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Cervellum Hindsight 35 – first impressions

Commuter, Review, Road Bike 39 4011

Cerevellum Hinsight 35 cyclo-computer with rear viewAbout a week before I left for China, Evan Solida, the designer and founder of Cerevellum, dropped off one of the first production Hindsight 35 units for me to try out. Some of you may remember the test ride I did with one of his early Gameboy based prototypes back in 2008…and I think you will agree that the design has come a long way since then. I have posted about Evan’s Hindsight concept a few times in the past as the concept transformed from an idea into a real product. If you are not familiar with it, you can read more about the product and what it does on the company’s website.

I only had a few days to ride with the Hindsight before I started traveling, so this will be a quick post based on a few rides. I plan to continue using it when I return, and will follow up with a long term review later. For now though, I want to share a few first impressions from the rides I did with Hindsight before I left.

Cerevellum Hindsight 35 unboxedInstallation was pretty straightforward. The bracket for the head unit clamps to the bars on either side of the stem. The head unit sides into the bracket and the camera/light module connects to it via a cable that runs along the top tube (fastened with zip ties).  The camera module attaches to the seatpost or seatstay with an elastic ring (similar to the ones used on Garmin mounts). The part that fits against the post is rounded with a v-shaped groove in the center, so it fits well on a round or aero seatpost. I tried it on both and it was very secure with no movement on either bike. A standard wheel magnet and fork sensor are included to provide the speed data, and optional ANT+ accessories for cadence,  heart rate, etc. will be available. You don’t have to buy a heart rate monitor from Cerevellum though. I paired my Garmin heart rate monitor with no problems. After the unit is installed, you can choose wheel size, and other settings in the menu. Also, you can choose whether video is standard view from the camera, or flipped horizontally to provide a mirror image. My first ride was with the standard view which was a bit confusing, but I believe that mirror image will be the default setting in production. The flipped mirror view with cars passing on the left is definitely more useful out on the road.

Cerevellum Hindsight 35 head unitAfter I installed the Hindsight, It took a bit of time to get used to the size of the unit. As you can see in the picture above, it is much larger that the Garmin 500 that I am used to riding with. Out on the road though, the 3.5 screen seems like a good size. You have a menu bar, which can be set at the top or bottom of the screen, for cyclo-computer functions, but most of the screen real estate is dedicated to the rear view. The transflective color screen works very well too. My first long ride with the unit was on a sunny day in the mountains of North and South Carolina. I was going from full sun to full shade on the narrow mountain roads, and the display would automatically adjust to the changing light conditions. The picture at the top of the post was taken after I had just entered the shade, and the one to the left was taken in full sun. As you can see the screen was quite readable in both conditions.

Cerevellum Hindsight 35 rear camera moduleAs you ride, video data is recorded to internal Flash memory on a continuous 5 minute loop. In the event of a crash, an accelerometer stops the recording, leaving you with a video file of the time leading up to the incident. That is the safety feature, but you can also stop the video manually by pressing a button anytime you want, after you win a sprint finish for instance. The video frame rate, bit rate, and recording time can all be adjusted in the settings menu, but the lowest settings are recommended for long rides to conserve battery life. That is something I have not really played around with yet, but I want to try to optimize the settings for longer battery life. I did one long 5 hour ride with the unit recording the entire time, and the battery died at around the 4 ½  hour mark. That is certainly long enough for the vast majority of my rides, but occasionally I like to go longer than that. I am spoiled by the battery life on my Garmin, and I certainly don’t expect a unit that is recording video on a large color display to last anywhere near as long, but I would like to find out what the max battery life is. I’ll follow up on that in a future post.

The unit was great for seeing cars approaching, but I also really loved being able to see the cyclists behind me in group rides. Rather than gauging shadows of a front wheel, I could tell exactly where the person behind me was if I raised the pace a bit, and I could even see the facial expression to let me know if they were hanging on comfortably or not. This would be a pretty cool tool in a race, so I am going to try that soon (if I can get away with it). As I continue to ride with the Cerevellum Hindsight 35, let me know if you have questions that I could address in a longer term follow-up post. I have really enjoyed using it so far, but I want to make sure that I answer all the questions about it that you might have about the functionality of the unit for different types of cycling.



