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Best Cycling Safety Cameras 2019

In Tech / Gear, Cycling
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Could using a cycle camera improve your safety on the UK’s roads?

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  1. What To Look For In A Cycling Safety Cam
  2. Olympus TG-Tracker
  3. Garmin VIRB XE
  4. Cycliq Fly12 Front Facing Camera
  5. Cycliq Fly6 Rear Light
  6. Sony FDR-X3000 4K
  7. Panasonic HX-A1
  8. TomTom Bandit
  9. APEMAN Action Cam A80
  10. Cyclevision EDGE Revision M


If you cycle on our roads, how many times have you had a near-miss with a vehicle? It’s highly unlikely that any regular road user could say never.

A worrying 22% of cyclists were not seen by car drivers in a study conducted by Direct Line Car Insurance using innovative eye tracking technology.

It might come as a surprise that there are more cyclist casualties per year than motorcyclists, as statistics in the 2017 Department for Transport annual report showed.

18,321 casualties for the year means that every single day, a shocking 50 cyclists are injured on the UK’s roads.

Having video evidence can be crucial when a situation does occur, from collisions to road rage incidents. David Brennan is a prominent cycling safety activist who has secured convictions against drivers using footage taken, so is a firm believer in the value of having a cycle cam. He says:

"Cyclists are hugely vulnerable. Having a camera, if there is an incident, I can do something about it. If a driver is tailgating me, I turn round, and when they see the camera they pull back, so it can also adjust people’s behaviour. Cameras are absolutely critical – if I had gone to the police in these cases it would have been my word against the drivers."

This changing of behaviour once you are being observed, known as the Hawthorne effect, can only make for a safer cycling experience, which has to be a good thing.

A recent BBC article highlighted the issue about how currently in law, the burden of proof rests on cyclists’ shoulders when they have been in a collision with a vehicle. Cycle camera footage, whilst not automatically being acceptable to the courts, could help in many cases.

Police forces across the country are also working on initiatives to make the roads safer for cyclists. This is much needed, with a Westminster University study called the Near Miss Project suggesting that incidents occurred every 10 - 20 miles.

In 2016, the West Midlands Police pioneered a new initiative called Operation Close Pass. This has been hugely successful since its launch, reducing the reports of close passes by half, whilst during the same period the number of serious injuries and deaths reduced by 20%. 

Police

Alongside educating motorists, more than 400 motorists have been prosecuted using video footage provided by the public, and this campaign. On a final note before we talk about the cameras, the Police have this to say:

“Drivers who endanger vulnerable road users need to understand that we run operations to catch them… and if they avoid our officers we can still prosecute them using footage provided by cyclists and other motorists”.

For cyclists who have to deal with inconsiderate driving almost every time they use the roads, this should come as welcome news.

What To Look For In A Cycling Safety Cam

With cycling safety cameras being more mainstream now, and having a wide range of features, it can be somewhat daunting as to which option to go for.

The first major consideration is the mounting type/place, which can be either head or frame mount. Here you have to decide which is best for you, as they both have benefits and disadvantages. For example, head mounted cameras mean you need to look at the action, which can be an issue, and the footage is going to be constantly moving. The flip side is that if you are separated from your bike, the footage will still be relevant - always assuming you are still able to look in the right place.

Possibly another benefit to having a head mounted cam is that vehicles should be able to tell you have one fitted as they approach, certainly more easily than they would see a frame mounted cam. As mentioned above, this alone can improve a driver’s behaviour.

For the image-conscious, the look of wearing a head cam can be less appealing, but most serious cyclists will value their safety over this. We did manage to find one option that solves this issue, so whilst not strictly being a cycle camera, we have added it for the sake of completeness; see the end of the article for this very interesting new product.

The next big decision is the direction of camera. This can be front facing only, rear only or both. We would always go for both if it is within your budget, but if cost is an issue, it makes sense to go with front facing. A close pass incident should show up as the vehicle goes by (not to mention your audio will probably be quite descriptive!).

Other important factors to consider are:

  • Recording loop - meaning old footage is recorded over on a continuous loop, so the camera does not stop recording when the data card is full
  • Water and dirt ingress - will your camera work well in the rain?
  • Battery life - how long is your average journey; will the battery life be sufficient?
  • Viewing angle - will the range of view be sufficient?
  • Frames per second (FPS) - whilst almost every camera available now should have a sufficient rate to provide good footage, be aware that those with the higher rate of 60 FPS could mean your battery drains quickly
  • Sound recording - does the device have an integrated mic?
  • Ease of operation - from always on, to being controlled via an app, also how do you access footage to a big, easy to use button
  • Profile - bullet style or GoPro?

Lastly, please note that the prices quoted are those from the manufacturer, and that often by shopping around a better deal can be obtained. The links below take you to the product pages so that you can get more information. As we wished to remain independent with our opinions, no commission is payable on anything - so please go wherever you can get the best deal!

