Never in my 20 years of motorcycling life did I think that I would need to get a battery charger. I have ridden a motorcycle every day of my life and would never expect it to go down. March 2020 had other plans. India went into lockdown due to the COVID 19 pandemic.
The lockdown went on for almost 100 days. I would ensure that I start my motorcycle at least once a month, so that the battery had some charge left to crank it. I forgot one week and finally the inevitable happened. The motorcycle refused to start. I realized that we have no insight of what the days in future hold for us. There was no saying how long this pandemic would continue. I either had an option to give up on the battery and get another one or look for a long-term solution.
This is when I started looking for trickle chargers. Trickle chargers are designed to be left connected to the battery long term, without causing damage, a trickle charge slowly adds and conditions the battery. In many cases these also help revive a dead battery. Now here is the tricky bit, if the battery voltage drops below a level, most available trickle chargers cannot revive the battery. I checked and found that my battery was around 6 volts. Most chargers I read about stated that they can revive batteries only if there is at least 8V left in it. I had almost decided to leave it to the service center to fix it for me.
This is when I found the OptiMate 1 Duo. A quick conversation with Sean from Big Bad Bikes confirmed that this device can revive batteries from as low as 4V. Digging deeper I figured that the OptiMate 1 Duo works on all kinds of 12V batteries. It was suitable for all 12V lead acid and 12.8-13.2V LiFePO4 batteries. The rated capacity was in the range of 2 – 20 Ah. What made this device even better was that apart from reviving almost dead batteries, it would charge, optimize, and once fully charged, maintain it. So essentially you could simply plug in OptiMate 1 Duo, connect the battery, and forget about it. The OptiMate 1 Duo keeps monitoring the health and charge of the battery. When it detects lowering charge, it tops the battery back up to ensure that it is always in perfect condition ready for when you start the motorcycle up again. This was perfect for keeping the battery healthy when you are not using your motorcycle for long durations. I made the order and the product was promptly delivered.
The OptiMate 1 Duo comes with a set of ring loop connectors that can simply be attached to the battery. Plug the unit into the mains, connect the lead to the fitted connectors and it starts charging.
The set also includes a set of crocodile clips which can also be used if you do not want to install the waterproof connector lead. The waterproof connector lead works well. You can always leave it on your motorcycle. You can hide it into a discreet place, that is still easy to access. I routed it under the passenger seat on the Himalayan. It comes with a 6ft lead so it can reach across the garage if you were too tight for space near the plug points. It brought my Himalayan’s battery back to life overnight, in roughly 8/9 hours. After this I ended up helping multiple friends who faced the same dilemma.
The OptiMate 1 Duo comes with everything needed to get connected. It has built in safety features so you can leave it plugged in over long durations and save yourself the trouble of replacing your battery. Instead, buy one of these!
After waiting eagerly for the GoPro Hero 9 to launch, I ended up picking up the Insta360 One R Twin edition, a day after the GoPro launch as I did not find it to be a significant upgrade over the Hero 8.
For starters I knew what the Insta360 could do, having seen the One and the One X do wonders in matter of stability and a sturdy build. Sharath had picked up the One R recently and I loved the shots from the camera. His Insta360 One was even thrown off on the highway at over 100kmph due to a faulty suction mount. It survived. So, I knew that the build quality will be remarkable.
Now came the value for money aspect of things. Let us do a price comparison, in India, of just the units available and the GoPro equivalent. Prices are as per Amazon.in at the time of posting this article.
