Is this the Holy Grail of bike-cams?

The new X170 from Drift Innovations: A rugged all-in-one bike-cam with a small screen. Could this be it, could this be the perfect extreme sports video camera?

The X170 from Drift Innovations is so called because of its 170 degree wide angle lens. The screen lets you line up your shot – a brilliant feature for a bike-cam – and you can watch your video masterpiece there and then without hooking up to a computer.

The camera is an inch longer than a Garmin GPS and can be fitted to helmets and handlebars with the included straps and mounts. Or, screw off the shoe and you’ll find a standard tripod thread.

Noticed the black dot yet? It’s caused by the curvature of the ultra wide angle lens. There’s nothing you can do about it but will only appear when you’re shooting into the sun. The company told me in an email: “This was a compromise we had to make to get the 170 degree wide angle lens.”

The X170 can shoot 5 megapixel stills or hi-res video at 720 by 480 pixel quality, 30 frames per second.

There’s some onboard memory but fit a 16 GB SD card for grabbing your footage.

The dead easy screen menu lets you toggle tons of stuff, like recording to AVI or MP4, or auto switching off the screen after you’ve lined up your shot. The X170’s screen is a boon, of course, but it’s a battery hog. Power is supplied by two AA batteries.

The lens rotates so you can fit the camera to any plane and still line up the shot correctly.

The X170 can be started and stopped with the included wireless remote control, dead useful for when you strap the camera to your helmet or when you’re in stealth mode, ten metres from your bike.

The camera’s auto exposure control is very good, switching quickly between contrasty scenes. The 170 degree lens is nearly but not quite a fisheye lens and there’s some barrel distortion of vertical objects.

In use, the X170 has been childs’ play to operate. The controls and menu are intuitive, the screen is a dream and – black dot aside – the video quality is top-notch. The X170 costs a touch under £200 and is available from

Video naughty drivers

Bike Cam Commute from on Vimeo.

There are a ton of ‘here’s my commute’ helmet-cam videos on YouTube. Some feature extreme examples of SMIDSY, sorry-mate-I-didn’t-see-you. If your commute is often spiced up with bad driving, consider fitting a small video camera. It’s what I did in the video above (also available on YouTube).

Of course, fitting a camera on your handlebars won’t capture the moment when some texting idjit hits you from behind but, for those with seeing-red problems, riding with a bike-cam may just calm you down. You can stay serene behind the lens, surreptitiously filming the rants and raves of the apoplectic motorist you’ve just dared to impugn.

SMIDSY from on Vimeo.

Even with this many LEDs, there will still be the driver that knocks you down and says: “Sorry, mate, I didn’t see you.”

Eye-opening eye candy: HOME, the full movie

Below, for your clicking pleasure, is HOME, a 1.5 hour movie about Planet Earth. It’s eye-candy, but it’s also eye-opening, even though you already know all the Al Gore/climate change stats.

HOME is bad for cars, Las Vegas, Dubai, Israel, cows. Good for greenies and fans of HD gyroscope cameras. Forget about the ragtrade sponsor, that’s how the movie is going to go viral: it’s free.

Yann Arthus-Bertrand, GoodPlanet Foundation President and photographer of ‘Earth From the Air’, produced the movie and he says:

“We are living in exceptional times. Scientists tell us that we have 10 years to change the way we live, avert the depletion of natural resources and the catastrophic evolution of the Earth’s climate.

“The stakes are high for us and our children. Everyone should take part in the effort, and HOME has been conceived to take a message of mobilization out to every human being.

“For this purpose, HOME needs to be free. A patron, the PPR Group, made this possible. EuropaCorp, the distributor, also pledged not to make any profit because HOME is a non-profit film.”

HOME can also be found on YouTube. If you want the movie on your iPod, iPhone or other players which can spew out MP4’s, subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.

Bike music (and not just by Queen)

Back in 2006 I ran this ‘name that bike tune’ comp:

The prize has long since been awarded but, today, David Bernstein of the Fredcast, twittered about the lack of good bicycle music, compared to tunes about cars and driving. I replied with the YouTube video above. The comp was pre- so there’s no URL for the answers.

Which is why I’m listing them here:

1 Queen, I want to ride my bicycle
2 Katie Melua, Nine Million Bicycles
3 Jerry Mungo, Pushbike Song
4 Attila Horvath, Singletrack Seduction
5 Dipsomaniacs, Get off my bike
6 Ballboy, Olympic cyclist
7 Kraftwerk, Aero Dynamik
8 Darryl Purpose, Traveler’s Code
9 Amy Correia, The Bike
10 Benoit Charest, Tour de France (from Triplets of Belleville/Belleville Rendezvous)
11 Moonlight Drive, Cycling through France
12 Ugly Kid Joe, Bicycle Wheels
13 Pink Floyd, Bike
14 Mixtures, Pushbike song
15 Bob Gaddy and his Alleycats, Bicycle Boogie

Quick vids for bike newbies

You know how to correctly fit and wear a bike helmet. You know it’s best to pedal with the ball of your foot not the arch. But beginners tend not to.

That’s why I’ve made some video shorts. There are two online right now, more are in the pipeline. Future shorts will focus on why it’s important to look behind before signalling and to watch out for motorists opening doors in your face. All are branded as ’60 Second Bike Tips’.

The videos are to promote the Bike to Work Book. I could have placed them on a high-quality video sharing site such as Vimeo but I want the vids to get lodged in all sorts of digital nooks and crannies, and only YouTube can do this. The full catalogue of videos have been watched 1,188,401 times on YouTube.

The two videos above – and the three to be edited soon – feature the following:

1 Karl McCracken
1 Cannondale Bad Boy singlespeed stealth commuter
1 sensible jumper
2 Doc Martens
1 borrowed helmet
1 beta testing waterproof rucksack

I’m keen to produce more video shorts, none of them lasting more than a minute. The shorts will be collected on this YouTube group. What mistakes do you see newbies making?