PEZ Test: Fly6 Camera Review
For the last three months I’ve been testing a prototype of what is possibly my favorite product of the year – and in any case, certainly the most useful – the Fly6 safety camera/light. Now that the prototype testing is finished and the new version 2, Fly6 camera has been released to the public this week I can finally talk about the product and start publishing some of my videos from the last few months.
So what is the Fly6? Well that’s exactly the question I asked when I first met the inventors of the Fly6, Andrew and Kingsley at Eurobike earlier this year. I’ve heard it described as a cyclist’s new best friend, your eyes in the back of your head and more but basically it’s a rear facing HD camera with a flashing taillight that has a number of different options.
Sounds fairly simple – and it is – but it has now become my must have product when leaving the house for a ride. Helmet, water bottle and the Fly6 and I’m ready to go. This camera/light has become somewhat of an internet sensation thanks to various action and crash videos that have been published on Youtube and the like with the first version so let’s take a look at what you get with version 2.
First up is the camera part – it’s a High Definition 720p with video recording and audio meaning that you can capture not just what the Fly6 sees in HD but you can also hear what’s happening too on your video. The camera is built into the light which has been significantly upgraded from the original Fly6 to now pump out an impressive 30 lumens of light – which I actually found to be too bright in fact. Luckily for me – and my blinded riding buddies though there are a number of different settings for the light as I explain in the video below.
Along with the better quality camera and the brighter lights over the original version the new Fly6 has also received a higher quality lens for clearer imagery, improved battery capacity, greater water protection, micro SD memory and all this in a smaller unit than the original – but at a small cost as it is now slightly heavier at 113grams.
Making the always tricky ‘second album’ is a challenge after such a successful debut with the Fly6 but Andrew and Kingsley have done things the right way and have not attempted cycling’s version of a bizarre concept album by completely changing direction with the new Fly6. Instead they listened to any criticsms of the first unit, made the changes they thought would be best received by the market and then sent it back out into the market in the hands of 20 selected users worldwide to test the new unit to its maximum.
I was one of those chosen for the test and as a regular product tester of anything from handlebar tape to complete bikes it was great to get my hands on a pre-production piece and then actually have some input into any changes and improvements to be made. Normally by the time I get something it’s already on the market and any criticisms I have would either fall on deaf ears or have to wait until the next model before being changed – if changed at all.
Being a part of this process though let me and the other 19 guys and girls worldwide give their input – and kudos to Andrew and Kingsley here as they not only let us give our input they also listened, made the changes and then we tried again. A lot of the changes made were minor firmware changes but I for example thought that the new side access for the micro SD and USB charging port was a great idea but that the closing flap that protects them wasn’t up to the extremely high standard that the rest of the unit was. Come production time, the flap had changed and it is now a positive feature of the new unit rather than a negative.
Protection from the elements is not just about the side port access though but also the rest of the unit which has been treated with nanotechnology. Nanotechnology is some pretty high tech science that quite frankly goes well beyond my high school science lessons so for the non-scientists amongst us basically it means that the surface of the Fly6 has become hydrophobic – it repels water.
The water simply drips straight off the Fly6 as water molecules are too big too stick to the nano treated materials. All of which is probably best described with a simple video below of riding in the rain with the Fly6 where you can see how the rain comes off.
I managed to log some decent miles in during my testing of both the prototype and the production unit and I was very impressed by the nanotechnology at work. Each time I was out on a wet or foggy ride I’d come home and watch the footage on the computer which would still be clear. The technology does work for water but on wet days of course you can also get mud on the road, dead worms and who knows what else flying up so from time to time I would reach back to clean the lense with a gloved finger – just in case some incident happened behind me and I missed it because there was some cow manure or something on my lense!
In fact each ride that I took with the Fly6 I was kind of hoping that something would happen behind me so I’d have some interesting footage for this article. Just when you want a crazy driver to come and buzz you or throw something at you there were none to be seen….