Olympus TG-Tracker

Olympus TG-Tracker

The Olympus TG-Tracker is packed with sensors, including GPS, electronic compass, accelerometer, thermometer and manometer. This means if you are interested, there is a wealth of information that you can access. Be mindful though, as the more gadgets used, the faster the battery will deplete.

At £179, this is a keenly priced camera that can be used for much more than just safety.

The spec is good, it is waterproof to 30m, crushproof to 100kg (however they calculate this), it’s shockproof and has an excellent range of operating temperatures - which will be useful, should you be planning to cycle at the Arctic Circle, or in Australia in the height of summer...

There is also a flip out screen for quick and easy viewing, but it’s a shame it doesn’t tilt, as this makes it harder to get the correct angle.

Pros: Olympus TG-Tracker

  • Packed full of sensors
  • 4K HD @ 30 FPS
  • Durable and waterproof out of the box

Cons: Olympus TG-Tracker

  • Mid range weight at 180g
  • Using all the sensors drains battery quicker
  • Some fisheye perspective when using the widest angle (204 degree)

Olympus TG-Tracker Codes

GTIN = 0050332190511
Manufacturer Detail = Olympus TG-Tracker
MPN = V104180EU000
UPC = 0050332190511

Garmin VIRB XE

Garmin VIRB XE

The Virb XE is the latest Garmin action camera and is a totally new model as opposed to being a next generation of the VIRB Elite.

The VIRB XE takes a leaf out of the GoPro book and opts for a non bullet-like camera. This might be an issue if you prefer bullet types, and some may say it can add to wind resistance.

At £349 the VIRB XE from Garmin is at the higher end of the cameras assessed, being a Garmin model, has ANT+® compatible, meaning it is more efficient with wireless connections. This boils down to a longer battery life.

Pros: Garmin VIRB XE

High speed options if you want some action shots
Extra batteries available
Awesome range of mounts out of the box
ANT+® compatible

Cons: Garmin VIRB XE

Not the best resolution
Standard battery life only 2 hours
No official IP rating (not waterproof)
A little pricey compared to what else is available

Garmin VIRB XE Codes

GTIN = 0753759131791
Manufacturer Detail = Garmin VIRB XE
MPN = 0100136300
UPC = 0753759131791

Cycliq Fly12 Front Facing Camera and Front Light

Cycliq Fly12 Front Facing Camera and Front Light

The Fly12 is bigger than a GoPro Hero 3, but does include a 600 lumen light, which in spotlight form is equivalent to approximately 50 watts. So from a safety point of view, you will be easy to spot! Having said that, using the light at full power does have a corresponding detrimental effect on the battery life, as you might expect.

The app, available both on iOS and Android, allows for a multitude of options to be accessed, with a nice interface. As with the VIRB XE, the camera is ANT+® compatible, so again, it is power efficient (with the same caveat as above for the light usage).

At £255, it’s a great option with you only needing the one device for both camera and headlight. There is also loop recording, so your camera will never stop recording.

Although quite a large unit, you have to take into account the fact you don’t need a separate light unit, which will be a big plus point for many. 

Pros: Cycliq Fly12

Light plus camera
Long battery life (when not being maxed out)
Includes alarm setting
Faster recharging time than many

Cons: Cycliq Fly12

195g, so a little heavier than some
Camera will turn off as battery gets low to be able to keep running the light
Includes alarm setting
Very tight fit into the mount requiring a fair amount of pressure

Cycliq Fly12 Codes

GTIN = 0850048006010
Manufacturer Detail = Cycliq Fly12
MPN = CLQFLY12

Cycliq Fly6 Rear Light / Camera

Cycliq Fly6 Rear Light / Camera

As we covered the Cycliq Fly12, we can’t leave out the Fly6, Cycliq’s partner light/camera combo for the rear facing option.

The device has a 100 lumen lamp (red) for the rear facing aspect and has a 135 degree viewing angle and image stabilisation built in.
As with the Cyclic12, it’s easily mountable and has a quick release for security.

Pros: Cycliq Fly6

Lots of seat post mounts in the box
1080P
Light plus camera

Cons: Cycliq Fly6

Not HDR like the Fly12
Needs a separate SD card to operate

Cycliq Fly6 Codes

GTIN = 0850048006027
Manufacturer Detail = Cycliq Fly6
MPN = CLQFLY6
UPC = 0850048006027

Sony FDR-X3000 4K

Sony FDR-X3000 4K

There can’t be a camera roundup without featuring a Sony. Enter the Sony FDR-X300 with Zeiss lens and Balanced Optical Steadyshot.

The FDR-X300 is compact and lightweight coming in at 114g and easily fits in the palm of your hand.

The image stabilisation and quality is great and tests show it has very little fisheye distortion with very smooth footage.

Pros: Sony FDR-X300 4K

Great syncing and control via an app
Durable, with included dust, water and shockproof case
Lens protector
4K at 30 fps

Cons: Sony FDR-X300 4K

No built in screen
Higher price (around £450)
Poor sound quality

Sony FDR-X300 4K

GTIN = 4548736022072
Manufacturer Detail = Sony FDR-X300 4K
MPN = FDRX3000

Panasonic HX-A1

Panasonic HX-A1

The Panasonic HX-A1 comes in a black or vivid orange design with high spec IP68 ingress protection (dust & water) to 1.5m. It has a wide operating temperature meaning it could easily double up as an action cam for skiing.

