With so many conventional action cameras on the market it’s hard to know which of them are best suited to motorcycling. Here Emily has compared all the GoPro range as well as 4 alternative brands to help you choose the best action camera for your motorcycle.
I remember maybe 5 years ago, I was avoiding doing some work and scrolling through YouTube as you do, when I came across a guy riding his MT-07 on the highway with at least a hundred other riders.
It was amazing footage, just to see that many riders out, loving life, riding in the sun, and the clarity was impeccable. I had never really thought about having a camera fitted on to my motorcycle or my helmet until that very moment.
As it happens I was working in a motorcycle clothing and accessories store at the time, and despite selling these action cameras to riders, it didn’t click how awesome and useful they were until then.
So, safe to say shortly after that I bought my first GoPro camera, stuck it on the handlebars and recorded my morning commutes along with some more interesting rides in the Welsh mountains.
Why Use an Action Camera For Motorcycle Riding?
There are generally three reasons why you would have a GoPro type action camera with you on your rides:
- To capture your rides when you go somewhere cool so you have awesome memories to look back on later on.
- For safety. Some riders mount an action camera so that when they are out and about, should an incident occur with another party they have the footage; this can go in their favor in court with the insurance company as they can prove the other party was at fault. (It can of course go against you too).
- If you are an avid trackday rider, you can study your laps captured on the camera and see how to improve on your lines etc.
Whatever your reason for wanting an action camera there has always been one brand that dominates the sector and that is GoPro.
Let’s get to it.
GoPro Max 360 Camera
First up is the GoPro Max, three cameras in one waterproof casing that shoots 6K definition, it is a serious camera that can shoot in the Hero style along with full 360 degree capabilities.
- Battery life - 85 mins in 360 mode, 105 mins single lens 1080p
- Waterproof to 16ft
- Maximum stabilization using Max HyperSmooth
- 360 degree photos and videos
- Three cameras
- 6 microphones for 360 degree audio
- Cloud connected and Quik app connection
- 30 mounting options
- 4 digital lenses
- Voice commands
- Doesn't perform well in poor light
- In Hero mode it isn't as good as an actual Hero
This is the all singing and dancing GoPro action camera that will capture every detail of your motorcycle riding, it is a serious piece of kit and ideal for the motovlogging crowd.
The selling point of the Max is the 360 degree capturing abilities. To do this it uses two 180 degree fisheye lenses which capture anything in their direct line of sight.
The camera then automatically meshes the two pieces of footage together automatically so you have spherical footage to edit from the jump.
When it comes to using it on your motorcycle the Max is great for those looking to produce some serious action footage, maybe on a spectacular route through the mountain passes, or on the track.
The ability to capture long spherical photo sequences or some slow motion video recording is for all those creative photographers out there.
It is also the 360 degree abilities that make the GoPro Max action camera a good choice to use as your everyday camera on the road, with the in-built cameras capturing more of the road and your surroundings.
So should that time come where you are involved in an accident the Max will pick up more of what happened and what went wrong.
It also means that you can focus on riding and not perfecting your camera angle for the best footage; as the multiple cameras ensure you are getting plenty of your surroundings in the end footage.
Another reason why the Max is considered the best GoPro for motorcycle riding specifically is the HyperSmooth image stabilization which keeps the camera footage super smooth; so if you hit the off-road trail or some bumps in the road you can be sure that the camera will still capture smooth flowing footage.
GoPro Hero Range
The GoPro Hero series has been around for some time now and today there are 3 main flagship models in production – the 8, 9 and 10 with the 7 still on sale and available if you dig a little deeper.
Let’s take a look at each, the differences between them and which is best suited to using on your motorcycle.
GoPro Hero 7
The Hero 7 is the oldest of the bunch now, but if you are looking for an affordable action camera then it is still a robust, solid option that you can depend on.
- 1.5 to 2hrs battery life
- HyperSmooth stabilization
- Waterproof to 33ft and rugged
- Voice Control
- SuperPhoto - camera automatically applies HDR
- Live Streaming
- 4K Video
- 8X Slow-mo
- Spec's looking dated
So the Hero 7 offers HyperSmooth stabilization software for all the action footage you can throw at it.
Hitting the back roads, on your track ready Ducati? No problem, the camera will capture all the action of your bike leaning and compensate for some of that stiff suspension on normal roads.