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  1. Ἀντισθένης June 25, 2012 at 9:22 pm -  Reply

    As cool as this is, maybe they should come out with a camera that links to smartphones: phone, GPS and camera in one.

  2. Astro June 25, 2012 at 9:23 pm -  Reply

    That point about in a race being able to see a face as you put on some speed could become the next must have for crits. Still a very cool idea as we all know cars are not always friendly.

    • art June 27, 2012 at 9:44 am -  Reply

      And then, when you cause a massive pileup by looking behind you instead of where you’re going, you’ll have some great video of it.

  3. Bryan Willman June 25, 2012 at 9:42 pm -  Reply

    When the battery died at 4.5 hours, did that take down the whole unit, or just the recorder? Put another way, if you don’t care about recording, but really want the “rear view mirror that works” function, how long will that last?

    How long does it take to turn on and off? (Meaning, would it be practical to turn it off on trails and then back on for roads with cars?)

    How good is the picture at night? (May be awkward to get that data for a few months..)

    • James Thomas June 29, 2012 at 6:45 pm -  Reply

      The whole unit went off when the battery ran out. If I had not been recording the entire time, I am sure it would have lasted longer. I’ll experiment with that when I am back home.

      The start-up time is pretty quick, so I don’t think it would be an issue turning it on and off if you wished.

      I’ll check on the visibility of the screen at night.

  4. Murali June 25, 2012 at 10:12 pm -  Reply

    It still feels like a large complicated Rube Goldberg contraption to me in comparison to the simplest solution to rear-view, which is a mirror. Sure, it adds video recording to the package, but you could add that with just a camera which would have an enormously better battery life since it would not have a display.

    Sometime 3 separate, simple tools work better than a big Swiss Army knife.

    • Peter June 26, 2012 at 4:31 pm -  Reply

      I could not agree more. Even as complicated as cars and motorcycles have become, they still rely on mirrors to see behind. Some RVs, SUVs and luxury cars have rear view cameras, but for the most part they are for backing up, and because of the blind spots that they have. Cyclists don’t back up and have no blind spot. Cool invention, but I’d sooner mount a kickstand on my bike than one of these.

    • Ordinary Bob June 27, 2012 at 1:21 pm -  Reply

      Mirrors are indispensable, and don’t require batteries or calibration.

  5. CJ Reinish June 26, 2012 at 6:16 am -  Reply

    When will the Hindsight 35 be available to purchase?

  6. Mike June 26, 2012 at 12:51 pm -  Reply

    No offense, but there is no way people should be allowed to race with one of these, and if anyone tried to and the officials allowed it you might get through the second mile before someone next to you reached under your seat and unplugged it.

    • art June 27, 2012 at 9:42 am -  Reply

      This is going to be almost as bad as riding next to the bozo with his eyes glued to his power meter.

  7. Bubba Nicholson June 28, 2012 at 6:05 pm -  Reply

    “Smart” rearview cameras will become standard equipment on all new bicycles by 2050. By smart I mean able to identify and warn of traffic risks from behind and from all other directions, to signal away vehicles on collision course automatically and to apply brakes preventing accidents. Meanwhile we have cerevello 1 to gather most of our data into one place for us.

    Mirror view will be best, agreed.
    Will the unit accept supplemental battery charging, save from a generator or another battery?
    Will the unit have “auto on” feature in addition to the light-compensated screen?

    • James Thomas June 29, 2012 at 6:51 pm -  Reply

      I would assume it could accept supplemental battery charging as long as you have a USB connection from the source. I’ll check on that though…and the auto on/off feature as well.

  8. J.L.Garrett June 29, 2012 at 5:19 pm -  Reply


    • James Thomas June 29, 2012 at 6:40 pm -  Reply

      It is $299.50. More info here.

