to their internal safety management.

The Cycliq stuff is so "almost there" that it's frustrating. The company has just terrible tech support and warranty support. The lighting on both the front and the back is just marginal. And then they decide to go with a copy of a Garmin mount that is incompatible. I'd rate the new version of the Fly12 as a better but I think the new version of the rear light is as step backwards. Unfortunately they are pretty much the only game out there now. The Garmin solution isn't there yet in terms of either video quality, size or mounts but I suspect they will refine that in future versions. I just wish they'd hurry up.

Right now, I wouldn't buy the Cycliq rear light but I would buy the front light and run it under an out front computer mount. The rear light is not adequate IMO for a rear facing day light flasher. So I'm thinking that a high and tight GoPro mount under the saddle with maybe the Drift Ghost camera with a real taillight/radar below would be useful. The idea that Garmin has where they automatically only record when the radar sees something is a good one that I hope they expand in future versions.

Originally Posted by texbiker View Post
I use a GoPro 10 mounted on my handlebar for YT video. I also own a Drift Ghost XL that I sometimes use for longer rides. The battery life on the Ghost is 8+ hours but the image quality does not come close to the GoPro. I had not thought of mounting the Ghost as a rear facing camera. You would need to engineer a mount but I adapted it to connect with a GoPro type mount. Sound is another issue with the Ghost. The builtin mic does not pickup much sound. Motorcyclists mount the Ghost on the side or top of their helmets.
This, IMO, is what it always comes down to - the mounts. It's an aggravating problem to the point where I've spent a lot of time scouring the 3D printing marketplaces for user designed parts to buy. There is always something that comes close but doesn't solve the problem in entirety. Between this and a couple of other issues, I'm entertaining the idea of getting a cheapish 3D printer and having a go and designing what I need.
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Old 12-01-22, 03:28 PM
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@seypat was nice enough to loan me a couple of Drift Ghost XL cameras for exactly this purpose (safety recording on a loop), but of course I've been preoccupied and haven't had a chance to mess with the mounts to get them fitted properly on my bike yet. Reading stories of hit and runs has reminded me of why these are important, so I'll make a point of getting them mounted for my next outdoor ride. I also have a GoPro Hero 8 for just recording pretty things during rides that I expect will have much better image quality with stabilization and higher resolution, but the Ghost isn't intended to serve that purpose, plus the GoPro lasts less than 1 hour on a full charge.
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Old 12-01-22, 03:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Dan333SP View Post
@seypat was nice enough to loan me a couple of Drift Ghost XL cameras for exactly this purpose (safety recording on a loop), but of course I've been preoccupied and haven't had a chance to mess with the mounts to get them fitted properly on my bike yet. Reading stories of hit and runs has reminded me of why these are important, so I'll make a point of getting them mounted for my next outdoor ride. I also have a GoPro Hero 8 for just recording pretty things during rides that I expect will have much better image quality with stabilization and higher resolution, but the Ghost isn't intended to serve that purpose, plus the GoPro lasts less than 1 hour on a full charge.
Looking forward to your full report. How bulky (and heavy) is the Drift?
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Old 12-01-22, 05:22 PM
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FYI - Well y'all go me curious, so I took a peek.
Drift Ghost X - 5hr battery life (as confirmed above)
Drift Ghost XL - claims 9hr battery life! so even if it knocks down to 7-8hrs after a few hundred rides that should still be plenty.

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Old 12-01-22, 09:32 PM
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I have the Teentok one and it gets over 5 hours if you keep the light off. Pretty good images, too. I can read license plates if the car comes anywhere near me.
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