An Open Appeal to Someone With a Really Expensive Camera

05.5.2011 | 12:48 pm

201105051001.jpg A Note from Fatty About Registering for the 100 Miles of Nowhere, World Bicycle Relief Edition: You have until 6:00pm (ET) today to register for the 100 Miles of Nowhere, the proceeds of which will go to World Bicycle Relief. Check yesterday’s post for details.

Consider this: your registration buys just about half a bike, and that bike changes a life in a big way. And if, by chance, you register for both the LiveStrong and the WBR versions of the event, well, you get doubleplus good karma. Or your money back.


An Open Appeal to Someone With a Really Expensive Camera

I love super-duper slow-motion videos of everyday stuff. Like seeing someone get slapped in the face:

Or seeing someone get a soccer ball in the face:

Or seeing someone getting a water balloon in the face:

OK, it’s possible, I suppose, that I have chosen three needlessly violent examples here. To level things out a bit, here’s proof that non-evil things are at least moderately awesome in slow motion:

Did you know that spaghetti always breaks into multiple pieces when it snaps? Because I did not know that.

Oh, and water drops and fire and bubbles and other stuff are all fun to watch in slow motion, too.

But there’s something missing from the world of slow motion video. And I’ll bet you can guess what it is, what with the nature of this blog and stuff.

Bikes and Slow-Mo

I don’t know why — I suspect communists, but that may just be because of all the “duck and cover” exercises I did as an elementary school student — but there seems to be a serious lack of super slow-motion video of bikes on the Internet.

And that’s a crying shame.

I think you’ll join with me in wishing you could see, right this second, some or all of the following:

  • Road sprint: In a bunch sprint at the end of a road stage, sprinters are applying huge forces to their bikes and selves. What do the handlebars look like as the sprinters wrench on them with all their might? How about the frames? How about the sprinters’ legs and arms? I imagine that — even with claims of 70% more rigid frames every single year – that there’d be some pretty impressive wobble in the frames. Oh, and lots of slow motion spit, too.
  • Carbon MTB flex: As I rattled down Hog Hollow — a rocky doubletrack — on my FattyFly yesterday, I wondered to myself: what was going on with my bike? With every rock I hit, what was going on with the wheel? Were the spokes flexing? How about the rims? How much were the tires compressing? Since my frame and fork (and seatpost and handlebars) are carbon — which is really just a fancy plastic — would slow-mo reveal they ripple like jello as I took hit after hit? I would love to know.
  • Fatty Flex: Oh, I guess I might as well admit that I’d be interested to see precisely how much my arms (and, alas, stomach) jiggle would be evident as I descended a rocky trail.
  • MTB Suspension: What does the suspendy part of a suspension fork look like as you fly down a washboard road? How does it look when you land and bottom out after a big drop?
  • MTB Wheel Taco: I once saw a guy drop down a steep gully, with the intent of riding up the other side. Unfortunately for him, when he reached the uphill part he had too much momentum too far forward and his front wheel crumpled. Unfortunately for those of us watching, it happened too fast for us to see aforementioned crumpling. I would love to see, in super slow-motion, the way the tire blew off the rim and then the whole front wheel just imploded. In fact, I’ll bet the guy who crashed would attempt to replicate the crash if he were told it would be filmed at 4000 frames per second..
  • Mountain bike crash: I don’t just want to see what happens to a bike when there’s a crash. I want to see it all. What does a roadie look like when he hits the deck? I’m pretty sure there’s a helmet bounce, but what does it look like really? How high do you bounce? How far do you slide? And what does it look like, frame by frame, as your legs, chest and arms get cheese-grated by a gravel road? OK, on second thought, maybe I don’t want to see this one.
  • Helmet crush: I’ve destroyed three helmets during my cycling career (should I put “career” in quotes there? Probably.), which means helmets have saved me from serious injury three times. That’s pretty impressive. I’d love to see what the helmet looks like as it absorbs the energy that otherwise would have gone to your skull. (Fine, you can use a crash test dummy for this one).  

The Problem, and The Solution

The only reason I don’t go out with my high-speed camera and start recording all these things (I’m pretty sure I could get volunteer riders for me to film) is that high-speed video gear is kinda expensive.

Thousands and thousands of dollars worth of expensive, from what I understand.

Plus, those cameras aren’t exactly point and shoot. You’ve actually got to know how to use them. Which would be a problem for me.

So, here’s what I’m thinking. Someone who reads this probably has access to — and maybe even knows how to use — these special high-speed cameras. Or if you don’t have access to the cameras, maybe you know a guy. Who knows a guy. Whatever.

