- by Christopher Jones
- Published: 24 October 2016
The Fly12 is new, but not that new for me. As a beta-tester, I have already relied on this nifty bike light and camera combo from for over a year and it accompanies every time I ride my bike. During this time i’ve had the opportunity to see what what it can do well and where it needed to improve (which it has is many ways). But biggest plus has been able to rely on this cleverly integrated light and camera which takes away a lot of the hassles of your average sports action camera. The biggest strength of the Fly12 is ‘set and forget’.
Priced at $499, the Fly12 it sits in the premium price range, ahead of the Garmin Virb and and Shimano Sports Cameras which are the closets competitors in ‘bike specific’ cameras. On pricing it compares with the Garmin Virb XE or the GoPro Hero 5 sports action cameras but in many ways is a better video camera for your bike. The integrated light is a feature unique to the Fly12, it was designed to mount on the handlebars plus it integrates with the popular ride sharing app, Strava to overlay ride data onto your video footage.
In case you are wondering what Fly12 means, it’s sibling is the rear facing bike camera and light called the Fly6. Think of a fly on the wall and clock hands pointing at 6 O’Clock. Got it?
Unboxing and Setup
Let’s take a look at some of the details of the Fly12. Inside the nice packaging you get the Fly12 integrated camera and light unit along with a micro-USB charging cable, a mount for your handlebars, a tether and an SD card adapter. The camera is delivered with an 8 GB micro-SD card and as many computers have an SD card reader, the supplied adapter allows you to load the micro-SD on your computer.
Before you start, the first thing you need to do is get a a bigger micro-SD card. Opt for a 32GB or better, a 64GB card. As a tip, keep an eye on the ‘card speed’ because the memory card needs to be fast enough for live video, the super-cheap cards are typically unsuitable because they are too slow. As the strength of the FLY12 is to loop the recording and rewrite over old video, the larger your card, the more video data can be stored. On my first ride with the Fly12 provided for review, I forgot to switch out memory cards and in horror discovered that the first part of my 100km ride was lost.
The Fly12 unit, along with the mount ,weighs 260 grams and is heavier than you may expect. Most of the weight from the internal battery but trade-off is the integrated, powerful bike light and a long recording time. I used the prototype camera during a long distance cycle tour capturing over 6 hours of video footage each day and Cycliq say it can go up to 10 hours. The recording duration of the camera is influenced by the light setting, if the light is on the high power steady mode, the total recording time will drop. In contrast, flashing light settings and load light modes will reduce the battery drain and increase recording time.
The unit is waterproof and rain is no issue (though it will affect the picture quality of the recording). The Fly12 is well built and feels robust and I particular like the rubber seals for the micro-SD slot and micro-USB port which improve upon the design of the early prototypes and simply work well.
Mounting the Fly12
The Fly12 Camera and Light unit comes with a handlebar mount and can be positioned either above or underneath the handlebars. The supplied mount works best on the larger 32mm diameter handlebars and for thinner bars, simple wrap some old tubing around it to fill space before mounting. I used the camera both on a road bike with the camera mounted under the bars and on my commuter with the camera mounted on-top. It is easy to remove the camera as the mounting screw can be fastened and undone by hand.
Mounting under the handlebars is a far nicer option however gear and brake cables can prevent this. My solution is to use a 3rd party K-Edge GoBig Pro mount which pushes the camera forward and provides enough clearance from the cables. The K-Edge mounts are however ridiculously expensive ($70) and the supplied screws are prone to wear so make sure you use the Fly12 screw. If you search for cheaper alternatives, avoid plastic mounts because the plastic flexes and impacts the video quality.
When the camera is mounted on top of the bars, an LED light is visible and indicates that the camera is recording. Unfortunately there is no LED on the other side so if you mount the camera under the bars, you get no indication that the Fly12 is recording unless it is dark enough that you can see the light or you put your hand in-front of the camera to check that the light is on.
