Apeman Seeker R1 4K Smart Cycling Camera review TL;DR: Apeman's unique bike rear light has an actual, fully-functional, removable action camera and plenty of accessories to keep cyclists entertained. It's a bit costly but you have to pay for versatility, I guess.
When I first read about Apeman's latest product, the Seeker R1 rear bike light/action camera combo, I thought this was the most ridiculous cycling accessory ever to exist, but it also seemed people liked the idea of integrating a full-sized action camera into a housing unit that provides some visibility to cyclists.
I've been riding my road bike with the Apeman Seeker R1 for a few weeks now and I can't say I didn't enjoy the experience. This is a bulky bike light, but the fact that I can remove the action cam and use it for whatever I want it to makes Seeker R1 all the more appealing.
The Apeman Seeker R1 is far from being perfect – for one, it's sizeable – but it's also a whole lot of fun to use.
Read this Apeman Seeker R1 review to find out more about this peculiar-looking bike light/action cam.
Apeman Seeker R1 4K Smart Cycling Camera review: Price and availability
At the time of writing, the Seeker R1 can be bought for under $400/£400.
AU price and availability TBC.
Apeman sells a number of products, including trail and action cameras, dashcams, projectors, binoculars and even DVD players. As far as I'm concerned, the Seeker R1 is its first product dedicated to cycling.
Apeman Seeker R1 4K Smart Cycling Camera review: What's in the box?
You get loads of accessories included in the box when you buy an Apeman Seeker R1.
In the box, you'll find three smaller containers: the Seeker Essential case with the camera unit, the R1 housing, two batteries, various cables, zip ties, a lanyard and the bicycle mount bar.
In the second box, there is a sport protective frame, various arms to attach the cam to helmets/selfie sticks etc., and a weatherproof rubber cover for the camera (to cover the ports, not the camera itself).
Finally, a third box contains the two parts you need to mount your smartphone onto the handlebar.
Apeman Seeker R1 4K Smart Cycling Camera review: Setup
Setting up the Apeman Seeker R1 is a relatively straightforward process. I started by charging the camera – which you can do with or without the case – then mounted the casing on the bike.
Among the thousand accessories included in the box, you'll find a 'rubberised hand knob' to help you tighten the screws of the casing onto the seat post. Since the unit is rather bulky, I had to tighten the screws considerably to ensure they won't slide down (or worse) when I ride with the Seeker R1 attached to the bike.
This was a bit tricky as the screws are so long, that they started pressing on the back of the unit/other screws (see above). Plus, because I had to tighten the screws so much, it made it almost impossible to remove the unit without having the 'rubberised hand knob' on me. But I didn't want to take that one with me in case I lost it. As I said, tricky.
Once the unit was mounted on the bike, I turned it on by pressing the button on the side of the case. As soon as it's on, loop recording starts, even if you aren't moving (considering the action cam is in the light unit). If you open the Apeman App, it'll see the camera and you can connect the two.
When that's done too, you'll see a live feed of the camera on your phone which you can add to the handlebar in the provided mount. You're ready to go!
Apeman Seeker R1 4K Smart Cycling Camera review: The Go Ape App
Who needs a rear view mirror when you have an app to monitor incoming traffic from behind?
As a matter of fact, once you pair the camera unit with the Go Ape app, you get access to what Apeman calls a 'smart digital dashboard' (SDD); essentially, a live feed from the cam overlaid with additional info about various other bits such as speed, distance, altitude, compass etc.
In the app, you can change tail light modes and video quality and, of course, monitor the world behind you. Even if the projected laser lights aren't visible in real life, the app will show the safe lane area around the bike and record the footage accordingly.
The Go Ape app is fine, albeit ever so slightly confusing at times. For example, I was thrown off by what looked like a turn indicator in the app (visible at the top); at first, I thought I was supposed to press the icons, and the light would indicate which way I was going. As it turns out, they simply stated the direction the app felt I was going.
