MO Tested: Innovv C5 Motorcycle Camera System Review
A solid dash-cam for motorcycles
When we last saw an Innovv camera on MO, we were reviewing the dual camera Innovv K1 Motorcycle System, and we found it to be a convenient and functional motorcycle “dash-cam” with only one major issue: The DVR unit wasn’t waterproof. We also thought the recorded colors could have been a bit brighter, but it was a minor concern for a dash-cam. Here we are 18 months later, and Innovv has released an updated, more rugged kit for motorcycles, the Innovv C5 Motorcycle Camera System. The C5 is both more and less than the older K1 system.
We’ll start with where the C5 is more than the K1. The biggest changes come in the DVR which is most importantly now rainproof! The sensitive electronics are all stored inside an extruded aluminum case. Only one wire connection is required to install a C5’s DVR. The USB C connector screws firmly to the case and has a wire leading to the camera (which is sealed inside its own CNC-machined waterproof housing) and a wire leading to the power supply. The power cable also features a screw connector to keep the elements out. The 5-volt power supply has been upgraded from the K1 and now connects directly to the motorcycle’s battery and employs an automatic trigger wire to switch the unit on. This allows for the C5’s startup routine to be delayed 10 seconds from when the ignition is turned on to avoid the power fluctuations that occur when the starter motor is cranked. (If this delay sounds familiar, it is also a feature of the Innovv Power Hub1 we reviewed.)
Another big change built into the C5 is the ability to connect to it wirelessly via WiFi to a smartphone app. This connection allows the rider to live-view the camera, which is useful during setup. The app is also useful for its ability to change the C5’s recording settings and other parameters. Using a phone’s touch interface is much easier and more intuitive than having to repeatedly press the same few buttons while looking at a tiny screen (a tedious process that the K1 required). The best-sounding new feature of the app is its ability to download the video and photo files from the C5 to the phone via WiFi for sharing or transfer to a computer. However, you’ll still need to take the card out of the C5 to get the large video files onto a computer. More on that later.
Where the C5 is less than the K1 is that it is a single camera unit. For most people, this won’t be a big deal since the vast majority of what people want to record happens in front of their bikes. So, the rear-facing camera is often superfluous. With a reasonable $198 retail price, the C5 is $50 less expensive than the K1.
Installation and Use
Installing the Innovv C5 on a motorcycle is a three-part process. First, you need to find the proper location to mount the camera. The C5 comes with metal mounting brackets and rubber washers to help isolate the camera from the motorcycle’s vibrations. Once the camera is mounted, the cable needs to be run to the DVR’s location. In my case, I mistakenly thought the 1.8-meter cable would be enough to reach the tail section of my 2003 R6. (The C5 is available in 1.8m, 3m, and 5m variations.) Unfortunately, I was wrong. So, I had to scramble to find another location for the DVR. I was able to fit it under the seat if I used double-stick tape instead of the included mounting bracket. While not ideal, it’s a setup I can live with, since I’ll largely be accessing the unit wirelessly. The final installation task was to mount and wire the 5-volt power supply. I tapped the C5’s trigger wire into the switched power of my bike’s running lights circuit. Total install time was about two hours.
After buttoning up the bike, the rest of the camera setup was done through the Innovv C5 app on my smartphone. I was able to easily format the microSD card and set the camera parameters to my liking wirelessly.
While some riders will take the C5’s recordings to make edited videos, its primary purpose is to be a motorcycle dash-cam. To start the C5 capturing data, you just need to turn on the ignition. You have choice of 1 minute, 3 minutes, or 10 minute loop lengths, or the maximum file length depending on the size of your microSD card. When the microSD card gets filled with individual video files, the C5 automatically begins recording over the oldest unlocked ones, so that the DVR can always be recording as you ride. A shock sensor with three levels of sensitivity (low, medium, and high) automatically locks the current file when the sensor is triggered, preventing it from being recorded over. In the case of an accident, this is a nice touch if you need use footage to exonerate yourself at the courthouse and/or prove your lack of fault to an insurance company.
The maximum video resolution is 1920 x 1080 at 30fps, the same as on the K1; however, the C5’s video quality is somewhat improved. The color rendition is warmer and more true-to-life, and the video wiggle (where the video distorts from the engine’s high-frequency vibrations) is noticeably reduced, possibly due to the rubber pad in the mount. As with the K1, the quality of the image isn’t as high as that of HD GoPros, and it does display some compression artifacts. The audio is noisy, being located on a motorcycle with the engine and other mechanical noise. The C5 will shine as a dash-cam where the primary emphasis is on capturing a usable image that conveys information about a ride’s events or a license plate number, but users shouldn’t have Hollywood production aspirations for anything beyond the occasional hero video to post a personal YouTube account.
The Innovv C5 app is quite useful for setting up the DVR and camera. If the card gets full, it can easily be formatted wirelessly. The viewing of video clips, while possible, is a cool idea, but in practice, each clip is only 10 seconds long, making the task of finding a particular section of a ride a tedious exercise. I still found myself simply removing the microSD and slotting the card into my computer to view the C5’s actual complete 1-, 3-, or 10-minute video files, instead of just 10-second clips as inside the app.
In summary, I found the Innovv C5 Motorcycle Camera System to be a worthy upgrade to the Innovv K1. No, you don’t get the rear camera, but in reality, most people don’t use them most of the time. What you do get is a fully weatherproof DVR, improved video quality, and wireless setup. Furthermore, the hardware installation was an easy process. With a retail price of $198, the C5 is available with a choice of three camera cable lengths from the Innovv website or other online vendors.
Like most of the best happenings in his life, Evans stumbled into his motojournalism career. While on his way to a planned life in academia, he applied for a job at a motorcycle magazine, thinking he’d get the opportunity to write some freelance articles. Instead, he was offered a full-time job in which he discovered he could actually get paid to ride other people’s motorcycles – and he’s never looked back. Over the 25 years he’s been in the motorcycle industry, Evans has written two books, 101 Sportbike Performance Projects and How to Modify Your Metric Cruiser, and has ridden just about every production motorcycle manufactured. Evans has a deep love of motorcycles and believes they are a force for good in the world.
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