- Insta360 One R Twin Edition – ₹39,999.00 (includes 360 & 4K wide angle units)
- Insta360 One R 4K Wide Edition – ₹28,149.00
- Insta360 One R 360 Edition – ₹34,999.00
- Insta360 One R 1 Inch Edition – ₹43,999.00
- GoPro HERO 8 Black – ₹30,990.00
- GoPro MAX Action Camera – ₹42,999.00
- There is no Twin Edition, hence if you get both – ₹73,989.00 (that is close to 50% over the current price of the Insta360 One R Twins)
- GoPro Hero 9 Black – $450.00 inclusive of the import taxes in India, one can expect this to be north of ₹45,000.00 (I will update this once we have official figures for India)
As you can see, if you try the combinations, of individual units or the combo packs, the Insta360 One R is true value for money. Additionally, one advantage if that if you buy any single unit, you can always add on the other modules as and when you feel like. These are just the camera modules, there are a load of other modules designed to work with drones or even for underwater shooting in 360.
The Insta360 One R Action Camera aims to be a step up above the rest by being a fully modular system. Quite a unique feature! The specifications are drool-worthy for any adventure traveler.
The base camera module has FlowState stabilization, Insta360’s patented technology. This smooths out bumpy footage and makes it watchable. This works due to an internal 6-axis gyroscope.
It has an auto frame mode that allows the camera to track a subject throughout your capture, voice control for hands-free control, a HDR mode, night shot for low light captures, slow motion and hyper lapse modes, and a reversible touch screen. RAW photo mode is also available for folks who like to do post shoot processing.
The still photo resolution sits at larger than 3000 pixels, which is a remarkable for action cameras!
The video resolution can shoot at up to a mind boggling 100 frames-per-second depending on the mode.
The Twin Edition tends to catch most people’s eye. This version includes two camera lenses, the 4k Wide Angle Lens and the Dual-Lens 5.7k 360 lens. The wide-angle lens features an aperture of F/2.8, and the 360 has an aperture of F/2.0. Nice for low light captures and good subject separation.
Then there is the One Inch Edition. This one features a 14mm lens at F/3.2, ultra-wide angle. This lens is a collaborate with Leica and features Leica glass.
When this camera is put together, it appears to be a typical small action camera. Upon closer inspection is when you notice that all the components come apart! Taking the elements apart and putting them back together is quite satisfying. Unlike a traditional DSLR or mirrorless camera that requires a twist and lock, these pieces just pop into place. A bit like Lego pieces. The downside is that you must disconnect from the battery to swap the components, so it is not as prompt as it sounds. The One Inch Edition requires you to take off the front lens cover too.
The physical build itself is sturdy and feels like it can handle a lot. You never want a sports camera to feel flimsy. That said, the locking mechanism does seem sturdy. I believe the mounting case it comes with will hold it in place in case of a fall.
The One R delivers on both Shock and Water resistance. It is waterproof up to 5 meters, but divers should still consider a water housing just in case. It is only 5 meters, unlike 10 meters in most other cameras due to its modular form factor. I did face some moisture accumulation at the lens in very cold humid conditions. This is expected and was soon taken care of by the silica gels and zip pouch provided as part of the standard box package. They have an informative documentation on how waterproofing works for this modular camera. You must ensure that you assemble the components and the camera bracket. Make sure there is no dust or sand in the connectors or between the modules, and the USB port is sealed.
This 360 camera is sized at 72mm by 48mm x 43mm on average, but size does change a bit depending on the attached lenses. It is a tad bigger than the GoPro Hero 8. The screen is a 1.3-inch square display, a bit small for everything you need to use it for. That said, the pocket-size and modular ability is worth the screen size sacrifice. There are tactile buttons for ease of use located at the top of the screen cube. The buttons are large and easy to find, even with a glove on!
What I Like About The Insta360 One R ?
This camera leads the pack with its resolution. It can capture in over 5k! Improvements in color rendering, contrast, and depth are immediately noticeable when set to this mode. This also allows for more detailed editing and post-processing. The higher resolution equals more control over color grading and cropping. I have even tried taking snapshots of the 5K video and they are remarkable.
The image stabilization system is also quite neat. It utilizes a 6-axis gyroscope versus 3 to a maximum of 5 axis in other cameras. There is a slight distortion in the ultra-wide-angle shots right at the very corners, but I was really nitpicking to find this. Majority of the world would not even notice this.
