Picture it: you’re having the motorcycle adventure of a lifetime; you’re somewhere new, traveling down roads and paths you’ve never seen before, and just around every bend is a view more picturesque than the last. The scenery is gorgeous, the roads (or trails) are twisty, and you and your motorcycle are one. By all accounts, this ride qualifies as epic. There’s just one problem: you haven’t documented any of it. Once the ride is over, you’ll only have memories to refer back to, save for the few shots you took on your cell phone camera.
Thanks to the march of technology, capturing and/or documenting your ride has never been easier. Whether you’re a track rider, adventure gal, or long-distance Iron Butt-er, these days there’s almost no excuse not to document your ride somehow. For this list, we’ve gathered six gadgets we use to capture our rides, plus one device we think has a lot of potential. Most of them should be small enough to toss into a backpack or saddlebag, so there’s really no excuse no to bring them with you. Curious what they are? Let’s get to it.
Sure cell phones these days take good pictures, but there’s a reason why professional photographers still use the DSLR – the images are simply better. Having the ability to adjust the different camera settings to get the exact shot you want is far easier on a DSLR than on a cell phone, and being able to swap lenses adds to the creativity you can experiment with for each shot. As an added bonus, many DSLRs these days also have video recording capabilities so you can capture moving or still images. There are plenty of inexpensive and (relatively) compact DSLR cameras around, but if you really want to save space, mirrorless cameras have many of the same abilities as DSLRs and are also all the rage.
You’re going to notice a theme with this list: it’s largely made up of video cameras. The reason should be fairly obvious – what better piece of technology is there for capturing moments? One of the coolest gadgets out these days is the 360-degree camera, which as the name implies, records the riding action from nearly every angle. Then, as you play it back, you can scroll 360 degrees to see the action almost as if you were living it again. Like all cameras out there, many different brands and models exist. Some use multiple lenses and digitally stitch the images together, while others rely on just one lens to capture everything. Nearly all of them have apps you can access to replay the footage and share it amongst your social networks.
360Fly was one of the firsts in this field, and its second-generation camera captures HD video and won’t break the bank. Check it out here.
One of the exceptions to the video cameras on this list is a GPS tracker like this one from Spot. GPS trackers won’t capture your ride on video, it’ll track you and/or your motorcycle anywhere on earth, even if there’s no cell signal. It’s completely reliant on satellites. This is especially useful if you travel alone, as there are functions to send simple text updates to friends and family telling them you’re fine. Or, should something happen, there are functions to send emergency services too. Because the Spot is always monitoring your whereabouts, it’s also tracking your ride, which you can then refer back to later for memory’s sake.
The MO team have used Spot products before during adventure rides and are comforted by the peace of mind it provides should anything go wrong (and knowing us, they usually do). A subscription service is required to get the full benefit of the Spot system, but we think it’s worth it. Learn more at the Spot website, or on Amazon.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a personal cameraman following your every ride? It would definitely make filming a whole lot easier. With the SoloShot3 that’s now possible – sorta. This is the one item on the list we have yet to test ourselves, but the basic premise sounds very promising. Basically, there’s an electronic tether you wear. This allows the camera to find and track you. Meanwhile, the camera is setup somewhere to track you as you go past. Obviously, this is best for track riders (street or dirt) or someone riding within a confined space, but it can also work for riders of other disciplines if you bother to take the time to setup the camera equipment and make passes back and forth.
Anecdotes we’ve heard from other users claim the system has its strengths, but due to the fast-paced nature of motorcycles the SoloShot3 can have a hard time tracking the motorcycle if it’s within close range and moving quickly. At medium to long distances, however, we’ve heard the camera works pretty well. You can see some reviews here.
Here’s another one for all the track riders out there, street or dirt. The LitPro is next-level data gathering and analysis for every level of rider. The device itself is the black trapezoidal object in the lower left of the photo above, and what you do is stick it on your motorcycle (or helmet if you’re a dirt guy/gal), push the button, then go ride. After your session you can download reams of data onto the iOS app (sorry Android users), where you can then compare your analytics lap by lap. Info like brake points, corner speed throughout the turn, exit speed, and much more are available to you.
Beyond that, you can also access data from other users who have also ridden that track to compare data. The road course app is still in beta, but the motocross version of the app is extremely sophisticated; with the ability to analyze line choice and airtime to determine the best way around. We’re currently testing the LitPro with the Road app and are already impressed with its capabilities. Stay tuned for the full review.
Amazon and Jeff Bezos have yet to flood the sky with drones, so the opportunity is still there to capture your ride with these eyes in the skies. Granted, it’ll take some effort to capture parts of your ride with a drone – and there are a lot of different models out there – but getting a bird’s eye view of the ride ahead has produced some of the most beautiful footage we’ve seen. If you’re wondering how you’d ride the bike and capture footage at the same time, fear not – some drones have the ability to track and follow you. Meaning, you can set the drone to track, put on your gear and ride away (at a reasonable speed, of course). The drone will follow from above.
Of course, there’s no way we could round out this list without including GoPro’s latest action camera, the Hero 7. We’re including the top-o-the-line Black model because we’ve finally had a chance to use one and we think it lives up to the hype. If you’re reading this list and have no idea what a GoPro is, we’d be astonished. The de facto king of action cameras, the GoPro – any GoPro – is our go-to when we absolutely have to capture our ride. Sure there are better cameras out there when it comes to hardware and specs, but like the iPhone, the infrastructure around GoPros is so huge it’s far easier to use it. Thankfully it takes good, smooth video (assuming your have the new 7). You’ll no doubt fall into the rabbit hole of acquiring accessories for the GoPro like we have, but that’s simply par for the course. The options and features list for the GoPro Hero 7 is long, and frankly, there’s been so much hype about this camera you probably know it already. Its $400 price tag is a little steep, but hopefully, Amazon will have some holiday sales on them soon.
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