Cycling with Action Camera

June 21, 2021 version

To view the rest of this page, please turn your device to landscape mode.

(And for the best experience, you may want to re-visit it on a larger screen)

camera on helmet camera on handlebar Recently I have got a basic action camera to try to use while cycling. At first I put it on my helmet, later on, on the handlebar. The latter setup gave somewhat better results, but on rough trails/roads I got extremely shaky videos in both cases. I have managed to smooth the shaking to some extent in post-processing, but the best approach may be to make time-lapse videos.
To play the videos, click on the buttons inside the minimized videos below. It may take time, depending on your Internet speed, before a video loads and starts playing.
The Video Playback Speed indicator (1x, 2x, ... between the and buttons) always shows the speedup/slowdown with respect to the real-time speed of my cycling.

My first ride with this camera was from below the ridge above uptown Elkford, on Oct. 7, 2020. I took the video in three parts that are presented in the following three rows. The videos on the left are unchanged, as recorded by the camera. Those on the right are my attempts to make them less shaky:
Part 1: From about 1790 m a.s.l. down to about 1600 m:
Duration: 8 min 53 sec
This smoothed version was produced by speeding up the original recording 4 times, and then slowing it back to the original speed, which amounts roughly to discarding about 3/4 of all the frames:
Duration: 8 min 43 sec
Part 2: Continuing down on the much more used section of the trail, down to about 1410 m:
Duration: 9 min 8 sec
Different way of smoothing: Here no frames were dropped, but the subsequent frames were interpolated and combined:
Duration: 8 min 57 sec
Part 3: The remaining relatively flat part (but still almost one 3rd of the whole ride), dropping only about another 40 m down to the town:
Duration: 4 min 21.6 sec
This last part of the ride led mostly through an already darkening forest. No smoothing would be worth the effort here. But this video is encoded at twice the real speed.
  ↑↑
  Are the two smoothed scaled-down videos above easier to watch than their original versions on the left?
Do you agree that the second smoothing method (used for the 2nd part of the ride) better preserves the original experience of the ride while removing some of the shakiness?

Riding down the same trail on October 31, after the first snow stayed on the ground for a while. I do not have a fat bike, so I started this ride at a lower elevation than on Oct. 7, just below 1700 m a.s.l., at a spot to which it was still relatively easy to ride up in the snow deepening with increasing elevation:
This time, instead of a video, I was recording still frames every 4 seconds. These were then encoded into a video at the rate of one frame per second. So played at normal speed, this video is 4 times faster than my actual cycling speed, which is indicated by '4x' in the video's speed indicator field:
Duration: 7 min 24 sec
It was Oct. 31, and it so happened that when I got back into town, the Halloween trick-or-treating had just been starting:
Duration: 1 min 5 sec

Oct. 9: Riding up to my Mt. Gass trail-head, and then down again:
This was actually the first time-lapse series I made. The stills were shot at 12 second intervals, and the whole series covers about the last 4 km of my ride up. The video was encoded with frame-rate 0.8 (i.e., the frames are separated in the video by 1.25 seconds, which is a 9.6 times speed-up of my real speed (the whole video represents about 53 minutes of the real time, and this real time is shown on the left of my custom video controls):
Duration: 5 min 29 sec
After doing some clearing of the beginning of the hiking trail, I recorded my ride down as video in real time. I did not go straight down, but first took a turn up toward Mt. Lyall (of which just a little is included in this video).
Duration: 5 min 32.5 sec


No smoothing was tried for this video.


Nov. 2, 2020: Cycling on the Trans-Canada Trail from Elkford in the southern direction toward Sparwood: I recorded parts of this about 40 km long bicycle ride, until the camera battery died. First half was on the TCT, then I continued by the Grave Lake till the entrance of the Elkview mines. This time the camera was mounted on the left-hand side of the handlebars all the time. It was mostly very windy which can be often heard in the two videos on the right:
1. Time-lapse series made soon after the start of the trail. Frames taken every 5 seconds, and presented in the video only 0.5 sec apart (at frame-rate 2), thus sped-up 10 times:
Duration: 1 min 31.5 sec
2. Later on I switched to real-time video. Here some more interesting parts of these recordings are stitched together:
Duration: 11 min 51 sec
3. Back to a time-lapse series. Same intervals as above (in 1.). Here I was already on the Elkview mine road, by the Grave Prairie and Grave Lake:
Duration: 4 min 22 sec
4. And the last seconds of the battery life in real video again:
Duration: 38 sec

Nov. 3: The beginning of the Trans-Canada Trail again: On this segment of the TCT trail, the nicest part is near Elkford, and so I returned there the next day to make a few more photos with a better camera, at irregular intervals. So this was not taken by an action camera, it is not a true time-lapse series, and time in this video has no meaning (°÷°) :
Duration: 17 sec