The Hero 7 was actually the first camera to get HyperSmooth software and so it went on to lay the foundation for the later models.
It remains one of the best action cameras currently available on this basis.
As great as the features like Voice Control and SuperPhoto are, when you are riding along with a helmet on, voice commands aren’t going to work great, and surely an action camera on your motorcycle is more about the video you can record more than photos?
With that said the SuperPhoto is a nice touch if you want to capture a selfie on your bike or a cool landscape.
The Hero 7 is capable of live streaming and will save all streamed footage onto your SD card.
Today for the price point the Hero 7 offers great value especially when compared to other branded action cameras.
GoPro Hero 8
The GoPro Hero 8 is the next generation up from the Hero 7 and brings advanced features including HyperSmooth 2.0 tech and a more rugged construction. Surprisingly, at the time of writing it's also cheaper than its predecessor.
- Battery Life - 50 mins
- HyperSmooth 2.0 - 3 levels of stabilization from basic to high
- 4K Video
- Waterproof to 33ft
- SuperPhoto and HDR
- 4 Digital Lenses
- Compatible with Quik app
- Most smartphones offer better photo quality
- Not great in low-light
Improving on the Hero 7, the Hero 8 is locked and loaded with the upgraded stabilization software so is even better at capturing your journey smoothly.
If you don’t want to spend the extra on the Hero 9 or 10, the Hero 8 is using the same HyperSmooth to capture HD video, so you get the same quality.
In terms of shooting for the 8 over the 7, the 8 is built to be tougher with a double the shockproof rating, it has a built in mount and wind-resistant microphone.
The wind-resistant microphone could be good for the riders that are into making content videos for social media etc.
The increased shockproof rating is also a huge bonus for motorcycle riders, especially those that risk dropping the bike such as on dirt bikes, trails or on the track.
The Hero 8 falls short compared to the Hero 9 with the lack of a front facing screen and 5K high resolution video capabilities; other than that it is a very solid choice for an action camera.
GoPro Hero 9
The Hero 9 simply expands further on the Hero platform and provides even better features in one small package.
- Battery life - 2 hrs 10 mins
- HyperSmooth 3.0 - Incredible stabilization
- 5K video and 20MP photos
- Waterproof to 33ft
- Detachable lens and options for mods for all the creative types
- 2 screens front and back facing
- Time Warp, Slow Mo and other digital features
- Quik app compatibility
- Not enough of a leap in progress to justify the price difference from predecessors.
- Touchscreen can be frustratingly unpresponsive
Improving on the stabilization means your footage is even smoother and the 5K video means all the detail is captured.
For photo opportunities the Hero 9 is a better choice than the previous models so if you do want the option to capture some awesome still shots when you are out and about then this model might be a good choice.
The excellent detail with the video means that if you are using your camera from a safety perspective to capture any unfortunate road incidents then you can have peace of mind of recording all the details such as number plates.
The two screens make vlogging easier but you should bear in mind that the touch screen isn’t great and with gloves on that is only going to be more tricky.
Plenty of digital features and the Quik app connectivity is great for getting more creative with your recordings.
However, for a straight up action camera to be used on your motorcycle to capture your everyday rides etc. and you don’t plan on doing any vlogging or anything too fancy, then there isn’t enough justification in terms of value from the Hero 7 or 8.
GoPro Hero 10
Next up is the Hero 10, the latest and greatest flagship model of the Hero range.
- GP2 processor makes it the most powerful GoPro ever
- 5.3K60 and 4K120 video resolution and 23 megapixel photos
- HyperSmooth 4.0 stabilization
- Waterproof to 33ft
- Auto-upload footage to cloud when camera is charging
- Wired data transfer (process is quicker)
- Digital features like Time Warp
- Quik app compatible
- Low-light is still an issue
- Expensive if you aren’t going to make the most of the features
Currently the Hero 10 is the latest evolution of the Hero range and therefore the most advanced; GoPro have improved the 10 over the Hero 9 in several ways to make it a more user-friendly device.
The interface is easier to deal with, there are more expansive shooting modes and this all thanks to the updated GP2 processor.
The actual unit is built around the Hero 9, so in terms of its toughness and waterproof capabilities the two are on par with each other.
