Kit on test

Tested – Drift Innovation’s rugged Stealth 2 Action Camera

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Action cameras are gaining in popularity, especially with the rise in ‘Crash for Cash’ cases, as well as being used to record your rides and trackdays for prosperity. They’re great for checking your riding – lines, position and technique, and are invaluable for allowing you to critique and improve your own riding.

This is the Drift Stealth 2, and it’s right up there with the best – it’s a great entry-level action camera and a worthy alternative to the ubiquitous Go Pro. This very unit has just survived a spectacular off at 90mph (my fault entirely for not securing it properly in the housing), and when I eventually retraced my step I saw it lying on the tarmac still recording.

Yes, it’s battered, but that shouldn’t be a surprise. The footage shows the camera barrel rolling down the tarmac as it made its flight for freedom. The rear facing camera (A Drift Ghost) caught it even better – the Stealth must’ve launched seven feet in the air, and impacted the ground a good 10 times before it came a rest. When I eventually found it some 56 minutes later, it was still recording. I dusted it down, gave it a clean and reattached it to the bike and shot some more footage. This thing is tough, built to last and is as good as bulletproof. Impressive.

So what else have do I know? The unit itself is very compact – it measures just 80mm x 42mm x 27mm and weighs 97g, some 40 per cent lighter than the original Stealth. These measurements make it very aerodynamic and sleek; ideal properties when mounting on helmets or bike fairings – far more suited to bikes than the square design of its rivals.

As I’ve already stated, the rubber housing feels sturdy enough, and while it doesn’t claim to be waterproof, I think it would survive a nuclear attack.An industry standards screw hole sits at the bottom of the unit for mounting to tripods and other useful features include chunky, easy-to- operate buttons and a dial opening/closing mechanism to access the microSD and the HDMI and USB ports – perfect for keeping out dirt and grit.

On the side of the camera is a 1.3in screen that shows the menu options, and it’s backlit so you can see it in the dark.But the really clever part of this camera is that it comes equipped witha lens that rotates through 300 degrees, which means the camerais always capable of shooting landscape while allowing you all sortsof versatility when it comes to mounting the camera. However, this camera’s field of view is restricted to 135 degrees, compared to the 170 degrees offered by the Go Pro, but Drift claims this makes objects appear closer and sharper – and they’re right, the footage itself is superb – colours are crisp and it captures loads of detail, and there’s no ‘fish-eye’ effect at the edge of the frame

Despite the Stealth 2’s small size it still packs a powerful punch andthe battery life is an impressive three hours when shooting 1080p at 30fps. It’s also capable of shooting 720p/60fps all the way down to 120fps in WGVA quality slow motion footage. The camera also has Wi–Fi connectivity – which enables it to be paired to a smartphone or a Drift remote control unit, both of which are very useful when it comes to setting up shooting angles – a time-lapse function photo burst and video tagging.

Mounting couldn’t be easier and each kit comes with a selection of curved and flat mounts to suit all surfaces, and there’s even a handy goggle mount.Note to self – always check you’ve inserted it properly in the mount!

The Drift works equally well on trackdays and the daily commute – I’ve used it for instructing on track and it’s small enough to not be an issue while it has enough battery to make a decent commuter companion, recording every detail in the case of an incident. And it’s very competitively priced too. Highly recommended.

£149.99 store.driftinnovation.com/uk/

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Tested – Knox Meta-Sys back protector

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This back protector is CE Level 2 certified, which means it’s at the top of its game when it comes to offering protection. This is largely down to the tough properties of the hard polypropylene external shell.

Another key feature is Knox’s trademark hinged panels, which allow maximum rider movement without compromising protection. The four panels span the length of your spine, and the lower back section even extends to protect the coccyx area.

The Meta-Sys feels reassuringly protective on, mainly due to the sheer amount of your back that it covers – the upper plates even offer a decent level of protection for the shoulder area – but it’s comfy too, thanks largely to the soft, foam-like nitrex insides, which have a sweat-wicking liner to keep you dry. There’s a decent amount of adjustability at the the shoulder and waist straps too, allowing you to get the Meta-Sys to sit just so, and the clever design means air is channelled away from top to bottom to stop your back from getting too sweaty.

