Review – New Fly6 and the Fly12 sneak peek

Fly6 Review Comparison

The Fly6 has captured the hearts of cyclists across the globe and has produced some incredible on-bike video footage over the past year. Rather than just relaxing and enjoying their success, the Western Australian inventors have continued to develop their product and, in November 2014, launched the redesigned Fly6 while simultaneously announcing Cycliq as their new company name. Now they are just about to launch the Fly12 front light with integrated camera on Kickstarter.

If you don’t know much about the Fly6, start with our review of the original product which we classified as a safety camera, not a sports action camera. I was surprised at the speed in which the Fly6 was upgraded and asked Cycliq CEO, Andrew Hagen, about the the motivation to move fast.

“We had identified a number of areas we thought we could improve on from customer feedback on Fly6 Original and while on a trip to China & Hong Kong we found a new factory with experience in high quality camera based products. We discussed Fly6 with them and found they could make many of the improvements we were looking for. They were very efficient and were able to bring the new Fly6 model to production much faster than we could have imagined. The result was what might seem to our customers as fast turn around.”

Unpacking Cycliq Fly6 Camera

Unpacking Fly6 Contents

At first glance the new Fly6 is very similar to its predecessor; it retains the rubber strap mounts (with aero seatpost compatibility), features a camera with rotating LED lights, and has the bright LEDs you expect of a rear bicycle light. It has retained the two buttons (on/off and light mode) as well as the micro SD card for storing the video footage. The new Fly6 is smaller in height than its predecessor, however, shaving 2 centimeters off and bringing it down to 8.5cm tall.

Fly6 Comparison

Old New Fly6 Comparison

Aside from the height reduction, the other obvious change is that the USB and micro SD card slots have been moved from underneath the unit to the side of the unit, and the USB port on the new Fly6 is the more compact mini-USB version.

New Fly6 USB Port

New Fly6 Micro SD Card Slot

Beneath the surface, the main technical improvements are brighter lights, louder audio signals, and a longer run time of up to 6 hours. The video resolution, however, has remained at 1280×720, and I queried Andrew Hagen on this. While the Fly6 is not a sports action cam, isn’t it possible to increase the resolution?

“Part of the fast turn around was based on keeping many of the principles of Fly6 Original but applying better quality components and a higher quality manufacturing process. As such, the 720 resolution was retained however, part of the improvements for the new Fly6 included a higher quality camera module and sensor (which is why the FOV went from 130 to 100 degrees). In addition, we changed the way the device was assembled from a three part over-moulded front cover (which had a tendency to create undetectable distortions in the lens) to a two part front cover joined together through ultrasonic bonding (which does not distort the optically correct lens).

“With the new module, sensor and lens bonding process, the result is much clearer footage without the wasted fish-eyed effect on the edge. We would like to move up to 1080 but it requires a complete re-design which we don’t have the capacity to do at the moment.”

Cycliq Fly6 Light Modes

But before releasing the new camera, part of the research and development for Cycliq was testing prototypes. I was fortunate to be involved in the early prototype testing and providing product feedback. But did the feedback from the testers made its way onto the new Fly6? Mr Hagen comments, “With the new Fly6 testing, we backed off on the number of testers from 150 to around 25-30. This gave us much better and more concise feedback. Our new factory is much more responsive to changes and the result was from our weekly surveys that a number of both hardware and software suggestions were able to be implemented.

“One of our testers in particular suggested a couple of hardware changes that were implemented in the next prototype and he couldn’t believe how his words turned into physical changes in just a few weeks. Even without testing groups we get suggestions all the time and they are great to hear, however people expect most of them to be just a ‘firmware’ modification and don’t understand how difficult even a seemingly simple change can be to do.”

 

So how did the new Fly6 perform?

Before prototype testing, I was using the original Fly6 permanently, so when the next generation (new) Fly6 arrived, it was business as usual, performing as I expected. I noticed that the beeps were louder, but I still didn’t hear beeps while riding. In practice, the camera will only beep if it is about to stop recording or run out of battery, for me the road noise is too loud so it is worthwhile ensuring that the unit is charged.

