How to use your action camera to ride faster

Replaying footage can help you spot and correct mistakes

Sometimes you can feel like you’re floundering out on the trails, not knowing what you’re doing wrong and how to do it right. Professional skills tuition is a good option if you can afford it, but one of the easiest and cheapest ways to analyse your riding is to film it.

With an action camera — we’re using a top-end GoPro here but a basic, cheaper cam will do too – you can record every misdirected movement, wrongly placed bit of weight or unfortunate flinch, and avoid making the same mistakes next time.

The aim isn’t to become the next YouTube sensation, but to film from angles that will let you see what you’re doing wrong.

When you watch your footage, it should be obvious if you’re making a hash of things. Are you entering turns too low or missing apexes? Off the main line or not taking the most direct route? If you’re struggling to answer these questions, then check out footage of pro riders to see how they handle different trail features.

Where to stick your camera

1. Chest

Using a chest mount gives you some of the smoothest footage, from one of the best angles. Setting the camera to film your arms, handlebar and the trail ahead will give you great context, helping you to spot when you’re not doing it right.

2. Helmet

This position can potentially give you a great view of the trail ahead and is pretty stable. Try not to angle the camera too low though, or you’ll just film the floor and your helmet peak.

3. Bike

Bike-mounting a camera can work well or can be a disaster. Vibration will ruin a lot of footage, especially on rougher trails. But you can also capture parts of your body, bike and the trail that you wouldn’t normally see.

4. Trailside

Get your mate to film you riding — the third-person perspective is great for watching what’s really happening. Remember that most action cameras have wide-angle lenses, so you’ll need to persuade them to get mega-close for the best footage.

Tool for the job

Our camera of choice is the GoPro HERO5 Black (£399 / $399 / AU$569), a five-star standout performer that’s also easy to use.

The integrated screen means you can check that you’re not just filming sky or ground while still on the trail.

Whatever action cam you go for, we’d recommend buying a chest mount and some additional sticky mounts so you can experiment with different camera positions.

Chest mounts

Two chest mount tips
Two chest mount tips

1. Strap in!

If you’re using a chest mount, make sure the straps are done up really tight — this’ll stop the camera moving around and minimise footage-ruining vibration.

2. Muddy mistake

When filming in the wet, check regularly to make sure the camera lens isn’t covered in mud. Otherwise you won’t capture any worthwhile footage!

This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

Alex has been riding bikes since he was knee-high to a grasshopper. He first raced back in 2003, winning the Juvenile category on a sketchy hard tail Planet X bike. Alex lived in the Alps for seven years so isn't shy of a climb or two and loves getting out in his bike in all weather. His favorite thing to ride is steep loamy tracks with loads of opportunities to slam the bike into turns and really give it some frame bending welly! He's broken his fair share of frames, so any bike between his knees is going to get a right seeing to.
  • Discipline: DH, Enduro, XC, BMX, Road
  • Preferred Terrain: Epic descents covered in the world's finest loam and hero dirt
  • Current Bikes: Nukeproof Mega 275 / Giant Anthem Advanced 275 1 / LeMond Reno / Deluxe Pro 2 BMX
  • Dream Bike: Giant ATX 1 DH (1999 model)
  • Beer of Choice: Teetotal
  • Location: Bristol, UK

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