Fly6 Gen3 Camera Light Review
Think about it. A human (probably dressed in spandex) with only a helmet for protection, riding a bicycle next to a 4,000lb truck.
The truck is going 40mph; the cyclist, 20mph.
The best hope for a successful experience is if the driver of that truck notices the cyclist and gives them some buffer space.
While this article is not about bike laws or the rights of cyclists (check out People for Bikes or similar local or national organizations for that), we are taking a look at a device that can both help cyclists be seen and record interactions with motor vehicles while on the roadways. That device is the Fly6 Gen3 Rear Camera Light from Cycliq.
The Basics - What Is The Fly6 Gen3 Rear Camera Light
Right off the bat this looks like an ordinary bike tail light (or rear light). It comes with the main unit, two different lengths of mount straps to make sure it will fit on your wide aero seatposts, and various shaped rubber spacers to ensure a proper fit on the aforementioned seat posts.
The mount is a 1/8th turn mount. You're probably familiar with your Garmin 1/4th turn mount (that you turn 90 degrees to lock in place). This 1/8th turn is basically the same thing but you turn it a shorter distance. I noticed it was a much tighter fit than my Garmin mount, which is a good thing because a bike light sits vertically and encounters a lot more movement than a GPS computer would mounted on the handlebars.
For charging you get a USB-A to USB-C cable in the box. I am quite happy about that. I don't really see any reason for many devices NOT to be USB-C nowadays. Action cams, phones, computers - they all use USB-C or at the very least have a USB-C port. I'm glad to see that Cycliq went with USB-C on these lights. It's advertised to fully charge in 2 hours and last up to 5 hours when recording only and up to 4 hours with the light on (depending on the mode). With the mode I would run, I got around 3 hours of battery life which was plenty for me.
The light has 5 different modes - Constant high and low, blinking high and low, and a random pattern mode. I usually kept it running on the high blinking mode, but I like the idea of the random mode. The key to being seen by vehicle drivers is recognition, and the random mode would help with that. The light itself, even on high-mode is not as bright as some other basic lights (like my NiteRider Solas 250), but it is adequate for being seen even during the day.
Now, remember, this isn't just a light. It's also a video camera (like an action cam) that constantly records your rides. It really is set up so that it's "idiot proof." It comes with an 32GB SD card (enough for over 3 hours of footage at the highest resolution (1080p @ 30fps) and that SD card is already installed in the slot in the light. Press the power button, the light turns on, and the video starts recording. It's as simple as that.
To get your recordings off the camera, you can just plug in the supplied USB-C cable to your computer and it should be recognized as a storage device or a camera (depends on your computer). The other option is to just pop the SD card out and plug it into your computer. It is a micro-SD card, so either your computer needs to have a compatible slot or you'll need an adapter of some type. Either way you go, it's just like pulling footage off any other digital camera.
Advanced Features Of The Fly6 Gen3 Rear Camera Light
Beyond the basics there are some really ingenious features built into this little light/camera combo. The first has to do with saving recordings. Obviously, you don't want to run out of space while recording a ride, so it records video on a "continuous loop" where once the SD card is full, the oldest files are written over by new recordings.
This is great, but what if you have a file you want to save due to an incident? There are two options. First, the Fly6 has a crash detection feature that will automatically lock the files before a during the incident which will prevent them from being locked. Thankfully, I never had to use these features in real life, but the detection is based on the rotation of the unit while recording. I set it off a few times while messing with the light in my house figuring out all the buttons and features. You can change the settings for how long these saved recordings are. I left it set at 5 minutes, so an incident would lock 10 minutes total of footage so it wouldn't be accidentally deleted.
If you, on the other hand, witness an incident, you can press both buttons on either side of the unit and it will automatically lock the files the same way it would with the auto-detect feature. This is great if you are riding with a group and something happens and you need to save the recording for future use.
In practice, it's a little hard to get these buttons pressed while on the move (and especially with thicker gloves!) but in the case of an incident that needs to be saved, I would be stopping on the side of the road and making sure those files were saved. When getting the locked files off the SD card, the file name is different from the standard video and is marked "LCK" so you can find those more easily.
When trying out the "lock" feature while riding, I stumbled upon the still photo feature. By pressing the "Q" button (opposite the power button) the Fly6 will take a still photo and save it to the SD card. Another nice handy feature for documenting your ride or incidents you may encounter.
Another advanced feature that took me a while to realize is the beeping when you power on or off the light. There is a pattern that tells you instantly the state of the battery's charge. 4 quick beeps means you're full or almost full. The fewer beeps, the less battery. Once you start hearing long, solid tones, you know it's probably not going to make it through a ride of any significant length. This is awesome because I have come back from a ride and realized that at some point during my ride my light had shut off and I was riding for who-knows how long without any light whatsoever. This solves that problem altogether.
Using The CycliqPlus App To Get The Most Out Of The Fly6 Gen3 Rear Camera Light
Pairing the Fly6 with the CycliqPlus app over Bluetooth opens up even more advanced features and settings to customize your light. With the app you can change the light settings, check the amount of locked files on your SD card, and even link to Strava and edit videos with data overlay. This edition of the Fly6 doesn't support transferring video directly to your phone, so you'd have to get the video from your computer to your phone before using these features though.
The one really neat feature that the app makes available is the bike alarm. You can enable the alarm when you stop at a coffee shop or other stopping point and then if your bike is moved before disabling the alarm it will flash the light, start a recording, and beep obnoxiously drawing attention to the potential thief. If you are within Bluetooth range, your app will also give you a notification.
Uses For The Fly6 Gen3 Rear Camera Light
While any person who rides a bike could find a use for the Fly6, I think the most obvious use for this unit is in a city commute scenario. Where I live in the rural southeast, I have plenty of roads with little to no encounters with an automobile. I always ride with a light, and the built-in camera of the Fly6 is an extra comfort, but those commuters riding in heavy traffic every day will most definitely be glad to have some extra proof should a crash occur. The various light modes also open this up to a border audience and allow a commuter who may be riding in variable conditions to be ready no matter what comes their way.
The other major use I could see is in group rides. I have seen footage on the internet that was captured by cyclists in a group being harassed by automobiles, and the Fly6 would just make that capturing process even smoother. With the Fly6 being a rear mounted light, a group could really "have each other's 6," so to speak, in the group with all points of the ride covered by a camera.
Final Thoughts On The Fly6 Gen3 Rear Camera Light
If you skipped all the way here to get the gist of this post, here's the bottom line: the Fly6 is a great idea combining the peace of mind of a continually recording video camera and an attention-grabbing tail-light. While the light could be brighter, it's adequate. The camera records in 1080p which is perfectly fine for me, but in a world where 4k is quickly becoming standard, it may fall short for some.
I love the fact that this unit "just works" and as long as I've got it charged, I'll be good to go. The beep indicators for the battery is an amazing thing that I think more light makers should work into their units.
It was a little confusing for me figuring out the app because there are things in there that are only supported in other units and even the ANT+ logo on the side of the Fly6 itself sent me off trying to get a feature to work that just wasn't there on this unit. I would have preferred those features to be hidden based on the unit connecting or something similar so that I wouldn't have false hope in getting something to work that is not supported by my hardware.
At the end of the day I think this is a great step forward for cyclists and helping us "be safe and be seen" by motor vehicles and advocate for safe roadways for all! I can't wait to see where these types of devices can take us!
Nathan Deck is a husband, father, triathlete, and a teacher at heart. When he's not training or reviewing products, he loves to mentor junior athletes new to the sport. Read more of his work at Triathlonpal and follow him on Twitter.