There’s no doubt that advances in camera technology over the last few years have thrust GoPro cameras and their competitors from niche novelty items into devices that, to some, are as necessary of an accessory to your bicycle as lights or your helmet.
Sure, cost is definitely a barrier to entry for some cameras, as most name-brand cameras cost well north of $200 (and sometimes even double or triple that!), but there’s a serious technical limitation to the cameras that prevent you from recording the hours upon hours of riding that large capacity micro SD cards can store: battery life.
Most action cameras have removable batteries, which means that on something like a hiking trip or vacation you can bring multiples with you to swap out as they are depleted.
While fine for activities when you’re only recording for short spurts, that becomes quite a hassle on long rides when the camera is constantly running, as you won’t want to pull over every hour of your ride to swap batteries and restart your camera.
Thankfully, companies like Wasabi are making extended batteries for most GoPro cameras that enhance usable battery life significantly, making your ideal road riding “dash cam” a reality.
Five years ago I found out firsthand how valuable video evidence can be in a crash, using helmet-cam footage to help win a settlement in a case that I otherwise likely would have lost thanks to a vaguely written police report which left the decision of fault up to the other driver’s insurance adjuster.
Once I completed physical therapy for a shoulder injury and started riding again, I continued to use my front-facing GoPro Hero 3, and not long after complemented it with a rear-facing GoPro Hero (the now-discontinued entry-level model).
Battery life was definitely a problem, though, with the Hero 3 managing barely an hour on a good day (and sometimes less than 30 minutes when it was extremely cold!).
I found replacement batteries by Wasabi on Amazon after trying to find a solution to the woefully short battery life of my Hero 3, and after more research found extended batteries for the models I had.
The batteries were much larger and heavier physically than normal batteries, but they came with a different “back door” for the camera case to accommodate the size. The larger batteries made the cameras too heavy to use on a helmet anymore, so I also picked up new mounts for the handlebars, which is what I’ve since used for years.
Wasabi makes different batteries for different models of GoPro’s line as each camera handles batteries in a different way, with slick-looking battery systems for older models and somewhat clunkier looking batteries for newer models (including the Hero 5 and Hero 6) that have LCD screens at the back. My Hero 3, for example, uses removable batteries, so the extended battery is simply a drop-in replacement.
The standard Hero, on the other hand, has an integrated battery that you can’t remove, so the extended battery is effectively an integrated charger that plugs into the USB charge port at the back and charges the internal battery as it runs.
Battery life on long rides has been excellent. Even after nearly three years of regular use (three to four commutes per week plus weekend riding), the Hero 3’s extended battery can manage nearly four hours of continuous run time on a warm day and close to three hours in very cold weather.
The regular Hero’s extended battery, which I’ve used a bit less over the last three years since the Hero has it’s own battery already, adds roughly four hours runtime to the already impressive two or more hours the Hero can get on its own.
Cameras are one of those things that I use on my rides for insurance, hoping that I never need them but am glad to have them anyway.
The Wasabi batteries have far exceeded my expectations and have been worth every penny, increasing my confidence and easing my anxiety in case an incident was to happen again.
I don’t like riding the roads without cameras, and thanks to the Wasabi extended batteries I can continue to use them on long rides without worrying about them running out of juice.
I highly recommend using these batteries if you want to breathe some life into your GoPro or to use them as “dashcams” of your own. (You can check out the great reviews and see the latest price on the Wasabi batteries here)