Every time you swing a leg over a motorcycle you assume the risks of the road. Despite motorcycle fatalities declining in recent years, there’s no shortage of hazards on today’s roadways. If modern technology can’t save you from a distracted driver or alert you to a well-laid speed trap, there’s a chance that it can clear your name after the fact. Whether you’re filing an insurance claim or fighting a traffic violation, footage from an on-board camera can be invaluable.
One such system is the Thinkware Sports M1 Motorsports Cam. Including a forward-facing and rear-facing camera, the system provides 280 degrees of coverage. This range not only captures comprehensive footage of each ride but also gives the rider an unrivaled peace of mind. When I got a hold of an M1 Motorsports Cam, I wanted to test the reliability and versatility of its expansive field of view.
Unlike a stand-alone camera, the Thinkware Sports system draws power from the vehicle’s battery. For that reason, the cameras need to be affixed to the motorcycle. The 4.5” x 3” x 1.5” main unit fits snugly under the seat of most bikes and consists of fore and aft camera ports, a power cable, a remote control, and a slot for the 32-gigabyte mini-SD card included with the system.
The M1’s power cable splits into positive (red) and ground (black) wires so the user can connect the main unit to the battery and fuses. After accessing the battery and loosening the ground screw, the ground wire’s prong easily slipped into place. I had to refer to my motorcycle manual to find the fuse box, but once located, it was effortless to wrap the positive wire around the headlight fuse and return it to its designated slot. It is critical that you tether the red wire to a fuse that isn’t active when the ignition is off. Otherwise, the M1 Motorsports Cam will drain your battery faster than an RC car on Christmas morning.
With the main unit tapped into the battery and fuse box, I moved on to mounting the cameras. Each 3” x 1.5” camera comes clearly marked as front and rear-facing. Utilizing 3M adhesive on the individual mounts, the devices can be attached to several different mounting points on the bike. Depending on your motorcycle, the fairing, rear mudguard, or handlebars may be optimal sections to stick the dual cameras. On my Husqvarna 701 Supermoto, I installed the cameras on the front master cylinder and tail section.
Though the 3M adhesive secured the cameras to the bike, the placement was far from ideal. Atop the master cylinder, the front-facing camera would have to be removed on a yearly basis. Out back, the subframe-mounted filler cap obstructs the path of the rearward camera’s cable. I resorted to looping the power cord around my right turn signal as a result. Of course, mounting the M1 system on your particular motorcycle may yield better results, but like anything that’s “universal fit”, it may also yield worse results.
Once installed, the unit operates autonomously. The system automatically activates with the turn of the key and captures every second until the user shuts off the bike. Recording one-minute clips to a 32-gigabyte memory card, the main unit can log up to 90 minutes of 1080p footage. Even if you’re on a trip that lasts more than an hour and a half, the system automatically overwrites the oldest files to ensure the M1 never loses your most important videos.
To manually record footage, users simply tap a button on the remote control. The main unit stores the one-minute clips into a separate folder so they’re safe from the system’s overwriting function. However, the mode switches back to continuous recording after a single file is written to the card. The recordings are either too short to catch extended moments and too inconvenient to repeatedly log. Though the unit starts each manual recording 10 seconds before you hit the button, odds aren't in your favor unless you’re quick on the draw or downright prescient.
I found it easier to remove the memory card and upload a file from the continuous record folder than to use the manual setting. For that reason, the M1 is best when it’s operating in the default mode. Recording continuously, the remote controller’s LED shines a steady blue. Recording manually, the LED flickers blue, and blinks green when connecting to a device via WiFi.
While the Thinkware app functions smoothly and features an easy-to-navigate interface, the M1 camera’s main unit doesn’t automatically connect to your mobile phone. Even after pairing my smartphone to the system and saving the Wi-Fi settings, I had to manually connect to the M1 with each ride. The app is primarily used to check the rear and forward video feed, view the recording list, and manually capture clips. The short duration of the manual videos and the app’s forgettable user experience made it clear that I didn’t need to connect to the M1 after the first few sessions.
Yes, security is the main objective of Thinkware’s M1, but with “Motorsports Cam” in its name, the camera system doesn’t obtain footage on par with today’s action cameras. The pixelated, banding video lends itself more to evidential footage than action sports cuts. Hoping that the M1 could capture the scenic mountain roads of Southern California and the visceral atmosphere of track days, I shot footage in both environments. The results proved that the cameras function best as a surveillance device.
Aside from the installation barrier, the system is practically maintenance-free and provides a high level of security and peace of mind. The 280-degree view and autonomous operation make protecting your bike and yourself a no-brainer. No, it isn’t a replacement for your GoPro but the M1 does a great job of managing itself and freeing up the rider to focus on the road.
Over time, I not only forgot that the system was operating, but that it was on the bike at all. Perfect for commuters or those that ride a motorcycle or scooter for a living, the system prioritizes safety. If you’re looking for a hassle-free device to dependably capture your most important ride moments, the Thinkware Sports M1 Motorsports Cam has your back (quite literally).