The point is, there are people out there with high-speed cameras, and at least some of you have got to be sick of filming while your friend pops yet another water balloon. Email me. I’ll get my friends together. We’ll make awesome videos.

Cuz really, I just have to know what a fully-rigid carbon MTB frame looks like when it’s bombing down a rocky field.

PS: For those of you wondering whether I’m on track to keeping (or giving away) my still-boxed Superfly 100, I am now posting my weight every day at the bottom of the sidebar on this site. Since I’ve lost less than a pound in the first three days, I’d say I need to step up my efforts somehow. Which means that maybe if you’ve been on the fence about donating, perhaps your chances aren’t so bad after all. And don’t feel bad about betting against me. Hey, if I don’t lose the weight, I’m going to give the bike to somebody. It may as well be you, right?


  1. Comment by KM | 05.5.2011 | 12:59 pm

    I too would like to see a full carbon rig during a rocky descent. Buy why stop there? How about a comparision of steel, aluminum and carbon frames on a rocky descent??! I’ll donate my steeel SS for the job! As for technical help, you’re on your own. I’m lucky I can swap out cables w/o much trauma. I couldn’t imagine what a high speed camera would be like. How you doing with the weight loss? You probably need a snack after reading this…enjoy.

  2. Comment by Grizzly Adam | 05.5.2011 | 1:02 pm

    I’ve got a camera that can handle pretty slow slow-motion. Maybe not super-slow. Let’s get together and experiment with it.

  3. Comment by Slug | 05.5.2011 | 1:13 pm

    Here’s a slow-mo from Paris-Roubaix.

  4. Comment by Don-S | 05.5.2011 | 1:15 pm

    Maybe not ’super’ slow motion, but still pretty slow…. The Dutch TV-show ‘Holland Sport’ made a short film that shows how the guys in Paris-Roubaix get shaken on the cobbles. Pretty cool! (slow motion starts at about 0′55)

    And I do know how my bike looks in super slow-motion, but that’s because I just got back from a super slow ride with too much headwinds…

  5. Comment by Don-S | 05.5.2011 | 1:15 pm

    Damn, Slug was just here before me… That’s how slow I am today…

  6. Comment by Microchip | 05.5.2011 | 1:16 pm

    I’d love to see the sprints in slow-motion. Interesting idea. Not much of that kind of stuff is shown.

  7. Comment by Santi | 05.5.2011 | 1:21 pm

    /also came with Roubaix video a CTRL+V away and failed.

  8. Comment by Sramtaro | 05.5.2011 | 1:27 pm

    I would love to see that wheel taco. I did that to a Stan’s Olympic transitioning from a downhill to the uphill shoulder of a gravel fire road. It’s like a g-out, only I think of it as a g-in. The g is gonna put your face in the dirt.

    More ideas for high-speed photography:
    1. Guy ricocheting off of pine tree that was closer to the trail than it looked.
    2. Bead of a tire blowing off the hook of a rim.
    3. Lance trying to fix a flat with a BigAir canister, miles from the finish of Leadville.
    4. Any Paris-Roubaix shot of George Hincapie’s equipment proving unwise.

  9. Comment by Charlie | 05.5.2011 | 1:28 pm

    Though a high speed camera video is more dramatic, you can use a nice DSLR w/ a 1/8000 sec shutter plus a decent tele zoom lens to take stills of an impact event to show just how much flex and bending goes on. You just need to set up the shot right. That gear only costs 3-4 grand (less than your Superfly)!

  10. Comment by Charlie | 05.5.2011 | 2:28 pm

    Untitled from Bob Mountainbike on Vimeo.
    This was posted on…

    Not the same quality as the shows, but interesting none the less.

  11. Comment by Clydesteve | 05.5.2011 | 2:34 pm

    there is a bit of slo-mo road bike on an MTB trail in this one.

  12. Comment by Spiff | 05.5.2011 | 3:13 pm

    Fatty, you should get yourself the Casio EX-F1! It’s basically a point-and-shoot camera, but one that can shoot video at up to 1200 frames per second. If you’re lucky, you could find the low end version for about $1000 – that’s what, like, the same as what you pull in from just a couple blog posts, right?

  13. Comment by a chris | 05.5.2011 | 3:31 pm

    But how does the camera keep up with the bike bombing down the hill? To see the vibrations and distortions you really want to be pretty much in sync otherwise with the bike.

    This, I believe, is why so many slo-mo videos are of things that can easily be hurled past or exploded in front of a stationary camera.

    How about simulating just the bumps from a downhill trail — put rider and bike on some sort of treadmill that randomly punches up in various places with “rocks” and “roots” with the appropriate force to approximate a fast descent?