Pros: Panasonic HX-A1

High performance water and dust proofing.
iOS and Android dedicated apps
Built in WiFi
Lightweight at 45g

Cons:Panasonic HX-A1

Not 4K shooting
Some settings only available via the app
Battery life can be limited

Panasonic HX-A1 Codes

GTIN = 4549077388575
Manufacturer Detail = Panasonic HX-A1()
MPN = HXA1M

TomTom Bandit

TomTom Bandit

Whilst being best known for their GPS navigation devices, the TomTom Bandit is a good high spec video camera, with additional features like GPS, several motion sensors and a really easy way of getting footage off the the Bandit.

With it being a striking white and red it stands out and may let other road users see you are recording. One of the best features is its ease of connectivity with the app, allowing you to get easy and quick access to footage including editing, if you want to make action compilations.

Pros: TomTom Bandit

Quick video editing and uploading
Simple to use
Awesome app linking
USB connectivity without a cable

Cons: TomTom Bandit

Slightly heavier than some rivals at 190g
Harder to mount due to bullet shape
Needs a separate lens for waterproofing (around £30)

TomTom Bandit Codes

GTIN = 0636926082839
Manufacturer Detail = TomTom Bandit
MPN = 1LB000102
UPC = 0636926082839

APEMAN Action Cam A80

 APEMAN Action Cam A80

If some of the suggestions above are a little out of your budget, we have experience of the Apeman brand, who have GoPro-type features but at great prices. It has to be better to have something rather than nothing, so do check out the Apeman range if you don’t feel able to splash out right now. Their products seem to offer a good alternative to brands such as GoPro.

The full APEMAN Action Cam A80 spec for you to compare:

  • Liquid Crystal Display (LCD): 2.0 inch
  • Video Resolution: 4K 24fps/ 2k 30fps/ 1080P 60fps/ 1080P 30fps/ 720P 120fps/ 720P 60fps
  • Sensor: Sony Sensor
  • Visual Angles: 170°/140°/110°/70°
  • Compress Format: H.264
  • Image Resolution: 20M/ 16M/ 12M/ 10M/ 8M/ 5M/ 3M/ VGA
  • Storage: micro SD up to 128GB
  • Shooting Mode: Single Shot / Self-timer (2s / 5s / 10s / Double)
  • Loop recording: support
  • Time-lapse Record: 100ms / 200ms / 500ms / 1Sec / 5 Sec
  • Motion Detection: support
  • Interface: micro USB 2.0, micro HDMI
  • Battery Capacity: 3.7V Li-ion Battery 1050 mAh (Two Batteries Included )
  • Recording Time: 1080P at 120 minutes/ 4K at 60 minutes of Each Battery
  • Charging Time: About 3 hours
  • Language: English/ German/ French/ Spanish/ Italian/ Portuguese/ Traditional Chinese/ Simplified Chinese/ Japanese/ Russian


Pros: Apeman Action Cam A80

The price of their items is really great
Consistently high ratings on online review sites
Loads of mounting options bundles in the pack
Ability to adjust viewing angles

Cons: Apeman Action Cam A80

Some issues with connecting a smartphone
Not a true 4K, but for the price is good
Some complaints of the build quality


Apeman Action Cam A80 Codes

GTIN = 0608807074714
Manufacturer Detail = Apeman Action Cam A80
MPN = T2DI7ATLJX
UPC = 0608807074714

Cyclevision EDGE Revision M

Cyclevision EDGE Revision M

Would you like to have eyes in the back of your head? How useful would that be in many situations?! Ok, so whilst it’s not literally possible, the founders of Cyclevision have done the next best thing.

This is more of a heads-up as to what is becoming available, rather than an option to buy right now, but during our research we found this clever idea, and thought you may be interested. It makes perfect sense really… why couldn’t you have two cameras incorporated into your actual helmet, and then have the rear facing one stream straight to your handlebar-mounted smartphone?

With many more features and still being in its final production stages at the time of writing, we think this patent pending helmet has the potential to take the cycle cam market by storm… you read it here first!

More information available on their website. https://cyclevision.com.au


Best Safety Cam 2019 Summary

We hope we have given you some ideas to think about, and a headstart in choosing the best cycle cam to suit your needs. There are so many to choose from, it’s true...  just please don’t get bogged down by the huge range and do nothing. With more cars than ever on the road, and people always wanting to get wherever they are going ‘yesterday’, anything you can do to improve your safety must be worth investing in.

Note: in case you missed it above - we have not been paid by any of the manufacturers we’ve mentioned in our report, so we can say with integrity that for us, our choice is the Cycliq12 and 6 purchased as a pair. This is because of their high-level spec, the all-round protection they give, and because they incorporate lights, which are a must for when it’s dark or raining… something that happens quite a bit here!

Whichever you choose, be seen and stay safe.

 

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