A new way to capture the action

By the staff of Dirt Wheels

How many times do you wish you could share your riding experience with someone back home? Just about every time, right? That’s what makes our sport so great. Every time you ride there are stories to tell and memories to be made. Video cameras can catch the action in a closed-course setting. However, they miss the up close action that only the rider can experience. And they are impractical to bring along on a lengthy excursion. Until now, that is.
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A relatively new company called Action Sports Cams has created a product to easily capture the moments of any off-road adventure. Their Helmet Cam kit allows you to record a clear audio and video tape of your day’s events. For $495 the kit includes everything needed to send images to your own camcorder carried in a backpack or fanny pack, including the color camera lens, microphone, mounting bracket, hardware, 14-hour rechargeable battery, charger, wire, connectors and a carrying case. You would need to use a newer technology camera with the ability to record in “VCR” mode. Most camcorders made these days are capable. To see if your camera will work, you will want to look for the “VCR” mode switch and a yellow Audio/Video jack that is about the same size as a Walkman headphone jack, not “RCA” jacks. We used a Sony Handycam TRV11 that weighed about two pounds. If you have an older camera with a VCR mode, an RCA jack adapter can be purchased.
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Installation was a breeze. We mounted the lens holder on the visor of our helmet with the supplied hardware in a couple of minutes. The lens weighs less than three ounces and it is undetectable when the helmet is worn. For our tests a small Moose water system/backpack worked best. We tried fanny packs but we felt more secure with our camcorder in a backpack. For extra safety we wrapped our camera in a large towel.

For three weeks we captured film on day and night motocross races, a Cross Country race, mud riding and even got some footage of the new Predator 500 in action. Depending on what type of action we were filming, we could easily adjust the lens up or down for the proper view. A little lower for wide open riding and a little higher for tight slow speed riding. Two small Allen head screws hold the lens in place and all you have to do is loosen them and swivel the camera. We made little marks on the bracket for quick and precise adjustments.

Reviewing the tape was the best part of the test. Our footage was better than expected. Unfortunately the photos are not nearly as high quality as the video. The lens captured a very wide angle view of about 180 degrees. The images were very clear, in focus and stable. Our camera adjusted quickly going in and out shadows. The lens is small enough to avoid getting spotted with debris in most cases. When we rode in mud or raced with the camera, we fashioned a small tear-off to protect the lens. You could hear the sound of the motor better than you can under your own helmet and wind noise was only a problem if you turned your head. We had a blast filming friends, races and just messing around.

The lens is made of a durable metal and will take most off-road abuse. In the future we plan on mounting the lens directly a quad and taking some shots of suspension travel and rider movement.

The only drawback was that our camera only had one hour of tape. With the standard setup, you have to start and stop recording on the camcorder itself then pack it away before you ride. This wastes valuable filming time. Action Sports Cams does have an accessory remote switch ($99) that you can attach on your arm and control the recording more easily. We have that on order and will try it later. If you have access to the right camera, $495 is a small investment to capture a memory that actually can last a lifetime. To order call (562) 493-6439.
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