The app has newly been launched, so it's still a bit clunky. It does what it's supposed to do and connects to the camera fine; the controls and the overall user experience could be improved, but I'm sure it'll be over time.
Apeman Seeker R1 4K Smart Cycling Camera review: Usage
I used the Seeker One cam both inside the Seeker R1 case and as a standalone action camera. Footage from the cam was used for the travel sections in the video above.
The cam has two displays, a front-facing screen for shooting selfies and a rear IPS touchscreen display. Don't expect smartphone-esqe responsiveness from the display, but it's not impossible to navigate using the display either.
The cam can shoot 4K videos and has a few shooting modes; these include Vivid Sport, 6x Slow Motion, Time Lapse and Burst. I recommend reading through the included manual to work out how to turn the front-facing display on.
The footage from the cam is clear and high-quality and better still, the Seeker R1 case has a built-in 5,000mAh battery that allows you to record footage uninterrupted for 300 minutes. Plus, there are a couple of spare batteries included in the box, in case you want to take the Seeker One out of the case and mount it on your helmet or whatever.
The Apeman Seeker R1 comes with a carry pouch that can be mounted to the bike frame, but in all honesty, I didn't use this as the cam was either used or taken with me when I chained up the bike; I didn't want to risk leaving an action cam unattended.
You can use this pouch to carry other things by removing the insert, so I'm definitely not complaining!
The cam hasn't got an internal memory, and sadly, a micro SD card is not included in the box – to be able to record footage, you'll need to get this separately. Thankfully, micro SD cards are cheap as chips nowadays. Yet, it would've been better if this was included in the box, considering the Apeman Seeker R1 comes with spare batteries and trillions of accessories.
One final note on the laser projection: it's a cool feature but you can't see it unless lighting conditions are low. It would've been great if the lane was visible in broad daylight!
Apeman Seeker R1 4K Smart Cycling Camera review: Verdict
The Apeman Seeker R1 Smart Cycling Camera is a bit of a mixed bag in terms of features, but it's certainly a whole of fun to use.
I love the versatility and the million accessories it comes with; I can use the Seeker One cam in the Seeker R1 housing as a standalone camera on a selfie stick, mounted on a helmet, take it swimming – you name it.
The Seeker R1 unit is bulky and might be in the way slightly when you cycle; it was for me as I mounted it relatively high, just under the seat, so it had enough clearing from the rear wheel.
Although the Seeker One is easy to remove from the case, the case itself is a bit tricky to install and unmount; you won't have to do it often, but if you leave the bike in an unsafe area, it might take longer to remove and add the Seeker R1 case back on, especially without tools.
The Go Ape App provides some ride-related info and, of course, a real-time view of the mounted camera behind you. The app is clunky and far from perfect, but it's usable enough to add extra value to this already well-featured package.
I wish the Apeman included a micro SD card in the box and that the laser lane projection would be visible at all times, not to mention some sort of quick-release mechanism for the Seeker R1 case so it can be taken off the bike quicker.
All things considered, the Apeman Seeker R1 can be a fun addition to your bike setup, but it's not an essential purchase by any means. If you're on the market for an action cam and happen to be a cyclist, the Seeker R1 is worth considering.
Apeman Seeker R1 4K Smart Cycling Camera review: Also consider
The Garmin Varia RCT715 is the latest iteration of the cycling tech giant’s tail light safety system that alerts you to fast-approaching vehicles and potential close passes. The addition of a rear-facing camera looks good on paper, but the device and accompanying app need refining.
It's a similar concept to the Apeman Seeker R1 and definitely a sleeker unit, but due to the integrated camera, the RCT715 is less versatile than the Seeker R1. They are almost the same price, though.
If you don't need an action cam, you can give the Garmin Varia RTL515 a try. This aft radar system adds value to any bike ride by constantly monitoring potentially dangerous traffic approaching your rear – and also acts as a bike rear light, of course.