These are the best action cameras for mountain biking POVs
Whatever your budget or needs, these are the action sport cameras to turn to when you want to capture your riding exploits on film.
Action cameras have become a staple of the mountain bike community in the past decade. There's barely a rider who doesn’t have one strapped to their helmet or handlebars at this point and contrary to what some may think, there are actually plenty of companies producing cameras at varying prices and with various levels of tech.
Of course, GoPro are still by far the best-known brand in the action camera world, responsible for the boom and still at the forefront of the industry, but there are also many other options. So, let's have a look at the best action sports cameras for mountain biking, spanning budgets and tech.
1. GoPro HERO8 Black
Price: €429.99/ $399/ £379.99
The king of action cameras returns with the GoPro Hero8, a welcome update to the GoPro Hero7. The release sees the already awesome tech that put GoPro and the Hero7 at the front of the market tweaked slightly, while some tasty new features have been added for good measure.
Perhaps the most notable improvement on the Hero8 is the changes to the HyperSmooth stabilisation function, which was already a real gamechanger back in 2018. Now polished, re-written and re-packaged as HyperSmooth 2.0, the software offers some of the best built-in stabilisation on the action camera market.
If you’re going to be using it for mountain biking, the importance of that stabilisation cannot be overstated. One of the hardest parts of getting usable footage from an action cam has long been finding a way to eliminate the shake while going over roots, rocks, and drops – particularly for filmers who don’t have much camera experience.
There are three modes of stabilisation available too, which each provide various options on how you want the footage to look. Gone are the days of showing your mum footage from your latest trip to the trails that looks like it was filmed inside a washing machine.
Elsewhere, there's a new function that lets you livestream footage, an improved microphone and an accompanying app that is a lot slicker. Extra display, lighting and sound ‘mod’ add-ons are available from December 2019, too. They attach right onto the GoPro Hero8 Black, and look super slick. Of course, it's got all the usual 4K recording and touch screen goodness in there too, while the built-in mounting remains a benefit.
2. GoPro Max
Price: €529.99 / $499.99 / £479.99
Wait. Hold on. What’s a GoPro Max? And why does it look like that? It’s always exciting when GoPro strays a little from its template and tries something new. In this case, that something new is actually another bite at some camera tech GoPro has a bit of a history with – a 360 camera. Its most famous attempt to date was the GoPro Fusion, back in 2017. The camera shot well, a lot of the footage was great, but consumers never really got behind. It was complicated and tricky to use and after some initial excitement faded away.
So, has GoPro learned its lesson? It would seem so. The Max is incredibly simple to use – largely thanks to the tie-in features on the GoPro app. All you have to do to get yourself a stable and instantly shareable 360 degree video is get yourself on the app, click a few buttons, and it’ll do the rest for you. You can also grab photos or make traditional videos.
The Max is three cameras in one. You can shoot single-lens HERO-style footage (though not in 4K), or you can capture 360 degree footage in 6K. Plus, there are six built-in microphones to capture the 360 degree audio.
Again, like with the GoPro Hero8 Black, the stabilisation feature is one of the big bonuses here. The brand is claiming that Max HyperSmooth is "the new king of stabilisation", and the visual benefits are really quite beautiful.
The downside is that it’s expensive – but you are sort of getting two cameras – the regular action cam and a 360 one – in one easy-to-use package. It’s also slightly bigger and bulkier than the standard Hero8 Black, but it’s a big move forward in 360 degree camera tech on the mountain.
3. Insta360 Go
Price: €229.99 / $199.99 / ￡209.99
The marketing slogan for the Insta360 Go is that it’s the “20-gram steady cam”, and to be honest, that almost tells you everything you need to know. This is the world’s smallest stabilised camera – and it weighs just 18.3 grams (or about a fifth the weight of an apple).
The Insta360 Go is a bit different to traditional action cams. It has a magnetic body and comes with a bunch of accessories, so rather than hold it, you can just stick it, clip it or hang it wherever. Stick it on your helmet or your riding jersey, then off you go, hands-free. Simply press the button on top and it’ll record for up to 30 seconds, while pressing a second time stops it. It probably requires the least effort of any action camera on the market.
The stabilisation is good, the camera quality solid, and the app works well. It's probably not the best for hardcore downhill mountain bikers, but as a general action camera for travelling or more flowy trails, it's incredibly handy and quite unlike anything else out there right now.
4. Yi 4K+ Action Camera
Price: $239.98/ €215/ £182
If you're excited about the Yi Lite action cam, wait till you hear about the 4K option.
The retail top price of the Yi 4K+ is $239.98 (£182 approx), but you can buy them online from the official Yi Technology store for a discount price of $155.99 (£118 approx) all in – and they're often even discounted to $119.99 (£91).
