There are a couple of good reasons for cycling with a video camera. Often a specific incident may have led you to consider buying a camera to record your rides, as a deterrent or at least to report bad driving and near misses to be used as potential evidence like a car dashcam. You might also want to record interesting rides, especially if you take on a bucket list ride like the Alpe d'Heuz or Sa Calobra. With these two main use cases in mind, this buyer's guide rounds up our favourite bike cameras that can do one or both of these things very well, and hopefully at least one of them is perfect for you.
Best action camera: DJI Osmo Action 4 Adventure Combo
Best rear light cycling camera: Techalogic CR-1 Rear Light with HD Wide Angle Camera
Best front light cycling camera: Cycliq Fly12 Sport
Best front and rear cycling camera: Innovv K6 Dual Lens Camera
Best cycling camera for projects with higher production value: GoPro Hero9 Black
Best money-no-object cycling camera: Insta360 X3 Action Camera
Best helmet camera for cycling: Techalogic DC-1 Dual Lens Helmet Camera
Our Near Miss of the Day series, as unpleasant as viewing the clips might be for a cyclist, shows the potential value of riding with a camera. Many incidents would be a matter of one person's word against another but for the video evidence, and you want that evidence to be as high quality as possible. You'll also want the camera to fit nicely on your bike without being too heavy or bulky, and ideally it will be super easy to use.
Before we get into our selections, here are some of the key factors to consider when deciding what bike camera to buy. There's also a more detailed Q+A section with even more info underneath the products.
Start looking into picture quality and you'll suddenly meet a lot of jargon relating to pixels and resolution.
• 720p consists of 1280 x 720 pixels (so over 900,000 pixels)
• 1080p consists of 1920 x 1080 pixels (just over 2 million pixels)
• 4K consists of 3840 x 2160 pixels (over 8 million pixels)
1080p is able to give finer detail than 720p, and 4K offers greater detail again. On the flip side, higher resolution tends to cost more and it takes up more memory for the same amount of time.
You'll also come up against fps, or frames per second, which is exactly what it sounds like.
One other aspect to consider that may enhance recording quality is the sound recording capability. Many cycling cameras are equipped with built-in microphones that can capture audio alongside the video footage. This audio recording can be valuable in providing context or evidence of an encounter during your ride.
Looping video allows a camera to record continuously. When it runs out of memory space it starts to overwrite your existing footage. This is a really valuable feature, meaning that you don't have to delete unneeded footage manually and you'll never find that the camera has stopped recording because the memory card is full.
If anything notable happens while you're riding — anything you want to keep as recorded evidence, for example — you can save it before it's overwritten.
Size and weight
Chances are that you want a camera that's small and unobtrusive, especially if you're planning to mount it on a helmet as opposed to the bike, but you might want to balance that against battery life; a very lightweight camera can sometimes have quite a short runtime.
Battery life varies considerably between different cameras and, as mentioned above, there's often a balancing act between size/weight and runtime, so make sure you choose something that suits your needs.
Chances are that you'll want to mount your camera to either the handlebar or a helmet, or facing backwards on your seatpost, with some of the best bike lights now featuring integrated cameras. You can get chest mounts too, which are great for mountain bike videos, but we've found them a bit cumbersome and not particularly comfortable for long rides.
It's worth checking what's in the box before handing over your cash and if the mounts you want aren't included in the package you'll need to budget for them separately.