Cycliq Fly12 review

I picked up a Cyclic Fly6 backlight/camera combo back in November last year. Well, it was actually a birthday gift from my Wiggle wish-list. It has served me well over the past few months, and although it does have some limitations, is probably one of my favourite cycling rear lights (along with the Garmin Varia radar). I was excited when I heard that Cycliq were brining out a front light/camera unit, dubbed the Fly12. This has been on Kickstarter for a while now, and finally made its way to retailers in April 2016. I waited for Wiggle to stock these. The Fly12 retails for £249.99, and with Wiggle’s 12% platinum discount, I managed to buy one for £220.

UNBOXING
Before I begin, I will say that I received an initial Fly12 unit from Wiggle. Unfortunately, it had a dent under the camera lens, so that went back for a refund, and I ordered another unit. That one was also damaged and cracked right in the box! Quality control here seems tone an issue. That also went back and I ordered yet another. Third time lucky! Okay, with that out of the way, let’s dig in.

Included in the box are the following goodies:
-Fly12 unit
-USB charging cable
-Bike mount
-16GB micro SD card (and SD card converter)
-4mm allen key
-Quick start guide

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This is all very well presented on a hard shell base. I can imagine this would look very impressive on the shelves at cycling retailers. As a bonus, Cycliq also throw in 3 free months of Strava premium membership.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS
The Fly12 is very well built. It is a little heavier and larger than I thought, weighing in at 220 grams. However, it does have a 400 lumen light and HD camera built into a single unit, so any size/weight issues can be easily overlooked. In all fairness, most HD cameras will probably not be much smaller than the Fly12. It is made from a combination of aluminium and tough rubber/plastic.The lens at the front does look a little exposed, and I wish that there was some more protection there. There is a universal Go-Pro attachment at the top/bottom of the unit. The versatile thing about the Fly12 is that it can be mounted either on the top of your handle bar, or on the bottom. Ports/buttons are also conveniently located on the back of the unit for easy access.

FEATURES
There are a tonne of features available in the Fly12. I’ll list and expand on some of my favourite ones.

-400 lumen light: This is pretty much essential for any cyclist. There are three light modes in the Fly12; continuous, flashing and strobe. Each of these has low, medium and high brightness settings.

-Full 1080p HD camera: Arguably the main selling point of the Fly12, there is a very capable camera built-in that records your bike rides. There is support for a 64GB SD card, and a 32GB card is included in the box. You can get around 10 hours of your most recent footage from this, and the older footage gets deleted and overwritten automatically, so you don’t have to worry about the Fly12 not recording due to a full memory card.

-Smartphone connectivity*: The Fly6 required me to remove the memory card from the unit (or connect the entire unit) and connect to my computer to view files. The Fly12 connects to your smartphone, and allows you to view footage directly in the Cycliq app. You can also change various settings (light modes, etc) directly within the app, too.

*As time of writing, the app is only available for iOS (iPhone) at the moment, with an Android version in the works and according to Cycliq, is coming “very soon!”.

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-Strava integration: Another standout feature, I found this to be one of the most intriguing. You can overlay your Strava metrics from the ride directly onto the ride footage. This makes your footage very interesting to view, and can also provide valuable training data. I know that other cameras have the option to do this, but none overlay directly with Strava, and quite frankly this was a lot simple and easier to do than with my 4k Sony Action Cam.

FOOTAGE QUALITY
I was really looking forward to using the app to quickly view and edit my footage. Unfortunately, I was left somewhat disappointed. When you open the app and click the view footage button, the Fly12 (if within range) will automatically turn on. Great! However, connecting does take some time, as you must disconnect from your wifi network, and connect to the Fly12’s wifi network (which would already be connected to your wifi network). So basically, you have to connect to your normal wifi network ‘through’ the Fly12. Footage also takes a long time to download if you want to overlap your Strava metrics. There are also some connection dropouts at times, which can make this a frustrating affair.

On a positive note, this is a lot easier than the Fly6, which I have to physically connect to my computer and convert each file before I can view them (on OSX). The footage quality is also very good on the Fly12, at full 1080p, but the file sizes are fairly large. A 2 minute clip is on average 800mb, which will take up a lot of space if you choose to save a long segment. For this reason, I still think that a dedicated action camera (like the Sony 4k action cam or GoPro) is still better for keeping longer footage from holiday rides, etc.

Here is a short clip which I uploaded to YouTube, showing the quality of footage using the Fly12.

RIDING EXPERIENCE
The Fly12 adds a negligible amount of weight to your bike, and can sit underneath the handlebar, which means it won’t be in your way. I know how obsessed some road cyclists are with weight and aerodynamics, and I personally haven’t noticed any difference in riding with the fly12. This may also be because the bike I have mounted it to has a very relaxed geometry anyway. It does interfere with the brake cables, but this is not really a big deal. I should add that I have tried mounting the Fly12 with the K-edge XL mount, to help overcome some of the cable rub on the unit. Unfortunately, the K-edge mount I used did not fit the Fly12 GoPro style mount, so that is something to be mindful of if you are planing to use 3rd party accessories with the Fly12.

The other thing to mention when considering the riding experience is the luminosity of the 400-lumen light. Even on the dimmest flashing setting, the light was bright enough to light up the road and be highly visible to motorists and other road users. I noticed that the battery life would depreciate rapidly when using the light with the highest setting, in conjunction with the camera. This is also something to be mindful of, particularly on longer rides.

CONCLUSIONS
With a number of HD cameras already on the market, including many at 4k, the Fly12 may be overlooked. In my opinion, I feel that the 1080p footage is more than clear enough to record your rides. Having Strava metric overlays, viewing the footage from your mobile device and a built-in light are probably the main benefits of choosing the Fly12 over any other camera. If these things are important to you, along with reducing handle-bar clutter, you will be hard-pressed to find a better camera/light. The Fly12 is firmly integrated into my winter/commute bike with the Fly6, for both security and piece of mind when commuting.

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