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Rider Safety: Cycliq’s new Fly6 Pro Tested

Bigger, brighter, bolder and with far more features than it’s aging predecessor, Pete Maniaty rides and reviews the new Fly 6 Pro from Cycliq.

Roughly a decade has passed since the original Fly6 hit the market. It was 116 grams, not especially attractive and far from perfect. But as one of the original integrated bicycle light/camera units, it was very much a game changer, ushering in a new era of rider safety tech.

For Perth-based Cycliq, it also set in motion a design journey which has culminated in the all-new Fly6 Pro, which is effectively the fifth iteration of the Fly6 concept. Having previously owned a Fly6 CE, I had a real case of Marty McFly writing this review with distinct feelings of ‘Back to the Future’. Let me explain why.

First impressions

The very first thing I noticed was the size of the box. It’s tiny. However, the compact packaging actually belies the size of the Fly6 Pro unit itself, which has been beefed up significantly in comparison to its immediate predecessor, the slimline Fly6 Gen 3. Looking at the spec sheet, the Fly6 Pro has dimensions far more akin to earlier models such as the Fly6 CE. Unsurprisingly given its size, weight is also up considerably on the Gen 3 (151g versus 77g).

The side profile of the new Fly6 Pro.

With minimalist contemporary styling, the new design has been influenced by selected elements of past Fly6 models, however, other features are notably absent. For example, gone is the signature circular recording LED surrounding the camera itself. I assumed this was to extend battery life, however, Cycliq explained the change was purely down to brand evolution. “We wanted to make the Fly6 Pro design sleeker and emulate the angular front end on the Fly12 Sport,” said Cycliq Marketing Manager, Lachlan McDonald. “Achieving this just didn’t fit with the (previous) circular LEDs.” The other very visible change from past Fly6 models is the introduction of a small OLED display on the side of the unit.

Setting up

Getting started is easy and intuitive. Simply turn the unit on and recording begins automatically. As with previous Fly6 models, the Pro ships with a variety of attachments and velcro straps (far better than rubber in my experience) to suit different seat posts, while Cycliq’s 1/8th Quick Release System allows you securely twist the Fly6 Pro on and off in seconds. Pairing with your smartphone is also straightforward using the free CycliqPlus app—allowing you to monitor your light and camera settings, battery life and view ride videos remotely. 

The updated unit is considerably brighter with a maximum output of 100 lumens.

The Fly6 Pro itself has only three buttons. The top button turns the unit on/off and also cycles through the various light settings. The Q button locks key moments of video to prevent them being overwritten. The bottom button cycles through the OLED screen display, showing battery, light mode and WiFi connection status. You can also reformat the microSD and perform a factory reset with the same button. Curiously, one thing the Fly6 Pro can’t do is sync directly with your head unit via ANT+. More on that in a moment.

Light

Unlike the Fly Pro Gen 3 which maxed out at 50 lumens, the Fly6 Pro features two powerful 100-lumen LEDs to improve rider detectability from the rear. The top LED has a narrow angle ultra-long throw lens to maximise visibility from distance, while the lower LED is equipped with a wider-angle flat dispersion lens to highlight your pedalling action for increased driver attention. In all there are seven camera/light modes—Solid (high/low), Flash (high/low), Pulse (high/low)and Organic. There’s also a separate Camera Only setting should you wish to kill the lights completely.

Camera

Video quality has been upgraded considerably with the Fly6 Pro giving you the option of recording in super-crisp 4K at 30 frames per second. The recording angle has also been widened to 145° (previously 135°) to capture more peripheral footage. In another nice addition, the Fly6 Pro includes a six-axis Electronic Image Stabilisation (EIS) system—able to be toggled on and off via the CycliqPlus app—making even the bumpiest of rides look far smoother on screen. As to be expected, the more natural light available to the Fly6 Pro, the better the resolution of output. 4K or not, pre-dawn I found the picture quality was still pretty fuzzy, especially in unlit areas, which suggests it could be a struggle to confidently identify number plates should you ever need to. (NB. this is not an uncommon issue with rear facing cameras, forward cameras tend to perform far better). But as soon as you enter more built-up areas with streetlights, the quality instantly lifts. Once day breaks, the resolution becomes fantastic. Nice and sharp.

The Fly6 Pro ships with a pre-installed 64GB microSD card which I found was ample for capturing entire rides of up to around three hours. If you swap in a 128GB or 256GB microSD card, you’ll likely be able to record for the whole life of the battery without overwriting footage. Regardless of what size storage you’re using, automatic video looping means you’ll never run out of recording space.

As with previous Fly6 models, by pressing the Q button on the side of the unit you’re able to mark—and lock off—particular sections of your ride footage so they won’t be overwritten. The Fly6 Pro also automatically locks its current segment when tilted >60° for five seconds or more, ensuring important footage is saved in the event of an incident.

The screen features important operational details including battery life.

The Fly6 Pro outputs video as MP4 files (wirelessly via 5GHz Wi-Fi transfer) and can also take still JPEG images by holding the Q button for roughly two seconds. Whilst this seems a great feature in theory, I found it relatively pointless in practice given it’s a rear unit fixed to your seat post and not exactly easy, or safe, to reach when riding. Once you stop, it’s just as easy to whip out your smartphone. This brings us to one of the few drawbacks of the Fly6 Pro.

