A Motorcycle Helmet Camera is really useful for hands free recording while riding. They work in the same way as a normal video camera. I have spent a lot of time trying to find a good motorcycle video recording setup for my own trips and this page is the result of what I have found to work well.
Things to consider for a good motorcycle helmet camera setup:
Usually you can get complete helmet cam sets, there are companies who concentrate on just making helmet cameras and accessories. These systems aren’t always tailored for motorcycles, they can be used for any outdoor sport such as cycling, skiing, snowboarding and skateboarding.
Helmet Cams available to buy
The motorcycle helmet camera kits are good and great if you have the budget to spend, but there are also DIY options that can give you the same or sometimes better results for very little money.
Motorcycle Helmet Camera Quality
As with home video cameras, generally the more you spend on the helmet camera the better quality the recording, although there are some things to watch out for:
The most important feature of the camera. Along with the recording resolution, this will determine how good the overall quality of your footage will be.
Lens sizes vary, but ideally 3mm or more will get a good picture quality.
PAL or NTSC format?
Which country are you going to watch your video in? If you are using analogue systems to record and edit your footage (video tape instead of a memory card), you’ll need to know which one you need.
This is less important if you are using a digital video camera and using a PC/MAC to edit. 99.9% of video editing software can read both PAL and NTSC so it’s not a problem if you’re making videos for Youtube, but…
If you are eventually creating a DVD of the videos you have made with your motorcycle helmet camera then get the correct format for your country. United Kingdom use PAL, USA & Canada use NTSC as does most of Asia.
If you’re not sure ask the store you are buying from.
At high speeds a stone flying at your new helmet cam is the last thing you want! Make sure that the camera you buy either has a transparent lens cover fitted or comes with a protective cover that can stay on while recording.
Called bullet cameras for obvious reasons, these will plug into most video recorders and fit easily to the side of a motorcycle helmet. They can also be attached to a motorcycle so are useful if you want to record different angles.
If you choose a bullet cam be careful as there are a lot that are made for static CCTV and won’t be suited to motorcycles. Sony CCD motorcycle helmet cameras are generally pretty good.
Bullet Cameras need a power source, this is normally a battery pack that holds AA batteries (you’ll need quite a few, probably 8 or more batteries at a time). Get a rechargable battery pack like the ones used in remote control cars to save some cash on batteries.
Each camera will be capable of recording a certain amount of lines, the higher the number of lines the better the quality. To get something that is good for watching on Youtube go for 500TVL or more, anything under will look slightly grainy.
Digital Video Cameras record at varying resolutions. The higher the resolution the better the recording quality. The highest quality cameras will be able to record in HD. My Toshiba Camileo S10 shoots 1,440 x 1,080 resolution which is nearly full HD, but not quite!
Motorcycle Helmet Camera Lens Angles
Cameras are available with various lens types, both narrow and wide angle. A 3.6mm lens will record the road in front of you and some of your bike while a 6mm lens gives a narrower angle so won’t record as much of your bike.
For around £100 (roughly $150) you can buy a bullet camera and microphone. Don’t forget to make sure that your camera is waterproof!
Recording your footage
A simple Mini DVR (Digital Video Recorder) is all you’ll need to save your footage.
These are essentially a multimedia player that allows an external camera to be plugged into it. Most have SD card slots or internal memory. Ideally get one with an SD card slot as you can then take spare SD cards on a trip and never run out of space to record.
Ease of use
If you buy a motorcycle helmet camera pack you might find that it becomes a bit of a hassle to setup. If you just want a simple all in one video camera then the GoPro Hero is ideal (read more about the GoPro below). If you need ultra high quality recordings with long running time and high quality sound then a bullet camera pack is for you.
I personally like to be able to stick the camera on my bike/helmet, press record and go! This doesn’t always give the best results though, it depends what you want from a helmet cam.
1080p HD Motorcycle Helmet Camera
I have spent some time testing the Drift HD170 Stealth Camera and have found it to be really versatile. For videoing while riding a bike it’s really useful and it’s shape means that it can be strapped to a helmet, your arm, leg or anywhere! The front lens rotates which along with the wireless remote control makes this the best HD action camera that I have tried out so far – the video on the right is some footage that we took using the HD170.
My Motorcycle Camera
After testing various systems I use a Toshiba Camileo S10 which I attach to my panniers, it’s really simple to use and records in HD. The sound quality is OK but wouldn’t win any awards!
The Toshiba Camileo S10 is an all in one unit that records to SD card. Each card (4GB) gets me about 1 hour of HD footage.
Visit this link for a short video of a trip I took around Luxembourg, I strapped the camera to the bike, started riding and then when finished I uploaded it straight to Youtube, the footage hasn’t been touched by any video editing software, apart from Youtube processing it.
Recommended Motorcycle Helmet Cameras
Helmet Cameras @ GoPro.com
I haven’t been able to test this motorcycle helmet camera personally yet, when I get my hands on it I will post a review. It’s a very popular choice for sports enthusiasts and is the 2nd generation model.
Reading the spec it seems perfect for trackdays and other times when you just want to record an hour of footage at a time. If you want to record for longer this isn’t the best option (unless you can afford the time to stop and download the footage onto a laptop once every hour!).
No other accessories need to be bought to use this camera, just stick it on (using the provided adhesive pads) and press record.
VHoldR HD Motorcycle Helmet Camera
VHoldR – available in 1080p and 720p versions, this is another helmet camera that gives top quality results.
The VHoldR has it’s own storage just like the GoPro Hero. It records onto a 2GB memory card which can be removed and replaced. Take a few SD cards on your motorcycle tour and record all of your footage hassle free.
All in one HD Video Camera
I use the Toshiba Camileo S10 HD Video Camera. This HD digital video camera records to SD memory card. It’s a normal family video camera and it’s small enough to carry around (smaller than most still picture digital cameras) so for long motorcycle tours where luggage space is tight this is perfect.
This HD video camera came with a flexible tripod so I found it is really useful for attaching to my bike with cable ties.
I’ve got the standard S10 HD in black, but Toshiba also do a Ducati version, although I haven’t managed to find anywhere that sells the Ducati S10, perhaps it will be available soon. The standard Camileo S10 can be bought for under £100 ($150).
BikeCam Video Camera Mount
Already got a video camera? Look at this handy tank accessory for a standard home video camera that screws into the motorcycle gas tank fittings.
A good choice if you already have a video camera and want to record some of your ride outs without having to buy loads of new gear.
I’ve seen riders put a video camera in a tank bag and cut a hole for the lens! Quite a cool idea for a shoe string budget, the only problem is the sound will be muffled. If the video camera you’re using has an external microphone jack then you could plug in a microphone and mount it on the bike – there’s so many different options for recording your travels!
The Games Console Motorcycle Camera
Sony PSP Camera Package
When I was looking for a camera to take on a trip around Europe I borrowed by brother’s PSP and bought a Go!Cam which connects to the PSP. I then recorded footage directly onto the PSP SD card.
If you already own a PSP this is worth looking into as the Go!Cam can be picked up quite cheaply. A PSP Sat Nav Cradle can be attached to the bike very easily, giving you a DIY motorcycle camera for very little money!
The Go!Cam works fine in daylight but isn’t to as good in very low light conditions, which is why I don’t use it as a Motorcycle Cam for touring anymore.