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  1. #1
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    Equipment for taking pictures of Mountain Biking

    Hey guys; Just recently getting back into photography and i'm after a DSLR camera to shoot Mountain biking (Downhill, Street/Skatepark, Dirtjumping); I have about $2500-3000 to play with; what i need to know is what Body, Lenses and Other equipment i should go for?

    Any help would be great.
    'Knowledge brings fear'

  2. #2
    Sports photo junkie jorgemonkey's Avatar
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    Re: Equipment for taking pictures of Mountain Biking

    Dang! Wish I had that much money to play with

    I do a lot of MTB photography, and there is a few others on the board that do as well. I would get a body that has a fast AF, such as a Nikon D2h or something like that. I am a Nikon guy, so I'll mention all the Nikon stuff I've got, but buy whatever camera feels most comfortable in your hands. I use a Nikon D1h mostly because I can't afford a camera upgrade yet, and because I love that camera.

    The two lenses I use most while shooting MTB is a Sigma 70-200 F2.8 lens, and a Sigma 28-70 F2.8 lens. While out shooting I do wish I had a wider lens than a 28mm, that is something to keep in mind. Someday I'll get a nice wide lens or a fisheye to use while out shooting.

    You'll also want to pick up a Flash or two if you are going to do any cool off camera flash effects. I have the Nikon SB-800 which I love and would rather have than the SB-600 (Which is still a good flash BTW) The 800 has more power, and you can use it as a commander in Nikon Creative Lighting System to control other flashes off camera.
    Nikon Samurai #21



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    Tokina 12-24 F4
    SB900 & SB800 flashes

  3. #3
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    Re: Equipment for taking pictures of Mountain Biking

    Welcome to the forum Drew,

    Although I don't shoot MTB, it's still action photography and you need a fast body, fast lens and for best results a really good flash. A lot of people use lower end DSLR's and get descent results but not for multiple frame shots. Your $2500-3000 would be about half of what you would need for a top line setup. The body alone would eat up the $3000.
    You can find some really good deals though on used gear. You can find a used Canon 1D from $900 - 1600, a new Canon 70-200 f/2.5 USM IS lens can be found for less than $1800 and a flash new around $250 or used $50 and up. The original 1D body will give you 8 frames a second up to 16 frames, great for sequence shots. Nikon can't come close to that. Now if you have the extra $$ go with the 1D MKII N and you'd have the best body built, 8mp 8.5fps up to 48 consecutive frames! The older 1D is 4mp but thats more than enough for most uses. The Canon AF is the fastest in the world and it shows with lenses such as the 70-200.

    JS
    Canon 1D
    Canon 1D MK II N
    Canon 70-200mm USM IS f2.8
    Canon 200mm f1.8 USM
    Canon 300mm f2.8 USM IS
    Canon 28-300mm USM IS f3.5-5.6
    Canon 50mm f1.8
    Vivitar 19-35mm f3.5-5.6

  4. #4
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    Re: Equipment for taking pictures of Mountain Biking

    Cheers for the replies and the welcome It's good to see there's other riders here

    'JSPhoto' would you reccomend using an 'older' 1D over a 20D or 30D?
    'Knowledge brings fear'

  5. #5
    shake it like a polaroid picture berrywise's Avatar
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    Re: Equipment for taking pictures of Mountain Biking

    Don't skimp on glass if you can. A camera body doesn't give you great photos, your lenses do. I shoot plenty of sports with a 20D. Sure it isn't as rugged as a 1D nor does it have the frames per second but if you are good at what you do and are careful with your gear it won't matter.

    1,000 - 20D
    1,200 - 70-200 2.8
    700 - 17-40 f4

    Save a little more to get filters to protect your lenses, a few compact flash cards and then later on add a flash into the mix.

  6. #6
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    Re: Equipment for taking pictures of Mountain Biking

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew
    Cheers for the replies and the welcome It's good to see there's other riders here

    'JSPhoto' would you reccomend using an 'older' 1D over a 20D or 30D?

    Depends, but if it were me, yes, more FPS and a MUCH faster AF, as well as the already mentioned much larger buffer than the 20D or 30D.

    JS
    Canon 1D
    Canon 1D MK II N
    Canon 70-200mm USM IS f2.8
    Canon 200mm f1.8 USM
    Canon 300mm f2.8 USM IS
    Canon 28-300mm USM IS f3.5-5.6
    Canon 50mm f1.8
    Vivitar 19-35mm f3.5-5.6

  7. #7
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    Re: Equipment for taking pictures of Mountain Biking

    Quote Originally Posted by berrywise
    Don't skimp on glass if you can. A camera body doesn't give you great photos, your lenses do. I shoot plenty of sports with a 20D. Sure it isn't as rugged as a 1D nor does it have the frames per second but if you are good at what you do and are careful with your gear it won't matter.