    Otherwise, would it suffice to use some version of a steadicam attached to the bike (rider?) ? Sounds risky…camera on a track parallel to the trail? I’d be interested to know what the engineering solutions to the problem are and how well they would show the things that show up so well in slo-mo.

    If you know of a tree that people run into a lot, you could have a stationary cam. Whether they’d be happy to sign your model release form afterward is another experiment…

  14. Comment by Microchip | 05.5.2011 | 5:50 pm

    Here’s a rider who jumped over the road during a Tour de France.

  15. Comment by Microchip | 05.5.2011 | 5:50 pm

    (A pity you can’t edit your comment…I forgot to put in that when he jumps, the video goes to slow-motion.)

  16. Comment by Fat Cathy | 05.5.2011 | 7:13 pm

    “Fatty Flex: Oh, I guess I might as well admit that I’d be interested to see precisely how much my arms (and, alas, stomach) jiggle would be evident as I descended a rocky trail.”

    eeeuuuwww. I may never get that visual out of my brain.

  17. Comment by Obstinate Roadie | 05.5.2011 | 9:22 pm

    I’ll say the cameras are expensive! It costs several thousand dollars just to rent the camera that was used in the Paris-Roubaix video posted above — that’s for one day.

  18. Comment by Amoeba | 05.6.2011 | 12:02 am

    If you want broadcast-quality HD video super slo-mo (20x), then the BBC several years ago used one that cost ~£66k. Of course, they also wanted to use it underwater, which added IIRC another ~£6k for the housing (presumably this included optical correction).

  19. Comment by salittle1 | 05.6.2011 | 4:42 am

    get hold of the “timewarp” guys they are always filming stoopid other stuff for slow-mo they should rather film the stuff you’ve suggested then i might actually watch a full show of theirs!!!

  20. Comment by salittle1 | 05.6.2011 | 4:50 am

    sorry that would be the Discovery channel show “Timewarp” (didn’t your friend Lance ride for them, surely he can hook you up, he’s not doing much these days anyway is he?)

  21. Comment by ChrisL905 | 05.6.2011 | 5:44 am

    I had no idea the human nose was so bendy.

  22. Comment by James | 05.6.2011 | 10:05 am

    Awesome slow-mo of tires and chains going down hill:

  23. Comment by MattC | 05.6.2011 | 11:55 am

    Hey Fatty…maybe I can do a super-slo-mo of me opening some York Peppermint Patties (I mean the small ones that come in a decent sized bag)…it turns out that SO FAR, they are earning top-marks for easy opening wrappers. If you grasp it correctly, it tears right in half every single time (I’ve only tested about half the bag so far, but will continue my detailed study after lunch).

    Just thought you should know this…in the interests of science and all, and, uhm, well…yes…your little ‘weight loss contest’. Not that I’m condoning you eating a bag of York Peppermint Patties or anything. However, I just MIGHT have tosssed a few $ to your LS page…(mostly cuz of how brave it was of you to risk your beloved and still NIB Superfly).

  24. Comment by MattC | 05.6.2011 | 12:51 pm

    Oh, and I forgot to add that they are “70% LESS FAT” listed right on the bag (less fat than what I don’t know…maybe a handful of lard or something). Just in case you were thinking you can’t have any cuz they’re too ‘fatty’.

  25. Comment by MattC | 05.6.2011 | 1:03 pm

    And hey, one more thing before I shut up and do some work: maybe if you DO lose the 12 lbs, TWINSIX will make you a T-shirt that says “7% less FATTY”. Or you could have the number area left blank and use velcro to put diff numbers on depending on how it’s going. And maybe, as a precautionary measure, also have them leave the “less” blank too…if you know what I mean. OK…time for some Peppermint Patties! And I think I’ll have some too.

  26. Comment by Geoff | 05.6.2011 | 2:29 pm

    Hi Fatty I got the Casio EX-F1 a while ago and shot some local races with it if you want to check out the details. The camera is not terribly expensive and the slo-mo is pretty easy to use. I even tried changing the speed during one or two of them. Might be prone to a little cheesiness but it worked for a first time out. I need to remember to take it to a ‘cross race though – opportunities abound!

    Check out vids at:

  27. Comment by Pete | 05.6.2011 | 11:48 pm

    Hi Fatty,
    I was playing with filming my fork movement recently. is at full speed (filmed at 50fps) and is it slowed to 25%.
    Keep up the good work!

  28. Comment by NJS | 05.12.2011 | 2:40 pm

    Instead of a water balloon, we’re planning to use a high-speed camera to record jujitsu throws. Maybe I’ll get my boyfriend to add some biking to that, though I’d prefer to avoid the wheel-taco trick.


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