SportBikeCam Motorcycle Camera Mount
The mount is nearly perfect and beautifully made. I have a few minor complaints about the universal mounting plate that attaches to the bottom of the camera, but nothing that would prevent my recommending this product to anyone who wants to shoot some video or stills during their ride.
The SportBikeCam front gas tank camera mount is a simple yet finely-crafted device which allows you to attach a small DV camera or still camera to your gas tank, providing a peek thru the windscreen (if your motorcycle is so equipped).
CNC-machined from aircraft 6061-T6 billet aluminum, and satin anodized in silver or black, this unit fits cleanly onto the filler cap ring of most popular sportbikes. It provides a 'factory' look - it definitely looks like it belongs on the bike.
I'll be reviewing model SBC10 in Silver finish, mounted to my 1998 Honda CBR1100XX, used with a Sony DCR-HC32 DV camcorder.
Installation was relatively simple. All I had to do was remove the fuel filler cap ring, and drill and tap two of the existing holes where the camera mount attaches to the ring.
Drilling and tapping is optional, but I chose to do it in order to provide a stronger mounting point.
Using the mount
Using the mount is pretty simple - once you get things set up the way you want. Assuming you have only one camera you need to deal with, there are three major issues to deal with: fore-aft location, whether to use the optional "Lift Kit", and how to mount the base plate to your camera.
- Fore-aft positioning: the mount allows for selection of front-to-back positioning of your camera. Depending on your motorcycle's instrument panel layout, fairing configuration, etc., you may need to move the camera forward in order to get a clearer view of the road. The only downside to moving the camera forward on the mounting bar is that it puts greater weight further away from the mounting base, which can put addional stress on the mount point, and aggravate any vibration effects you might experience with your camera. For the record, I place my camera at the furthest forward position, and have seen no ill effects.
- The mounting bar sits fairly low near the tank surface, so if your camera is not very tall, or you have a tall instrument cluster or dash shroud, you probably need the "lift kit" (add $15USD). I'm using the lift kit on my installation (it's the triangular flat piece that the black plastic knob is screwed into).
- Mounting the base plate to the camera: The base plate I received has an array of holes that allow you to position the base plate according to your camera's configuration.
The camera base plate
Here's what my base plate looks like. Note that I've used a permanent marker to provide a quick alignment guide so that I can reassemble the collection of parts quickly when needed.
The trick is that you need to figure out the best arrangment of the parts to assure proper support of your camera on the base plate.. and allow easy gloved-hand access to the plastic tightening knob. Depending on the arrangement, you can have trouble getting your fingers around the knob, making installation or removal somewhat difficult.
All Together Now
Here are some photos of the entire assembly, mounted on the bike.
The baseplate must be removed from some DV cameras in order to change tapes - if you have a bottom-loading DV cam (as is the DCR-HC32, unfortunately) you will have to remove the camera from the mount bar by unscrewing the large plastic knob, dig out your allen wrench, and unscrew the baseplate from the camera, change tapes, and reverse the process before getting back on the road. With practice, you can get back on the road pretty quickly. There's always a chance to lose parts, though, because there are about five separate pieces that are involved, and you need to be careful not to lose anything. Nothing kills a great day of riding more quickly than losing part of your camera mount in the gravel on the side of the road.
Things I'd like to see
- Quick-release option for camera mount plate to mounting bar: It would be nice to be able to use some kind of secure quick-release so that you could remove the camera quickly when stopping for a meal or heading into a restroom - it's a bit tedious to unscrew the knob, and there's always a chance the cone spacer on the knob shaft will slip off and hit your gas tank paint (or end up in the dirt somewhere.)
- Ability to pan the camera from left to right: you *can* turn the camera but this means you are turning it against the baseplate mounting screw (or loosening it!) which is not a great idea in my opinion. An optional panning mechanism would be great (probably overkill, but hey, I can dream, can't I?)
This is a fine product, with a few minor details I'd like to see improved. The minor issues aren't enough to create any real frustration on my part - combined with the high quality manufacturing, attention to detail and reasonable price, the SportBikeCam mount is a great way to mount your camera.