It is no surprise that the vulnerability of cyclists is a subject that continually crops up on Wheelsuckers forums and blogs. It may not be the open warfare that some over excited BBC producers would have us believe, but for many of us, cycling on British roads, especially in urban areas, can be intimidating and dangerous.
Increasingly, cyclists are using helmet cams to record their journey. In short, these technologically advanced, compact pieces of kit provide a personal black box recorder that could record valuable evidence if you are unfortunate to be involved in an accident or a run in with another road user.
The latest offering on the market is the Roadhawk RIDE HD camera, which has been designed specifically for vulnerable road users - cyclists, motorcyclists and horse riders. Weighing just 32 grams and only 8.5cm long the Roadhawk pacts a big punch for its size and offers a host of features.
Designed to be helmet mounted the Roadhawk comes with an 8GB SD Memory card that holds around 2 hours of footage and records on a constant loop, which is a great feature. The camera automatically records over previously filmed footage when the memory card is full. Furthermore, if you upgrade to a larger card and your recording time increases accordingly - a 32GB card , for example, will record around 8 hours, though the battery will need topping up to cover the increased filming time.
The beauty of the loop recording system is that you never have to worry about the memory card becoming full, so if you are using this camera primarily to record your ride in case you are involved in an incident, then there is no danger the camera will not record it - assuming you turned it on before setting out of course! You also have the option of date stamping any footage you take - which is advisable and of huge (legal) benefit should you film an incident.
Simple to use, with a single on/off button and LED lights that tell you if it is recording, the image quality of the Roadhawk and the wide angle of the lens ensure that your journey is captured clearly. In our road test, even in dim conditions, number plates could be easily viewed and as the Roadhawk is waterproof to a depth of 10 metres, you can ride safe in the knowledge that it is going to withstand the worst of the elements too.
The Roadhawk comes with a huge variety of mounts though for cyclists the manufacturers advise helmet mounting, rather than on the bike itself. The reason for this is twofold. Firstly, a camera mounted on your helmet provides a more stable image as your body absorbs many of the vibrations off the road. Secondly, and most importantly, the camera will follow your line of sight, so if you do have an altercation with another road user or witness an incident then you are more likely to record the events that unfold.
Talking of mounting the camera - the manufacturers provide plenty of mount and cradle options, including a head strap mount and a curved-base mount for helmet mounting. We used the velcro mount in the road test, inserted through the helmet vents, which was adequate and has the benefit that you don't have a mount permanently stuck to your helmet.
The Roadhawk RIDE comes neatly boxed with and array of mounts, cradles and charging options.
Sound playback is definitely not this camera's strength, but this further reinforces the fact that this is a camera specifically aimed at recording footage. Audio recording is secondary. Better sound quality can be achieved by replacing the end cap with the non-waterproof version, but you would need to be quite disciplined about ensuring it is swopped back if the conditions are going to be wet.
Connecting the Roadhawk to your PC or Mac is straightforward and allows you to charge the camera (he built-in Li-Poly battery will record for 90 minutes) and to view, download and edit footage.
Image quality is excellent, even in dim conditions, providing a wide angle, clear picture.
The camera comes with a small User Manual that is brief, but succinct and holds enough information for even this relatively technologically challenged reviewer to use the camera with ease!
The RoadHawk RIDE retails at £149.95. Check out the manufacturers website for more details.
Strengths: Small, lightweight, good quality film, easy to use, waterproof. Plenty of mounting options.
Weaknesses: Poor audio.
• High Definition 720p Bullet Camera
• Waterproof to 10m
• Time/Date video stamping
• Loop recording (5min segments)
• Advanced cabling supplied for connecting to external power
• Hardwiring kit supplied for bikes/cars
• In car charger supplied
• Pro camera mounts supplied
• 8gb (2 hour) SD card supplied
• One touch record operation (automatic when connected to vehicle)
• Incredibly small and light
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