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Cycliq Fly12 HD Camera and Front Light

8
£255.00

VERDICT:

8
10
Much better video quality and an improved light spec from Cycliq's front-facing unit
Weight: 
195g
Contact: 

We reviewed the original Fly12 back in June 2016 and it was really good. The new one is better: the light is a bit brighter, the camera is better, it's a neater package, it's lighter and it charges faster. If you're looking for a POV camera to record your commute it ticks all the boxes, and the footage is good enough to be used in projects with higher production values too. It's expensive, but given the performance I would say it's a decent investment.

  • Pros: Good quality, stable video, light is useful
  • Cons: The mount is a bit fiddly, app can be clunky

The new Fly12 (10.3cm x 5.9cm x 3.5cm) is a bit bigger than the old one (8.4cm x 5.5cm x 3.3cm) but it's also a bit lighter (195g vs 244g) and the stealthy black finish makes it look pretty unobtrusive.

> Find your nearest dealer here

The mount has changed: there's a new 1/8 turn twist mount, and in the box you get both a bar clamp and an adapter to hang the camera from a GoPro mount. Either way it's pretty secure; I found it worked best hung below the bars as it's out of the way and there's less of a tendency for the weight of the camera to nudge the mount over the lumps and bumps. If anything the mount is too tight a fit: that's good in that it doesn't wobble, but it's a struggle to get into the mount at times and you have to apply a bit more force than I'm comfortable with for a plastic mount. It also makes taking it off the mount when riding difficult.

Cycliq Fly12 HD Camera and Front Light - clamp.jpg

The camera will only mount one way, with a clockwise twist, but if you've slung the camera under your bars you need to remember to do it anti-clockwise instead, because it's upside down. More intelligent and spatially aware people than me will probably manage that, but I always ended up jamming it in the wrong way. Because the mount is tight, it's a while before you remember. Also, when hanging the Fly12 under the handlebar the stem tends to get in the way, making it even more difficult to get on and off.

Cycliq Fly12 HD Camera and Front Light - rear.jpg

Before and after

Like before, there's a camera and a light side by side in the front. Maximum video resolution moves up to 1080/60, with the ability to shoot in HDR in 1080/30 which should be good for sunny days where you're moving between light and shade. The light has increased in power as well, to 600 lumens from 400. There are a wealth of light settings, and you can specify which ones you want available from the app (more on that in a bit). There are two hardware buttons on the side.

As well as being generally more highly specced, the new Fly12 includes two things that weren't on the original version. Firstly, the camera has electronic 6-axis stabilisation, meaning that you should get a much improved quality of video (though you can't shoot in HDR with it enabled). When you're trying to read the number plate of the car that just cut you up, it's nice if the footage isn't bouncing around all over the place. The second is ANT+ connectivity, meaning you can control the Fly12 from your Garmin or other bar-mounted GPS. Assuming you don't mount your phone on the bars, this makes it much easier to control the Fly12 on the go.

Cycliq Fly12 HD Camera and Front Light - ports.jpg

One of George's bugbears on the original Fly12 was the speed of charging. The good news is that the new unit uses a USB-C connection which allows for a faster recharge time. Cycliq says you can fully charge it in two and a half hours; I managed it in about that from a high-output wall charger, from the computer it takes longer. Either way: plenty quick enough to juice up during work hours, whereas before it wasn't a cert that you'd get it fully charged up before the ride home.

Continuous recording

Like its predecessor, and other cameras designed to continuously record footage, the Fly12 splits your ride footage into segments, and continuously loops the recording, chopping the video into 5-, 10- or 15-minute segments depending on your preference: when the card is full, the camera deletes the oldest footage to make space for new recordings. That means you don't ever have to worry about making space for new video.

You wouldn't want footage of a collision to get overwritten though, and the Fly12 has an incident detection system built in. If the camera detects that it is tilted more than 60° from the horizontal, it triggers an automatic process which locks the current footage, and the segment either side.

