Cycliq Fly6 [v] HD Rear Bike Camera & Bike Light – Review

20200729_131443This review is about the Cycliq Fly6 [v] HD Rear Bike Camera & Bike Light.  This is of course an incident camera as well as a bike light combined into one unit.

First off I want to say that this is not the newest (as of June/July 2020) Cycliq Fly6 version, the newest one being the generation 3 I believe.  The newest one is this one (as of July/August 2020) which is a bit smaller and lighter, has better resolution, Bluetooth, ANT+, a bike alarm, a longer run time, and brighter light.  It also is much more expensive right at the moment.  It looks pretty awesome, maybe someday I’ll get a chance to review it.

But for now, I am reviewing and using the version [v] of the Cycliq Fly6, the previous version of the Fly6.

If you have perused this blog or followed it for a while you may know that I previously reviewed and currently use the Garmin Virb Elite (that I reviewed here), a somewhat older action camera as my front camera.  I like it as it is kind of streamlined-looking and is not boxy and square like using a GoPro or one of the many GoPro clones.  It’s HD, has some nice options, can display some auxiliary bike computer-like data in addition to what is shown and logged with my Garmin Edge 520 Plus (that I reviewed here – product link to the left).  The video quality is excellent and it works well as both an action camera as well as an incident camera.

Having the front camera I get a certain number of incidents and things of interest on video but many times things happen (or almost happen) behind me somewhere.  So I thought I’d give a rear camera a try.

The Cycliq Fly6 is more of an incident (“dash cam for a bike”) sort of camera than an action camera.  Sure, you can use it as a sort of action camera, and a nice 16 GB SD card or more will let you record quite a long ride without the camera looping over the oldest footage just fine, and in fact archive a number of rides before it starts looping.

The slightly not-so-good news is that while the Fly6 records in HD 720p the quality itself is just okay.  It is far from great, I would classify it as mediocre to good at best, under the best conditions. Depending on the light and distance you can sometimes maybe make out license plates, many times maybe not.  But usually other details are easily discerned.  In general, you get a good record of what is going on behind you, but not super-clear.

For some incident recording that’s probably generally all you need, for something like license plate numbers the vehicle really has to be close and conditions best.  

I like to look at footage from my rides occasionally – maybe I saw something interesting, or I want to show someone something, or I want to screenshot a frame to keep or share for this or that reason.  So it’s fine for that, but I wish it were a higher quality in general.  From what I have read the newest version has a higher quality (1080) so if you need more “action camera” style footage that one may be the one to go for.

Screen shot from the Fly6 video

But don’t let this dissuade you from the usefulness of this version of the Fly6 or the earlier ones, as it carries out its job easily and perfectly otherwise.

It does its job well – you turn it on and it remembers the last light setting mode you had it set at and starts automatically recording everything, including audio.  You don’t need to do anything else – it’s “protecting your 6” for you with minimal fuss.

The only other thing you might occasionally do according to conditions is to adjust the mode for the light if needed – a quick press on the left or right button to run through the various light modes and brightness adjustments.  More about the light modes later.  Whether you are using the light or not there is always a rotating light pattern around the camera lens showing that it is recording – this rotating light pattern you can not turn off in any way while it is on.

The Fly records your ride in a loop, overwriting older video as needed when it detects your micro SD memory card getting full.  The larger the card you have the more video it will be keeping on the card, of course.  If you have a larger card it may not need to overwrite earlier parts of your current ride, and in fact will likely record multiple rides before looping, depending on your ride lengths.  If you’re interested in looking back at your whole ride you maybe want to make sure you are not using some sort of tiny capacity older SD card.  It comes with an 8 GB Class 10 (pretty standard speed) card – unlike other cameras that require you to buy your own card.  I have a larger 16 GB in mine, though you can go up to 32 GB, possibly more (32 is the official max limit, maybe someone can confirm whether this is the ultimate limit).  32 GB gives you a whopping 8 hours of recording time before it starts looping, though the battery may run down before then!  Some people have just connected an external battery, like a phone battery charger, to it.  Six hours is about the normal time limit, which is exceptional and hard to beat for any of this type!

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But whether you want to keep a video of your whole ride or not the looping will make sure the camera never runs out of space, and never requires you do delete anything or mess around with it.

I formatted my SD card on my Windows computer and it worked fine, but there is a procedure for making the Fly6 format it – I will leave those directions to the instruction manual from the company as it involves some manual editing.  Likely you’ll just pop the included card in and if you want to use a different one just use your computer to format it and be all set.

So in the event of an accident, the camera will detect it, hopefully, via an Incident Protection System.  This automatically engages when the bike is tilted to an approximately 60-degree angle for more than five seconds, and the Fly6 locks the current footage and an hour or so before and after the incident (depending on memory card size), also shutting the camera down after an hour.  I won’t go into all of the scenarios where this may help you (or your survivors) but you can probably see how this could help in multiple bad situations – enough said about that except to say that this could be a very important feature on the dangerous roads.  Without going into macabre speculations about the survivability of an SD card inserted into the camera in the side under the little flap – I think it’s fairly secure.