There’s no ANT+ connectivity which means you can’t access or adjust the Pro remotely from your head unit while riding. Given the old Fly6 CE offered ANT+ functionality several years ago, I was curious to know why it was now gone. Cycliq explained their absolute focus for the Fly6 Pro was on optimising the core product (light and camera) without introducing the added complexity of ANT+, especially given there had been some stability issues in the past when the Fly6 CE was also paired with a Fly12 front unit. “There was the potential to create a counter-intuitive user experience and make it harder to use when riding,” said Cycliq Marketing Manager, Lachlan McDonald. “So, we’ve parked it for now.”

Larger than the previous model, the new Fly 6 still sits well behind the seatpost.

Battery life

Delivering high-res video and high-vis light for extended periods in a compact device is no small task. Poor battery life was certainly one of the more common complaints about the previous Fly6 Gen 3. The Pro is a clear attempt to address this shortcoming with a significantly upgraded 4380mAh/16.86wh battery. Cycliq says this can deliver both light and video recording for up to a whopping seven hours. I tested several settings, multiple times each, and never quite hit that lofty mark, but I did get pretty close.

In the ‘Solid High’ setting with the camera also running, the unit averaged just under six hours before the tell-tale warning beeps. In ‘Camera Only’ mode the run time was extended to an average of six hours 45 minutes. Finally, set to ‘Organic’ mode (random high and low intensity from both LEDs plus video recording) the unit delivered a run time of six hours 30 minutes. Whilst none of my real-world tests reached the magical seven-hour mark, it’s worth remembering the previous Fly6 Gen 3 only claimed a maximum five hours of camera only recording and four hours with the lights also on. The Fly6 Pro extends both marks considerably.

One other thing to note is the removal of ‘Home Safe’ mode which appeared on previous Fly6 models. According to Cycliq, this is largely because it’s no longer necessary. “Home Safe mode has been removed as the result of the improved runtime across all light modes and customer feedback. An alarm chime sounds 30 seconds before the device powers down and a final audible shut down tone is played when the device powers down.”

What’s in the box? The new Fly 6 Pro, various mounting straps and bracket, and the USB-C charging cable.

Charging is straightforward via the USB-C cable provided, however, actual charging speeds vary greatly depending on how you do it. For example, run through my laptop it took a laborious 8+ hours to reach full charge from 0 per cent. However, direct mains power charging was significantly faster at well under three hours. Worth keeping in mind.

Durability

The Fly6 Pro certainly looks and feels robust. Cycliq’s marketing department says it’s ‘Whatever Proof’ and, with an IP67 ingress protection rating, it possesses the highest certification currently available for both solid and liquid protection—an impressive step up on both the Gen 3 and CE models. Intuitive design features do a good job of keeping out the dust, dirt and road grime, whilst a solid weatherproof hatch on the side of the unit (no more flimsy rubber covers) protects the all-important charging and microSD card slots.

The Fly6 Pro isn’t merely water resistant either, but waterproof to depths of one metre. The design also includes a heatsink and in-built sensors to constantly monitor the temperature of the unit. If it ever gets abnormally hot—think longer rides in very warm conditions—the main LED dims to help cool the unit and maintain otherwise normal operation.

The Cycliqplus app adds to the user experience and is highly recommended.

Cycliqplus app

As with earlier models, the free CycliqPlus smartphone app is a great companion to the Pro. It syncs pretty much instantly to your device via Bluetooth and allows you customise light and camera settings (resolution, fps and date/time stamps, for example), monitor battery life and view, edit and export your videos. You can even use it to add tramlines and Strava ride data overlays.

Summary

The Fly6 Pro is a classic case of going backwards to move forwards. Yes, it’s noticeably bigger, heavier and pricier than its immediate predecessor. But the result is unquestionably the best Fly6 yet. Whilst there’s little overt innovation in terms of functionality, major improvements have been made in critical areas such as battery life, weatherproofing, video quality and overall usability.

The next obvious step for Cycliq is to find a way to deliver the same package and battery life in a more compact form (and maybe add ANT+ and/or a radar). If they can do this, the Fly6 really will be the rear camera/light unit to beat them all. unknown.gif

CYCLIQ FLY6 PRO$539 RRP (inc. 64GB microSD) – more at www.cycliq.com

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HAVE YOUR SAY

3 Comments

  1. 2/2 … if you want to make edits the app automatically downloads the file first … the final video is then stored on your phone to use as you please. As for battery life, that was definitely one of the frustrations with the previous model, Gen 3. Whilst I’d personally agree about always wanting the rear light and camera operating in unison, there are definitely riders out there who prefer to use the video only function at times, especially in broad daylight, or perhaps when racing. To each their own I guess. Cheers, Pete

  2. 1/2 Hi David. Not sure if I’m misunderstanding your comment, but you absolutely can view, edit and export your Fly6 Pro ride videos using the app. I did this multiple times during the review, and also just double checked! I was actually impressed with how smoothly it all works – no need for a card reader or even removing the microSD, it’s all done remotely over a WiFi connection. As soon as my unit and iPhone were connected, the videos were there to view, download, edit etc…

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