With the Hero 10 GoPro have actually addressed the previous touchscreen issues the Hero 9 was having although with motorcycle gloves I am not sure how usable this is anyway.
You get a waterproof lens cover with the Hero 10 and different logos but externally the unit is the same as the previous model.
Image quality is better and more refined, so for the most serious among us looking for the best recordings, the 10 is the way forward.
HyperSmooth 4.0 is another huge leap forward in optical image stabilization, which you can also livestream with for the first time.
There is no doubt at all about the stabilization abilities of the Hero 10, it is simply the best on any action camera currently around.
This will be the camera’s biggest selling point for motorcyclists who want smooth footage.
There is also automatic horizon levelling which keeps your footage straight even if you are moving side to side, this way viewers can enjoy the footage minus the motion sickness.
Are all GoPro cameras suitable for motorcycles?
On the whole any of the GoPro cameras shown here are going to do the job mounted on your bike, you or your motorcycle helmet. They all offer a good to great level of video recording and will capture what you want.
Which GoPro model is best for you will come down to the quality of the footage and the features you want; where this matters most is what your purpose is for riding with a camera and what you want to get out of it.
The Hero 7 is an excellent work horse for mounting on your bike, capturing your everyday commute to work and you can pull back the footage if you need to get crisp video of any incidents.
Whereas the Hero 9 and 10 go on to offer more shooting modes, and may suit people who want to create online content from their riding videos.
The GoPro Max, Hero 8, 9 and 10 can all work with the GoPro mounting options and accessories available so finding a way to mount your camera won’t be too difficult.
Of course you have access to the GoPro apps and online services such as if you pay for a subscription and this applies to any of their camera’s.
This is useful for editing and tips to make the most out of your camera as well as some inclusive cloud storage for your videos.
4 GoPro Action Camera Alternatives
Maybe a GoPro isn’t for you, after all they do seem to be the Apple iPhone’s of the action camera world and are quite divisive in their popularity.
So let’s look at some alternative options.
Garmin VIRB Ultra 30
Also known as the GoPro killer thanks to its longer battery life, the Garmin Virb Ultra 30 has all the bells and whistles of the top GoPro's but comes with a hefty price tag
- Battery life - 2 hrs 15 mins at 1080p 30 fps
- Ultra HD 4K/30fps
- Touch screen display, you can view as your record
- Voice control
- Built in GPS tracker to record how fast, how far or how high you went on your journey
- High sensitivity microphone
- Stabilizing image software
- Waterproof case to 40m
- GoPro capabilities
- Over priced
Garmin are better known for their motorcycle sat nav devices rather than bike action cameras but the VIRB Ultra 30 is built to go fast, far and high, in sun, rain or snow, whatever you throw at it, this action cam is built to take it.
It is also built to be easy to use, with a simple user interface and voice control commands.
Garmin also supplies a host of accessories with mounts, data cards, cables and extra sensors so you can customize your camera to suit all your needs.
A huge bonus with the Garmin is the built in GPS tracker.
I have often taken the wrong road and it has turned out to be a real gem but I wouldn’t be able to find it again if you paid me.
So, being able to record that experience and then have it saved for me to go back to at some point is pretty awesome.
The Garmin is definitely a smart action camera but all those features don’t come cheap however and that is where it lets itself down a little; although it is often referred to as the GoPro killer in terms of an action camera.
Insta360 One R 1- Inch Edition
Insta360 partnered up with Leica the camera lens people to produce the best image quality seen from an action camera
- Battery life - 65 mins
- Ultra-stabilized, 360 degree horizon lock
- Waterproof to 16ft
- 4K Boost Mode and 48MP photos
- 6K widescreen mode
- 5.3K 1” lens
- Windproof Mic cover
- Quick-reader SD Card
- Quick release mounting bracket
- Works great in low light thanks to large lens
- Slow processor
- Data transfer by card only, no WiFi
The Insta 360 One R is a fun and relatively new action camera. It uses a Leica lens and shoots fantastic video footage along with brilliant photos. The still image quality is far better than the GoPro cameras thanks to its superior lens.
However, the processor is not very quick or responsive and data transfer is done via SD card as opposed to Wi-Fi connectivity.
The lens is much bigger and allows more light in which is why its footage is superior, so may be good for those riders who ride into dusk and the dark when out on trips.
