The Truth is a commodity that is becoming rarer with each passing day. Especially in the case of an incident between road users, the “truth” depends on who you talk to. This is why many car drivers are buying dash cams these days so that they have a visual record of what happened should they get involved in an incident with another road user. As a bonus dash cams have provided many hours of YouTube videos demonstrating just how scary the roads can be and how many very poor drivers there are out there. For many of the same reasons, more and more cyclists are also riding with video cameras on their bikes because let’s face it when you are riding a bike, and you get involved in an incident with a car driver it is rare that you will get the benefit of the doubt from an investigating law enforcement officer.
In Early 2014 a company called Cycliq held a Kickstarter for a new type of cycling video camera. It was a first of its kind combination of a rear facing HQ camera combined with a taillight. Needless to say, this was a very popular idea, and the Fly 6 was born. Almost as soon as the Fly 6 started shipping people started asking when Cycliq would come out with a front facing camera. The wait is now over, and not long ago the Fly 12, a combination HQ video camera and 400-lumen headlight hit the market. Is the question has the Fly 12 lived up to the long-held expectations? For right now the answer might depend on what type of phone you are using since some of the nice bells and whistles are only available through the Cycliq phone App and right now only an iPhone version of the App is available, but the company says an Android version of the App is in the works.
After having used the Fly 12 for a couple of weeks here is a quick rundown on the Pros and Cons.
- Long battery life, up to 10 hours in camera only mode and 5 hours using both the camera and light features.
- The recording doesn’t stop when your memory card fills up. If your ride outlasts the room on your memory card, the camera will write over the oldest video clip unless you have protected that clip due to an incident you want to review later.
- It seems well built and should be water tight for riding even in the worst downpour.
- The tramlines is a nice feature and can help show that a car passed you to closely.
- Strava integration is nice if you want to show off to your friends how hard you were working when you set that PR on your favorite segment.
- To get the Strava integration and the tramlines you have to process the video via your phone using the Cycliq app, so Android users are out of luck right now. Also if you have an older phone with less horsepower processing your videos will take a while.
- If you don’t have an iPhone you have to manually edit a text file to adjust many of the default settings and set the time and date stamp.
- It is bigger and heavier than most of the other camera alone options, but you have to pay some price if you want the long battery life.
- The flashing LED letting you know the camera is on and the battery status is only on the top of the camera so if you are running the camera under your handlebars then you have to stop and bend down to look to see if your camera is still running and how much battery is left.
- The camera seems to be picky about the SD card it will play nicely with, and the supporting documentation is lacking in many areas, such as exactly what type and requirements larger SD cards need.
Overall the Fly 12 is very nice, and it delivers on the basic functions you are looking for if you are thinking about getting this camera. The video quality is very high, and you have four options for picture quality and frame rate of recording, from 30 fps to 60 fps. The headlight has four modes, solid, flashing, pulse and studio and three intensity levels for each mode, high medium and low. You select your light mode and setting with the power button so to find the mode and setting you want can result in a lot of pushing of the power button. Luckily the camera remembers the last setting you used and makes that the setting the next time you turn on the camera. You also have the option of using just the camera without any light being on.
The operation of the unit is fairly simple. On the back of the camera, you have two buttons, a power button, and a wifi button. The wifi button is mainly used to run the camera in network mode so you can download video from the Fly 12 into your iPhone for processing. When the camera is recording the Wifi button also serves as the clip protect button so if a car buzzes you early in your ride just give a tap on the Wifi button, and you will hear a sound like a camera shutter will let you know that the current 5 minute video clip will not be overwritten during the ride. The power button does everything else from turning the Fly 12 on and off to changing your light modes and settings. There are two features on the Fly 12 that you will want to be aware off on longer rides. The first is an idle feature that helps you save battery life. If you stop in the middle of your ride for 15 minutes or more, the camera will power down. If you are running your camera under the handlebars, you are not going to see that the LED has stopped flashing unless you remember to look. This can cause you to miss out on recording something important after your rest stop. There is also a crash feature. If your bike is leaned over more than 60 degrees for more than 5 seconds, the camera goes into a clip protection mode where the camera will keep recording for 30 more minutes and then it will shut down. If you have to lay your bike down to fix a flat during your ride, you will trigger this clip protection mode unless you shut down the camera before laying your bike down. You can turn off both of these features via the phone App.
After your ride, it is time to process your video. If you want the special features such as tramlines or Strava integration, then you have to use the phone App. If you don’t want those special features, then you can use what ever video processing software you already have. The tramlines is a nice feature if you suffer a lot of close passes by cars. You can tell the phone App where you have the camera mounted, like at the center of your bars or some distance to the left or right of center, and what the passing law is for your area, 3 feet or 1 meter, and then the phone app creates an overlay with lines to the left and right of your bike showing where the safe passing zone extends to. One issue though is you need the camera to be perfectly level to the ground when you put it on your camera for the tramline feature to work properly. If your camera is pointing up or down the overlay will not display properly on the video. As I mentioned above the camera can create a Wifi network so your phone can connect to move video clips from the camera to the phone. For basic connection of the camera to the phone App, like to chance the video settings, this is done via a Bluetooth connection.
As mentioned in the Con section above the support documentation is a bit weak, and some technical things need to be spelled out better. The Fly 12 ships with a 16 gig SD micro card and since I do a lot of longer rides I wanted to put in a larger SD card. Per the note on the box and what I could find online a 32 gig SD card with level 10, speed should work, note the fly 12 can take up to a 64 gig SD card, I had a 32 gig card meeting the speed available so I put it into the camera. The next couple of rides after installing the larger card I started having issues. Instead of getting nice 5-minute video clips I was getting clips of random length from a few seconds up to 5 minutes. When I tried to protect a video clip the clip got erased and the camera locked up twice and I needed to push the master reset button to bring the camera back to life. The problems went away after I put the original SD card back in the camera. Then I looked at the make and model of the original card and bought a 32 gig card of the same kind. I’ve had no problems with the camera with the new 32 gig card in it. It would be nice if the documentation better spelled out things like exactly what type of SD card is needed if you want to go to 32 or 64 gigs. It seems like Cycliq rushed the Fly 12 out the door to meet the demand and left some of the finer finishing details, like an Android App and a more complete user manual, for completion later on. Still, if you are an iPhone user and a bit more tech savvy, or like to figure out things on your own, then the Fly12 is a great camera if you do longer rides and want a camera that can keep running for your whole ride.