Fly6 Camera Light Mounted

The lights are certainly brighter, though for summer riding I tend to dim my lights below the brightest settings. In winter, for dark, early morning rides I will revert to brighter settings to maximise my visibility, however for bunch riding it is worth showing consideration for others in the group and dimming the bike light accordingly.

The following video demonstrates the light settings.

I used the aero seat-tube adapter to allow me to mount the bike light and camera on my road bike. One observation was that the further down the seat post I mounted the Fly6 camera, the more stable the footage. During testing, when running two cameras on the same seat post (my jersey pockets were stuffed with the contents of my saddle bag), the top camera always seemed to be more susceptible to movement, although the original fly6 handled it better.

Testing fly6 bike camera

Looking at the technology, the mini USB port is convenient and it is setup to allow the Fly6 to mount directly onto the desktop of my mac. For the mac, I traditionally used VLC for non-standard file formats (and on Apple Mac, .AVI is non-standard). MPlayerX was recommended by Cycliq and is a much more stable option for playing the .avi files on the mac. Editing .avi files on a Mac is difficult, so the files need to be converted, and SmartConverter is a good software solution which easily converts the .avi to the Mac friendly quicktime. Speaking of software, SDFormatter is a must-have. From time-to-time, or if there are recording issues, SDFormatter is useful for wiping the micro SD card.

There is also an on-board formatting option, the camera uses an editable config.txt file which allows you to set the date and time so that it is recorded directly onto the video footage (a very useful feature). The config.txt file can also be modified to instruct the camera to self-format. Here are the formatting instructions from the Cycliq Support Site.

 

Recording and Numberplate recognition

While there are spectacular videos on the Cycliq website of bike riders stacking and crashing, the role of the Fly6 camera is to help protect the bike rider and this means recording vehicle number plates in the case of an accident or a reportable driving offence. [There is a fierce debate among cyclists discussing which infringements are reportable, this is best tackled in the Australian Cycling Forums]. Put simply, the video data (evidence) and number plate recognition is what it is all about.

Fly6 Close Passing

In the review of the original Fly6 it became obvious that the closer a vehicle passed, the easier it was to recognise the number plate. The new Fly6 appears to provide clearer number plate recognition towards the edges. The ability to recognise number plates. however, will always be affected by the light conditions, so poor light conditions such as darkness, glare, strong contrasts, and even rain will make it harder to read the number plates. Vehicle proximity and speed will also affect the ability to read however when it matters, the chances are than enough information is available to identify the vehicle.

Car Accident Bicycle Numberplate

But there are two key points on the number plate recognition, firstly a motor vehicle driving dangerously, or who hits you, is likely to be closer to you, so you have a better change to identify the vehicle. Secondly, reviewing the video footage and shuffling through the footage or watching frame-by-frame can aid you in identifying the number plate.

Keep in mind that for some incidents, the motorist may already be identified, so the video footage gives the authorities supporting evidence. In an incident where I was verbally abused by P-Plater hoons, I shouted out the number plate and the Fly6 recorded this audio.


Video Quality

The comparison video relied upon mounting both cameras on the seat post, one on top of the other. With this approach, the top camera suffered more vibration.

The comparison of the original Fly6 and the new Fly6 reveals:
• The new Fly6 has a smaller viewing angle of 100° compared with 130° for the original.
• The video footage for the new Fly6 appears to have deeper contrast and a green tinge
• The audio recoding for the new Fly6 is louder

It is difficult to compare the number plate recognition, however I didn’t perceive a substantial difference in quality with the new Fly6. Video changes are subtle, though the unit as a whole has proven itself as a permanent accessory for my riding.

Fly6 Broken Strap

One issue I experienced was a broken rubber mounting strap. To suit different sized seat posts, the mounting solution needs to be flexible, so while the rubber straps are flexible in this respect, they can easily break when over-stretched.

 

On the horizon for Fly

The Fly6 has proven itself popular, and almost immediately after being released people were asking for a front light version, possibly a ‘Fly12’, a name suggested by members in the Australian Cycling Forums many months ago. Recently the Fly12, as suspected, a front light with integrated camera to compliment the Fly6, was announced.

