As the weather starts to improve each spring, there is an itch to take to bike off the trainer and get some easy, joyful miles in on the road. However, in light of the ever increasing amount of distractions that drivers face, whether their own fault (ie cell phones) or not their fault it makes me question, that as a father of three, if I am making a wise decision. There are precautions that cyclists, myself included, can take such as riding on appropriate roads, wearing bright clothing, and the use of lights. My question is whether owners of cameras (such as the Varia RTL515) see them as a benefit. In one hand, they would possibly capture needed footage. But on the other hand, it isn’t preventative. I am interested in hearing if anyone has a strong opinion, either for or against them. Thanks and be safe.
I started riding with a radar last year (garming rct715) and the radar actually adds a lot of peace of mind and has improved my outdoor riding experience. It’s hard to describe but once you get used to riding with it it’s hard to go back. It sees cars about twice as far away as you can hear them, and moreso when when you’re going downhill with wind in your ears. Also it sees cars at night, when the sun is at your back, or in heavy fog. The camera? Well that’s for my family if the radar uh… fails me.
I would never ride outside without my Varia.
That said, since about mid-2023, I’ve questioned the whole concept of riding outside. I don’t have the energy to explain my whole tortured relationship with the risk/reward of outdoors cycling – but suffice it to say, I’m just on the trainer mostly with Mimi Webb blasted through my earbuds.
2024 might be my year of simply driving to big/steep climbs, then smashing up them, and riding the brakes back down. I just don’t know if I can be at peace on the road anymore. I just don’t know.
Radar good so you don’t make a mistake.
Camera goods for hit and run.
Life’s a struggle to outwit death. Try to be safe and have fun. It’s impossible to control everything.
I use the radar with a small handlebar mirror. It’s not as “cool” looking but knowing something is behind me and seeing it are two different things
That being said my desire is dwindling because of the amount of distractions and incidents. Plus the road just gets boring. But I’m an MTB’er at heart
Radar itself is something that can be part of a ‘safety solution’, but the OP seems more interested in cameras (with or without radar) so I think it’s important to keep focus on that particular aspect.
That in mind, I pulled some of the more recent topics on cameras from the forum for possible review: (newest on top, oldest on bottom)
I wear bright clothing, use a Varia radar/light plus a small blinky front light. In addition I use a mirror on my riding glasses. On the lightly traveled open county roads I ride it is easy to see vehicles coming quite a ways back. Probably 95% of the time I see the vehicle before the Varia picks it up. If they look like they’re not giving enough room to me I can always bail off the shoulder into the desert (hasn’t happened yet). I know the mirror looks dorky and they are shunned by most road riders but I ride solo only for fun and fitness so I don’t give a hoot if it looks dorky or not. I’m come to rely on it so much I feel naked without it.
IMHO, cameras provide a record of what happened but not proactive and provide no added safety. If you get run over they may help track down a hit and run driver but that doesn’t do you much good when you’re in the ICU or morgue. But they may help you or your family recover damages if they can identify the driver.
Thanks Chad. You are correct that I am looking more into whether adding a camera is worth investing in. I actually own an older Varia and will not ride without it. To be quite frank, after hearing about Derek, it ignited a conversation with my wife about riding on the road. We also have friend who was hit by a vehicle a few years ago and it is to the point where my wife is requesting that I don’t ride on the road. It seems as though a camera won’t do much in terms of making things safer but documents actions if something were happen. I don’t know. I primarily mountain bike anyway. I might just stick to that.
I ride with front & rear cameras, both with bright lights. I also ride with a Varia that has a light, and a mirror on the bar end.
The front light has saved me at least once for sure, and likely a few more times. The radar plus mirror has saved me once. Those are preventative.
I call the cameras “revenge cams” because they’re not going to prevent anything, just give my wife ammunition to sue with, should she choose to do so. A riding friend has successfully gotten a near-miss driver a hefty ticket, because of his cameras.
I see cameras as a benefit, because without them you’re at the mercy of law enforcement actually doing an investigation, and they have a terrible track record. At least with a camera, there’s something to work with.
I call my camera the ‘revenge cam’ too!
