Updated Review: Cycliq Fly12

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.

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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.

Unboxing

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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.

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Usability

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:

  1. Red recording indicator on the front face of the unit.
  2. 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.

Footage

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.

Conclusion

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.

Update:

Thanks Adrian for the questions:

  1. 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?

209 grams

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

Update 2:

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.

Scott,

Thanks for your early review of our latest product, Fly12, and inviting me to add my comments. We love hearing from our customers to give us their thoughts on the good the bad and the ugly!
We did consider adding a light to the bottom of the unit as we suspected most people would mount it under their computer (as you do) however this was going to add size, weight and cost to the unit. In addition, we thought that it too would be hard to read under the computer and below or around the stem & cables (depending on the set up).
To solve this, we added audio alerts that you can configure so you don’t even have to do a simple lean forward to know what your Fly12 is doing. The alerts are configurable to your needs. For me – I don’t use them as I don’t need to know what is going on with my Fly12 during my ride as I know what it is doing when I turn it on (turning on chime tells me it recording & battery level beeps tells me how long I can ride for). Some people like to know what is happening during their ride and they turn on the audio chimes to 3, 5 or 10 minute intervals which tell you the unit is still recording and how much power there is remaining. From your comments, it sounds like you should use the chimes to give you that peace of mind that the unit is still doing it’s thing. We preferred this method to adding new LEDs because it makes the unit simpler, cheaper and lighter and it allows for different peoples preferences.
You also compared us to an ‘action camera’ when we are not really in that class of device. We are really in a class on our own which I know makes it hard to compare us to anything except and action camera with a light strapped onto it! The difference is that we have made it for us cyclists in mind with features that no other action camera would or should have. We have made it the size it is so that we can use the unit for long rides or only having to charge it once a week for commuters doing many short rides. We like using Strava, so we included the ability to add the metrics to the footage (which I see you like as well!). We added the alarm feature and the tram lines and many more cool features that really, only us cyclists are going to get utility out of.
In the review it said that you can overlay the metrics the same was as you can with Garmin Virb but my understanding is that you need to download the software on your computer, upload the video onto your computer and post produce the metrics there on your computer. With our system as you know, you can do all that from your phone within 2 minutes, you can have your footage with overlays posted to your favourite social media platform or MMS’d to your buddies.
I’m glad you are enjoying your Fly12 and look forward to more cool videos!
Regards
Andrew Hagen
Cycliq, CEO

12 thoughts on “Updated Review: Cycliq Fly12

  1. I just received mine today, such a nice surprise after a long wait. I have 2 x fly6, I love them. First impression is yes it’s bigger than expected I suspect that will be overlooked when I see the battery great life on action. Initial thoughts buttons are in bad position to click on and off. Obstructed by my cables when installed under my Garmin out front mount. Also I like to charge my stuff on the bike so the charge port is in a bad position also. Other than that build quality looks excellent and video footage is superb.

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  2. So I got my hands on a Fly12. As far as the video recording and light package goes, it’s about as good as it can get at the moment on the market. BUT… transferring the file from the Fly12 to my iPhone 6s Plus is a pain in the a**!!! I tried to extract an entire 5 min clip and with a HUD overlay. 9/10 times when I’m almost done, my app will auto exit and the overlay is not done and my video is not saved. I only managed to save 3 videos so far. 2 clips (10 secs and 15 secs long with tramlines) and 1 clip (3 mins with HUD). I may be doing something wrongly but I can’t seem to find the cause of the app quitting on me. tried restarting my phone but i still have the same problem. urgh.

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  3. I can’t get my unit to overlay strava data. I log in to strava via the cycliq app, go back to cycliq at which point teh camera disconnects from the phone and i can’t review the footage. Does it require the strava premium account to work do you know?

    Oh, i used to live in singapore too and had a gopro (720p) which i used to record rides from normanton and around – showing that SG really is a lovely place to ride around!

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    1. is your strava account linked to your facebook? by that I mean when you get to the strava log in page, at the top, there is an option to log in with facebook. or is your account tagged to your email which you then link to facebook. Mine account is the log in with facebook option and i can never overlay my bpm onto my videos.

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  4. I was a Kickstarter backer for the Fly12 and a Fly6 owner. I’m happy with the Fly6 although I had to send one back for a replacement, The Fly12 is, in short, flaky. It can’t be relied upon to work properly. Right now mine will not turn on, even after multiple memory card reformats using their suggested SDFormatter and reinstalling the firmware. For the week I had it and it did work (sort of), I had to carry a needle with me so that I could do a hard reset, because it would be working fine, I’d turn it off, then it wouldn’t turn back on again. When I did a hard reset, it would work fine until the next shut off, before a full charge. Save your money.

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    1. I had the exact same problem, Dave. After six months of runaround from customer service, I am still trying to sort it out. I wonder if they are trying to cover-up a known issue. Their current best diagnosis is “dead battery”. Incompetent or willfully negligent, you decide.

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  5. Great review. Could I please ask what mount you are using for your Garmin and Fly12. I’m running out of space on my bars and that looks like it’ll solve the problem. Thanks

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  6. Hi,

    Saw the 1st Kickstarter Pic with the buttons on the top of Fly12…. What are those functions? It seems like yours don’t have those buttons on it? “Feeling Strange”

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  7. Did you have an opportunity to run the battery test in each of the three scenarios you listed above? If so, what were the results? Thanks.

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