Drones for mountain biking

Drones for mountain biking: the best follow-me drones, action cameras and other gear you need

Drones and biking are the perfect pair. You don’t need to be riding through open desert trails to film yourself with a drone, either. Rapid development in follow-me drone technology has made it possible for drones to capture bikers in their elements even in dense, forested areas. If you’re seeking to get an aerial video of your extreme sports adventures, here are the best drones for mountain biking (as well as a few other interesting accessories to consider):

the drone girl adii airdog
Though not a pick in today’s world, the Airdog ADII was one of the first drones to market towards mountain bikers.

The best follow-me drones for mountain biking

I’ve extensively outlined the best follow-me drones here. And the best follow-me drone for other sports like skateboarding, snowboarding or skiing is quite frankly no different than the best follow-me drone for mountain biking.

A follow-me drone is quite simply a drone smart enough to follow a pre-determined subject and keep it in the video frame.

The best follow-me drones use vision sensors, recognition tech and complex algorithms to track you — all without necessitating an additional GPS tracker for most scenarios. These days, I’d only recommend a follow-me drone that can not just track you, but is aware of its surroundings and can avoid other objects, like trees or bridges, in its way. From there, quality follow-me drones can intelligently navigate around those objects, even when flying at high speeds.

The DJI Mavic 3 Pro drone is among the most powerful camera drones from DJI.

DJI Mavic 3 Pro: the best overall drone for mountain biking

The DJI Mavic 3 Pro is excellent for mountain bikers seeking a reliable follow-me drone. The Mavic 3 excels due to its advanced camera system. As the world’s first three optical camera drone, it features the following three cameras:

  1. A custom Hasselblad wide-angle camera
  2. Medium tele camera (70mm)
  3. Tele camera (166 mm)

As far as what specifically makes it a great follow-me drone, it’s all due to the six fish-eye and two wide-angle sensors. These sensors help navigate the complex terrains and unpredictable elements of mountain biking trails.

All that sensor power not only enables obstacle avoidance, but it’s also critical for tracking mountain bikers, thanks to an impressive software called FocusTrack. Within the FocusTrack system comes features including ActiveTrack 5.0, Spotlight mode, and Point of Interest, all of which enable stable tracking shots.

ActiveTrack 5.0 tracks subjects in eight directions via multiple vision sensors that can simultaneously recognize a subject (and differentiate it from other objects). From there, it locks the subject in the frame.

DM Products demonstrates how it all works primarily on a driving car out in the desert, but there is a nice little e-bike shot in here, too:

The Mavic 3 Pro also features an advanced return to home (RTH). That allows the drone to automatically determine a safe and efficient flight route back to its home point. The Mavic 3 Pro can bypass obstacles on the RTH path.

Another standout feature for mountain biking is battery life. With up to 43 minutes of flight time and a maximum flight distance of 30 km per charge, the Mavic 3 Pro ensures that you won’t miss any moments due to battery constraints. This long battery life is beneficial in remote or rugged mountain biking locations, where changing the battery frequently is impractical.

Purchase the Mavic 3 from Amazon for $1,749

The Skydio 2 drone

Skydio 2+: the best American-made drone for mountain biking (if you can find it)

This recommendation only comes to you as a “kind of.” Unfortunately in August 2023, Skydio canceled its consumer drone arm, meaning this drone is no longer in production. I still recommend it simply because there just aren’t any other good camera drones made in America.

If you can get your hands on one (hey, you might have luck buying a used drone), then you’ve got an American-made gem.

The Skydio 2+ costs $1,099 (though you might have to pay more given that scarcity premium). It comes equipped with six, 200-degree color cameras to see in every direction (in theory never crashing as it follows you).

Skydio is a California-based drone maker. The Skydio 2+ drone films 4K60 HDR content and offers up to 27 minutes of flight time with the improved Skydio 2+ Battery. It can be purchased in a few different kit styles with varying accessories. You’ll likely want the $1,549 Skydio 2+ Sports Kit, which includes the Beacon (more on that later), three batteries, two extra propellers, a dual charger, memory card and more.