If you see something you want to keep that didn't result in you being knocked off (a close pass, or an incident involving another road user) then you can press the Q button on the side of the Fly12 and it'll have the same effect. The footage can be timestamped within the camera so there's no doubt when incidents occurred.

Cycliq Fly12 HD Camera and Front Light - buttons.jpg

Those same accelerometers can also be used as a rudimentary alarm: if your phone is in range of your bike you can get the camera to ping you if the bike gets moved. If you're sitting in a cafe with your bike nearby but out of sight, it might be handy I guess, but the range is pretty limited, especially when there are walls in the way, and anywhere you're likely to need it you'd be better off locking your bike up or keeping it in view.

Fine footage

Here's some footage from the camera, taken in various conditions from a snowy mountain bike ride to a sunny Italian trip. You can also download some raw files here – you will have to download them to see the actual footage; the drive preview is low-resolution.

The first and most obvious point is that the footage is very good. The 135° angle lens gives a nice wide view and the picture is sharp and clear, making it easy to read car number plates, for example. The six-axis image stabilisation does a great job of making the recorded image nice and smooth, although the horizontal stabilisation means that you get a bit of a delay and then a sharp movement when you start a turn. That's not so much of an issue when you're turning from one road to another, but it can make the video a bit choppy when you're out of the saddle, or you're struggling up a steep climb.

Weatherproofing

Waterproofing seems up to scratch: I took it out in some pretty tedious weather, and on one ride that's about as bad as I've experienced:sodden and freezing. The camera kept going, and flipping the port hatch revealed no issues with water getting in. This is what that ride looked like:

There's always a chance of condensation forming inside the camera if you move from hot to cold air, or vice versa, but I didn't have any issues with the Fly12 there, even when we went out for three hours in the snow (front footage is from the Fly12, rear from the new Fly6). The hydrophobic coating on the lens does a really good job of keeping the video footage usable, even in really rotten conditions. Sometimes a drop will get in the way but if you're moving at any pace it won't be there long.

I put a 32GB card in the Fly12, and that seems to be enough for about two and a half hours of footage in 1080/60. You'll get more if you drop to 1080/30, but that should be good for most riding. If you're doing a long ride that you want to document, you'll need to be a bit more sparing than just turning the camera on and heading out. Probably you'll need to be a bit careful about the battery life in that case too. Cycliq claims an eight-hour battery life for the camera (without the light on), which is down from the 10 hours on the previous model (with the same battery capacity), but probably more realistic and achievable: it seems to get pretty close to that even in crappy, cold, UK conditions, and you still get about five hours with the light on low.

Once you fire the light up, run-times go down; the flashing modes don't affect the battery life that much but if you're on 600 lumens of full power you're looking at a couple of hours. The Fly12 will turn the camera off first to preserve battery life if you have the light on, and if you have a backup battery you can run the light and charge it at the same time, although that means you have to have the side port open so it's not an option for a wet ride.

Light: bright enough

Talking of the light, it's pretty good. The Fly12 is an all-purpose unit so you don't get a dedicated, flattened road beam, but I found that with the unit positioned correctly to throw the light where you needed it the camera was getting a sensible field of view too. The uprated LED from the last unit means that you get a bit more licence along the unlit lanes.

As 600-lumen lights go it doesn't feel like the brightest I've tried, but it's plenty enough light on high beam for clipping along out of town in the dark, and the flash and pulse modes are good for daylight running, and lit streets. It's a pity there's no side visibility, but the proximity of the camera probably prohibits that. It is a light that I'd be happy enough running on its own, though. One thing to note is that the light can wash out number plates if it's on full beam, if you think you might need the footage to hand over to your local constabulary...

App: OK

The app is okay. High praise indeed! Basically, you can connect your Fly12 to your phone and you have access to all the settings, so you can configure the camera the way you want. You can only have one camera at a time connected to the Android App I used, so if you have both a Fly12 and a Fly 6 it's a bit of a faff to control them from your phone: turning them on and off requires connecting to one, turning it on, disconnecting, connecting to the other one and turning that on too.

