As a cyclist, you have to be aware of the dangers around you. It’s unfair, but that’s just the way road traffic currently works. As a cyclist, you are much more vulnerable to road traffic accidents and injuries which could put you out of commission for a long time – or even for good!
That’s why most cyclists are very good at assessing the flow of traffic and working out where danger lies in even the most complicated situation. Unfortunately, due to bad driving or cyclist-unfriendly road layouts (or both!) cyclists will often find themselves in accidents through no fault of their own.
When this happens, you need incontrovertible evidence that the other road user was at fault to use in a court of law. For this purpose, helmet cameras are incredibly valuable!
They’re also useful in defusing violent confrontations with dangerous drivers who feel like picking on a cyclist, as they will tend to back down when confronted with evidence that you’re recording them.
Here are five of the top helmet cameras available. LoyaltyLaw has received no payment for reviewing these cameras.
The GoPro is the Apple of helmet cameras. Safe, reliable, backed by a well-known brand, but also fairly expensive for the specifications you get.
You may be able to get hold of older versions relatively cheaply, but obviously this negates most of the upside of using a GoPro.
Currently, your choice of GoPro is split between the GoPro Hero 3 and the GoPro Hero 3+. Either is a solid choice, but the GoPro Hero 3+ is more than £150 more expensive, meaning that to justify the price you really have to need that 4k resolution or twelve megapixels.
Negatives of GoPro’s offerings include unintuitive aspects to their usage, and of course the price. Since helmet cameras for inner-city use really just need the most basic functionality, the price may be the deciding factor for many cyclists – then again, if you have the money for a high quality road bike the price of a GoPro may be chickenfeed to you.
This is why we’ve placed the excellent GoPro so low on our list. If you’ve got the money, go for it! But, like buying the latest iPhone to keep in touch with the grandkids, it might be an unnecessary extravagance for road cyclists looking to keep an accurate record of dangerous drivers.
The Hero 3 costs £199.99 and the Hero 3+ costs between £279.99 and £359.99.
The Contour range consists of lighter, smaller cameras that are generally more discreet than the rectangular GoPro cameras. As we mentioned earlier, this might not always play in your favour – if a white van man decides to pick a fight, you want your camera to be as visible as possible to avoid confrontation.
The Contour Roam range has high build quality, and cameras within the range are typically cheaper than cameras within the GoPro range.
The Contour Roam 2 lacks 4k recording capabilities, as do most cameras outside GoPro’s offerings and higher-end Sony cameras. As it’s so much smaller, though, it may prove a better choice for the more stylish biker, even if the price weren’t a factor.
The negatives of the Contour range are mostly that it’s a range which requires you to hook up your camera to your computer in order to change any settings, although at prices between £90-120 ($160-$200) the price difference from a GoPro may be sufficient for price-conscious cyclists.
The Tachyon OPS HD is relatively old now. Its heyday was 2011, and its age is now starting to show in certain aspects of its image fidelity and resolution – although it’s still perfectly capable, and totally suitable for use by road cyclists.
Where it shines, though, is its long recording times and tiny size. You sacrifice a certain amount of technical quality in exchange for greater practicality.
It compares very favourably with the first generation Contour Roam, although the comparison with the Roam 2 is much closer.
At between £80-90 ($150) it’s really quite cheap compared to other popular choices of helmet camera, and well worth a look.
Negatives include image quality, problems with panning and fast movement, and the fact that you can’t rotate or angle the camera once it’s fixed in place. It is not supposed to be waterproof, although Tachyon offer the Micro HD if you’re willing to exchange sound quality for a waterproof camera.
The Sony AS100V is cheaper than the GoPro, but retains many of the benefits and features. The main difference is that you lose the assurance of good customer service that comes from using a product from a single-purpose market leader, but Sony does have a decent reputation for customer service.
Recognisably a Sony device, it looks a lot like a Sony Handycam from the late ’90s, only smaller. It even has something of the Walkman about it. If that’s not an issue for you, or you like the way it looks, that’s fine.
The camera actually tends to outperform the GoPro in dark conditions, although (and this is the only real negative) the image can be a little soft.
Aside from the image being soft, the only negative would be the price, which is around £160-180. That’s still significantly less than the Hero 3+, and it represents a good value alternative to high-end helmet cameras.
The Veho Muvi Pro is a really cheap budget option with extremely limited choices and settings available.
Why do we think this is the best helmet camera for road cyclists then?
It’s just not necessary for cameras to record at the highest possible quality rate for the main purpose of a road cyclist’s helmet camera; protection, and a source of high quality evidence in the case of legal action.
Witness CCTV cameras as an example of the sort of poor quality footage that can still yield admissible evidence of wrongdoing.
If you want to protect yourself against injustice and use your camera for an impressive mountain biking edit, the Muvi Pro will find itself stretched to its limits. However, if you’re more interested in creating footage to share with family and close friends, the Muvi Pro works well as a simple utility camera as well as working as a (metaphorical) life saver in the event of a road accident.
The Muvi Pro is tiny, but not necessarily mountable on a typical cycle helmet. It may be more at home on your handlebars.
Negatives include a lack of features, poorer quality video than more expensive cameras, and a short battery life of around 45 minutes, which is actually less than the typical recording time of around an hour and a half.
The Muvi Pro costs in the region of £50, although prices vary from seller to seller.
If it looks like we’ve taken the easy way out by mostly recommending cheaper helmet cameras over more expensive cameras, well, to be honest, we have. Most of the other features of these cameras, including image quality, are of little interest to road cyclists looking to protect their interests in the event of a road traffic accident, and the Muvi Pro is probably the best camera for these purposes.
The reverse trade-off, by contrast, adding features and improving image quality for more money, is rarely worth it for this specific purpose. However, road cyclists are also often off-road cyclists too.
If you have the money, the Sony ASV 100 is a good compromise for the weekend warrior, spending their weekends hitting the mountain trails and their weeks cycling back and forth from work. Meanwhile the Tachyon and Contour offerings make (in our opinion) less effective compromises between price and features. The Tachyon is good for its long recording time, which makes it a useful helmet camera for niche requirements, while the Contour makes a good middle-ground between the Muvi and the AS100V.
We think there’s a place on the market for all these cameras, so choose the one that’s right for your needs!