Andrew Hagen provided feedback on these next steps, “As you know the name Fly6 means a Fly on the wall watching your back (or 6 o’clock) and the front solution will of course be called Fly12 as it is still a fly on the wall but now it is facing forward (towards your 12 o’clock). It didn’t take long for people to start asking us about Fly12 and the BNA forums are no different – in fact there was quite some chatter about what features it should have. Quite the crowd design studio you have there!”

Cycliq Fly12 Kickstarter Camera

“In reality, we thought of Fly12 three years ago when we thought of Fly6. It was just that we decided to develop Fly6 first given there were a number of camera solutions at the time people were using for the front of the bike. We have only now had the time and resources to focus on Fly12. What to expect? Well, without giving too much away we have decided to do a Kickstarter campaign for Fly12 early this year. We found it was a great way of getting people involved in the process of bringing a product to life. In terms of the device itself – we have recently got our first prototype and to say that I am a little excited is a massive understatement! Some people say the design of Fly6 is “a bit retro” and I can’t really disagree with them but if Fly6 is retro then Fly12 is going to be very current’!”

 

 The Fly6 Verdict

The new Fly6 has received an all-round update, although original Fly6 owners don’t need to upgrade yet. The new unit is a little more convenient and a little more refined, plus the six hour battery run time makes it more practical for long distance cycling. The improvements in video quality are not as substantial as anticipated, but spot-tests to recognise number plates show that this will help with incident capture and number plate recognition.

The looped recording feature and ‘crash protection’ features mean that the Fly6 is still unique and indispensable.

Fly6 is available in bicycle shops across Australia (distributor Jet Black) or is available online directly from Cycliq for $275 (plus postage) and comes with an 8GB micro SD card, cable, and mount.

Cyclisq Fly6 Bike Video Camera

 

BNA Fly6 Giveaway

Cycliq have kindly provided a Fly6 to give away to a BNA reader – simply comment below answering the question; if you won a Fly6, how would you celebrate?

25 words or less, closes noon AEST on February 20, 2015. I will chose the best answer, our Terms and Conditions for competitions apply and this is a ‘game of skill’.



Product Details:

New Fly6 (RRP $ 275)

Related: Fly6

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About The Author

Christopher Jones is a recreational cyclist and runs a professional design business, Signale. As the driving force behind Bicycles.net.au he has one of each 'types' of bicycles.

79 responses to “Review – New Fly6 and the Fly12 sneak peek”

  1. Steven Vo says:

    Dress in drag and dance behind my bike with the new Fly6 mounted, turning it into an “action camera”!

  2. Travis says:

    I would celebrate by getting back on the bike after being hit by a car while addressing my anxiety feeling safer with a Fly6. Thanks

  3. Jason says:

    I’d give it to a mate to provide piece of mind whilst he was riding.

  4. michael winearls says:

    If i won a new Fly6 i would celebrate by giving my old Fly6 to a freind who doesn’t yet have the pleasure of one

  5. Michael Winearls says:

    If i won a new Fly6 i would celebrate by giving my old Fly6 to a friend who doesn’t yet have that piece of mind.

  6. I’d give my old Fly6 to a fellow MAMIL and take the day off work to spend riding with the new one!

  7. AJM says:

    I would be inspired to train harder so that I would be able to see the look of anguish on my competitors faces as I passed them.

  8. Daniel says:

    Great review, If I won the fly6 I would celebrate by mounting it to my bike and climbing springbrook for the first time!

  9. I’d celebrate by sticking it on my bike and going for a ride 🙂

  10. Mel Litchfield says:

    I would click in the pedals and stop when I hear the fly6 beep flat battery. A long ride, definitely!

  11. Sonya says:

    I’d celebrate by putting the money I’d saved into the Fly12 kickstarter campaign.

  12. Ian says:

    I would take off my original Kickstarter purchased Fly6, give it to my best mate and start using the awesome new Fly6, cleverly made by Cycliq.