That's a potential £91 for a 4K camera with a touch screen monitor, so you can see what you're shooting, voice control, a bulletproof case, exceptional microphones, electronic image stabilisation and so much more, if you get online at the right time. Yi call it "the world's best action camera" and it certainly has impressive specs. This is a realistic rival to the GoPro and one sure to lure away some customers due to price alone.
5. Insta360 One X
Price: €390 / $339 /￡348
Another entrance from the innovative Insta360 is the One X. It’s bigger than the tiny 20-gram Go, but it still only weighs 115g with battery. It’s also a 360-degree shooter, and is paired with an app that has a plethora of editing options. Throw in the gimbal-level stabilisation and new high-FPS shooting modes, and you’re left with a pretty appetising option.
The One X records at 5.7K (30FPS) and is capable of capturing photographs in 18MP, which is quite impressive compared to the competitors. There's also an add-on accessory of a 10-foot selfie stick which, while it might sound like hell to many, can actually be really handy for getting faux-drone shots in areas where drones aren't allowed or just without having to go through so much faff.
The downsides are that the battery life isn't amazing, and for waterproofing, you’ll need an additional case.
6. Garmin Virb Ultra 30
Price: £390/ €425/ £389.99
If you’re going to put an action sports camera on the market for around about the same price as the GoPro HERO7 Black, then you're going to need a damn good product, a respectable name and a cult following of your own. Garmin have all of the above, especially in the cycling community.
A 4K camera action with a touchscreen, voice control and data overlays, this is the best action sports camera Garmin have ever produced and their closest rival to the latest GoPro.
3-axis image stabilisation is something that will sort you out on the trails, no matter how numerous the rocks (or the falls), the hands-free command system is great for riding, too and the microphone system picks up sound well both in and out of the waterproof case – something that some cheaper cameras can’'t manage quite so well.
Where the Garmin fans will really get excited is in the fact that the mapping experts have also installed G-Metrix technology, which measures speed, altitude, G-force and heart rate. Built-in Garmin GPS (10 Hz) and other sensors also automatically record data, so you can easily overlay gauges and graphs onto your footage showing how far, high and fast you went.
It's tough to rival the HERO7 at this price, but mountain bikers will already know how trustworthy Garmin is as a brand and their loyal fanbase could likely be swayed by the stat features.
7. DJI Osmo Action
Price: €279 / $345 / £249
Most people will know DJI from being the folk at the head of the drone game, so it’s only natural that it would get involved in the action camera market too eventually – and with the quality of its drones, it’s far from surprising that the Chinese manufacturer has done a damn good job of it, too.
The DJI Osmo Action is the company's first action camera, and it has attempted to tackle the GoPro Hero8 Black head on. Of course, the big questions with a new £300-plus action camera from someone other than GoPro are always the same; can it do what the GoPro does? And what does it do differently?
The DJI Osmo Action can shoot in 4K for starters. The stabilisation features are also very impressive – the camera features DJI’s RockSteady and footage looks as solid as if you’d used a DJI gimbal, which makes sense given their expertise in the area (although it’s not available in all filming modes). There's a colour display on the front that is really nice, though, and it keeps up with the GoPro on in-built housing. The colours come out super bold, too, meaning less editing.
The app isn’t quite as slick as what you get from GoPro, but you do save money on the pricing, and in terms of filming quality and stabilisation, it’s up there with the best on the market.
8. Olfi One.Five Black
Price: £149.99 (Shipped internationally at that price)
The British-made Olfie One.Five Black is a 4K camera that comes cased, features an external mic and digital image stabilisation for those bumpy trails. The 16MP camera is also a huge benefit of the camera and if you've not heard of the brand, you just need to look at their free accidental damage 'break it, replace it' policy to know that you're in safe hands. They also have a bunch of mountain bike ambassadors, including Danny Wilson, Aled Price and Tom Reynolds. They also sell a bike mount for the unit.
The downsides of the Olfi possibly lie in that casing, though, which makes the buttons a little strenuous to use at times. The lack of a touchscreen is notable and inconvenient also, particularly given the growth of the market of GoPro rivals at the moment. If that doesn’t bother you, though, you can pick up a really good camera for a respectable price.
9. Sony FDR-X3000V
Price: $399/ €600/ £449
The Sony FDR-X3000 4k Action Cam with Wi-Fi and GPS is, firstly, a bit of a mouthful, and secondly, a very, very good action sports camera.
Balanced Optical Steadyshot allows you to capture footage from the trails that will view clear and stable – and it really works well. The live-view remote, meanwhile, is really neat for when you're off the bike and the shielding is fierce. Like all of these, it can hold its own for sure.
It's an expensive final addition to this list, the most expensive camera of our selection, and while the handlebar mount also isn't cheap, it’s really reliable. The various mounts offered for the FDR-X3000 camera are actually some of the most impressive around.
The battery life is good, too, offering a full hour of recording even at 4K and more than double that with lesser specs. It's an expensive camera, but one that does everything it says on the tin.