    1,000 - 20D
    1,200 - 70-200 2.8
    700 - 17-40 f4

    Save a little more to get filters to protect your lenses, a few compact flash cards and then later on add a flash into the mix.

    20D doesn't have the FPS the original 1D has....nor is the AF anywhere near the speed of the original 1D, and the buffer doesn't come close. The only drawback to the 1D is it's weight which actually helps for panning, mount a 70-200 f2.8 on it and it is perfectly balanced

    As for filters, use a Hoya UV (0) to protect the lens ( $45, but worth the cost!) The (0) version will not affect color as others will.

    JS
    Canon 1D
    Canon 1D MK II N
    Canon 70-200mm USM IS f2.8
    Canon 200mm f1.8 USM
    Canon 300mm f2.8 USM IS
    Canon 28-300mm USM IS f3.5-5.6
    Canon 50mm f1.8
    Vivitar 19-35mm f3.5-5.6

  8. #8
    shake it like a polaroid picture berrywise's Avatar
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    Re: Equipment for taking pictures of Mountain Biking

    Quote Originally Posted by JSPhoto
    20D doesn't have the FPS the original 1D has....nor is the AF anywhere near the speed of the original 1D, and the buffer doesn't come close. The only drawback to the 1D is it's weight which actually helps for panning, mount a 70-200 f2.8 on it and it is perfectly balanced

    As for filters, use a Hoya UV (0) to protect the lens ( $45, but worth the cost!) The (0) version will not affect color as others will.

    JS
    If you need 8 frames per second for mountain bike photography you should probably work on your timing Same goes for focusing, it's not football where you don't know where the action is going to be next. The one thing that the 1D has going for it is all the seals and more rugged body built into it. Then again it has have the megapixels depending on how big a print you want to be able to kick out (though a 4-5mp camera will give you plenty of juice for some nice enlargements if that's the route you choose to go).

    Shot with a 20D, couldn't fit all the shots into the collage since they overlapped to much


  9. #9
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    Re: Equipment for taking pictures of Mountain Biking

    Quote Originally Posted by berrywise
    If you need 8 frames per second for mountain bike photography you should probably work on your timing Same goes for focusing, it's not football where you don't know where the action is going to be next. The one thing that the 1D has going for it is all the seals and more rugged body built into it. Then again it has have the megapixels depending on how big a print you want to be able to kick out (though a 4-5mp camera will give you plenty of juice for some nice enlargements if that's the route you choose to go).

    Shot with a 20D, couldn't fit all the shots into the collage since they overlapped to much

    Berrywise,

    #1: IF I were to shot MTB I'd want a much better sequence than what you show here, it shows the two points I stated about the 20D, #1 FPS 5 vs 8, and that has nothing to do with timing, it has to do with gap due to lack of frame speed, buffer and write speed. Otherwise it's not a bad sequence for a 20D #2: AF speed, there are obvious points here where the 20D didn't focus quick enough during the sequence, it just can't follow a subject as the 1D. Your attempts to put the 20D into a level are not going to work, it's two different cameras in two different worlds. I have used the 20D, 5D, 30D, 10D and D30, none of which are comparable to the 1D in burst speed, buffer or AF speed, and they were not designed to compete with them either.
    The 1D MKII N is even faster than the original 1D in sequential, buffer and write speed, plus adds the worlds fastest AF. Again, it doesn't have to do with timing, it has to do with being able to get a really good sharp sequence through the entire range.


    JS
    Canon 1D
    Canon 1D MK II N
    Canon 70-200mm USM IS f2.8
    Canon 200mm f1.8 USM
    Canon 300mm f2.8 USM IS
    Canon 28-300mm USM IS f3.5-5.6
    Canon 50mm f1.8
    Vivitar 19-35mm f3.5-5.6

  10. #10
    Check out our D300 Pro Review! deckcadet's Avatar
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    Re: Equipment for taking pictures of Mountain Biking

    Quote Originally Posted by JSPhoto
    Welcome to the forum Drew,

    Although I don't shoot MTB, it's still action photography and you need a fast body, fast lens and for best results a really good flash. A lot of people use lower end DSLR's and get descent results but not for multiple frame shots. Your $2500-3000 would be about half of what you would need for a top line setup. The body alone would eat up the $3000.
    You can find some really good deals though on used gear. You can find a used Canon 1D from $900 - 1600, a new Canon 70-200 f/2.8 USM IS lens can be found for less than $1800 and a flash new around $250 or used $50 and up. The original 1D body will give you 8 frames a second up to 16 frames, great for sequence shots. Nikon can't come close to that.

