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Fly12 Review – Action Camera and Bike Light Combo!

Fly12 is a product that makes you scream “Why hasn’t someone done that before?”
Bike handle bars get cluttered with GPS’, lights, action cameras, possibly even bells. The latest product from Cycliq, the Fly12 action camera and bike light combo attempts to declutter your bars, not with a pair of compromised devices, but with a good action camera, and a really useful bike light.

Fly12 Review

Fly12 Review warts and all!: Cycliq hit on an amazing product when they launched the Fly6 rear bike light and camera combo. The Fly6 is present on just about every one of my bike rides now, and their slogan “Got your back” really makes sense when you’ve a safety camera sitting watching “Your 6”.

Now I say safety camera there, as most of the action cameras on the market today (apart from the hateful Shimano CM1000) have a higher quality camera. The Fly6 is good at showing you what is going on, however, the detail does get a little lost. Especially compared to something like the Garmin Virb with was launched at the same time, and is quite happy in a rear facing roll.

So keeping with the aeronautical language, Cycliq have named their new action camera front light combo the Fly12.

TitaniumGeek IMG_3196 Fly12 Review - Action Camera and Bike Light Combo! Virb garmin Fly12 Cycliq bike light action camera

TitaniumGeek IMG_3198 Fly12 Review - Action Camera and Bike Light Combo! Virb garmin Fly12 Cycliq bike light action camera

Fly12 Overview

In starting this Fly12 review, it was clear from the moment of holding the camera in the hand, that Cycliq have come a long way from the plastic Fly6.

All of the silver on the device is actually metal, which gives a surprisingly pleasing heft to the device. Yes it may but a few weight weenies off coming in at 209grams, but as a long time user of the Garmin Virb XE, it would have been better if Garmin had actually put a usable battery inside the device. The astonishing thing about the Fly12 is because power is required for both the 400 lumen light, and the HD camera, try Fly12 packs enough juice to run the camera alone for 10 hours…

TEN HOURS!!! With a battery life like that, everyone else may as well just pack up and go home, and we’ve not even looked at the camera yet!

However if you are using both the camera and light on full, you are much more limited, down to about 2 hours, and if using one of the NINE flashing modes, you can find a sweet spot of about 5 hours video and flashing.

TitaniumGeek IMG_3163 Fly12 Review - Action Camera and Bike Light Combo! Virb garmin Fly12 Cycliq bike light action camera

Fly12 Design

Ok lets get this out of the way immediately. I’m a bike fan of the Fly12 design. Cycliq have put function over form when it comes to size, but I really think that, as consumers, we have a better device as a result.

TitaniumGeek IMG_3227-1024x768 Fly12 Review - Action Camera and Bike Light Combo! Virb garmin Fly12 Cycliq bike light action camera

So starting on the rear of the device, we have the USB charge port, the Micro SD card, which can take upto 64Gb cards, the RIDICULOUSLY loud speaker with seven hole grill, microphone with two grills, power button, and WiFi/photo button.

TitaniumGeek IMG_3237-1024x768 Fly12 Review - Action Camera and Bike Light Combo! Virb garmin Fly12 Cycliq bike light action camera

The power button switches the Fly12 on (shocking I know!), but also works to initiate video.

The ports on the rear are exceptionally sturdy, and do require force applied with your nail in order to open the sealed hatches

TitaniumGeek IMG_3173 Fly12 Review - Action Camera and Bike Light Combo! Virb garmin Fly12 Cycliq bike light action camera

Cycliq have not merely relied on sturdy pieces of rubber to keep the Fly12 snug and dry, but that coated the circuity and interior of the device with nano-water proofing, so that you are cycling through the worst of weathers safe in the reassurance that after the water stops dripping out of your unit it should carry on working without issue.

