The Rear Bike Camera Mount

Rear Bike Mount Lead
Photo by Marc Bjorknas
The rear bike camera mount is a great way to capture “Fragments of authentic bike movement,” as Marc Bjorknas aptly puts it.

By Sarah Ripplinger

It’s summer, the perfect time for a bike tour. You have a pretty decent camera, but steering and photography don’t exactly go hand-in-hand. The answer, a bike-junkie-cum-shutterbug’s dream come true: the rear bike camera mount.

Designed by Marc Bjorknas, a Vancouver-based pianist, composer, artist, and photographer, the rear bike camera mount is a way to capture action shots of friends as they struggle up hills, get pounded by rain, and grin ear-to-ear on a sunny, romantically-tree-strewn pathway. Bjorknas says mounting his camera on the back of his bike has allowed him to “catch candid moments and capture some of that joy” people exude while biking. Plus, he says, “I think it’s just a little more authentic.”

Panned photo of Cyclist
Photo by Marc Bjorknas
Cyclist in movement.

There will inevitably be some blurry and out of focus photos, as your camera will have to be set to shoot every five seconds or so (unless you can control the shots using remote or other means). Otherwise, as Bjorknas says, you can describe your candid shots as “fragments of authentic bike movement.”

The basics – what you’ll need:

• Camera that can shoot at intervals (usually every two to 10 seconds). Bjorknas uses a Richo GR Digital 2 camera, but you could also use another camera equipped with interval shooting, such as the Pentax Optio 750Z, or download a Canon Hacker’s Development Kit to install an interval mode onto a regular Canon camera (see links below for suggested websites to visit for more information)

• Camera with an “infinity focus” setting (this allows you to capture objects both in the foreground and background, ensuring that your subject is at least partially in focus)

• Clamp/universal camera mount (available at most camera stores)

• Watertight case (Bjorknas uses a “Pelican” case from London Drugs)

• PVC barrel (large enough for your camera lens to fit through)

• Neoprene (for shock absorption)

• UV filter (sometimes available for cheap through Craigslist)

• Light hood

• A piece of string to attach your mount to your bike rack (just in case)

• A bike rack

Modified Pelican Case, Light Hood, UV Filter and Universal Camera Mount
Photo by Marc Bjorknas
Modified Pelican Case: Drilled for camera mount. Cut with hole saw for PVC barrel. Lighthood, UV Filter and universal Camera Mount.

Putting it all together:

Cut a hole in the watertight case that is large enough to fit the PVC barrel (shown attached to case in photo diagram). Glue the barrel into the hole in the watertight case. Attach the UV filter and light hood to the PVC barrel. Place your camera inside the case and secure with the neoprene or other foamy material. Attach one end of the clamp to the camera case, the other to your bike rack. Tie the string to the clamp and bike rack. And voila!

For instructions on how to build a bike camera mount for the front of your bike, Bjorknas recommends visiting www.camerahacker.com/build/Bicycle_Camera_Mount.php

Canon Hacker’s Development Kit suggested websites: www.lifehacker.com/387380/turn-your-point+and+shoot-into-a-super+camera www.chdk.wikia.com/wiki/UBASIC/Scripts:_Ultra_Intervalometer

Originally published in the July/ August 2009 issue of Momentum Magazine and on momentummag.com.

Taking it E-sy

Lisa Brown and E-Bike Lead
Photo by Christian Webber
Lisa Brown and her E-Bike (left) have enough power to toe partner, Stefan Reinsberg, up a neighborhood hill.

By Sarah Ripplinger

Rushing about in her housecoat, Lisa Brown is up early to get Theodor (Theo for short) to daycare before she heads to work. The sun shines in through the kitchen window, casting a beam of bright light on the floor – the heat from it is palpable. It reminds Brown of her aching calf muscles, sore from the long run she took the day before. Her energy levels are low, but her partner, Stefan Reinsberg, has the car, so she’ll take either the bus or the bike. There isn’t enough time to take the bus, so bike it is. Her mind balks: what about that behemoth hill she has to climb? But, then she remembers the little motor waiting to jump into action – a birthday present from Reinsberg. One twist of her handlebar throttle and even the steep UBC hill will feel like a breeze.

Stefan and Theo
Photo by Christian Webber
Stefan Reinsberg (left) shows Theo, 2, the many components of an e-bike while mom, Lisa Brown, looks on.

“For me, it’s about mobility; it’s not about exercise,” Brown said one sunny morning at her home in Vancouver’s West Point Grey area. Like many urban dwellers in search of alternatives to the car, Brown decided that she could satisfy her daily transportation needs on the saddle of a bike. However, she didn’t necessarily want her cycling regimen to cut into her running routine. The solution: Rev up her bike.

Brown has embarked on what could be the next revolution in bike transportation: the electric bike, or e-bike. A small motor sits inside her front wheel hub. Wires attach it to a pack of 36 volt Nickel Cadmium (NiCad) batteries nestled in a pouch under the top tube of her bike frame. A small computer on her handlebars, called a Cycle Analyst, lets her know how much juice is left in the battery and how fast she’s motoring – up to a maximum 50 km/h or about 32 km/h without pedalling. (ICBC regulations set a maximum speed of 32 km/h for e-bikes when they are not being pedalled on level ground). A motor controller, located at the rear of the bike, regulates the output and speed of the bike. Two lights, one mounted on the rear and one at the front, draw energy from the battery to light Brown’s way. The equipment does add about 35 extra pounds to the bike, including the front-wheel motor. “The one disadvantage, I must say, is that it’s quite heavy,” Reinsberg said. “And if you do run out of juice, you have to cycle a very heavy bike.”