  13. Pete Roberts says:

    If I won the fly 6, I would ride with more confidence knowing that you have my back covered !
    Thanks Cycliq 🙂

  14. Eleanor says:

    It would be a surprise birthday present to my partner who is blind in one eye to provide the extra vision that he needs in traffic, providing me with peace of mind.

  15. Eleanor says:

    A surprise birthday present to my partner, who is blind in one eye, providing the extra vision he needs in traffic.

  16. Barrie Holding says:

    I would to look at the video of me going down Fleet Moss in the Yorkshire Dales at over 65 mph

  17. Ben says:

    Finally getting to see the face on that one guy I can drop on my commute.

  18. David Nichols says:

    if I won a new Fly6 I would almost, (read that ALMOST) look forward to my next crash.

  19. Norm says:

    I would start documenting my daily commute. And then upload the highlights and lowlights to twitter, hash tagging #Cyclic and #BicyclesNetworkAustralia

  20. Ben Ly says:

    I’d (try to) ride a little faster knowing that I have the Fly6 watching my back!

  21. Luke J says:

    I’d send my mate Jezza a video of his sufferface, he says he’s cruising and that I need to see Wizard for some heart! REALLY?

  22. Timothy Rowe says:

    Extreme mental High Fives of course!

  23. Russ Wolfe says:

    I’d go for a ride with my 2 girls (aged 8 & 6) and then share the video with their classmates to increase their awareness of what goes on behind them when they’re cycling.

  24. Viv says:

    I’ll celebrate winning the Fly6 with an epic scenic ride, champagne after & my first bike video using the Fly6! Plus potentially matching it with the Fly12 🙂

  25. Kentish Nightmare says:

    Discreetly attach the Fly6 onto my girlfriend’s horse on her competition day.

  26. Rob Gregory says:

    I’d wheelie to work Peter Sagan style whilst eating a dozen bananas

  27. Alex says:

    Invite friends over with their fly6’s, set up a fly6 light rave party in my bike shed and record it all using our fly6’s!

  28. Steve Hunt says:

    Probably attach it to the back of my old bucket helmet and get on my old steel bike and go and find some carbon wheeled roadies to pass

  29. Ken says:

    If I won it I’d celebrate by fitting it to my wife’s trike so that she’ll have both the Fly6 and me covering her back plus video of me huffing and puffing as I chase after her.

  30. Hugh says:

    With a Fly6 I’d ride in the day and ride in the night, ride on the roads and ride with rear sight.

  31. Paul says:

    I would celebrate by buying one for my wife’s bike to match.

  32. Summer says:

    I’d celebrate by calling my new Fly6 ChristoFly Jones, in honour of BNA’s finest.

  33. cp123 says:

    I would FLY high, like a bird in the sky. Like an eagle that FLYs on the breeze. FLY over mountains and forests and seas

  34. Chris says:

    Sell my old Fly6, donate all but $5 of money received to charity, and celebrate by using that last $5 to buy myself a beer.

  35. Queequeg says:

    I would try and film myself doing some “Fly6” Strava Art!

  36. Pirate Pete says:

    My parrot died, who’s going to keep an eye on where I left me treasure. Fly6’s got my back!

  37. Simon Hookham says:

    To save weight! I could ditch the GoPro and three rear lights, and use the Fly6 instead. A much tidier solution.

  38. Gerard Campbell says:

    I’d celebrate by going for a ride then use the Fly6 footage to prove to my wife that it has my back on the road.

  39. Leigh says:

    I’d hook it up to the bike & then ride it like I stole it – of coarse!!

  40. Adam says:

    If I won a Fly6 I would strap it to my trusty commuter and give my family some peace of mind that I am being watched over as I ride.

  41. Andrew aperelson says:

    I’d fly. 6 times faster than I currently do.

  42. John says:

    If I won the FLY6 I will start riding again just like a real Aussie with yet another fly(6) on my back.

  43. Pauline says:

    Being new to cycling the Fly6 would give me piece of mind and record for all my rides… the good, the bad and the ugly!

  44. Anthony says:

    With my new Fly6, I can ride with confidence and safely on the roads in Sydney, and tell everyone about Fly6!

