THE TRUTH BEHIND THE SAFETY OF MOUNTED HELMET CAMS
Every downhill or enduro ride I go on I take my mounted camera and record the whole thing from start to finish. I don’t watch them all back, but if anything seriously impressive or funny occurs, I save the clip and one day hope to arrange them all into a montage for my own enjoyment. But at a recent enduro event, I got talking about the use of mounted cameras with a few other mountain bikers and was surprised to discover such a clear division on the subject.
The competitors split into two camps; those who used mounted helmet cameras regularly, like me, and those who avoided them out of fear they compromise the integrity of the helmet and reduce its ability to protect the rider in the event of an accident. I had heard this theory before, usually mentioned in passing in relation to Michael Schumacher’s horrific skiing accident, but I didn’t realise the topic was so divisive.
THE OFFICIAL LINE
The official line spouted by helmet manufacturers is that they will not uphold a claim or be held responsible if the helmet failed to protect the rider after a mounted camera had been attached. This is hardly surprising as companies will try to avoid responsibility for even the smallest reason, but it doesn’t answer the question of if mounted cameras are safe to use.
The official response from the major mounted camera operators is equally as ambiguous. For example, GoPro claims it does not have the testing resources available to offer any reliable data on the subject. Also, hardly surprising given how damaging the potential results would be to their business.
The BBC carried out a fact-finding study to get to the bottom of the issue and their findings were surprising. Their study targeted climbing helmets, but the results would apply to mountain-biking helmets as well.
They looked at 70 collisions with the camera mounted at the front, side and top of the helmets using both a sticky adhesive and a headband. They found that the mounted camera did not cause the helmet to fall below industry standards in any of the tests. By contrast, when the object struck the camera directly, the mount actually absorbed some of the collision and offered more protection.
BUT IT’S NOT ALL GOOD…
The study did find one incident when the use of a mounted camera can cause more harm than a helmet without a camera. In collisions where there is a glancing blow by an object which lands on the mount or camera, the study concluded that it caused the riders head to quickly jerk in the direction of the object jerk erratically as a result of the collision.
Although, I recently saw a mount online which requires drilling two holes into the helmet to mount the camera. I cannot see how this would not compromise the integrity and performance of the helmet and would avoid these at all costs.
But that said, cameras attached by adhesive or elastic helmet straps do not seem to have any adverse effects on the helmet. They capture stunning footage of my rides and I couldn’t be happier with the results. I look forward to watching the footage back in years to come and reminiscing about my time on the trails.
Which camp are you in? Do you wear a mounted helmet camera while out mountain biking? We want to hear from you. Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.