Sena PT10-10 Action Camera
We all know Sena makes phenomenal communications systems but they have now also produced an action camera for motorcyclists and it comes in at under $300
- Battery life - 1.45 to 2 hrs
- 2K Quad high quality footage
- Mount in every direction to capture the best angle
- Preview shots on smartphone to make sure camera angle is set up correct
- Voice prompts
- Wi-Fi connectivity
- Only water resistant
So, the camera build quality is excellent as you would expect from Sena, but also typical of Sena is an app that makes things a bit more complicated especially when it comes to Android.
It can be difficult to connect the app to the camera via Wi-Fi and the app isn’t particularly easy to navigate when compared to other systems.
Mounting system is solid and built for all types of riding.
The video is sharp and you can set up your angle to suit you, where you are and riding style.
Starting and stopping recording video is super easy and voice prompts are more effective than the GoPro.
However, the system isn’t straightforward and there are no instructions on how to access the camera settings in the box.
The footage is sharp and the colors saturated however, some think it is a bit too sharp and saturated bordering on unrealistic.
The Sena is a purpose-built motorcycle helmet action camera and it does a pretty good job of fulfilling that purpose.
Drift Ghost 4K
Another purpose built motorcycle camera that also comes at a great price is the Drift Ghost 4K
- Battery life - 2.5 hrs
- 4K Ultra HD 30fps
- Most powerful Drift camera ever made
- Automatic image stabilization at 1080p
- Video tagging - Capture unexpected moments after they happen
- Dual microphones, front and rear which reduces wind noise
- Drift Life app acts as a remote control
- LCD screen
- Snap and Go battery packs for when you need more juice
- Best of the under $200 budget action cameras
- Some owners report quirky software
The Ghost 4K is a robust, solid action camera with an easy, sturdy mounting system.
The dual microphones capture audio and wind noise is significantly reduced, which is a handy feature for those of us that want to capture some commentary or loud pipes on our rides.
The Drift Life app is an easy interface and acts as the remote control for your camera, it is much easier to use than the Sena.
Video tagging is another great option. You simply tag a section of video and the Drift Ghost saves and stores it away for later use, making editing your videos so much easier.
In fact the usability, operation and design of the camera give it bonus points over many of the action cameras reviewed here, including the GoPro cams.
Video footage is crisp, clear and smooth which is what we want out of an action camera, and the ease of snapping a battery in and out on the go means you can keep recording for longer without having to look for a charger.
Mounting options are plentiful, easy and sturdy so no matter what your ride and on what surface your camera will be safe. Best of the budget action cameras
My Personal Picks
There are two cameras that I absolutely love.
The best GoPro for motorcycle riding is going to be the Max camera. The versatility of the 360 degree footage means you can really get your creative juices flowing and create some exciting riding footage, with the downside being its cost.
For an everyday camera that needs to do the job and do it well, then the Drift 4K offers great value at well under half the price of the GoPro Max and is a simple no frills device.
Mounting Options For Your Action Camera
There are several ways to mount your action camera and it all comes down to what you want to record.
- Front fender – Use a curved adhesive mount and stick your camera upfront and proudly capture everything forward facing, close to the road, you will see all your lean angles crisp and clear.
- Handlebars – I mounted my first camera to my bars, and loved the footage I got. Slightly higher up than the fender, I had a better view of the road ahead and the camera turned with my bars so it recorded where I pointed. It was also great for using the controls manually before I set off, so there was no need to also mess with an app on the phone etc.
- Helmet mount – Another good option is to mount your camera on the side or on top of your motorcycle helmet. This only really works with slim line units, but the footage recorded will capture everything you see on your ride as it will follow where you look as you go.
- Body mount – You can mount your camera on straps on your jacket, rucksack or specific body camera mounts. Mounted on your chest the camera records higher up than your bars and the end footage will make the viewer feel as if they are riding the bike along with you.
The key is to be sure that your camera is secure, safely in place, not in a place to distract you and is set up to capture the angle you want from your ride.
Everything you could possibly need to connect your GoPro action camera to yourself, your helmet or your motorcycle
Action cameras are a great way to record amazing journeys that our motorcycles take us on, and they can also be very practical methods of recording less happy incidents on the road.
There is an action camera out there for everyone, no matter their reason for wanting one, along with this there are countless places for you to safely mount your camera on your motorcycle.