The only downside is that there’s no getting away from its sheer bulk. I simply couldn’t get it to fit into my snug one-piece leathers, and had to go up a size to accommodate it.

4 stars

£130

http://www.planet-knox.com

Tested – Drift Ghost-S

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There’s an awful lot to like about the Drift Ghost-S – it’s easy to use, it’s well-made, it’s well-specced and it shoots some pretty stunning footage.

It’s almost as if the Ghost-S has been designed with bikers in mind; it’s capable of shooting 1080p video at upwards of 60fps, and will also record 120fps video at 720p – a handy feature for any riders looking to shoot slow-motion footage.

This practicality extends to the camera itself. It has a generous-sized 2in LCD screen on the side, which can be used as a live video view and for playing back any recorded footage.

The Ghost-S is designed to be mounted horizontally, so that it sits flat against most surfaces. This is an important design feature as it keeps the camera’s centre of gravity low, which reduces vibrations and camera wobble. The camera uses Drift’s standard 1/4in-20 tripod mount in the base of the camera, which is a neat touch as it means you can also use third-party mounts. It also comes with a few mounts to get you started including a universal clip, goggle mount and some handy adhesive mounts for curved or flat surfaces. This stuff really works, and has allowed me to mount a rear facing camera on the bike’s tail section and a forward facing camera at the top of the lower fairing. And it’s not budged in the slightest.

The camera itself couldn’t be easier, or more intuitive, to operate. The controls are chunky and simple to use, and all the buttons are positioned on the camera’s side – power, to start and stop recording and to navigate the menu.

The back of the camera features Drift’s trademark removable screw-in panel that protects the Mini USB charging port as well as the Mini HDMI output, a function which allows you to connect the camera directly to an external display for playback. There’s also a 3.5mm connection for an external microphone. With the rear cover securely attached, the camera is waterproof to 3m, which keeps the camera dry, even in the grimmest of downpours.

Another neat feature is the rotating lens, which can spin through 300 degrees. This effectively allows you to mount the camera in any orientation and still have the video come out in the correct visual format. It’s worth pointing out here that the lens’ default position, when all sides are flush to the camera’s body, is oriented for when the camera is stood on its side instead of mounted with the screw on its base. This means you’ll need to remember to rotate the lens when the camera is mounted on top of something, such as a fuel tank, or a helmet.

We tested the Ghost-S over a four-week period in a variety of conditions, including a nine-hour round trip to Bristol, and we’re impressed. It feels secure when mounted, and its sleek, aerodynamic profile helps reduce any vertical camera wobble.

It will record for around three hours, and the footage is pin sharp, capturing beautifully rich colours and a high level of detail in the background, even at high speeds.

The camera’s apps are available for iOS and Android, and make the camera even easier to use. The apps allow you to adjust settings such as field of view, exposure and frame rate as well as triggering recording. The app also provides a live view of the camera’s sensor, and the camera’s Bluetooth capability mean it’s possible to copy photos and videos to your smartphone.

Yes, it’s more expensive than the already excellent Drift Stealth 2, but you’re paying for added functionality. That large screen is really useful for setting-up and previewing footage, and there is a greater choice of video recording modes.

We’ll be shooting some footage when we head over to the Isle of Man for the TT, both on-board and hedge side race footage on our YouTube channel. See for yourself why we rate it so highly.

Five stars

www.driftinnovation.com

£250

Tested – Kriega R3

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The Kriega R3 is the British company’s take on the bum bag, and as always they’ve done an excellent job.

Made from tough 1000D Cordura, the R3 is a one-stop carry-all for all your essential items – multi-tool, camera, phone, driving licence, passport, wallet etc. And when you’re off the bike it’s the ideal storage carrier for your bike’s action camera (s).