  9. mzungu54 July 2, 2012 at 1:04 am -  Reply

    I’ll never buy one. battery life is an issue. It can use a easy access(on break/shift lever) button to turn it on when needed. and this company will be out of biz as soon as smome one comes up with an Android/iPhone camera plug in for their smart phone that includes GPS.

    • JaFO July 2, 2012 at 8:18 am -  Reply

      You mean like the android/iOS app for the Contour camera ?
      I really wonder if a wireless connection can deliver the video as reliable as a wired connection.

      Plus there would be additional battery life to worry about (both camera and phone),
      And you wouldn’t have the combination of heart rate and cadence, unless you add extra gadgets to your ride.

      Besides, the first generation of a product is always more than a little iffy.

  10. Lee July 4, 2012 at 4:42 pm -  Reply

    Even with mirrors you’ll experience some blind spot. It may be your head, your body or leg, or maybe you’ll get a distorted fish eye view or distortion by vibrations. With the Hindsight you’ll have full visual access to what’s going on behind you. I look at it this way: not only will I have the functions of a bike computer, but I’ll have the additional function of a rear view camera, which some car makers are just coming out with, AND in the event of a rear end collision I’ll have a video that will aid my legal representation should the event carry into court.

  11. dan fitch July 9, 2012 at 12:28 pm -  Reply

    Is the recorded video downloadable to my laptop?

    • James Thomas July 9, 2012 at 1:16 pm -  Reply

      Yes, the last recorded loop of video, or the saved section if it is stopped manually, can be downloaded as an .avi file.

  12. Matt July 16, 2012 at 2:19 pm -  Reply

    I have been riding with my hindsight 35 for about a week. I definitely would need to ride with it for a lot longer to form a better opinion, but my general assessment is that you can only clearly see what is behind you about half the time. The biggest issue is glare on the screen, particularly when you move in and out of shade and sun. That combined with a relatively small screen that is moving, bumping that is all part of normal riding. When conditions are good (overcast) it is actually quite useful (eg. It would be great for Brits!) I particularly like it when a row of cars is overtaking on a narrow road. I can always hear the first car, but i’m never sure how many more cars are going to pass. This eliminates the problem. What would make this product much more useful/cool would be a way to detect a closing vehicle from the rear and a computer enhanced represenatational grahics of the road and cars (like gps units). With a monitor this size and with the glare/brightness issues, there just aren’t enough pixels and contrast to make out what is what till it is pretty close

  13. JoeKing July 17, 2012 at 12:51 pm -  Reply

    I admire the effort of seeing a project thru from conception to market..but I don’t see the purpose, or more accurately, the value a camera (or mirror) has to protect a cyclist from being runover.

    Seriously, how can you possibly look at EVERY car behind you & judge its trajectory? If you did, you’d spend as much or more time looking behind than in front; which is even more dangerous.

    Sadly, the car that is going to kill you will probably be driven by an idiot texting swerving 50 feet before they hit you..& even if you saw it coming, what could you do about it..accelerate to 50mph?

  14. Matt July 18, 2012 at 5:12 pm -  Reply

    Having used it, I can definitely say it has value. I wouldn’t say it’s a must have device, however. It’s great for left hand turns where you need to cross over traffic,and a look over shoulder takes your attention away from what really matters- what is in front of you.. I don’t think the value is so much as saving my life, but it allows me to be a more considerate bike rider, letting me be more aware of overtaking vehicles and pulling right. I can afford it, so for me, it’s just a fun experiment.

    • JaFO July 19, 2012 at 6:33 pm -  Reply

      it might make you more aware, but it also one of the indicators that other people have that you are going to do something other than ride in a straight line.
      It might make signalling your intent even more important than it already is.

      • Matt July 19, 2012 at 7:29 pm -  Reply

        I don’t think it’s a matter of if I’m riding in a straight line. A lot of my miles are on very lightly traveled mountain roads. At high speed (40mph+) it’s nice to ride out of the crap in the berm. Having a little advance notice of what is coming up behind me gives me a (little) better chance to plan my line through the corners.

    • Matt July 30, 2012 at 11:14 am -  Reply

      Yeah, that’s a great review.

