In March 2015, I backed a Kickstarter project for an ambitious cyling device. Despite past successes, I admit that I was doubtful Cycliq could deliver on the ambitious feature list of the Fly 12. The initial price(USD259) wasn’t cheaper either.
Fly12 is a 1080p HD camera and 400 lumen front light in one compact and smart unit. Featuring a sleek minimalist design with a battery run-time of up to 10 hours on camera only mode or 6 hours with camera on and in flashing light mode, Fly12 can capture and store your ride in case anything happens.
Cycliq is the technological innovator behind Fly6. Successfully funded on Kickstarter in March 2014, Fly6 is a HD camera and light for the rear of your bike; it watches your back. It’s now a popular rear light choice globally. Past success usually is a good indicator for repeated success, but as a year past, the Fly12 was a distant memory. In that time I had already bought an on bike camera, and had more than enough lights.
After over a year’s waiting, I am pleased to announce that my Fly12 arrived on Thursday April 21st, 2016. Initially when the package arrived, I had no idea what is was. The lengthy wait had push the memory of my purchase to the back of my brain.
Initial impressions were looking good. The team had put a great deal of thought into the device’s packaging. It even came with three months of Strava premium membership, and they’d included a memory card. Nothing worse than getting new tech, only to find out you’re missing a battery or a memory card.
I charged the unit overnight, and planned to use it on rides over the weekend. But not before I familiarized myself with the controls. Typical of action cameras, the Fly12 has just two buttons. One is the power, which also controls the light function, while the Wifi button doubles as a control for capturing.
Initial thoughts of the unit are that it’s big. Enclosing both a light and camera in a single housing means the unit has a large battery and a broader face. For me however, the most important part is the mount. I already have a K-Edge Combo mount for my Garmin Edge 520 and Garmin Virb XE, so connecting the Fly12 into the GoPro mount works perfectly. But it doesn’t come without it’s challenges. You see the Fly12’s buttons are on the rear of the device, and the indicator light is on the top. So when the unit is inverted and mounted, the buttons are difficult to get to, and it’s hard to know what the camera is doing without being able to see the lights.
Which brings me to my pet hate. Almost every camera on the market has a red light on the front of the camera when it’s recording. So I simple lean forward means you can check what the camera is doing. But the Fly12 doesn’t have this little red light. So when playing with the camera, I had to get off the bike to check if its recording. Compare that to the Garmin Virb XE, where all I do is flick the physical switch forward and I know exactly what the camera is doing.
Throughout a ride, not knowing what the Fly12 was doing meant I eventually just ignored it. Which is rare for myself when playing with a new gadget. The poor usability meant I simply gave up. There are some simple design flaws that the team at Cycliq have built into the device, which I hope they correct in future updates. I would suggest two vital updates are:
- Red recording indicator on the front face of the unit.
- Move the indicator light from the rear section of the camera to the front, and place the indicator on both the top and bottom surfaces. That way they cater for both vertical mounting positions.
I suppose what really judges a camera is the footage. Cycliq planned this part well, integrating the Fly12 with Strava. Once your device is connected with Strava, it collects ride data and overlays it onto the footage. Much the same way that my Virb XE does, except with Fly12 the data comes direct from Strava.
The image quality is strong, with vibrant colors and no annoying auto focus issues. The aspect of the camera does attract some ‘curving’ at the edges, but that it similar to its competitors.
The Fly12 is a strong partner to the successful Fly6. It’s ideally designed for those that ride frequently after dark, which suits riding in Singapore. It does however have a few key usability flaws that need to be corrected in future updates. At the price I paid, it’s cheaper than buying a GoPro and a light. But with such a large unit, it’s a large investment.
I’d love to hear what other owners of the Fly12 think. And if anyone knows the team at Cycliq, I’d love to pass on my feedback.
Thanks Adrian for the questions:
- What was the actual battery life like?
Cycliq claims battery run time up to:
- 10hrs in camera only (for 1080p at 45 FPS)
- 6hrs (brightest flashing mode and camera)
- 2hrs (full 400 Lumen light and camera)
I haven’t yet run a battery test, so I’ll plan to test each of the scenarios later this week and share the results.
2. How do you generate and synchronise the Strava overlays with the recorded video?
Strava Sync was done through the device’s support app from Cycliq. When you connect to the camera via Wifi you can review the footage and opt to share it. Once on the sharing screen you can chose from a couple of overlays; Strava data and a map. After making your choice the app saves the overlap to your phone’s videos.
3. What’s its weight?
4. What’s the light’s beam shape/spread and are there brightness options e.g. Low/Medium/High?
This I’ll have to test. I used the light prior to sunrise on Sunday on well lit streets. I’ll have to take it out on some rides along poorly or non-lit streets over the coming weeks.
Let me know if anyone has anymore questions
I was humbled to hear from Andrew Hagen, CEO of Cycliq. It’s rare that companies are this engaging, so to have Andrew reach out shows me that he is an entrepreneur that’s keen to build a product that balances what the market wants and what’s commercially viable. Thanks Andrew for taking the time.