I wanted to build up a bike that was ideal for filming rides for FulGaz, but ultimately suitable for racing too. The result is this bike, the beautiful Cervelo R3 with a series of custom modifications. The R3 Frame isn’t the top of the range frame, but you’d never know if nobody told you. I was after something that would soak up road shock but still ride like a thoroughbred race bike. The R3 frame has been ridden to podium places at Paris Roubaix, so this was likely to be a good choice. One ride and I knew those boxes were well and truly ticked. It was time to move on from the standard setup and get things exactly as they’d need to be for filming rides for FulGaz. Here’s a rundown of what went into the final build.
A strange place to start perhaps, but filming videos requires sitting in the saddle as much as possible. The power saddle is marketed as something for aggressive racing positions, but it’s really comfortable for people like me who simply don’t bend as well as we did in our twenties. Your pelvis can rotate further forward without putting undue pressure where it’s not wanted. If you’re looking for a new saddle, start with trying one of these. You might save yourself a lot of messing around.
On the subject of staying seated, if you haven’t tried 52 / 36 combination, you don’t know what you’re missing. Combined with a 11-28 Cassette I’ve got a low enough gear to get up just about anything, but big enough gears not to spin out if the going gets fast. Essentially it’s the equivalent of a 34 X 27 bottom gear and a 53 X 11.5 top gear. If you look closely at the photo you’ll also spot a Garmin Speed sensor. This helps to provide better data for the videos because we’re not guessing the distance between the points that we log.
HED Ardennes with 24mm Specialized Turbo tubeless tyres. In practice, these tyres blow up to 27mm wide on these super-wide rims. Vibration is the enemy of smooth video footage, so super supple tyres at low pressures makes a lot of difference. Disk brakes were out of the equation because they’re not yet race-legal, but this combination gives a smooth, predictable and lively ride. 60 PSI (4 Bar) seems to be the best compromise between vibration damping and still feeling like you’ve got a road bike underneath you. This simply wouldn’t be possible with smaller tyres and rims.
Verve is an Australian company with some serious credentials in power measurement. They started out building calibration rigs for SRM cranks, then went on to build their own cranks with an even higher degree of accuracy and consistency than the “benchmark” SRMs. They’re on this bike so I can record data on real rides then replicate the rides in FulGaz. Strictly speaking, we don’t need power to film the rides, but by riding them again indoors and comparing speed and power for the virtual ride against the original we can keep improving the accuracy of the FulGaz physics model. Using the same super-accurate power meter indoors and outdoors takes a lot of variables out of our research.
The bike is shown here with the latest Sony Action Cam, with the catchy name of FDRX1000V. We’ve been experimenting with 4K, but the Sony’s key strength for on-bike footage is it’s in-built stabilisation. This doesn’t work in 4k mode because it’s simply too much work for the camera. The Sony and the Replay XD Prime X are the two standout cameras in my opinion. I’ll write more information about cameras in a separate article.
The mount is a custom carbon fibre model with silicone damping layer. After various disasters and near misses with off the shelf mounts, I resorted to lots of “knocking around in the shed” and many prototypes to produce what I was after. The final design puts the camera where it needs to be for the correct point of view for FulGaz. It can’t move around or wobble, but it provides a crucial layer of damping between the camera and the bike. The end result is much improved footage regardless of the camera.