E-bike batteries tend to last about two to three years before they need to be replaced. Brown says that she gets around 25-35 kilometres out of her battery before it needs to be placed in the charger, which can be plugged in to any standard outlet. That’s part of the convenience of the e-bike, Brown says. If you run out of power, “you can just bring a charger and plug it in and have a break.”

Brown grew up in the Okanagan where the family car was a mainstay of everyday commuter life. She presently works as a capital project development engineer, which has meant that she often needs to travel to destinations throughout Metro Vancouver. Using an e-bike, she said, is convenient and more affordable. Plus, commute times on her e-bike are comparable to travel times by bus or car. A trip from the Cambie Street Bridge to UBC on her e-mountain-bike, she said, can easily be completed within half an hour – this is one of the primary reasons why Brown is happy to own one. “It’s essentially the convenience and the speed you can travel at… you just go.”

E-Bike Batteries
Photo by Christian Webber
Rows of NICAD batteries are protected from the elements in a soft bag with zipper. Charging the batteries is easy, just attach them to the charger and plug it into the nearest outlet.

Owning an e-bike has had a positive impact on their family-time too. The couple, who have been together for almost 10 years, say that they can tow Theo, two – in their Chariot trailer with shock-absorbers – down to the beach and back with relative ease and without the headache of finding scarce parking.

Reinsberg purchased the electric assist kit for about $1,400 from the Renaissance Bike Company, located on Main Street, near 30th Avenue in Vancouver. He installed it on Brown’s well-used bike in their kitchen, which was transformed into a makeshift bike shop during the cool and rainy month of March. “It’s not that tricky,” Reinsberg said. The bike operates similarly to an electric wheelchair, he said. Brown’s “freewheel” e-bike allows the front wheel to spin and be pedalled freely when the motor is not engaged. The manual that came with the motor took all the guesswork out of the job. The hardest part was getting the fork of Brown’s old bike onto the new front wheel that houses the motor. That motor transmits a fair amount of force on the axle – enough force to carry him and Brown together up a fairly steep incline. This can be harder on the bike over the long-term, Reinsberg said, but is fine for the purposes of everyday commuting.

Reinsberg laughs now when he thinks of his first reaction to the idea of Brown riding an e-bike: “Initially I was thinking that e-hubs are for sissies; I wasn’t too thrilled with the idea that she wanted that for a birthday present.” He changed his mind after seeing how much more amenable Brown was to riding her bike with the motor, and after finding out how much fun it was to have the little electric boost.

“It’s magic,” Reinsberg said. “Nobody really likes going up hills.”

Renaissance Bicycle Company: ebikes.ca

Originally published in the July/ August 2009 issue of Momentum Magazine and on momentummag.com.

Canada’s Cycling: Roots + Shoots

Sarah Ripplinger IconSarah Ripplinger portrait by Terry Sunderland

By Sarah Ripplinger

Happy Canada Day Momentumites! As we celebrate our country’s 142nd birthday, now is a good time to reflect on how far we’ve pedalled as a nation. For starters, Canada has been home to bikes since confederation, with many notable trailblazers leading the way to our modern, cycle-friendly cities.

A June 1895 account describes one “Lady Bicyclist” whose forward-thinking landed her in Newfoundland’s Daily News. She was cycling on a foggy day in St. John’s beside a young male companion when a reporter asked about the “propriety of the sport.” Her response: She believes in “woman suffrage and all the other privileges which the advanced woman says unjust laws deprive her of.” Her female contemporaries in Victoria might have agreed, as they cycled along the myriad of bike paths running across the city.

Today, women cyclists are as free to roam streets and pathways as their male counterparts. British Columbians have also extended our bike paths to stretch from one end of the province to the other. The Trans Canada Trail winds from Victoria, through the Cowichan Valley, over to the mainland (with the help of a floating conveyance of course), and all the way to the Alberta border. But, getting to where we are today hasn’t been a cakewalk. It has taken foresight, commitment, and cooperation both on the part of individuals and their broader communities.

In this issue of Momentum BC, we take a look at the inventive and innovative ways that British Columbians have adapted cycling to fit their unique needs. We hear from one Roberts Creek resident who has increased his profit margin by strapping a flour-mill to his front wheel. A Vancouver-based couple finds the answer to their commuting woes by souping-up an old bike. We also hear from Chris Johnson, who used his keen environmental sense and entrepreneurial spirit to spearhead a groundbreaking composting business. Likewise, an island-grown coffee shop owner takes on a business ethic with the planet in mind. We also learn how to capture candid moments from the back of a bike, get the scoop on cycle-centred political news in the province, hear from our legal expert, David Hay, on why it’s important to keep an eye on the speedometer, plus get the low-down on cycling events in your neck of the woods.

Slap on that sunscreen and keep those spokes spinning BC!

Sarah Ripplinger, BC Editor

bc@momentumplanet.com

Originally published in the July/ August 2009 issue of Momentum Magazine and on momentummag.com.