The black parts of the device are dense rubber, and provide a very effective grip. There is a power light which shines through the rubber on the back of the unit to communicate power states with you

TitaniumGeek IMG_3146 Fly12 Review - Action Camera and Bike Light Combo! Virb garmin Fly12 Cycliq bike light action camera

The underside of the device houses the metal GoPro adapter, allowing you to connect the device to a myriad of mounts

TitaniumGeek IMG_3238-1024x768 Fly12 Review - Action Camera and Bike Light Combo! Virb garmin Fly12 Cycliq bike light action camera

The Fly12 box is very high quality, seems an odd thing to discuss, but when the unit arrives it is mounted to the box with a Garmin compatible quarter turn mount

TitaniumGeek IMG_3125-1024x768 Fly12 Review - Action Camera and Bike Light Combo! Virb garmin Fly12 Cycliq bike light action camera

TitaniumGeek IMG_3129-1024x768 Fly12 Review - Action Camera and Bike Light Combo! Virb garmin Fly12 Cycliq bike light action camera

The adapter is plastic, but the GoPro bolt holds it firmly in place such that I was able to try mounting it to the Garmin side of my K-Edge XL, and had the Garmin XE slung underneath for the first ride

TitaniumGeek IMG_3134-1024x768 Fly12 Review - Action Camera and Bike Light Combo! Virb garmin Fly12 Cycliq bike light action camera

Amazingly it transpired that the K-Edge was the limiting factor in this set up,

TitaniumGeek IMG_3206 Fly12 Review - Action Camera and Bike Light Combo! Virb garmin Fly12 Cycliq bike light action camera

Due to the weight of the Fly12 and the design of the K-Edge, it caused the Fly12 to vibrate MAJORLY over EVERY bump.

Something I didnt really notice until I have half way around my usual 10km camera test loop, requiring a third ride… I say third ride, as the first loop the Fly12 did records but we’ll come to that.

Positioning the Fly12 on the lower mount reduced the vibrations greatly. But did highlight one weakness noticed whilst doing the Fly12 review – the lack of optical stabilisation on the camera – but I’m not meaning about the initial vibration in the above video, I dont think anything would compensate for that!!

TitaniumGeek IMG_3245 Fly12 Review - Action Camera and Bike Light Combo! Virb garmin Fly12 Cycliq bike light action camera

In addition to physically being able to mount the Fly12 however you’d like, the camera is able to autorotate the image so that things are always “right side up”

Using the Device

You switch the Fly12 on from the power button on the back. From there a further press to the power button will activate, and then allow you to cycle through the light modes

TitaniumGeek IMG_3308 Fly12 Review - Action Camera and Bike Light Combo! Virb garmin Fly12 Cycliq bike light action camera

Here is the beam from the 400 lumen light, a nice diffuse spread, which gets a little more distance with angling forwards. I found it quite comparable to my Moon 500 lumen light.

TitaniumGeek IMG_6504 Fly12 Review - Action Camera and Bike Light Combo! Virb garmin Fly12 Cycliq bike light action camera

When recording the unit status button flashes to show you that it is recording and an idea of the battery life… but the initial colour flash is green for recording!

TitaniumGeek Screen-Shot-2016-05-16-at-20.23.58-1024x737 Fly12 Review - Action Camera and Bike Light Combo! Virb garmin Fly12 Cycliq bike light action camera

This is the biggest failure of the Fly12. The Fly6 beeps when you switch it off to tell you what is going on with the battery. That also works fine on the Fly12. Cycliq should have just had the status light turn red when recording. That would have made life so much easier!

The first time I went for a spin with the Fly12, it simply didn’t record, which I attribute entirely the my stupidity, and the Fly12’s odd status light.

But that does bring me to another usability issue: The App

TitaniumGeek IMG_4008 Fly12 Review - Action Camera and Bike Light Combo! Virb garmin Fly12 Cycliq bike light action camera

You have to connect to the Fly12 over Bluetooth – hence the red searching bar at the top. If you want to review the footage though, you have to connect to Wifi,

TitaniumGeek IMG_3222 Fly12 Review - Action Camera and Bike Light Combo! Virb garmin Fly12 Cycliq bike light action camera

TitaniumGeek IMG_3223 Fly12 Review - Action Camera and Bike Light Combo! Virb garmin Fly12 Cycliq bike light action camera

You can also view still photos taken from the Fly12 as well in this mode.

Once you have finally connected over Wifi, which is temperamental I found, you are able to control the Fly12 settings from inside the app

TitaniumGeek IMG_3220 Fly12 Review - Action Camera and Bike Light Combo! Virb garmin Fly12 Cycliq bike light action camera

From here you can also adjust the Tramline settings, for the lines superimposed on your videos.