I love my Varia (just the radar, not the camera one). After reading all the forum posts and review saying it was one of their best purchases, I can’t disagree.
Increasingly considering putting a camera on the bike for the 'revenge camera’s purpose but also because like, riding footage is cool.
Anyone have experience with the 360 cams like Insta 360 vs a more traditional camera like GoPro or the Cycliq ones? The 360 cams seem very cool and 360 should mean you can use 1 cam to cover all angles rather than needing 1 front and 1 rear?
Although the radar is great and I won’t ride road without it, helmet mounted daytime flashing lights have saved me from multiple potential crashes.
I have the Bontrager Ion (front) and Flare (rear) lights mounted to my Bontrager helmet (Circuit model IIRC). They attach magnetically with some nice small mounts. Having those super bright, attention grabbing, odd-pattern flashing lights up high is great because it’s at eye level for those SUV/truck drivers and it points whatever direction I turn my head. V
I naturally try to make eye contact with any driver coming towards me from the side and the light flashes get the attention of almost all of them. The non-steady flares (three fast then two slow) makes it hard for people to judge my speed and distance, so they stop and pay attention. (Instead of just quickly making the call that they are so much faster than me they can just pull out, resulting in cutting me off.) Studies have shown if you look less stable/predictable then drivers use more caution around you.
It helps for cars from behind too. The Varia light is just too low. Having a rear flasher on the helmet is more likely to grab attention from further away and is easier to see for a driver following another driver. Getting noticed ASAP is critical
Of course, some people are too distracted to even notice the flashing light and a study concluded that they might actually attract impaired drivers by making them focus their attention on you and they crash into what they’re staring at.
I do most of my road riding on rail trails or in a park. But I do debate going full time MTB.
I stopped riding with cameras years ago, they just made me fester on incidents and the cops did nothing with the evidence. The radar is a must IMO (I’ve the older gen, radar only). If my radar failed Id get another one and if thats bound with a camera I would still get it.
I can honestly say my Garmin Radar is the best cycling accessory I have purchased in a long time. No more cycling along at threshold constantly checking over my shoulder for the next car to come along. I actually find cars leave more room when passing, and I think its because I don’t look back so they assume I don’t know they are there?
I went for the standard radar without a light as I have a decent light that fits under my saddle, in hindsight I wish I had paid the extra for the camera/light version. I can see myself buying the camera version the next time it is offered with a decent discount.
I’d say it depends where you live. Some of the police forces in the UK are really good at following up on video evidence now, as long as there’s clear footage before and after. Knowing that action can be taken is a great way of putting a stop to the festering.
What about a jersey with this on the back…
If your rear camera has a blinking light to indicate it’s recording, then MAYBE, just maybe, a car will think twice about buzzing you.
I’ve got the Cycliq Fly 12 up front and the Fly 6 in back. They were the only options when I got them. There are lots of threads on these so I won’t go into detail, but I’ve had each replaced twice under warranty. When the next one dies, I’ll be looking elsewhere.
I currently use an older garmin virb that has about three hours of run time on the front of my bike. I also run front and rear lights.
When the virb dies I’m going to get a Drift Ghost XL which has 4.5 hours of battery life at 4k recording.
I’m probably going to get a Varia with a camera when I need to get a new rear light.
The Derek Incident has also ignited some conversations in my household. I had thought about getting a Varia + camera, but to what end? Walking that line of thinking to it’s conclusion ends with the possibility of me dead/disabled but OH MAN THAT DRIVER IS IN SO MUCH TROUBLE. I’d rather remove “dead/disabled” from the range of possibilities than ensure that revenge is possible after my untimely demise.
Just for fun, a car weighs on average 1800 kg. Let’s suppose 25 mph car speed = 11 m/s. That’s 1/2(1800)(11^2) = 108,900 Joules of kinetic energy. A more average road speed of 40 mph = 285,156 Joules. Now let’s say you got smacked by another cyclist, you standing still and them going 25 mph. 75kg person @ 11m/s = 4538 Joules of kinetic energy.
Makes crit racing seem like a padded room vs riding anywhere near an Automobile.