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RoadHawk RIDE review


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The RoadHawk RIDE is a video camera designed for cyclists and motorcyclists, although you can use it pretty much for anything – paragliding, surfing (it’s waterproof), mountain-climbing – as long as you can attach it to something or hold it in your hand.


Like others in the RoadHawk range it’s designed as a “black box” to record evidence of accidents, crooked cops or whatever. Each model records hi-def video, audio and a range of other information onto an SD memory card; the RIDE records date and time along with the video, while some of the bigger car/truck versions store GPS location, speed and even impact (through a G-sensor).


The RIDE comes with a range of brackets and Velcro attachments, or you could use duct-tape, rubber bands and press-stick to attach it to your helmet or handlebars. Although it’s really small – about the length of my middle finger and only very slightly thicker – and almost weightless, it’s fully self-contained with a rechargeable battery that lasts for about 90 minutes and comes with an 8Gb micro-SD card that holds two hours of video.


It can also be powered externally by wiring it to a car or connecting one of those portable “power banks” they sell at camping and outdoor stores to recharge your cellphone and other USB-powered devices (I have a nice little “Zartek” that cost R200).


With an external power source it will start recording as soon as the power is connected, and keep going as long as there is juice. When the memory card is full it starts to record over the oldest clips, so you have a “video loop” 2 hours long with the standard 8Gb card, or 8 hours long if you upgrade to 32Gb.


The RIDE connects to a computer with a standard USB cable (one with a waterproof tailcap is supplied) and records 720i video images which fill my Macbook screen, and are quite sharp and detailed. The field of view of the lens is very wide so it only needs to be pointed approximately in the direction you’re going to capture details like number plates and road signs.


I found it easy to mount the camera on my helmet using a supplied Velcro strap, but I could position it better with some press-stick and duct tape (see picture). Once there it was really forgettable and inconspicuous (nobody asked me about it – I think they assumed it was some kind of torch if they noticed it at all).




My first ride was on a foggy day here in Gordon’s Bay, so the lens quickly picked up droplets of water which made the image useless, but when the weather was better I got great clear video – which was just as well because I had a really narrow miss from a CJ-registered bakkie and I was able to post some screen-grabs here on The Hub.


On another occasion I saw some spectacularly stupid driving by a motorist overtaking another on a solid white line and a blind rise. I sent screen grabs to the Western Cape Traffic Department’s “Safely Home” webpage and received an acknowledgement, so it will be interesting to see what happens next.


The RIDE comes with two tailcaps (other than the one on the USB cable) – one makes it waterproof and the other has little holes to improve sound reproduction. There’s a lot of wind-noise while riding – if I shouted to someone while riding I could hear myself, but not their answers, but if I talked to someone while we were stopped, I could hear them pretty well.


True to their specifications, the battery lasts almost exactly an hour and a half, which isn’t really long enough for a weekend ride – especially if you forget to turn it off when you stop along the way – but there’s really no problem to using a power-bank, mounted on your helmet or carried in your pocket, in which case the RIDE will run for many hours, and your video will be limited only by the size of your SD card.


You can also mount the camera on your handlebars but I haven’t tried this. I read somewhere that the image tends to vibrate a lot – but then again I never realised how much I wag my head around when I’m cycling!


I’ve used the RIDE in my car a few times, mounting it on the pillar next to the sun-visor (see picture) and it works really well, easily capturing the registration numbers of passing cars. It’s not so great after dark, unless you are on well-lit roads, but I guess it’s better than nothing. If a person or car moves close to your headlights, you can see them okay.




I can’t compare the RIDE to other video cameras because I haven’t used any, but I’m pretty sure it’s smaller, lighter and less conspicuous than most. I’m very impressed by the quality of the camera, which has a durable non-slippery coating on the body – which shows no scratches even after repeated clipping into hard-plastic mounts – and the well made leads and mounts.


The RIDE was kindly loaned to me by the importer, Keith Rampton at Roadhawk.co.za. His demo model came to me with a scratch on the plastic cover over the lens, but this had a minimal effect on image quality. The RIDE sells for R2,500.


In the picture below, you can see all the goodies that come with the RIDE, as well as my Zartek powerbank and lead in the background.



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