TitaniumGeek IMG_3164-576x1024 Fly12 Review - Action Camera and Bike Light Combo! Virb garmin Fly12 Cycliq bike light action camera

These can be placed to represent either 1 meter or 3 feet from your bike. A useful feature for people using the Fly12 purely as a safety device. But I found them a little cumbersome, and had them switched off most of the time.

TitaniumGeek IMG_4054-1024x576 Fly12 Review - Action Camera and Bike Light Combo! Virb garmin Fly12 Cycliq bike light action camera

The tramlines, like the Strava data is added very much after the fact. You using the Cycliq app, you must review the video on the device, which is a little laggy due to the wifi connection.

TitaniumGeek IMG_4051 Fly12 Review - Action Camera and Bike Light Combo! Virb garmin Fly12 Cycliq bike light action camera   Select the part of the video you want, save it to your phone, it is at that point you can add the tramlines to the video. Which you can then export from your phone… I’ll just keep using the Garmin Virb editing software thanks!

TitaniumGeek IMG_4052 Fly12 Review - Action Camera and Bike Light Combo! Virb garmin Fly12 Cycliq bike light action camera

STRAVA!

You communicate with the device over bluetooth and can also connect over Wifi in order to allow for live view. You are also able to connect to Strava with the unit. Initially I thought this was a bit of a daft idea, until I realised that it basically means universal compatibility with sensors. If you can upload the sensor data to Strava, then the Fly12 can display in data on the video overlay.

One final feature which I think is superb is the inclusion of a bike alarm. When enabled through the app, the bike alarm detects movement of the unit, and the bike it is attached to, at which point the Fly12 sets off an ear splitting alarm – I was really quite shocked when testing it. The camera will also active, the device’s light will flash, and an alert will be sent to your phone if you are still within bluetooth range – which I’d hope is the case when sitting in the cafe!

Certainly a stand out feature!

Device Specification

TitaniumGeek Screen-Shot-2016-05-16-at-20.05.03-1024x424 Fly12 Review - Action Camera and Bike Light Combo! Virb garmin Fly12 Cycliq bike light action camera

Fly12 sample footage

Comparison video with the Garmin Virb XE taken on the same ride

Conclusion

My Garmin Virb XE is now on eBay… I think that says a lot!

Now to be fair, the Fly12 is not perfect. I found in the current iteration of firmware the connection to Wifi was ridiculously bad/annoying, as a result a could barely use the app. The hardware is great, without a doubt cracking design and engineering and the choice to make the device out of aluminium was absolutely right.

I’d like to see the ability to toggle or reduce the compression of the video bit to improve the quality – you can put at 64Gb card in the Fly12, let me use the full capacity with full quality. I also just dont understand the need to double up videos with a naff low quality version, just seems odd.But these really are being picky.

An additional accessory in future to allow a remote, a’la Garmin Virb which could be mounted on the handlebars would be a great thing to look at for the future. But from a bike light and camera side of things. From this Fly12 I’m easily giving a 9/10, and with tweaks to the app/firmware, there is no reason the Fly12 can’t the be the perfect device for your bike video needs.

Oh and PLEASE FOR VERSION 1.5, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS PRECIOUS, MAKE THE STATUS LIGHT CHANGE TO RED WHEN THE DEVICE IS RECORDING!!!

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James Gill

<p>Author of TitaniumGeek, which started after smashing off my RIGHT elbow. Feel free to drop me a line about sports tech, medicine, or frankly anything that you want to chat about!!</p><br />

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  • Jimmy

    This is great, but I found another good camera, it’s AKASO EK7000 4K wifi sports action camera, cheap and good quality, really worth looking at it, then you can do a different review,it will be great.

  • Jamie

    The optimal mounting is upside down, however the status light is on the top. So to see what is going on you need to get off your bike, and look under the camera. A status light on the top and bottom or the back would have been better.

  • William

    Just received mine last week and tried it out. They need to improve the workflow, ideally not using the phone because it takes quite a bit of time to process the overlay even for a minute or so of video. I can’t use my phone in the mean time. I wish the processed file retains the same resolution so if I record in 1080, the output is in 1080 or at least give us a choice – but I can see it will take even longer to process if they try to process and save at 1080. I found the WiFi connection hit and miss but it could be just my phone, not sure. Otherwise, I’m quite pleased to see my Strava data on the video.