There are certain combinations of settings you can't do: the camera won't shoot in HDR and also stabilise the footage, presumably because running both of those processes at once in the camera is a bit too much for the processor. You used to have the option to transfer footage to your phone via WiFi, but the new units don't do that. To be honest it didn't work that well, but now dragging footage off requires a computer, and the desktop sharing app.

There's also a desktop settings app that performs the same function as the smartphone app. The app part of the package feels more like a work in progress, really, while the camera unit itself is really good. I tended to use it standalone, and just dip into the app when I wanted to change stuff.

Conclusion

Overall? It's a high quality camera and a decent light, for the same kind of money you'd pay for a high quality camera and a decent light. Getting separate units gives you a bit more versatility; having just the one saves clutter on your handlebar.

I like it as a unit and the footage is good enough for more than commuting. It works pretty well hand held too, with the image stabilisation giving you pretty smooth shots, so it's good for recording your B-roll footage as well as your ride. It's a pity the app suite doesn't quite match up to the Fly12 itself.

Verdict

Much better video quality and an improved light spec from Cycliq's front-facing unit

If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website

road.cc test report

Make and model: Cycliq Fly12 HD Camera and Front Light

Size tested: n/a

Tell us what the light is for

Cycliq says, "The new generation of our integrated, front-facing bike camera and safety light, engineered to give you super-sharp video recording, a powerful safety light and impressive battery life."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light?

CAMERA

Full 1080p HD camera + audio

Smart looping video

6-axis image stabilisation

Weather and dust proof

LIGHT + BATTERY

Bright 600-lumen front safety light

Massive 8 hr run time

USB-C fast charge

Waterproof to 1m

SAFETY

Black box incident protection

Home-safe mode

Integrated bike alarm

Simple two-button operation

CONNECTIVITY

Control via ANT+ connectivity

Connect to smartphone app via Bluetooth

Strava integration

All-new 1/8 quick-release mounting

SPECIFICATIONS

Video resolution

1920 x 1080p @ 60 fps

1920 x 1080p @ 30 fps

1920 x 1080p HDR @ 30 fps

View angle

135° ultra-wide angle

Video format

MP4 - Records 5, 10 and 15-minute segments

Image stabilisation

6-axis image stabilisation

Light power

600 lumens with various light and dimming settings

Port

USB-C to charge and connect to PC & Mac

Connectivity

ANT+, Bluetooth

Size

8.4cm (L) x 5.5cm (W) x 3.3cm (H)

Weight

195g / 5.5oz

Battery

4200mAh, 15.96wh (up to 8 hours life) with 2.5hr fast recharging

Rate the light for quality of construction:
 
8/10

Good overall.

Rate the light for design and ease of use. How simple was the light to use?
 
7/10

Pretty easy to use the unit itself, app is a bit clunky.

Rate the light for the design and usability of the clamping system/s
 
5/10

Eighth turn mount is too stiff and doesn't work very well hung below the bars.

Rate the light for waterproofing. How did it stand up to the elements?
 
10/10

No issues even in really terrible weather.

Rate the light for battery life. How long did it last? How long did it take to recharge?
 
8/10

Good, with 5 hours of recording from the camera with the light on low.

Rate the light for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the light for durability:
 
7/10
Rate the light for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the light for value:
 
6/10

Tell us how the light performed overall when used for its designed purpose

It's a good camera and a decent light, in a neat package. The footage is very good.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the light

Quality of the video, neat on the bars.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light

Fiddly mount, clunky app.

Did you enjoy using the light? Yes

Would you consider buying the light? Yes

Would you recommend the light to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your overall score

It's a neat package that does the job it's designed to do very well. The video quality will mean it appeals to more than just commuters. In terms of value it's not really cheaper than buying a comparable separate camera/light combo.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 44  Height: 189cm  Weight: 94kg

I usually ride: whatever I'm testing...  My best bike is: Kinesis Tripster ATR, Kinesis Aithein

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track

Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.

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