Conveying the sense of speed on a bike is best done with video. As you may have seen in previous articles, I have done this using an iPhone held in my hand. It’s a bit risky cycling single handed, especially down an alpine pass. Whilst the footage is okay, I decided to try my hand using a GoPro Hero 5.
There are various places you can install a GoPro. The typical places are handlebars, chest, shoulder and helmet (on top, or to one side). Personally, I prefer shots from chest height as it seems to convey more of the action.
I got hold of the Chesty from GoPro and together with the housing, this was quite easy to install. The footage is not bad because your body tends to act as suspension, but it cannot smooth out the big bumps. (Incidentally, the GoPro 8 has much better smoothing built in). What is clearly evident is that when you lean into the corners, the picture leans with you. Therefore you get shots that convey the leaning effect. This might appeal to you, but what if you want super level footage?
Introducing the FeiyuTech WG2X wearable gimbal. This consists of motors that compensate for movement so that the GoPro is always level. It takes some patience to get right. You must balance the GoPro before turning on the gimbal so that the motors have less work to do. Balancing means making sure the GoPro is more or less in the right orientation. Then, when you switch on the WG2X, the motors will ensure the GoPro is oriented perfectly.
You can adjust the elevation (up/down) or roll (sideways) using the Feiyutech app which runs on Bluetooth. Connection is easy to establish, and you can even use a virtual joystick to move the GoPro.
The experience on the bike was interesting. You need to make sure the Chesty is tight and high enough up on your chest to cater for the hunched over position on a bicycle. Attach the WG2X by means of the provided mount. This was easy to do. It does of course stick out quite a bit in front of you so I wouldn’t want to do a whole ride like that. What I did was to put the gimbal and GoPro in my jersey pocket until I wanted to use it (in my case for the descent).
Then, switch on the gimbal and the GoPro. I had a few teething problems to begin with; you have to make sure the orientation and balance are correct. If you don’t, it may swivel around. After a few minutes experimenting I could see the GoPro was tracking perfectly. Despite the bumps and curves of the descent, I was surprised at how smooth the footage was. Bear in mind this is the first couple of times I am using it, so I am sure there is room for improvement.
Videos first without Gimbal (which starts a bit higher up the mountain and is a slightly longer video), then with Gimbal. What you notice is that with the Gimbal the camera is further away from the body so you see less of the handlebars.
Please judge for yourself by reviewing the youtube videos. I would be interested in your experiences.