So if you happen to set your bike down on the ground or fall over or something and don’t want the Fly6 to engage this emergency feature then just turn it off, and back on again.

Coming back to the unboxing – the camera looked bigger and felt heavier than I thought it would be, despite being aware of the size and shape and weight from the specs.  If you were expecting something that looks like a regular diminutive bike light this is not it (though the newer one is smaller).  But it’s still small enough not to be too obtrusive or be annoyingly large, especially if it is snugged under your seat on the seatpost (where the manufacturer intends it to be) or in another somewhat unobtrusive place, like under the seat bag where I attached it.  I barely notice it now.

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From the side it’s somewhat rectangular with an angled triangular part where the attachment point is for the seatpost.  Rectangular like a large bike light from the rear. It’s around 4.5 ounces or 127 grams.  Not bad, not great, and if you are a bike weight weenie and are worrying about that much weight you can adjust your diet and lose more ‘bike weight’ than that bit of mass.  Size is about 2.36 x 3.39 x 3.39 inches, about 6 cm x 8.6 x 8.6 cm.

The internal battery size is 2600 Ah, which is a good bit of battery.  Of course, the LED lights are going to take a portion of that versus the amount running the camera an electronics, and runtime of course depends on which light mode you are using (if any).  The battery is a lithium-ion battery like so many (or most) things use, with a normal run-time of six hours depending on light mode.  

This battery is non-replaceable by the user, but a quick look around YouTube and other Googled places will give you instructions on replacing it yourself, if you’re handy that is.  Not something to worry about for many years (well, for most of us).

The Fly6 is water-resistant and should hold up to wet rides, but not lots of long-term submersions.  Some people have complained about water getting under the charger cover flap.  Hopefully, I will never have to contend with this – I don’t ride in the rain if I can possibly help it, but it is something to keep in mind.  There was no problem with a few accidental rides in the rain, but these weren’t exactly full long duration rides through the heavy downpours and storms. It seems that Cycliq does a good job of honoring their warranty if needed, and most people have not had any issue.  Probably the Fly6 is something you are going to use more for road biking and not so much for MTB’ing.

The charger flap is on the left side, and under it is the SD card slot (and SD card) and USB port, which are covered by a floppy rubber seal.  Very similar to other water-resistant pieces of hardware.  So far this has held up well, though in the past some of these similar (Garmin in particular) ones have not for me, despite my being extra careful with them.  The little nub to open it is a bit small, so after a hard sweaty ride it can be hard to get a grip on it if the Fly6 needs to be charged, otherwise the rubbery flap fits into the seal just fine and is easily opened.

Also in the box are a couple of Velcro straps (a regular one and an “aero” one – which is a longer Velcro strap for aero seatposts that may have a large diameter, weird size, etc), a couple of spacers, the SD card (pre-formatted, already inserted into the Fly6), a quick start guide, an SD card adapter, and a short USB charger/computer cable.

More on the Velcro and attachment below but the rest of the stuff is pretty standard fare – SD card adapter, USB cord (which of course works both as a charger as well as an interface to downloading videos onto a computer), quick start guide (make sure you check out the full instructions on the Cycliq website).

So you just pull it out of the packaging, plug the USB cord into it and wall plug transformer or what-have-you.  There is a red indicator light showing that it is charging and once it goes off it’s fully charged.  

Once it is charged you can use one of the aforementioned mounts to put it on your bike or whatever you are going to use to mount it.

The Velcro straps are interesting and quite nice in that they are coated on the inside with a sticky rubbery layer, this does great for keeping the strap in place when it is wrapped around your seatpost (or other things as long as they are smooth).  It’s maybe similar to some other things you may have seen, it definitely isn’t your normal Velcro strap, as the rubbery side is super-grippy.  Unfortunately, some people have mentioned that over time this rubbery coating cracks or comes off, but I think you’ll get many years out of it before you have to buy Cycliq replacement straps or something compatible.  This straps are long enough to fit around most anything on a regular bike, road or MTB or otherwise, especially in the majority of locations that it likely is going to go.  The Velcro on the strap itself is the strong kind, it seems. But it still can be disconnected quite easily and quickly when it needs to be taken off.

This strap goes right through a slot on the back of the camera/light and seems very secure.  Unlike perhaps earlier models that had a different attachment design.  The back of the camera is angled so that attaching it to the seatpost puts it at the perfect angle to keep it level in reference to the horizon for the best recording, and the part that goes along the seatpost is curved with a rubber pad.  The field of view vertically is very good so if you are mounting it on something besides the seatpost you have lots of leeway.  Of course, horizontal field of view is great too – about 100 degrees (the newest one amps this up to 135 degrees).