    JS
    Putting this in Nikon terms, you could get the Nikon D2H which offers a superior flash system, better battery system, YES it does offer 8FPS for up to 40 frames JPEG, and 25 RAW versus Canon's 16 raw /21 jpeg, and has blazingly fast autofocus with an operating range larger than the Canon's, customizeable continuous-low speed from 1-7fps, a larger and much higher resolution LCD, and excellent Nikon 3D Color Matrix metering, all for $1000-1600. One hasn't sold on ebay for over $1600 recently. And JS, i'd like to thank you to please check your facts before posting a statement that Nikon can't come close . The D2H is also a more recent body than the 1D, and is lighter. And it trumps canon with a shorter shutter lag and shorter viewfinder blackout.

    As far as lenses, the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR (equivalent to the canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS) can be had for about $200+ less than the canon.

    The D2H supports the nikon creative lighting system and i-TTL. an SB-800 speedlight will set you back $250-300, and SB-600 will set you back $180 or less.

    On principle however, I do advise going with a professional body and lenses to match. Quality plus performance.
    Harrison
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  11. #11
    Captain of the Ship Photo-John's Avatar
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    Re: Equipment for taking pictures of Mountain Biking

    JSPhoto is 100% behind the 1D. But the truth is, most of the mountain bike photos you've been seeing in the magazines weren't taken with the 1D until the last year. Most of them were taken with film cameras, EOS 10Ds, and EOS 20Ds. It's only recently that mountain bike photographers have been coughing up for the 1D Mark II. And it's true that it's an awesome camera. But one thing it can't do is go on a long ride with you. I tried that - once. Even though my 1D is far superior in terms of pure performance, my 10D gets more paying photos because I can take it on the bike.

    And I also diverge from JSPhoto regarding the sequences. For one, the machine gun approach isn't so great for mountain biking. It's nice for sequences. But how many sequences are you actually going to shoot? They're kinda gimicky. And for me, 8 fps is actually too fast. I've been meaning to slow my camera down to 6. I toss out every other frame when I shoot sequences, which means I'm actually only using a 4 fps frame rate.

    Here are the key questions as I see them.

    1) Are you going to ride with the camera?
    2) Can you afford a 1D?

    If you're going to ride with the camera, don't buy a 1D. If you aren't going to ride with the camera and you can afford a 1D, 1D Mark II, Nikon D2H, etc - then do it. If you're shooting racing, those are the best cameras to have. I shoot almost all racing with my reliable old 1D. It's only 4-megapixels, but the camera performance is so good that it's the right thing to do. Plus, the 1D's pixels are really nice pixels.

    Hope that helps a little.
    Photo-John

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  12. #12
    Check out our D300 Pro Review! deckcadet's Avatar
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    Re: Equipment for taking pictures of Mountain Biking

    PJ is right, sometimes its good to slow down your framerate. the D2H by the way offers a selectable speed between 1 and 7 for the continuous-low shooting mode. I generally keep my D2Hs's around 4.

    And ditto what he says about 4mp but really good pixels. Same applies to the D2H.
    Harrison
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  13. #13
    shake it like a polaroid picture berrywise's Avatar
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    Re: Equipment for taking pictures of Mountain Biking

    Quote Originally Posted by JSPhoto
    Berrywise,

    #1: IF I were to shot MTB I'd want a much better sequence than what you show here, it shows the two points I stated about the 20D, #1 FPS 5 vs 8, and that has nothing to do with timing, it has to do with gap due to lack of frame speed, buffer and write speed. Otherwise it's not a bad sequence for a 20D #2: AF speed, there are obvious points here where the 20D didn't focus quick enough during the sequence, it just can't follow a subject as the 1D. Your attempts to put the 20D into a level are not going to work, it's two different cameras in two different worlds. I have used the 20D, 5D, 30D, 10D and D30, none of which are comparable to the 1D in burst speed, buffer or AF speed, and they were not designed to compete with them either.
    The 1D MKII N is even faster than the original 1D in sequential, buffer and write speed, plus adds the worlds fastest AF. Again, it doesn't have to do with timing, it has to do with being able to get a really good sharp sequence through the entire range.


    JS

    JS,

    I only make my comments to help the original poster, not to bash on the 1D.