As its name suggests, the R3 has a three-litre capacity in its main pocket, and this is waterproof thanks to Kriega’s signature roll-top closure system. There’s also a smaller compartment which is sealed with a water-resistant zip.

The R3 comes into its own when wearing leathers, giving you the advantages of the pockets that come with textiles, with none of the bulk associated with wearing such suits.

It’s tough, unobtrusive and completely waterproof. What’s not to like?

www.kriega.com

£55

Four stars

First thoughts – Arai RX-7V

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We’ve just taken delivery of a new Arai RX-7V and first impressions are overwhelmingly positive.

We’re huge fans of its predecessor, so that shouldn’t come as a surprise – the RX-7GP has looked after me in a quick 120mph lowside, and a 40mph highside, and each time I’ve walked away without so much as a headache.

I took the lid out for an exploratory ride yesterday and the new model is a big improvement – it’s snugger, which is good, the field of vision feels wider, it feels lighter, the new lining seems comfy and the new visor mechanism is easy to operate but reassuringly secure once in place.

We’ll be putting it through its paces over the next few weeks and will report back once we’ve got a few thousand miles under our belts…watch this space

Tested – BMW Rallye Suit

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The BMW Rallye suit receives the same attention to detail as the manufacturer’s bikes and it shows – it’s full of useful and practical features.

The Rallye is essentially a rugged and versatile textile suit designed to withstand the rigors of adventure/enduro riding and touring – the outer shell is made of water-repellent, breathable ProTech Wool, a new material which dries quickly and has superior thermal conduction properties, and this is mated to a carbon fibre finish which compresses the fabric for enhanced abrasion resistance.

The pants also have leather panels inside the knees for added grip for stand-up riding, as well as Kevlar stretch panels for a wide range of movement.

The inside also boasts many neat touches – there is a stretchy athletic mesh with spacer fabric to promote airflow, and the removable waterproof liners have three zones – Flow, Comfort and Shield – with different levels of breathability and waterproofing, as well as thin fleece in key areas (knees, seat, shoulders, neck).

Another key feature of the Rallye is CE-approved armor in the elbows, shoulders, back, hips and knees. There’s also a back protector, one of the biggest and thickest we’ve come across in a jacket, and the knee armor wraps fully around the sides and is height-adjustable. All of the armor is easily removable for those who prefer to wear an armored jersey under the jacket and/or knee braces.

As is usual with this style of suit, there is a huge range of vents, fit-adjustment straps and pockets, as well as two waterproof outer pockets and a back pocket for the optional two-litre water reservoir. And if the temperatures rises quickly the jacket can be converted into a vest by simply unzipping the sleeves – simple but effective.

Other neat touches include the plethora of reflective material, the easy-to-use 16-inch zip which connects the jacket to the pants, the rubber-covered buttons and the broken-in feel of the Cordura fabric.

4.5 stars

www.bmwmotorrad.co.uk

Jacket £550

Pants £435

Tested – HJC RPHA10+

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This is HJC’s top-of-the-range lid, as worn by Jorge Lorenzo and the recently-retired Ben Spies.

It’s an updated version of the popular RPHA10 and features a new easier-to-use chin vent, a new chin curtain and a new, more comfortable lining. It also comes with a Pinlock Max clear and tinted visor as standard.

The first thing that strikes you about this lid is the weight – it feels ludicrously light and tips the scale at just 1250g. And then there’s the fit – it feels comfortable, snug and secure. I know fit is a personal thing, but HJC seem to have managed a rare trick and built a helmet suitable for all head shapes. A lot of friends tried the RPHA10+ on at Motorcycle Live and every one of them said just how comfortable it is.

I’ve been testing this for some 3000 miles now and I love it. Yes, it’s a sports helmet but noise levels are acceptable, especially when riding with the chin curtain fitted, and the vision is excellent. The lining is supremely comfortable and the visor doesn’t suffer from misting and the vents, while being easy to operate, offer excellent cooling. The only niggle is that when pushing the visor up when paying for fuel it tends to come undone at the left-hand side.