For non-standard installations (i.e. not on the seatpost itself) this vertical angle should be okay for most anything, but might not be quite right in extreme mounting situations and you may have to use some sort of spacer to adjust the angle.

Cycliq is very insistent that the Fly6 not be attached to the seat bag itself because of vibration, movement, maybe wobbling of the bag.  It is pretty big and would protrude quite a bit, the newer model is much smaller.

Personally, I think despite their thoughts on this Cycliq is losing out on a good segment of the buying public in not offering some more mounting options than they do.  How many of us DON’T have a seat bag?  Perhaps this model isn’t conducive to mounting on the back of a seat bag but the newer ones look like they would work there much better. 

And for those of us who do use a seat bag a certain ratio of us may not have enough seatpost room under the seat bag.  A quick search of “The Google” gives you many people’s ideas of solutions – from other mounting locations, MacGyvered mounts, to 3D printed mounts.  If you have to stick it to your seat bag, or beside it or near it or below it you can probably find someone who has done it.

For me, I had some room below the bag but not fully up on the seatpost.  I had to ‘MacGyver’ a mount myself, using part of an old Velcro strap-on water bottle attachment, which worked perfectly and kept it at the proper angle.  It seems to be working well and I was able to use the original Fly6 Velcro strap.

I was a bit concerned about the size of this camera/light in general when I got it but now that I have it mounted under my seat bag I barely notice it – whether during riding or just when glancing at the bike as I get on it.

But in my configuration, which you can see in the pic – my seat bag rests a bit on top of the Fly6.  Once, my second ride with it I think, I must not have gotten the Velcro strap tight enough and it all came loose and would have fallen on the road, perhaps unbeknownst to me; if I hadn’t been using a fishing leader as a safety backup/lanyard.  The leaders are just short length of plastic-coated wire with a snap on the ends, I use these with both my Garmin Virb as well as my Garmin Edge 520 Plus, as a backup.  Maybe you forget to snap something in place.  Maybe; like with the Fly6, the Velcro comes undone – a little safety measure doesn’t hurt.  With the Fly6 I slid the leader cable through the slot where the Velcro goes, and secured it around the seatpost.  It’s barely noticeable, only takes a few extra seconds when the Fly6 is attached or detached, and saved my Fly6.

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Fly6 under seat position

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The mounting spacers that come with the Fly6 give you some more options and such, depending on where you are mounting it and on what.  Between them, modifications of them, other mounts, modifications of other mounts, or a combination of any and all of this – you’ll be able to find some way to mount it I imagine.  Whether you’ll be happy with it in some cases or whether it is a compromise may be personal preference.  There should be a vertical clip of some sort for a seat bag, which also would give the user more and easier mounting options in SOME cases.  

Plugging the camera into pretty much any computer via the USB is going to let you download the videos, from the DCIM directory on the card.  You can either plug the Fly6 directly into the computer using the included USB cable or any USB cable or pull the card and use the included adapter, or if your computer comes with one you can use that.  Newer Fly6 models let you view and transfer video via Bluetooth, which would be useful on the road after an incident so you can show the video on your phone if needed, or share the video for evidence perhaps.

Otherwise, if your phone has an SD slot you can just pull the SD card from the Fly6 and stick it directly into your phone and use a file manager app to access the card or a video player app.

IMG_7003If your phone does not have an SD slot or you don’t think you want to take your phone’s case off to access it you could get an OTG adapter cable for your phone and carry it and the USB cable with you if needed.  Or use the OTG adapter cable and a card reader.  Maybe a bit of a PITA to carry two extra cables and stuff, though they are small, something to keep in mind I suppose.  

In the photo at left, I am using a USB cable connected to the Fly6, the other end of the cable is connected to an OTG cable and in turn to a converter adapter for my phone, the app is X-plore File Manager (Android version and Apple version) and if you click the pic you can see the folders for each’s day’s ride containing the ten-minute video segments from the Fly6 (this is how it saves video), which can be played or downloaded to the phone.

Video footage is standard AVI format, readable by most any computer.  These are saved in short ten-minute video chunks in folders corresponding to that ride.  Cycliq has its own video editor which is basic but works well, and lets you integrate things like corresponding Strava rides into the footage in an overlay form, as well as other overlays.  This seemed to have limited support for the version [V] and is simplistic but works fine.

As I said above the Fly6 also records audio, and it seems to do a pretty good job at it.  In addition to recording what is going on around you, this could be useful if you need to make note of anything while riding, or during or after an incident, and needed a quick record of it.  Mine picked up my speech while riding with others, though if you really needed to make sure you got good audio you would want to be a bit closer to the Fly6 when speaking or speak very loudly.

There is also a speaker for audio, this is located on the bottom of the back.