  45. Greg Bland says:

    Install it, confidently ride with it watching my back, brag to my cycling buddies about my Fly6 spy:-)

  46. Bob Wagner says:

    I would go straight to the garage, and mount the Fly6 on my wife’s bike!

  47. Shannon says:

    My answer is a bit more serious. I would simply tell all of my friends honestly about how happy I am to win and how aside from winning it’s actually a product they should buy.

  48. Rob says:

    If I won a Fly6, I’d use it on see who’s checking out my buns of steel on the ride to work.

  49. Rob says:

    If I won a Fly6, I’d use it to see who’s checking out my buns of steel on the ride to work.

  50. Chris Hall says:

    Being a relatively new rider, there is a great fear of being hit by a driver. With the fly6 on my rear, I need not fear, for the cops will come and make them wiser.

  51. Robert says:

    I’d celebrate by going “Woohoo!”… and then feel ashamed about mounting it on my commuter bike that’s worth less than the camera. 😀

  52. Chance says:

    Winning a FLY6 would help me catch the bloke who clipped my back wheel and drove off. If only I had a Fly6

  53. Chris Crash says:

    I ride on Melbourne’s Beach Road. Every ride at least one car will come too close. I want the Fly6 in case of the worst.

  54. Dave says:

    RideRideRideMyBike

  55. Aaron Green says:

    Just enjoy the ride, like always, but this time knowing FLY6 is on watch.

  56. Tony says:

    Give it a short test run mounted to the back of my helmet. Just for a different perspective. Might try the front too!

  57. Andrew says:

    upon fly6 enlightenment I will ride in zen-like harmony among the traffic.

  58. stan says:

    I would go for a nice long ride knowing that I had some security, and hope that I never have to use the recorded images on the Fly6.

  59. Claire says:

    I would use my Fly6 to put my families minds at rest, as they worry about me when I ride.

  60. Nigel Apps says:

    The Safety Cam feature of the Fly6 is a fantastic progression in modern cycling. The Safety Cam in my car is used everyday, great peace of mind to have the ability to review any potential events – positive or negative.

  61. Rachel says:

    I’d ask my husband to gift wrap it for me and repeat these words: “Sorry about forgeting Valentine’s Day – will you forgive me?”

  62. Mick says:

    Celebrate the fact I have someone watching my back – from under my back-side!

  63. Mark says:

    With the Fly6 I see the sweaty grimace on Cadel’s face as he strains to keep up on the final sprint…..oh, is morning already?

  64. Chalkiewa says:

    What would I do?
    Strap it on and punish my riding buddy, record his pain and gloat.
    (he usually pays out on me!)

  65. Julian says:

    I would capture the joy of my toddler’s face as I tow him behind in the bike trailer while daddy goes fast but stays protected

  66. derekw60 says:

    Take the front position with my Saturday club peleton and push on fast to see them puffing.

  67. Jason says:

    I’d kill 6 flys with a fly swat.. then go for a ride.

  68. pez says:

    I would be wearing a screen-printed jersey with ‘Smile, you are being photographed’ on it.

  69. Matthew says:

    “I want to get away,
    I want to Fly awaaay,
    Yeh, Yeh, Yeh!”

    Wish I’d had one last time I was cut off in traffic.

  70. simon sausage says:

    I’d celebrate by taking the new Fly6 along on the next World Naked Bike Ride day! Wooo Hooo!!!

  71. Scott BJ says:

    I’d lock my bike at a roundabout facing the road with my Fly6 recording and count the number of drivers that actually look right. Oh, Ok I’d go for a 200km bike ride naked whilst doing a wheelie and singing Mark Ronson’s “Bike Song”. Better?

  72. Jon says:

    I’d ride more.

  73. Gareth says:

    By going for a ride of course!

  74. Jill says:

    Head out for my daily ride with a bigger smile on my face than usual. Next model “On-the-fly” – for selfies capturing the joy of cycling.

  75. !!!! COMPETITION NOW CLOSED !!!!!

    Lots of Awesome entries, they will each be read and the winner announced shortly.

  76. WHO IS OUR WINNER….

    DRUM ROLL….

