Cycliq Fly12 front light with integrated camera - review
Clever 400-lumen front light with integrated 1080p camera
by John Hill
The Cycliq Fly12 was launched last year, building on the success of the Australian brand’s original Kickstarter success story, the Fly6. Whereas the Fly6, which we've already reviewed, is a rear light with an integrated camera, the Fly12 applies the same light/camera concept to the front and it has clearly had some considerable thought put into it, with a smart design and some innovative features.
The numbers behind the Fly12 are impressive, with the unit combining a 400-lumen front light with a 1080p camera. It’s easy to spot on the bars, given both the high intensity light and large size, but rather than just judging it on first looks, how has it fared through a long-term review?
In short, the camera works well in providing clear images and the light is easily good enough for most situations, apart from dedicated night riding or off-roading. On the other hand, my main gripes are that the unit is quite cumbersome and the charging time could be quicker. So let’s delve into a little more detail.
- Price: £275.00
- Maximum output: 400 lumens
- Maximum resolution: 1920 x 1080 @ 45 fps
- Website: Cycliq
- UK distributor: Madison
Given that the camera is the light’s unique element it is worth starting there. Firstly, the video quality is excellent, with a stable picture, rather than vibrating or blurring when either going fast or on uneven ground. Sound quality is crisp, too, and easy to hear back when reviewing videos.
Speaking of which, videos are created in an MP4 format, which means they are easy to play on most devices without the need to convert the film. Uploading can be done by removing the MicroSD card, plugging the unit into a computer with the supplied USB lead or by connecting the unit to your phone through WiFi and uploading to the accompanying app.
If you choose the WiFi option, it’s a simple process using one of the two buttons on the rear of the light and the app. It took me about 30 seconds to setup once the app had been downloaded, which is impressive both from a tech and user experience point of view. Once the video is uploaded to the app it can be edited to add tramlines (to demonstrate close passes, for instance) and there's a neat Strava integration to overlay your ride stats onto the video. In use, the Strava integration worked well, but I sometimes struggled to get the tramlines to appear, which was a little frustrating.
So far the Fly12 probably just sounds like a GoPro or any other action camera, albeit with a couple of additional superficial features built in, but there is one feature, also found on the Fly6, where it comes into its own as a cycling-specific piece of kit. The memory works on a constant loop, meaning that you never need to clear the memory. Once the SD card has run out of space, it deletes the oldest footage and records the newest in its place.
What’s more, if you are involved in an incident where you may need to save the footage, the Fly12 automatically keeps the 15 minutes before and after if the light is tilted 45 degrees, triggering the system to save the footage if you are knocked off. This can also be done by pressing one of the buttons on the rear of the unit.
What's more, if the Fly12 tilts past 60 degrees for more than five seconds (thus suggesting you may have been in a crash), it will record for a further 30 minutes before saving and powering off (preventing it from overwriting the footage in the looping recording).
Another neat feature is the ability to use the light to notify your smartphone (via Bluetooth) if your bike has been moved when you’ve left it outside a coffee shop (the Fly12 also sounds an alarm, turns the camera on and starts the light flashing, to try and ward off would-be thieves).
The Fly12 is supplied with a mount which can hold the light either above or below the bars. I used the unit in both positions, but spent most of the review with the Fly12 underneath the bar. Although the camera worked well regardless of position, they both have their flaws, with above the bar sitting the unit quite high and below the bar hiding the battery indicator.
That’s the camera covered, then, but of course there’s more to the Fly12 than that. It also provides 400 lumens of light in a number of different sequences, including flashing, solid and intermittent. Four hundred lumens is plenty to keep you seen on the road, but also provides enough illumination to light the way in front of you when riding steadily. Importantly, it also offers enough light to film effectively in the dark, casting enough light to catch important details and reflecting well off signs and number plates.
In terms of looks, it doesn’t really look like a camera, which some riders will appreciate as cyclists armed with cameras can carry a certain reputation. It’s also a smart-looking unit with brushed aluminium in the centre with hard matte black plastic at either end - but it is big, meaning that although it can certainly sit on top of the bars, it feels better suited to below the bars, purely because of the size. This size, plus the aluminium body, means that it is also quite heavy, coming in at 291g.
Battery life on the unit is relatively good. I generally used the Fly12 on my daily 45-minute commute, with the camera running and the light flashing, and needed to charge it about once a week. Battery life is indicated by both an audible beep (each beep represents approximately 25 per cent of battery life, so four beeps means it has somewhere between 75 and 100 per cent charge) and an LED light on the top of the unit. Charging times vary considerably between a wall plug (around three to hour hours) and a laptop (9+ hours), so really you need to go for the former.
Having used this light for around six months in the UK, I can safely say that it has survived in some pretty poor conditions. I have used it in the summer with highs approaching 35 degrees and down to minus two in hail and heavy rain. When it rains there are naturally some drips on the lens, but that’s about the only thing that has impacted on its performance.
The final thing to mention is the price, which at £275.00 certainly isn’t small change, particularly given you can pick up a cheap light and action cam for less than £80. Still I think the Fly12 can justify its price tag as a high-quality piece of cycling-specific kit - it just won’t be for everyone.
The Cycliq Fly12 is an innovative product which has the safety of its users at its heart, with a good-quality camera integrated with a bright, 400-lumen light. It’s not the most subtle piece of kit - I have had a few bike shop owners laugh at its size and I’d like to see it put into a more compact unit - but, despite testing more than 20 lights from a range of manufacturers over the past six months, the Fly12 is always the one I have chosen to use when not reviewing, which is testament to it’s effectiveness and quality.
- High-quality 1080p video
- Effective 400-lumen light
- WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity
- Easy to use via the app
- Size and weight
- Slow charging from laptops