    • James Thomas July 30, 2012 at 11:20 am -  Reply

      Interesting, but that is a different product. I haven’t heard of this Owl unit. I wonder if it records like the Cerevellum or just provides a real time view.

      • Jeffery Stewart August 2, 2012 at 8:27 pm -  Reply

        James, thanks for your great review of Hindsite 35
        I am a Senior who just loves riding my `Electric Assist, bike and I am looking for a product like this that can give an indication as to who is behind me. More problems can occur with people like Seniors who just can not turn around and keep the bike steady at the same time. I ride mainly on Cycleways and just like to see who is behind.
        I am looking for something that could utilise the Smartphone and maybe incorporate the App BikeBrain (brilliant), with a rear view camera. More e-bikes are being sold each day. I think the fact their is a battery for the e-bike could also solve the the problem of battery rundown?
        Your review is great and so are the comments. This products really has a great potential with social riders e.g. Seniors and I hope they improve it more and maybe bring down the price a little, There is a big audience out there .
        Finally is it available in Australia?

    • JaFO July 30, 2012 at 2:55 pm -  Reply

      *ouch* … then again it’s true that this is basically a useless product if you only use it as a rear-view mirror.
      As an outdoor camera for bikes it probably works a bit better and it has the advantage of at least having immediate feedback of the recording …

      • Matt July 30, 2012 at 3:17 pm -  Reply

        I was being a bit facetious. That link isn’t a review and it isn’t even about this product, but I understand the skepticism about the concept of the product. My bottom line on most products is “Would I replace it if it got stolen or broken?” is yet to be answered in my mind.
        It’s still fun and it works fine as a cyclocomputer. If it doesn’t work as a rear view, I’ll point it my water bottles to keep track of my water.

  15. David Bernstein July 30, 2012 at 11:09 am -  Reply

    I’ve been riding with a Hindsight 35 for about two weeks now and my experience just doesn’t match yours. Like you, I love being able to see the proximity of riders behind me in a paceline, but seeing their facial expressions? I don’t think so. Even in optimal lighting conditions (overcast), there’s no way you can see the facial expressions of the riders behind you. The camera and screen resolutions just aren’t that good.

    • James Thomas July 30, 2012 at 11:36 am -  Reply

      David, I actually thought the display resolution was pretty good. It is certainly not comparable to an iPhone’s retina display (or the display of most other smartphones), but I could see the face of a person drafting directly behind. I should clarify that a close-up “face view” required pointing the camera up a bit though. Pointing the camera level to the ground (as shown in the photos of the screen accompanying the post) worked well for traffic, but I could only see the chest and torso of a rider drafting a few inches from my wheel. For one of the group rides I did, I tipped the camera up and could make out faces, but that wouldn’t have been an ideal set-up for viewing traffic. Give it a shot with someone right behind you. I know that is not really the intended use of the rearview, but I am curious to hear if you can make out facial expressions of a rider directly on your wheel if you adjust the camera angle a bit.

      PS: Looking forward to your review on the Fredcast and/or the Spokesmen.

  16. Jeffery Stewart August 2, 2012 at 8:36 pm -  Reply

    with reference to my comments regarding Seniors and e-bikes.
    The App `BikeBrain’ are also tied to a company that sells a unit that attaches to the handlebar of the bike which makes the iPhone waterproof and accessible. Also has a recharge unit if needed.

  17. Dick Fredin December 7, 2012 at 4:31 am -  Reply

    Too bad it can not be bought in Sweden “Europe, I have sent letters to five times Cervellum no response, I will not pay 100 euros in shipping the

  18. Ervin April 14, 2014 at 2:52 pm -  Reply

    Hi. Can you tell me some actual details about this, especially how much degree is the view angle of the camera? Because we would like to use it at shell eco marathon competition, so its a very important detail for our, how exactly we can see the other cars behind our car on the road. Thank you for your answer!

  19. Tomeu September 17, 2014 at 2:24 pm -  Reply

    Hello, where you can buy in Spain I could not find it.
    Thank you

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