Luckily for me a silly touch of wheels to my left on a group training ride two weeks ago brought down a rider behind me and gave me a cool video of my own to put in this article – thanks Barnabé for throwing yourself down and David for the very impressive dismount!
And cool videos – plus evidence against bad drivers is what the Fly6 is all about. The idea behind the Fly6 was originally born out of an incident a number of years ago when inventor Kingsley was out riding and got shot on his bum by a couple of young guys in a car with a slingshot. Thanks to this incident the Fly6 exists today and a number of prosecutions of dangerous drivers around the world has occurred thanks to riders having video evidence of traffic incidents.
There’s lots of videos on the Cycliq website of various incidents captured on film and it would be nice to think that drivers’ attitudes would start to change for the better if more and more cyclists had cameras on board. Of course it’s not just about capturing bad drivers or crashes that is appealing – it’s also cool when you’re in form and making your riding buddies suffer. Unfortunately that’s something that doesn’t happen too often these days with me but on the odd occasion where it did happen in this test it was great to come home, hook the Fly6 up to the computer or bigscreen TV and watch the suffering!
Below is some footage from a local group ride in the South of France that exploded on the lower slopes of a climb before heating up again for the KOM at the top. The suffering on the faces and the frankly just plain bizarre noises from one of the dropped guys is classic stuff – it’s just a shame that it was filmed directly into the rising sun. Despite the obvious glare the image is still clear and when I turn after the KOM and decide to go and do another climb – this time into the sun you can see the HD quality.
That was going to be the last video of my own for this article but then this past weekend I managed to get a Strava KOM on a very popular road for cyclists in my region, the Col de la Roquette – thanks to somebody starting a segment for both the ascent and descent. With this being a rare accomplishment these last couple of months I thought I’d put some of that effort in here too before somebody half my age goes out and beats me…
The novelty of coming home and watching what you just did – but from a reverse angle hasn’t worn off on me and this along with the fact that it’s a great way of showing off my region to friends and family overseas has made the Fly6 my trusted ride companion. When friends from the States or elsewhere ask me about riding in the region I can now just send them a video to let them experience it themselves before heading over here. (Or they could just read my article about riding in the South of France of course)
Now on-bike cameras aren’t that new with various competition around but the Fly6 has a few advantages over the competition for the moment with its light, its price and its battery life and memory capacity making it especially appealing. The battery life is listed as giving 6 hours runtime (although I’ve run mine for 8) and the SD memory provides a continuous looping video record for easy, set-and-forget use. It records 2 hours of footage in 10 minute segments so simply turn it on when you leave home and then if you ride for 2 hours you’ll have the whole ride covered – but ride for 4 hours and you will only have the footage of the second half. If something interesting has happened behind you the best way to ensure that you will still have it when you get home is to turn the camera off. This is what I did when the crash happened behind me – but what if I were to crash, get injured and couldn’t turn it off?
Well the guys have actually thought of this too and have incorporated incident capture technology into the Fly6. Let’s take a worst case scenario that you were run over by a car driver and left on the side of the road. As soon as the Fly6 is tilted to more than 30° for 5 seconds (like putting your bicycle down on the ground) the Fly6 will turn into incident capture mode. This will be signalled by 3 beeps and it will then continue to film for one hour before turning itself off. Therefore it would have captured the accident and the aftermath with everything on film to show to the authorities. This is certainly a cool idea and I tested it a number of times by simulating an accident by placing my bike on the ground and it does beep and then continue to film for one hour as promised.
It’s just one of the features that help the Fly6 stand out from the competition and show clearly that it’s made by cyclists for cyclists. They seem to have thought of everything to make it easy to use and compatible with any type of seatpost or bike.
Overall at just US$249 there’s a lot of positives to this camera/light and is one of those products that just simply isn’t being returned after the test – this one I’m keeping and continuing to use every ride. For me the only negative for the unit is the weight at 113 grams which puts it in the middle of the range with competitors such as GoPro or Shimano but it’s a weight penalty that I’m prepared to take on every ride I do. Check them out at Cycliq.com for more.
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