    I think Photo-John did an excellent job of summing up the two cameras and it really falls in your hands at the end of the day. I just hope you don't get caught up in the hype of how many frames per second a camera can shoot because that really isn't all that big a deal when it comes to shooting mountain bike photography.

    I'd also suggest checking out the Nikon gear deckcadet pointed out. I shot Nikon for five years before switching to Canon and just this last month I had the oppurtunity to use a brand new Nikon setup and had forgotten how nice their stuff is.

    No matter what ya go with don't forget to post up some of your work here later!

    Cheers,
    bw

  14. #14
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    Re: Equipment for taking pictures of Mountain Biking

    Quote Originally Posted by Photo-John
    JSPhoto is 100% behind the 1D. But the truth is, most of the mountain bike photos you've been seeing in the magazines weren't taken with the 1D until the last year. Most of them were taken with film cameras, EOS 10Ds, and EOS 20Ds. It's only recently that mountain bike photographers have been coughing up for the 1D Mark II. And it's true that it's an awesome camera. But one thing it can't do is go on a long ride with you. I tried that - once. Even though my 1D is far superior in terms of pure performance, my 10D gets more paying photos because I can take it on the bike.

    And I also diverge from JSPhoto regarding the sequences. For one, the machine gun approach isn't so great for mountain biking. It's nice for sequences. But how many sequences are you actually going to shoot? They're kinda gimicky. And for me, 8 fps is actually too fast. I've been meaning to slow my camera down to 6. I toss out every other frame when I shoot sequences, which means I'm actually only using a 4 fps frame rate.

    Here are the key questions as I see them.

    1) Are you going to ride with the camera?
    2) Can you afford a 1D?

    If you're going to ride with the camera, don't buy a 1D. If you aren't going to ride with the camera and you can afford a 1D, 1D Mark II, Nikon D2H, etc - then do it. If you're shooting racing, those are the best cameras to have. I shoot almost all racing with my reliable old 1D. It's only 4-megapixels, but the camera performance is so good that it's the right thing to do. Plus, the 1D's pixels are really nice pixels.

    Hope that helps a little.

    I have just recently started doing DJ and Downhill Photography and use Canon. I agreed with Photo-john as to the weight of the 1D series cameras. I'm lucky enough to have both an XT and 1D MkII. The bigger camera only went on one ride and that was a short one. The XT and two lenes w/cases just jits into my larger Camelbak and I only need Advil when I get home. If I'm at a race, I use the 1D II for the race pictures, and crank the FPS down to the 4 / second. That works even with crashes (learn how to dodge and always have an escape route). I've talked to at least two pros that use the 20D and 30D and they are very pleased with them (the pictures are great also).

    I would really recommend two lens for races a 24-70 and 70-200. Most of my pictures are taken with the 24-70 and all the rest with the 70-200. With both of these lens you can get enough of the background or get facial expressions.

    Just as a recommendation:
    1. Never take pictures while standing on the course. This is really dangerous for both you and the racer. I've seen two nasty crashes becasue the nitwit photographer had to get on the course to take the picture.

    2. When at the race course, look for places where the course tape is broken or tied back together. Typically this is an area of crashes, jumps, or general wriedness.

    3. Always be prepared to bail out of any spot you are shooting from as flying bikes or riders really hurt when they use you to stop.

    4. Talk to other photographers. I relieves the boredom and both of you may learn something. If you find out the other person is a PITA, you can always move a little away, but most MTB people are friendly.

    While I'm baised to Canon, Nikon equipment is very good also.

    Go outside and play.

    Regards
    Rick

  15. #15
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    Re: Equipment for taking pictures of Mountain Biking

    Cheers everone.....

    I'm a bit hesident using the Old canon 1d as it is now about 3-4 years old, which i'm not real keen on; i've began to think about getting a loan out and going for a Canon 1d Mark II N body; My question...would this body be much better, or worth the extra money as opposed to a Nikon D2H/s, Canon 20/30d or anything else?

    Still looking into lenses, So far i've got my eyes on the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS, still looking into another 1 or 2....
    'Knowledge brings fear'

  16. #16
    The one - The only
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    Re: Equipment for taking pictures of Mountain Biking

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew
    Cheers everone.....

    I'm a bit hesident using the Old canon 1d as it is now about 3-4 years old, which i'm not real keen on; i've began to think about getting a loan out and going for a Canon 1d Mark II N body; My question...would this body be much better, or worth the extra money as opposed to a Nikon D2H/s, Canon 20/30d or anything else?

    Still looking into lenses, So far i've got my eyes on the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS, still looking into another 1 or 2....
    Drew,

    You have gotten varying opinions about your original post. You really need to decide if taking out a loan to pay $4,000 for the body, $1,600 for the lens, and more for memory cards/flash(s), etc.

