Gear review: Cycliq Fly6 camera and taillight combo

I’m a year-round bike commuter in Portland, Oregon. My bicycle has been my primary mode of transportation for over 20 years. For an American city, Portland is relatively bike friendly, but a flood of people are moving here and the roads are getting crowded. More than ever before, bicycle safety is on my mind. I’ve been using action cameras on my bicycle for a few years now, and I was excited to try out Cycliq’s Fly6.

Bottom line

The $169 Fly6 is a thoughtfully designed, safety-focused camera/taillight combo with several light mode options and good seat post mounting hardware. It’s easy to set up and use, the 30 lumen LED light is bright and effective, and the 720p HD video quality is entirely appropriate for a safety camera. Cycliq claims up to six hours of camera and light function – I didn’t test that to the minute, but I did use the camera about 45 minutes a day for five days in a row, and it still had battery life when I charged it. The only significant oversight is that the Fly6 is too tall to easily mount on bikes with rear pannier racks, or on bicycles with short seat posts. I recommend the Fly6 for bicycles with a good amount of clearance between the saddle and the rear rack, fender or tire.
Read the full specifications and purchase the Fly6 on Cycliq’s website.

First impressions

When I opened the Fly6 package, I was impressed by the elegant box, with the installation and quick start guide right on top. The foam box insert protects the device well, and has a place for each of the seat post attachments and USB cable. The device comes with an 8GB class 10 microSD memory card installed. The Fly6 is easy to configure. Plug it into a computer to charge it and set the local time in a text file – no proprietary camera software required.

Installing the Fly6

The hardware for mounting the Fly6 on a seat post is cleverly designed. There are several different sizes and shapes of rubber wedge spacers, an adaptor for different sizes of seat posts, and straps to help make sure the camera is well secured and angled correctly to record license plates. Sadly, I was unable to attach the Fly6 on my seat post because my bicycle’s rear pannier rack does not leave enough vertical clearance between the bottom of the saddle and the rack. Even without the pannier rack, the Fly 6 would not fit on my seat post – my bicycle and I are both pretty small. In order to use the Fly6, my husband fabricated a steel post that bolts to the pannier rack. That workaround is not a viable option for cyclists without a metal fabricator in the family. When I mentioned this to Cycliq, they pointed me to a third party website where I could download a 3D printable adaptor for use on a rack. If Cycliq wants to appeal to commuters who use pannier racks, and people with smaller bikes (women), they should offer a rack mount and possibly a rear triangle mount too.

Update: Cycliq shared that they have experimented with mounting the Fly6 elsewhere on the bike, including on a rack as I have, and on panniers. They found the quality of the footage was too shaky, the mounting hardware too bulky, and that the seat post offered the most stable platform. Although lights work well mounted anywhere they are visible, a camera whose goal is to produce usable video, especially for capturing license plate numbers, needs to be as stable as possible. Cycliq understandably chose the stable option over flexibility in the interest of video quality.

Fly6_workaround

Not enough clearance between saddle and rear rack to install the Fly6 on the seat post. Note the improvised workaround mounted on the rack.

Light options

The taillight modes are plentiful. Choose to display only the circle of light pulsing around the camera lens, or select one of a few different flashing options for more visibility. A mild annoyance is the light mode buttons are exactly opposite of the on/off button on the other side of the Fly6. This makes it too easy to accidentally press the mode buttons when turning the device on and off. Resetting the mode again not a huge deal, but it’s a time waster when trying to turn on the Fly6 and get rolling. If future iterations of the device could stagger the opposing power and light mode buttons, that would be a win.

I use the Fly6 as my primary taillight all the time now, and only resort to the rear light on my helmet for dusk and night riding. It rains a lot in Portland, and the Fly6 has held up well through the winter.

Video and audio

The camera shows reasonably good detail at night, especially in conjunction with the taillight. This is useful for capturing license plate numbers. The microphone mostly picks up my wheel noise and the sound of my shoes clicking in and out of my pedals, but I could hear cars in the distance. When turning the camera on and off, the number of beeps indicate remaining battery life – it’s helpful to have an audible reminder to charge the device.

Using the video footage

It’s straightforward to download footage off the card onto a computer. It works like any other camera – either eject the microSD card and plug it into an SD card reader, or plug the Fly6 directly into a computer. The AVI format used by Cycliq will not play on Macs using the industry standard QuickTime Player. However, in their handy Quick Start Guide, Cycliq recommends VLC Media Player to view the footage and Smart Converter to convert it into other formats. Both of these options work well. I’m still less inclined use the camera for viewing, editing and sharing videos; most of the time I just let the video loop, meaning it re-records over older video after the card fills up. I consider the camera an excellent insurance policy in case of an altercation or a crash.