    • I agree. The app is poor. But the device is good.
      Have a look at the Garmin Virb edit software. It’s free and will work. May need to convert the file though – I forget

  • Hugh

    A very kind review; I accept that my experience of the Fly12 might be unique and whilst I agree with much of what’s been written, I have a few points to add.

    The app is very flaky. Often you can’t connect to the Fly12. Reboot phone, turn off Fly12, no luck. usually have to reset the Fly12. You need 20/20 vision to spot the reset hole, which is not in the same place as the user guide suggests. Try to render a 5 min video. Takes about 30mins, then crashes. Crashes frequently when trying to render any video longer than the default time. If you protect a clip, why cant you remove protection from in the app? The answer is to reformat the card! I just change the file attributes. Spent a lot of time trying to create overlays displaying mph, as opposed to kmh. No luck so far.

    Now the quality of the footage is fine, but as pointed out, not so good on the low res when playing through the phone. Frame freezing and pixelation are quite common.

    The design is really good, but it’s a shame the Fly12 casing is so susceptible to scratching, unlike the Fly6 which is a robust little device.

    It’s a shame after waiting so long that the Fly12 has launched wth quite a few app/firmware issues that spoil what is otherwise a good product.

    By the way, I think that in contrast the Fly6 packaging is far better than the Fly12 packaging, which looks cheap by comparison.

    • Interesting Hugh.

      My take is that the important point is the hardware works well. The camera and light are great.

      The app is a pain in the neck. No question, however that is something which can easily be improved with time – a la Garmin.

      However if you device is naff, that needs a whole new version.

      I havnt had any issues when I had to restart the Fly12 – are you running the latest firmware?

      I just didn’t bother with the app. I’d play with videos directly on the computer, and using the free Garmin Virb software, so maybe by avoiding the app almost altogether I have a more positive view of the device?

      • Hugh

        James,

        That’s one of the first things I did (downloaded and installed latest (firmware). Have spent some time with Cycliq support, but they are clearly stumped, thus far. It’s worth noting that much of the marketing shows footage where the app is required for the overlay and that will draw interest, so it’s fair to,expect that functionality to be more robust than it is. My son also has a Fly12 and he has the same problem with the overlay. I am guessing you are in the UK. If so, have you tried the app and what’s your experience? Yes, software can of course be fixed, but it should be pretty solid from the outset and as they have still to produce an Android app, suspect they have priorities competing!

        • William

          You said it’s a pain to overlay the Strava stats on the video? Is it because it’s so slow and the apps keep crashing? That’s the one feature I’m looking forward to after my ride. Thanks

          • William

            Add this to get notification email on comment – sorry for this post.

          • Hugh

            That’s most definitely the case, in my experience. My son also has these issues with his. Take the default 15 sec of video with overlay and pu to the side any connectivity issues before you render the video. Rendering a 15 sec video can take 2-3 mins. That may seem fine, but when I tried to render a 5 min video, took about 45 mins then crashed.

          • The actual overlay works “well” on the app, but there is a lot of processing to be done. I’ve had the app crash once or twice, but overall, it’s a bit of a headache.

            It would have been better if this was something added on the camera to the film directly, with a toggle, not something which had to be done with post processing

  • Hugo Vegter

    Hi James,
    Great report. Do you think it would be possible to control the Fly12 from the menu of the Wahoo ELEMNT because it has Bluetooth?

  • Steve Graff

    The article mentions the use of 128GB MicroSD cards twice, but the specifications you provided indicate a maximum of 64GB, is this greater capacity an undocumented change or an error?

  • luke

    how easy is it to overlay the strava data?

    Pricing/availability?

    • The overlay is a bit of a pain in the neck to be honest. I prefer to use the Garmin Virb software. Makes life much simpler, but you’re milage may vary as they say

      • Mark

        Can you overlay the strava data using Garmin Virb software instead of the Cycliq app?

        • As long as you can export the .GPX data, you can over lay it on any video the Garmin Virb software will handle.

          The movie from Cycliq needs to be converted to use the Garmin Virb software though