Today we are going to be going over our ultimate Zhiyun Rider M review as we have been reviewing a large number of wearable gimbals recently and in our opinion, at the time of writing at least, the Rider M is tied joint top of the market along with the Evo SS so we thought we should publish a dedicated review. With Zhiyun being one of the two leading brands in the gimbal space, the Rider M has all of the excellent stabilizer features that people have come to know and love from their handheld gimbal range but this time it’s all in a compact, lightweight, wearable gimbal stabilizer.
Now, in our opinion, the Rider M is an excellent bit of kit that does an excellent job of providing you with some of the best image stabilization available on the market right now but the gimbal just hasn’t taken off as well as the competition within the community. In our opinion, this is due to the fact that the Evo SS is almost $100 cheaper at the time of writing while offering almost identical performance. As the majority of people who purchase wearable gimbals are action or extreme sports enthusiasts rather than professional level videographers, we would imagine they rather save the $100 and get a very similar image quality out of the Evo SS.
That said though, we will still be going over our full Zhiyun Rider M review as we know that there are an absolute ton of Zhiyun fans out there. If you have any of the Zhiyun handheld gimbals in your collection then you can also have an easier time due to many of the accessories for their handheld gimbal range being compatible with their wearable gimbals too. Additionally, if you are looking to upload your footage to social media or get a YouTube channel off the ground then you are going to be wanting the absolute best image quality possible. This means that the additional $100 on the price tag of the Rider M over the Evo SS may be worth it in the long run for a project like this where you can potentially earn your money back via your YouTube channel.
Performance And Functionality
Due to being designed for use with the GoPro action camera range, the Rider M is able to support a maximum load capacity of 0.35 pounds that easily covers even the heaviest GoPro camera currently available at the time of writing. In fact, you have around 0.6 pounds of load capacity free after mounting even the heaviest GoPro model to the gimbal so you can further improve the image quality that you are able to capture by also adding a dedicated GoPro lens if you wish.
When it comes to the maximum battery life of the Zhiyun Rider M, Zhiyun has implemented their long-lasting battery technology that they developed for their super heavy DSLR camera gimbals. This has enabled them to push up the maximum battery life of the Rider M to the fiver and a half hour mark ensuring that it has the longest possible battery life on the market right now.
Although this may not sound like much, when you are out and about away from a power source the longer battery life on the Rider M can really come in handy. Especially if you are doing your action sport of choice in a new area and end up finding a new route towards the end of your session that you want to record. Although we have not actually tested this personally, we have also seen a number of reports from people who own the Rider M who say they take a power bank out with them in their backpacks so they are able to top up the battery life of the gimbal during their breaks to ensure it is able to last for their full session.
As you would expect from a modern wearable gimbal, a bunch of accessories are also included with your purchase of the Zhiyun Rider M as standard to allow you to use it for your sport of choice. These include a helmet mount, a chest mount, and a selfie stick with various handlebar mounts also being available if required too. On thing that we would say, and this is not just specific to the Zhiyun Rider M is that handlebar mounts with wearable gimbals can actually lower the image quality that you are able to capture due to the vibrations from the bikes frame. If you have a bike with great suspension then this should not be an issue but mounting the gimbal to your chest, helmet, or shoulder is almost always going to allow you to capture much better image quality of your adventures.
All in all, when it comes to the performance and functionality of the Rider M, Zhiyun have done an outstanding job and produced one of the best gimbals currently available on the market right now and we have no doubt in our mind that it will help improve the image quality that you are able to capture. As we said earlier though, unless you absolutely need the very best image quality possible, the Evo SS may be a better option due to its lower price tag and very similar level of image quality.
User Interface And Control System
The gimbal also comes with three main modes to allow you to adjust the performance of the gimbal as required. The modes are follow mode, lock mode, and selfie mode, but in all honesty, we would imagine that most people would be using follow and lock mode for the vast majority of their activities. Anyway, all three modes perform well and offer the same excellent levels of image stabilization to allow you to capture the best image quality possible.
You are also able to pick up the Zhiyun wireless remote control or a one of the remotes from a third-party brand for the Zhiyun Rider M to add some wireless remote control functionality to the gimbal if needed. Although these remote controls do work well, they can be around the $50 mark depending on where you purchase them and the free Zhiyun smartphone app that we will cover below offers almost identical functionality without the price tag and chances are, you will always have your phone with you anyway.
As we mentioned above, the app also allows you to remotely control your Zhiyun Rider M as well as tweak some key settings on the gimbal within seconds rather than going through the onboard system. When it comes to customizing the settings of the gimbal though, we would imagine that most of our readers will be totally fine simply using the default config that Zhiyun load onto the Rider M prior to shipping.
All in all, the Zhiyun smartphone app is now a solid gimbal accessory and is well worth downloading if you do choose to purchase the Zhiyun Rider M. In our opinion, the app is only going to become more and more advanced over the coming years as the new gimbals from Zhiyun have more and more features that need the app and this is only good news for potential additional functionality between the app and the Rider M.
Build Quality And Design
As far as design goes, there really isn’t much you can do with a wearable at this point as the current design is used by pretty much every brand out there due to it being easy to use while offering great performance. One thing that we would say about the design of the Zhiyun Rider M is that the battery door has a screw lock on it and we feel a regular click lock would be better. Now only can the screw be a pain to unlock but it is tiny and can easily go missing meaning you would be unable to secure the battery door. We hope Zhiyun change this for the next version of the gimbal as in our opinion, the higher price tag and this battery screw lock system are the only things holding the gimbal back.
Question -Does the Zhiyun Rider M have a mounting thread?
Answer – Yes, the gimbal uses the standard quarter-inch thread that is the industry standard.
Question – Is the Zhiyun Rider M waterproof?
Answer – No and at the time of writing, no wearable gimbals are waterproof. The Rider M can be used in rain but we would always recommend that you dry it as soon as possible.
Question – Can you mount your smartphone with the Zhiyun Rider M?
Answer – No, the Rider M has been designed for use with GoPro action cameras.
Question – Can you only use action cameras from the GoPro range with the Zhiyun Rider M?
Answer – Officially you are only able to use the GoPro action camera range with the Rider M. That said, there are many cheap GoPro alternative cameras on the market that essentially copy the gorm factor and dimensions of the official GoPro range and can fit in the Rider M.
As we mentioned back at the start of the article, the Zhiyun Rider M is a solid wearable gimbal stabilizer that can make a great addition to your camera accessories and help improve the image quality that you are able to capture. That said though, we are confident that the majority of our readers can pick up the Evo SS instead, save around $100, and get a very similar level of image quality while also saving some money.