MO Tested: Innovv K1 Motorcycle Camera Review
A motorcycle "dash-cam" with a variety of uses
Okay, raise your hand if you’ve ever whiled away an evening watching those ubiquitous Russian dash-cam videos. They can be, quite literally, a train wreck from which we simply can’t avert our eyes. Well, technology is making it possible to take people’s selective (and biased) memories out of the blame assessment process for motorcycle accidents, too. Or, maybe, you just want to post your hero videos from your latest ride or track day for your friends to view online. (Just make sure it doesn’t become fodder for your entry into the Darwin Awards.) Either way, the Innovv K1 Motorcycle Camera offers a reasonably priced, permanently mounted camera/DVR system available for motorcyclists.
The Innovv K1 comes with quite a list of included components. The cameras are two 0.37-in. 2-megapixel CMOS Sensors sealed inside a pair of waterproof aluminum housings. Three threaded holes on the housing allow for a variety of mounting options, and two steel L-brackets and bolts are included with the kit. The K1 has a combined GPS receiver and speaker plus a remote button for starting, stopping, and locking recordings. A 12V adapter converts the power to USB-compatible 5V and provides a USB port for powering the system. Finally, the K1’s DVR system and protective pouch form the heart of the system.
When installing the system, special care should be taken to place the DVR in as protected a place as possible. Unfortunately, the DVR is not waterproof. Innovv claims that the pouch helps to protect the unit from both vibration and dampness, but the large openings of the pouch mean the mounting point should be as dry as possible. If you live in a wet environment, I would suggest fashioning a waterproof covering out of one of those dry bags made for smartphones.
Two lengths of flexible data cable are attached to the cameras to allow flexibility in routing to the DVR. The 2-meter (6.5-ft.) and 1-meter (3.3-ft.) cables are labeled Front and Rear, respectively, but since both cameras record at a maximum resolution of 1920 x 1080 30fps, use whichever camera is appropriate for your mounting setup as the front camera. (Then just plug the cable for the camera you mounted in front into the port labeled Front on the DVR.) The 160° wide angle fixed focus lens needs to be mounted as far forward and rearward as possible for the maximum view. Otherwise, you’ll just be recording parts of the bike. In my setup, I used the two included L-brackets to mount the front camera to the base of my 2003 R6’s left mirror. With a little bending, I was able to get the angle right.
The kit includes a good amount of stick-on cable holders, and I used them to run the cable down the back of the fairing and under the tank. From there to the underseat storage, I zip-tied the cables to the bike’s wiring harness. I mounted the rear camera via a homemade L-bracket to a license plate bolt. Since the distance to the DVR was just a few inches for the rear camera, the excess cable had to be wrapped together and tucked to the side.
Because of the built-in speaker, the GPS receiver, like the DVR, is not waterproof, Innovv ships it with the speaker taped over. Still, I wanted it as much out of the elements as possible, so I stuck the unit to the inside of the tail section. Through my contact with several land-speed record racers who have used the empty straight roads of the high desert north of Los Angeles to (illegally) test their bikes, I knew they simply tossed a portable GPS under their pillion to record the data. So, I figured this would work.
Mounting the record button is as simple as finding an easy-to-reach location on the front of the bike (I chose the triple clamp) and running the cable rearward and plugging it into the connector with the GPS cable.
Powering the K1 requires finding a switched power circuit to splice in the USB power converter. This is is no big deal – if you have the factory wiring diagram for your bike. The power converter caused the only real problem of the installation. The ground cable had a short in it that took a little while to find, but once that was removed, the system fired up exactly as expected.
Setup and Use
Since the location on most motorcycles won’t be conducive to going through the menu system for setting up the DVR, just plug a powered USB cable into the unit and make the adjustments from the comfort of a chair. My setup required that I have the DVR flip the front camera’s image but not the rear. You also have the option of getting the DVR to include the bike speed in the data stamped onto the bottom of the camera images. If you look closely at the video samples in this review, you’ll see that I went back-and-forth on whether to include it. Ultimately, I decided to leave it on. Also, in order for the time stamp to be correct on your videos, you’ll need to set the time zone based on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) which is what the GPS receives.
Other options you can set are video resolution, the G-sensor, and Parking Mode. I just set the resolution at its best since the DVR will erase the oldest recordings once the Micro SD card gets filled. The G-sensor can be set to lock a file based on the level of G-shock that the unit detects. While it takes some experimentation to get right, it might prove important in an accident. The triple clamp-mounted record button also has the ability to lock the files with a brief press (a longer press will start/stop recording). The Parking Mode keeps the DVR recoding for 30 minutes (or when the unit’s lithium ion battery goes flat) after the bike’s power is turned off. There are also features that have no real application to motorcycling, like the lane change warning, that you won’t be able to hear out on the road. So, I left these off.
Recording videos is as easy as starting your bike. While the initial minute or two may not have GPS info because the receiver hasn’t locked location, the recording starts within a couple seconds of turning on the ignition. This is the way it should be. For the unit to be effective, it needs to record any time you’re on your bike. Since you have to provide your own Micro SD card – and one that is fast enough to handle HD video – you get to choose how many hours you want to store on your bike. Since the two cameras generate 189 MB/Minute of data, a 32 GB card will hold about 2.7 hours, and a 64 GB card checks in at approximately 5.5 hours.
Although you can view the recorded videos on the K1 unit itself, the quality of the LCD screen makes it better for setting up your cameras and checking to see if the unit is recording than for viewing recorded video. To me, this is a smart, cost-saving measure. Why spend the money for is nice screen when the unit will spend almost its entire life tucked away inside of your motorcycle? For viewing, you can attach the DVR to your computer via USB or to your HD TV with the included HDMI adapter (you’ll need to use your own AV cable, though).
The video quality is perfect for the K1’s intended purpose: providing evidence in an accident scenario and making hero videos for your friends or YouTube. While the quality is not up there with the top-of-the-line current generation GoPros, it is close to the Sena Prism we have used in many of our road test videos, although the K1 displays more digital artifacts. When riding at night in rural areas, the video consists of what’s in the headlight beam with muddy darkness elsewhere. In urban environments, the amount of detail in the video is directly proportional to the amount of light. Again, the camera produces video that is good enough for its intended purposes. The K1 is not designed for producing professional videos.
The Innovv K1 ships with the Registrator View Windows App installed and writes it to every Micro SD card it formats. Mac users will need to find an app, like Dashcam Viewer (which is also available for Windows), to view all of the information the DVR stores. The K1 embeds the GPS location, direction of travel, and speed into its video files. This way, if you discover a cool twisty road you’ve never ridden before, you can lock the file and find it on a map at home.
The Innovv K1 Motorcycle Camera is a convenient and functional built-in camera system. By beginning recording when the bike is started and locking movie files (and their GPS information) upon the detection of an impact, the K1 could be quite useful in assessing responsibility in the event of an accident. By recording over the oldest files, the K1 is completely unobtrusive until you need it. The only real drawback with the system is the fact that it is not waterproof – which is a major oversight for a motorcycle product. Still, if you have a weathertight location to mount the DVR and GPS receiver or are willing to live with the limitation, the Innovv K1 Motorcycle Camera delivers a good value for its $265 MSRP. Learn more and order one at the Innovv website.