The AI tracking is something of sheer beauty. You can use this feature while shooting footage and during post processing! You can track a subject after capturing the footage and have the application re-frame. That is something amazing and makes life easy for action content creators.
What Could Have Been Better ?
I found getting used to the the UI a bit more difficult than I expected. It can be intuitive if you memorize the various gestures required to operate the camera. Swipes up, down, left, and right open various menus and options. I still do not believe I found everything I was looking for with limited use, unlike other brands, in which it was easy to set up in a few moments. I think it is probably just me as I am used to the GoPro UI and it took me few attempts remember the gestures. Although battery life is rated for 65 minutes, I could average an actual battery life of 45 minutes in 5K 360. The screen being on always will drain the battery rather quickly. I managed to get 60 mins with 5K 360 recording and the LEDs and screen in auto off mode. For the vloggers, there is no dedicated microphone output, but you can buy a USB-C compatible one and use as an add on along with the standard mounting case.
In Conclusion, What Is Better? The GoPro Hero 8/9, Or The Insta360 One R?
The answer is really in what you plan on using it for. This camera tends to combine the best of all worlds due to its ability to swap lenses and screen. The modular build leaves the door wide open for some cool adapters and accessories as well. You can build this camera into whatever you need it to be!
However, the price point worked in Insta360’s favor in comparison to competitors. You can buy one unit and build on with other modules. You get more bang for the buck with Insta360 when compared to an equivalent combination from GoPro. The video quality is excellent, be it stabilization or the exceptional video resolution. In fact one can just manage to live with one camera alone, the Insta360 One R 360 edition as you can post process regular wide angle images in their app. With the 360 you do not need to worry where the lens is pointing, just fix, shoot, and edit the angles in post processing. I believe the Insta360 One R is a good choice to build on.
Here are some images and footage shot by me on the Insta360 One R
“But it has not even run 10,000 km.”, exclaimed an annoyed customer at the service center. This person was talking about his motorcycle’s chain. The service engineer just told him that the chains had lived its life.
I believe 90% or more of premature failure of chains and sprockets is because of lack of maintenance. It is not that people do not want to maintain their vehicles; it is just lack of awareness. Some even avoid it because of the cost and time involved in going to the service center to get the chains lubed. Guess what, you can do it at home at the fraction of the cost.
Today, I will share my tips for motorcycle chain maintenance. I have finalized on these over years of trial and error. Generally, I do this every 800-1000kms. Or, if I start getting jerky vibes on my foot pegs or hear noise from the chain while riding. If I ride off road a lot, I do this process as and when I wash the muck off my motorcycle.
Start with a good Chain Cleaner spray. Once you apply it leave it on for around 10 mins. This helps loosen the muck and grime stuck to the chain links. Use a chain brush to scrub the links. Apply a little more of the chain cleaner spray if needed. Wait for few mins and use water to wash it all off with a hose pipe. It works best if it does not leave a residue and washes off easily with water. In case you are out of Chain Cleaner Spray, you can use Diesel, it cleans muck off the chains, though washing it off is a tad cumbersome. Please do not try the previous steps while the engine is running.
Run the motorcycle in gear for some time on a paddock or main stand. Else, ride it around if you do not have either. This will help to get rid of the water on the chains.
Once dry, apply Chain Lube. This part is important, how you apply the lube decides if they will be all over the tires, get flung off on to the rims or be utilized without much wastage. It is best you apply the lube to the inside of the chain links and the lube gets pushed out to the outer side as it rotates. You may want to top up a little from the outside if needed. The part between the outer and inner links, where the rubber rings are located, is where the lube needs to be sprayed. I let the lube sit, without riding the motorcycle for at least 30 mins. Leave it overnight for better results.
I carry chain lube and cleaner with me when I go on long rides. And if the chain is not dirty and mucky, I lube it as soon as I end the ride. I believe that the chain being warmed up helps adhere the lube better. It is a good idea to wipe off excess lube that may have sprayed onto the swingarm or the tire and rim.