The company put together a pretty epic YouTube video showing its drone flying alongside some downhill mountain bikers. Check it out here:

The Skydio Beacon: While Skydio 2+ does not necessitate a GPS tracker, it stands out thanks to a unique accessory: the Beacon. This roughly $200 accessory provides GPS tracking. That’s helpful if the Skydio 2+ can no longer see you (such as flying in an extremely dense area where the drone is higher than the trees and you’re on the ground). The Skydio 2+ Beacon extends the range of your phone up to 3km when using the Skydio App.

Custom RTH: An important feature of Skydio drones is the ability to set a custom return to home (RTH) point, so you can send a drone to a place of your choice should you get disconnected. To set up your custom RTH behaviors and designate a home point ahead of your next mountain bike ride:

  1. Open the Skydio App
  2. Select Settings > Drone >
    Return Behavior
  3. Set your desired Return Height, Speed, and other behaviors
  4. Launch your Skydio 2/2+
  5. Select the Home icon
  6. Select either Phone or Launch Point as your return location
  7. OR go to the Map to select and hold a custom Home point

Check out my full review of the Skydio 2+ drone here.

The best drone-like cameras for mountain bikers (that don’t actually fly)

While drones are great (hey, this blog is devoted to them), they’re not always the ideal tool for filming. You might be biking in a place where it’s illegal to fly drones, such as a National Park. Maybe you just don’t want to put in the effort to set up your drone. After all, even the impressive 46-minute battery life on the DJI Mavic 3 could cut short a ride. And perhaps the drone is just too cumbersome to pack, particularly when a tiny action camera can fit in your pocket.

I know you came looking for a drone, but I sometimes recommend people don’t get a drone. If that’s you, consider these action cameras instead:

DJI Osmo Action 4: best overall action camera for people who love drones

The DJI Osmo Action 4 is the latest and greatest in DJI’s action camera line. The Osmo Action 4 has plenty of additional accessories well-suited for mountain bikers. That includes an action helmet chin mount, which is just $15, or a $32.99 action handlebar mount.

I absolutely love this video showing exactly how the DJI Osmo Action 4 is the perfect camera for your bike ride. That stabilization algorithm really shows off here — check out how smooth this footage is:

While a bit pricier than its predecessor, the DJI Action 3, it majorly improves upon image quality and color performance. Much of that chalks up to a larger sensor than what previous Osmo Action cameras offered. Not only is the 1/1.3″ sensor the largest of any of the Osmo action cameras to date, but it’s even larger than the GoPro Hero 11‘s 1/1.7 sensor (and it also touts a bigger equivalent pixel size).

Purchase the DJI Osmo Action 4 from Amazon for $489

DJI Osmo Action 3 (budget pick)

DJI Osmo Action 3 action camera
Photo of the Osmo Action 3 camera courtesy of DJI

If you’re on a tighter budget, you’re completely okay going with the DJI Action 3.

Debuting in the spring of 2023 as DJI’s third action camera, it iterates on the DJI Osmo Action, which first launched in 2019. The camera is small enough to fit in your pocket, and its best feature is its battery. The Osmo Action 3 features a 1770mAh Extreme Battery, capable of up to 160 minutes of recording time. Compared to Action 2, which could only offer 70 minutes alone.

Osmo Action 3 has three electronic image stabilization options, including RockSteady 3.0, HorizonSteady, and HorizonBalancing. RockSteady 3.0 eliminates camera shake in all directions on video up to 4k/120fps, providing a stable and immersive first-person perspective.

The DJI Action 3 is best suited for action sports like mountain biking. To minimize the chances that you lose your camera in the middle of an extreme adventure, the camera has a built-in mounting system that instantly and securely clips the camera to handlebars, helmets, and more.

The DJI Action 3 begins at $299 without the dual-screen combo or $399 for the dual-screen combo.

Check out my full review of the DJI Action 2 camera here.

What are your favorite drones for mountain biking? Leave a comment below!

And for more reviews and analysis, check out my guides to the best camera drones, and the best follow-me drones.

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