There aren’t too many cyclists who don’t have a story of a tangle with a car. Car door, run off the road, t-boned (all three for me!), rear projectile attack. It’s like being in a warzone.
The truth is, Australia is just a shitful place to be a cyclist, at least in terms of motorist attitudes and general culture.
if you’ve ever ridden in France (For example), you’ll know what I mean-riding in France is a JOY. Australian motorists—not all, but a lot—are just dickheads towards cyclists.
The adaptation of HD cameras into cycling-friendly cameras has been great for our safety and bringing perpetrators to justice, but most people are using this for looking fore of the bike. This is great for pinging people who pull out in front of you, as well as car doors, but what about behind you?
I don’t know about you, but some of my accidents have been caused by traffic coming from behind me, and there’s always stories of projectiles being launched by a rear assault. Recently a couple of cyclists in Sydney have been run off the road (one resulting in a broken back) by attacks from the rear.
A front-facing camera does nothing to help in apprehending the dickheads (strike out), perpertrators.
But now, we have a solution.
And in fact, this is SO OBVIOUS, I am shocked it hasn’t been done sooner.
Two lads (Andrew and Kingsley) from Western Australian company Fly Lites (fly6.com) have put a wide-angle HD camera into a rear red light to give you rear facing vision.
If anything—heaven forbid—happens to you, you’ve got footage of what happened.
I reckon this is seriously one of the coolest things I’ve reviewed and has become a no-brainer addition to all my rides.
What’s in the box
Here’s what comes in the box. This is a seriously well-presented package.
- Rubber thingamajigs to attach the light holder to your post. You get 4 small ones (suitable for standard 27.2 road seat post, and probably an MTB post) and 2 longer ones for those zany proprietary posts.
- MicroSD adaptor for card readers
- 2 light brackets
- 4 bracket angle wedges (shims) to adjust the angle of the camera.
- The light itself
- Really clear instructions
The packaging itself is just awesome. It’s like opening an Apple product.
Installation of Fly6
Could this be any easier?
- Pull bracket out.
- Pull shim out (I used a normal one for my Specialized Tarmac) and attach to bracket.
- Pull 2 rubber thingamajigs out. Attach bracket.
- Pull light out.
- Slide light in.
Configuring the Fly6
Plug your Fly6 into your computer and open the config.txt file. Enter the current date/time, save and you are good to go. No other configuration is needed.
Operation of Fly6
Again, this is super easy.
Turn light on by holding LHS button in for 2 secs. The light beeps to indicate it’s on, then starts blinking.
The camera has a set of rotating leds that tell you it’s recording. (Make sure you’re not recording a review and your fiancee isn’t getting around in her delicates. Note: for me, one time the LEDs all locked on blinking. I assumed this meant an error. I turned the light off then back on, to no avail. Whilst still switched on, I removed the micro SD card (Which switches the light off) and re-inserted it, voila, fixed.)
There are two light patterns: just depress and hold the on/off button for about 1S.
There are 4 light levels: default (5 hr mode), less (very dim), lights off, then super bright. The lights-off mode still has the camera LEDs in operation, indicating recording. This is probably good for day time/safety cam.
The light is powered by a rechargeable battery that gives you 5 hrs of operating time.
Note the supplied 8GB micro SD card will record for 2 hours. Given that most of us do a lot of rides longer than that, get a 32GB micro SD card (around AUD$25 online) and record for around 8 hours (16GB for 4 hours).
To recharge the Fly6, just plug in to your computer via USB to recharge.
The Fly6 just keeps recording over the card, so if you have some footage you want to keep, grab it off the SD card before your next ride.
The Fly6 has an Incident Protection Function. Basically, Fly6 has been designed to save footage from major incidents without being recorded over. This works when the bicycle and Fly6 are tilted over more than 45 degrees for more than 3 seconds. In this event, Fly6 will trigger a program that will shut down your Fly6 after one hour.
Fly6 Light Levels
Fly Lites say that 90% of accidents occur in daylight times (my experience tells me 100%), so the camera is optimised for day light.
My experience shows me dusk and dawn recording quality was excellent too.
If there is no light, the camera will record black. If there is night time ambient light, like an epic full moon, or lots of street lights, you’ll get decent footage.
The light currently uses 0.5W LEDs but the production version will likely use 1-2W. Current output is 9 Lumens but the production run will go to 15 Lumens.
Downloading footage to your computer
Plug in with the supplied cable (or any USB->mini USB), hold the power button on until it beeps, and it should appear in Windows Explorer/Mac Finder. The camera light will be solidly on, as well as the recharge indicator.
I initially had trouble getting my iMac (OSX 10.6.7), so plugged into my Macbook Air (OSX 10.8) and picked the micro SD card up. I thought this might be due to the card being formatted as NTFS (OSX10.6.7 apparently doesn’t play nice with NTFS) but upon trying again before editing the video review I had no issues. Put it down to a glitch in the Matrix.
The microSD card comes formatting as FAT32 (MS-DOS). If you need to reformat, you can.
You get a Sandisk 8GB card with the device. You can use up to 32GB (64GB currently unsupported).
Viewing and editing video from the Fly6
The video footage is .AVI encapsulated video, encoded with H.264.
You’ll need VLC or another AVI viewer to watch the video.
Quicktime does not support H.264 encoded AVI files, nor will you be able to edit in Adobe Premiere (tested in Premiere Pro CS5).
To edit in Premiere Pro (not sure about Final Cut), you’ll need to transcode to MOV, MP4 or some other format. I use Smart Converter Pro to perform fast transcoding. iSquint is also awesome but way slower at transcoding.
Here’s what’s awesome about this device
The Fly6 has an IP rating of 54 (IP codes) which gives it protection against ingress by dust and is splash proof.
However it has has nano-technology which makes the surfaces (internal & external) hydrophobic. This means that water cannot stick to surfaces (like electronics/metal) so does not cause corrosion.
So while it may not work while scuba diving, after it has dried out from its dive, it will perform again. The FlyLite is apparently the only cycling accessory to have nano-tech so far. That nifty scuba trick has been tested by Fly6.
- The light itself is awesome
- The footage is awesome quality
- It’s a simple concept executed brilliantly
- It’s easy to use
What needs improvement
Not much to be honest.
My package arrived with some known issues which are being fixed for the production version (I got a 5th gen prototype). But really, nothing needs fixing: this product is brilliant as is.
Fly6 Technical Specs
Resolution 1280 x 720
Frames per second 30
Video File Format AVI
Video Encoding/compression (codec) H.264
Time Stamp YYYY/DD/MM HH:MM:SS
Sensor viewing angle wide – 130 degrees
File Sizes 15 minutes or around 800MB
Compression 16bit PCM/mono/32KHz
Charging Mini USB (USB2.0)
Connecting to computer Mini USB (USB2.0)
Memory Card MicroSD
Micro SD Card
8GB class 10 Sandisk Ultra microSDHC card
4 options from 100% through to off
2 flashing options
Where to buy FlyLites Fly6 and Summary
You can buy Fly6 directly from the Fly6 website.
This is one of the best and easy-to-use products to come across my desk. Highly recommended and a no-brainer investment.