    Lets start with commendable entries, the ones who were very close.

    Steven Vo was first up and said he would “Dress in drag and dance behind my bike with the new Fly6 mounted, turning it into an “action camera”!” I just wasnt’t absolutely certain he would deliver.

    Ben started with a common theme, “Finally getting to see the face on that one guy I can drop on my commute.” while Chris was really compassionate, “Sell my old Fly6, donate all but $5 of money received to charity, and celebrate by using that last $5 to buy myself a beer.”

    Norm was dedicated and was prepared to work hard for the win, “I would start documenting my daily commute. And then upload the highlights and lowlights to twitter, hash tagging #Cyclic and #BicyclesNetworkAustralia”

    And John hoisted the national flag for this one “If I won the FLY6 I will start riding again just like a real Aussie with yet another fly(6) on my back.”

    THEN THERE WERE THE SUPER CYCLISTS

    Rob got himself an automatic disqualification with “If I won a Fly6, I’d use it on see who’s checking out my buns of steel on the ride to work.” Nobody wants to see Robs buns of steel.

    Mark thought he was Australia’s greatest cyclist, until he woke up, “With the Fly6 I see the sweaty grimace on Cadel’s face as he strains to keep up on the final sprint…..oh, is morning already?”

    And Summer tried to sucker up and win brownie points with me… didn’t work, “I’d celebrate by calling my new Fly6 ChristoFly Jones, in honour of BNA’s finest.”

    AND THEN, THERE WERE THE OTHER ONES

    Kentish got a bit weird and said he would “Discreetly attach the Fly6 onto my girlfriend’s horse on her competition day.” Not sure what to say about that but probably best that you don’t get the Fly6.

    simon sausage, is either a free spirt… or very creepy, “I’d celebrate by taking the new Fly6 along on the next World Naked Bike Ride day! Wooo Hooo!!!”

    And what would a competition be without a pirate? Pirate Pete said, “My parrot died, who’s going to keep an eye on where I left me treasure. Fly6’s got my back!”

    BUT WE NEED ONE WINNER… CONGRATULATIONS RUSS WOLFE. What appealed to me was the educational value and having future generations consider whether the current system can be improved upon. This is what he said, “I’d go for a ride with my 2 girls (aged 8 & 6) and then share the video with their classmates to increase their awareness of what goes on behind them when they’re cycling.”

    THANK YOU EVERYONE for you participation, of course a big thanks to Cycliq who kindly provide the prize. Do check out the Fly12 on Kickstarter which looks pretty awesome.

    • Steven Vo says:

      Congrats Russ!

      Though Chris you missed out on what could’ve been some great footage.

      Hint: I’m 178cm and 87kg. My gf is a size 150cm tall and a size 6.

  77. Gerard van Ommen says:

    I have used the original Fly6 since preorders were sent. I am disappointed by the video quality. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security with a Fly6. I love the idea and hats off to the creators but the ability to pick out licenses is dubious at best. I have needed to pick out a plate a few times, from abuse and an object thrown at my wife but unless the conditions are perfect (smooth road, overcast or reasonable lighting, car close, and bike steady) the chances of getting a read are disappointingly low. I suspect the new fly6 is a little better but it still suffers from lack of image stabalisation, and low dynamic range which is critical when the a successful plate ID is the difference between contrasts of grey, where shapes can only be defined by the right amount of colour detail over a few pixels.. I want to get a camera for my wife but I will wait until gopro battery life increases, and when the Hero Basic model comes with looping recording – hoping this will happen. Its a nice package and I expect it will get better, but currently its not as ‘safe’ as you may think.

  78. For detecting numberplates, it won’t give you perfect results in all conditions, some conditions such as darkness (night) just don’t work at all.

    But there are a few tricks to detecting numberplates, and one I use is ‘scrubbing’, shuffling back and forth over the video and letting my eyes do the maths to determine the letters. The nature of video is that it doesn’t transfer well into single frames, so the movement is useful.

    While the Fly6 is only 720p, from experience a GoPro1080p camera is not necessary going to deliver vastly superior results – worth trialling however all camera’s will suffer in poor light conditions.