When turning on the Fly6 there are beeps that let you know what the power level is – from four short beeps meaning a full or nearly full charge to three long beeps for low battery and a shut-down camera condition, though the light will still work for over an hour on low power in order to get you home, with beeps covering everything in between and corresponding to battery level.  It also beeps for when it is being shut down, giving you battery condition also.  And the beeps are plenty loud, very loud in fact.

I mentioned above that there is an LED pattern that goes in a rotation pattern surrounding the camera lens – you can’t turn that off no matter what.   At the bottom is a plain LED that shows when the Fly6 is charging. 

Camera Lights

Charging doesn’t take too long, about on par with other devices.  I’ve found that having a USB charging cable and power transformer for the USB cable plugged in in the garage is a quick way to keep it charged.  When I get home I simply shut the camera off by holding down the power button for a few seconds, open the rubbery door on the side of the Fly6, plug the USB cable in, and it is charged and ready the next time I ride.  It of course stops charging when it is fully topped off, the charge light goes out to indicate this. 

Because the videos loop when they reach the capacity of the SD card there’s no need to dismount it or delete old videos or mess with anything else but keeping it charged – unless of course there is some interesting or there is important video that needs to be taken off it.  Then it is a simple matter to detach the Fly6.

The actual safety lights themselves consist of three regular LED’s and a high-powered strobe above them, which are all situated below the LED ring surrounding the camera. 

The specs show this as a 30 lumen light.

The strobe is quite bright, in fact once I accidentally glanced at the strobe and was slightly blinded for a bit so…yea, it is very bright.  I personally don’t like to blind people during the daytime or night – and the strobe is plenty bright if someone is behind you, driving or riding, so keep this in mind and adjust the strobe and LED strength with the power button as needed for light conditions perhaps.

The regular LED’s below the strobe are bright enough, I think, but not overly so.  Where the strobe can be very bright the LED’s below it probably could be a bit brighter at full strength, though they are visible in the daytime fairly well.  Some people have complained that these regular LED’s in general aren’t very bright.  But I think they are okay with the strobe being plenty bright enough to make up for the regular LED’s mediocre brightness.  Any number of other bike lights that you may run across may be much brighter, or not. 

The power button – with a quick press instead of long press – cycles through all of the lighting modes.  The left-side button is pressed once to dim, twice for no strobe or LED’s, three times for super-bright mode.

There are a few other camera/light combos for bike use – not exactly clones but similar concepts.  Like the Teentok bike camera and light and Giztek Rear Bike Camera and Light – both of which are a somewhat similar design, and the Youandmi camera and light, etc.  I can’t speak to the quality of them – camera quality, functions, durability; as Cycliq has been around a while and seems to have worked out a number of bugs.

And from the looks of the newer version of the Fly6 my biggest gripe – a certain lack of video quality, has been addressed.

There are many ways to add a front or rear action camera to your bike using GoPro’s or other action cameras and a myriad of ways of mounting them to your bike but some may require a few additional steps to start recording, rather than the fact that with the Fly6 you just simply turn it on and it starts recording and remembers it’s last light setting and does its job. 

So…here we are at the conclusion and while I very much recommend the Cycliq Fly6 [v] HD Rear Bike Camera & Bike Light if you need this sort of device – this version does suffer a bit from mediocre quality when it comes to the video.

There is nothing like the peace of mind of knowing you have a rear video (and in some cases audio) in case of any issues.  Not to mention having video if you just see something of interest for any reason that you want to refer to or show someone else or archive.

The light, according to some people, could be better.  Personally, I think the strobe is plenty bright enough.

And you can’t beat the many hours of runtime for the video camera, even while using the light too there is plenty of battery power for most any regular ride.   

But the problem is the video quality overall can sometimes not be very good.  If you are buying this camera as an action camera it is not quite up to par for that, if you are buying it to read every license plate of vehicles behind you you may be disappointed.  If you are buying it for video recording of moderate quality then it will do fine.

Good little device at least so far, absolutely no other issues, and I am fairly pleased with it in general.  The Cycliq Fly6 [v] HD Rear Bike Camera & Bike Light – check it out.

I also want to mention UpRide from Cycliq which allows you to upload videos of incidents and map them for the benefit of others, to raise awareness, inform, and even provide evidence in case of serious incidents.

 

 

Marc M

I am a web developer and fitness geek, but I have a heck of a lot of differing interests.  Biking, the Internet, technology, movies, fitness, running and walking and hiking, science fiction, photography, graphics, WordPress, flying and aircrafts, pets and animals, history, and much more.  I like to stay very fit but I don’t mind sitting at my computer for work and play either.  I live in upstate New York (that’s far from New York City) in a rural area, yet close to a small city, with my beautiful awesome wife, a bunch of beloved cats and dogs and chickens in a very old multi-century house.

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