I’d actually requested this (or something like this) as a Christmas (“wish-list”) present and eventually received it from my wife and daughters as a joint birthday present three months later (and even then it arrived a week after the big day). Things always (always?) come to those who wait.
My initial feeling was not one of relief that I had had my wish (as in list) fulfilled, but one of anxiety as to how to install it. To cut that part of the story short I really needn’t have worried because I had sussed it out within a few hours of starting on it and had it working (as in recording my activities, on the road) the next time I rode the bike. But I needed to conjure up a bit of imagination and I would reckon the unit, while good (and probably electronically excellent), it does provide room for improvement as far as ease of installation is concerned.
I suppose my very first problem was that it didn’t have an SD card. That is not a real problem in itself because one can buy a card anywhere. It’s just that here I was searching (and searching and…) through all the packaging and bags for something that wasn’t there. I would wonder that just as in the days when we as kids would get electric toys, with the words clearly written on the packet “batteries not included”, whether the same warning could have been given with this kitabout the card. That cost me a precious hour or so (the futile search and the trip to the local electronics store for the card – thankfully 15 minutes before it closed for the day).
The second problem I had was that advice from the instruction page that came with the unit, as well as a pdf “Users’ Manual” I read on line, insisted that the DVR unit was not waterproof and should be stored in a dry place (e.g. under the seat). I was unable to understand why a unit designed for motorcycles would not be waterproof and why a unit with a perfectly good display screen should be hidden away like that.
That aside, I started to install the thing and deal with each roadblock as it reached it. I tested it first. I put the cables into the appropriate ports on the DVR unit. All connections were geometrically identical so there was some non-idiot-proof risk that the wrong cable goes into the wrong port, but each cable jack is clearly marked (and numbered) what its function was, so it’s reasonably clear. So with both terminals connected to the battery, sure enough there was a response – the jingle on start up, a voice in a very clean US accent telling me that recording had started, the reassuring movement of digits on the monitor and I could seethe imagery that the cameras were seeing. I could even set the date and time!
The next job was to install it on the bike. I should mention that here I had a bit of a handicap. My bike is a 2012 Triumph Bonneville. I love my bike and it serves a very good purpose, but unlike other contemporary bikes, it is just that -a bike; no fairings, no panniers, no seat hinge, in fact no room (or at least very little) to attached items such as this.
Still not sure where to put the DVR unit, I decided to leave that decision until last; instead I started with the easier bits – installing the cameras. The front camera was eventually bolted to the headlight bracket bolt (using a disused exhaust pipe bracket I had lurking in my junk box). The rear camera was bolted (using a supplied bracket) to the number plate. I took the seat off (a mammoth task in itself with a Bonny), and routed cables here and there. One of the tomes I read on line warned me about the unequal length of cables from the two cameras and likewise, I had to swap front for rear to get the cables to meet in the midships of the bike (where the DVR unit would eventually go). I was wondering if, in a future design to make things more flexible, the unit could come with say a number of ½ metre cable lengths throughout (with their appropriate connectors) so that we can have any length of cable we like just by adding or subtracting lengths of extension.
I did entertain some fanciful idea to place the DVR unit in the clip provided, on the handle bars, but that was not immediately possible since the power cable (by requirement to have at least one of them connected to the battery) was simply too short. Besides I thought that the supplied clip was too flimsy and that the DVR unit would vibrate out of it and cause some grief as it disappeared somewhere.
I fitted the converter unit in a space in the frame behind the tank, placed the remoteswitch and GPS units outside of the frame somewhere to be decided and placed all four DVR connectors next to each other on the left side, middle area of the bike. The negative hi-lug went onto the bike battery terminal (I cut a piece out of the hi-lug’s ring so I could slide it under existing lugs on the terminal so I didn’t have to disconnect them altogether). I found a terminal (instrument lights) to poke the positive lead into (I cut the hi-lug off and soldered a stiff wire to the cable end and pushed the stiff wire into a terminal point). At least it all switched on and off with ignition (and didn’t blow any fuses).
There was a heap of surplus cable, so I gathered it all into bundles and squashed them into a rare space between battery and a cluster of cabling and connectors (under the still-removed seat). I had to make sure that all cables ran under the sub frame member so I could get the seat back on.
To finish this I connect the four cables to the DVR unit. At that stage it was just hanging by the cables beside the left rear suspension unit. To give it some security I placed it into the cloth pouch that came with the kit and hooked the press-stud straps through the mid-seat pillion (“sissy”) strap. I used the self-adhesive pads to stick the switch and GPS unit to the left and right side panel tops,respectively.
I went for a ride to test it all. It seemed to be working, prompting the audial clues when I switched the bike on and off. I got home and looked at the footage on my computer. Bingo! The only problem was that I had installed the cameras upside down! But I was thrilled to see the exact GPS co-ordinates (confirmed by a paper map I had), direction of travel (as a compass bearing) and my speed displayed as sub-text with the video.
Back in my garage I inverted the cameras (but I was a bit surprised to see that the cable exit and one of the bracket holes are therefore on the tops of the units – susceptible to weather?) I also fomented some imagination and enterprise to place the DVR unit inside the left side panel. I needed to push a few existing cables out of the way and I used a cable tie and a slice of a bicycle inner tube (to cover and protect the DVR), but it fitted all right and there wasn’t too much of a squeeze to put the cover back on. All that remained was to use cable ties to make the rest of the cable runs a little tidier and safer.
And that was it! I am a satisfied customer, notwithstanding some of the suggestions I mentioned above. I still haven’t worked out whether it acts like a standard GPS electronic street directory and there is some talk of it giving an audial warning when cars change lanes (but one can’t hear it when riding anyway). Furthermore I don’t know if new data overwrites old on the card when full or whether we have to manually delete unwanted files (as we have to do with any other camera’s card).Another curiosity is that even though I set the local date and time, as soon as it starts up and connects to GPS, the time switches to one exactly 6 hours earlier (we are 10 h ahead of GMT/ UTC, so isn’t that) although the date displayed is correct.
Still, it’s a stroke of genius having a rear-facing camera. The next vehicle that dares to tailgate, fail to give way or commit any other illegal error, I will have incriminating footage to show the police (as if they could give a toss)!
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