Once you have fastened the mount, it is super easy to get started. Give the camera a healthy charge using the USB cable (the light on the top turns green when fully charged), mount it and and you are ready to ride. Press and hold the power button to turn it on and you will hear some beeps. If you press the power button it changes the light mode, you have 3 light modes each with 3 levels of power. And that is all you really need to know for you daily use.
Unleashing more settings with the Cycliq Plus App
The Cycliq Plus app is available for Android and iOS and gives you access to lots of settings such as changing the video resolution, adjusting light settings, remote recording, setting the bike alarm and sharing video footage.
I tested both the Android and the iOS app and on both systems and while the features of the app is good, actually getting a connection to the camera has proven difficult at times.
In brief, you can connect to the Fly12 via BLE – Low Energy Bluetooth and can adjust most of the settings. If you want to watch and export videos, then you connect to the camera over WiFi. The following videos provide more details on connecting and as well as how to connect with Strava and export videos with Strava data overlays.
Cycliq Fly12 on Video
400 Lumen Bike Lights
The integrated light is excellent and I have used it for riding in pitch black conditions through to daytime riding. For riding in dark conditions the beam pattern is balanced and it gives you enough light to identify potholes and obstacles. It strikes a nice balance between providing enough light but without making the entire unit too big and bulky. There are three main light modes (steady, flashing, pulse) and each are available in high, medium and low power. I prefer the pulse mode which has a steady light for half a second that then flashes twice.
This is a bonus feature which I accidentally set and tripped so ended up rushing to load the app and turn off the loud peeping sound coming from the camera. The alarm is a good idea for the coffee shop although it doesn’t replace a bike lock when you leave your bike unattended.
Cycliq probably wont appreciate it if I say that cycling footage can get rather boring. When nothing exciting is happening, the novelty of watching your rides wears off fairly quickly. But that is why the ‘set and forget’ format of the Fly12 makes sense, just charge it regularly and when something does happen, you have access to the footage.
The Fly12 loops the recording and the camera takes care of the rest and incrementally overwrites old video. The video is recorded in 5 minute blocks (ca. 755mb) and a thumbnail version (ca. 42mb) is also stored which is used for video previews when using the Cycliq app. The MP4 format makes the video easy to access and view and you can get the footage by connecting over USB, by removing and accessing the micro-SD card (with the SD card adapter) or using the Cycliq Plus app to export and share video.
An incident mode (active by default) detects if the camera is on its side and then sets the camera to stop recording after 30 minutes to ensure footage surrounding the incident is retained. If you capture footage while riding that you want to save, you can press the wifi button which will save 5 minutes of video and prevent it from being overwritten. The idle mode (also active by default) lets the camera turns itself off when there is no movement for a while.
In terms of video quality, the Fly6 doesn’t have the finesse of the GoPro Hero 4 black but in my experience, it is comparable with the Garmin Virb XE and better than the regular Garmin Virb and Shimano Action Camera. Video quality on any camera will always be affected by the light and weather conditions, the better the light and clarity, the better the results. Bike mounted camera’s have to contend with vibration and I feel that the image stabilisation of the Fly12 is quite mature along with the ability to adapt to different light conditions.
Budding filmmakers expecting broadcast quality video may be disappointed but this is a bike camera better suited to the everyday rider who wants to capture each ride. If something amazing happens, or something bad, it is on video. The footage also contains the Cycliq logo and timestamp in the bottom right corner which is useful for documenting the exact time.
In a Nutshell
The Fly12 is not a cheap bike camera but it is coupled with a powerful light and is built specifically for cycling. Unlike many sports action camera’s, it works exceptionally well as a bike camera. In fact, it is the best bike camera for everyday riding and will take care of you whether you just want the convenience of a ‘set and forget’ bike camera or want more interaction to control the settings and share video.
For more details and ordering, visit cycliq.com
Competition – Fly12 Giveaway Winner
Congratulations Emma R. who captured my attention with her entry.
Things will look sweet
As I capture the street
With my Fly12
Lighting the way
Thank you to everyone who entered (I read every single entry in the comments and facebook). Thank you to Cycliq for kindly providing this prize.