    What are your intensions with the system? I know you want to take MTB photos, but are you planning on gettin gpicked up by a rag and getting paid? After having read many posts it takes far more than just equipment to be a good photog.

    I currently use a 30D and feel like I get great results. Sure, I would like the extra fps...but, is the couple of thousands of dollars worth it to me? Nope, not yet.

    My current plan is to find either a good used 1D body, new 5D, or one of the 1D MkIIN, 1Ds MkII (should I get paid a lot more/win the lottery) in the future.

    If I were in your shoes I would pick up a 30D, the 15mm fishy, 17-40 f4, 70-200 f2.8 IS, 580EX flashes, and pocket wizard system for the money youd spend getting the 1D MkIIN + 70-200 IS.

    Good Luck!
    Dave
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  17. #17
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    Re: Equipment for taking pictures of Mountain Biking

    Quote Originally Posted by BLS439
    Drew,

    You have gotten varying opinions about your original post. You really need to decide if taking out a loan to pay $4,000 for the body, $1,600 for the lens, and more for memory cards/flash(s), etc.

    What are your intensions with the system? I know you want to take MTB photos, but are you planning on gettin gpicked up by a rag and getting paid? After having read many posts it takes far more than just equipment to be a good photog.

    I currently use a 30D and feel like I get great results. Sure, I would like the extra fps...but, is the couple of thousands of dollars worth it to me? Nope, not yet.

    My current plan is to find either a good used 1D body, new 5D, or one of the 1D MkIIN, 1Ds MkII (should I get paid a lot more/win the lottery) in the future.

    If I were in your shoes I would pick up a 30D, the 15mm fishy, 17-40 f4, 70-200 f2.8 IS, 580EX flashes, and pocket wizard system for the money youd spend getting the 1D MkIIN + 70-200 IS.

    Good Luck!
    Well yes, i intend on getting paid in the future, i used to shoot for a mag and had a small business going where i'd sell high res prints to particular participants in races and whatnot.

    The 1D Mark II may be a bit of overkill at 1st, and as you mentioned, i could get a lot more for the price of the body and 1 lense....the 30D looks like a good option, but as you mentioned, i would like the extra FPS; I have just been looking at the Nikon D2Hs....they too seem to offer very good spec, and most of their products and accessories are a bit cheaper than Canon, and i'm very fond of their flash system.

    I've narrowed it down to a Canon 30d or Nikon D2Hs i'm pritty sure, now it's just a matter of deciding which one would be best.......

    Anyone?
    'Knowledge brings fear'

  18. #18
    Sports photo junkie jorgemonkey's Avatar
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    Re: Equipment for taking pictures of Mountain Biking

    I just got me a D2h, it'll be here on Wed, and I should be going to a MTB race next weekend so I'll be able to try it out and let you know how I like it :0)
    Nikon Samurai #21



    Cameras:
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    Sigma 150mm F2.8 Macro
    Tokina 12-24 F4
    SB900 & SB800 flashes

  19. #19
    Check out our D300 Pro Review! deckcadet's Avatar
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    Re: Equipment for taking pictures of Mountain Biking

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew
    Well yes, i intend on getting paid in the future, i used to shoot for a mag and had a small business going where i'd sell high res prints to particular participants in races and whatnot.

    The 1D Mark II may be a bit of overkill at 1st, and as you mentioned, i could get a lot more for the price of the body and 1 lense....the 30D looks like a good option, but as you mentioned, i would like the extra FPS; I have just been looking at the Nikon D2Hs....they too seem to offer very good spec, and most of their products and accessories are a bit cheaper than Canon, and i'm very fond of their flash system.

    I've narrowed it down to a Canon 30d or Nikon D2Hs i'm pritty sure, now it's just a matter of deciding which one would be best.......

    Anyone?
    Given the choice between a D2H (or D2HS) and 30D, i'd take the D2H/S every time. There really is no substitute for professional quality autofocus. I love the feel and ergonomics of the D2 series, battery life is excellent, metering is similarly excellent. The amount of detail in files from my D2HS is stunning- often exceeding the amount in say a file from the D70 6mp camera in my experience. The integrated vertical grip is fantastic, needless to say. There's a lot of info in the nice big viewfinder too. And did I mention rubberized command dials?:thumbsup:
    Harrison
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  20. #20
    Junior Member Gooosberry's Avatar
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    Re: Equipment for taking pictures of Mountain Biking

    Any one using radio triggers?

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