Firstly this is NOT a sponsored article, a big hole in my budget can attest to that!
Drones, love them, hate them, never used one, so don’t have an opinion…this might help.
What is a drone, in case you’ve been living under a rock for a while
A small unmanned flying vehicle that is used for entertainment or to take photos or videos from an aerial perspective. Remotely controlled and battery driven, a personal drone’s flight duration is measured in minutes.
Do adventure motorcyclists need one…maybe, it all depends on the individual? I have a couple, and a lot of other riders on the forum are using them too, with great success, but they do have their challenges.
The first and most important and I have to put this here, there are legal requirements, for most drones you do need a license, it’s easier for you to click this link and find out what the requirements are where you live or where you plan to ride, and what category you’d be in for the particular drone you would use – DRONE LAWS
The drones I own are DJI Mavic Air 2 and DJI Mini 2
What I like about the Mavic Air 2
Pro’s – Flight time, image quality, speed, and the ‘follow me’ feature in more open areas
Con’s – the size, weight, high price and needing a license…and in a secure case, to keep it all clean and safe everything weighs in at 9lbs, the batteries are huge and take a long time to charge from 110/240
The DJI Mini 2
I like that it’s small (fits in a Mosko Pico tank bag, with space to spare, which is one of the smallest out there), lightweight (below 250gm) very easy to use, sharing the footage can be done straight from the app, you can charge via 12 volts on the bike and doesn’t require an FAA license, and reasonably priced
What I don’t like is the size of the controller, it uses the same heavy one as the Mavic Air 2, but as its durable, you can throw it in your backpack/ hydration pack, and it’s a little delicate.
If a drone just sitting in a tank bag seems like a bad thing, well it is! My buddy Mike at TacoMoto.co makes to special order a two-piece case for the DJI Mini and Mini 2 and it’s as snug and as tight as a case can be with zero room to spare for movement once it’s inside.
Go to his site and use the contact at the bottom of the page to speak to him/ email him about price and availability, it’s a new product so not listed yet.
…and still fits in that Mosko Pico tank bag with room to spare
So why would you need a drone?
Obviously for video footage and getting unique shots and perspectives not available any other way.
…but from a motorcyclist’s perspective how often do you hear riders say they ride solo because they prefer it, then follow on with “just wish I had more photos of me in places I’ve been, not just, this is my bike in…and here it is again in…!”
The easy solution for that is to get a tripod and put your camera on a timer, but then you have to ride away from it and hope it’s there when you return or doesn’t get blown over.
A camera on a tripod is easy, but to be honest, a drone is easier, especially the Mini 2, the setup and getting it airborne takes less than setting up a tripod, and it’s secure because it’s in the air out of reach.
When I use a bigger tank bag, I have velcro on the top of the bag and underside of the controller to hold it in place and easily make adjustments or do different takes right there from the top of my tank bag.
Connect your phone, turn on the drone put it in the air take a video or photo of yourself from a unique angle and done. A big plus now is drone take photos in Jpeg and Raw so easy to share or do post-production on later.
The next ‘but’ why the Mini 2, “it can’t follow you so what’s the point. Well, that depends on what you are looking for. If you ask most filmmakers they will tell you that a 10-second shot is usually enough to get what you want, any longer and the viewer loses interest, sound familiar?
Put that Mini 2 in the air and ride towards it, away from it, across its view, use the photo timer to take multiple images if you don’t want video, or you could get creative.
Even though the mini doesn’t have the follow-me feature if you are in slow sections you might be surprised what you could create, this might help…
The main point to remember about flying the Mini 2 is its lack of sensors so be very aware of its surroundings before flying, because it will fly straight into things, that’s where that $49 DJI insurance comes in handy!
This is a quick screengrab from a video, took two minutes to capture and is fine for most web outlets or ride reports, etc
*BTW, I’m riding the new Triumph 850 Sport, there is a feature article and video coming soon about it.
The big plus for me and how I ride is being able to charge the Mini 2 from 12 volts right from the bike, so if it were a day ride I’d just take the drone, controller, and a charging cable, take a few shots, charge as I ride, rinse and repeat over and over.
If you are a rider that does more technical slower riding and really wants that follow me feature look no further than inmate RideFreak and his Skydio2.
He has a very detailed Q&A thread going HERE if you were looking for more details on the SkyDio 2 and other drones, have a read of the 50+ pages
Some quick insight from RideFreak –
The pro’s – SkyDio is autonomous so it makes all its avoidance decisions, power wires or bare trees can pose a problem but outside that it’s very good at following someone. In that scenario, the rider is left to ride the bike, that’s it’s strongpoint, flying itself up to 36mph while filming the subject.
…and it’s also designed and built in the US by a US company
Con’s – It doesn’t have the range, flight time (20min) or quite the quality of camera as the Mavic although it still takes very nice 4K/60FPS HDR video.
The video below is one of his from the southwest of the US with some close in drone action in a tight canyon, subscribe to his channel RideFreakTV on YouTube as he rides some amazing areas most of us will never see and takes his drone with him every time.
Hopefully, that gives you a small insight into drones and how they can be a real added bonus to get ‘that shot’ especially if you are a solo rider.