"Set it and forget it" bike camera?
July 21, 2012 10:03 AM   Subscribe

Mr Corpse is looking for a camera to mount on his bike, to record his daily commute in case of being hit (again) by a car. Desired features inside.

- The ideal camera would be mounted on his handlebars.

- It would turn on automatically (an accelerometer?) when he was riding, and turn off when he was done.

- There'd be no need to keep the footage if everything went fine -- each ride could record over the previous ride.

- He rides about an hour each way.

- The smallest amount of care and feeding, please.

What's the best black box out there for cyclists?
posted by The corpse in the library to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I get good results mounting a GoPro on my helmet - that way it looks where I look. Otherwise, if you mount on handlebars, you are only going to see what is directly in front of you, probably only catching accidents where you rear-end someone else (uncommon but not unheard of on a bicycle).

Those cameras are waterproof so are good for a year-round commute but do not activate with motion or acceleration to the best of my knowledge. The good thing about a helmet mount solution is that the camera comes with you when you park the bike, reducing the opportunity for theft. It is also far less susceptible to vibration up on your helmet than on the handlebars - the resulting footage will be much smoother, clearer and easier to watch. Plus, you can always mount it backwards so it sees behind you from up there.

Perhaps other Mefites have ideas for cameras which meet more of your criteria.
posted by juiceanddoom at 10:28 AM on July 21, 2012 [3 favorites]

I assume you've seen this. I think both of the cameras featured in the article are head- or helmet-mounts, but maybe the companies that make the have a handlebar mount option...
posted by prior at 10:43 AM on July 21, 2012

posted by adamrice at 11:10 AM on July 21, 2012

We use GoPro for marketing campaigns for our clients. We've found mounting the camera on the handlebars is the best option - the lens is quite, quite wide, capture quite a lot of scenery, and it's easier to watch than a helmet cam.

The challenge with GoPro is that it's going to be pretty expensive - at least $500 - compared to the actual video quality you get. You need to buy a bunch of different modules to make it work, and it all adds up.

Instead, consider buying a cheap handlebar mount from Amazon plus a Flip Video camera, one of the cheap Kodak cameras. It will save you so so so much money, and the video quality may even be better (I've found that GoPro does not take great video quality on overcast days).
posted by KokuRyu at 12:07 PM on July 21, 2012

The smallest amount of care and feeding involves a bit of DIY - a waterproofed dash-cam that is powered by a hub-generator. At that point, there is no care and feeding at all; start/stop, recharging, rewrite-over-old-footage, everything is entirely automatic. But I don't think that exists as a single off-the-shelf package, though each of the components exist individually (hub, hub power regulator, dash-cam, weather proofing)
posted by -harlequin- at 6:44 PM on July 21, 2012

I'm not aware of one that auto-magically starts and stops.

I've used the GoPro. Super simple to start and stop. Requires USB charging, probably each time. The case mounting system allows for easy removal. Expect ~$250 for the camera and $25 for the bicycle mount.

You might look at Contour, some people really like it.

To make one that auto-start/stopped would take some DIY.

Good luck.
posted by Argyle at 7:26 PM on July 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

If it was clear from what everyone else said, GoPro is what you want.
posted by colin_l at 11:20 PM on July 21, 2012

posted by colin_l at 11:20 PM on July 21, 2012

Here's another option http://www.dogcamsport.co.uk/dogcam-bullet-hd-camera.html
posted by Wild_Eep at 10:39 AM on July 22, 2012

This is an awesome question. (I wish I could answer it.) Huzzah to Mr. Corpse for his undaunted cantankerousness & intransigent transit!
posted by feral_goldfish at 9:38 AM on July 27, 2012

Incidentally, I use a contour for exactly this, 16GB memory, which I why I don't think gopro, contour, etc, are very good for this. You need to get into a habit of doing all the constant, unending chores of maintenance and operation (charging batteries, wiping memory cards, switching it on when your start and off when you stop, etc), that even with a lot of enthusiasm and dedication, at any particular random part of the trip, the camera has a fairly good chance of not recording it, be it because the battery is running down, memory card has filled, or even simply you forgot to start it.

I estimate I've managed to raise my long-term average up to about 70% of roadtime getting recorded, but that 30%-fail rate means that in an accident, it's highly likely that all this money and effort will have been for nothing.

I suggest a DIY solution because it's (hobby) time up front instead of constant chores, and the recording reliability should be much higher. Now that I've established for myself that the obvious camera choices are no good, hopefully I'll be able to find time to assemble a better system.
posted by -harlequin- at 3:14 PM on August 1, 2012

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