This is both a bright rear light – giving up to 30 lumens depending on the setting – and an HD camera. It comes well packaged with a range of sturdy rubber straps (including spares) to attach it to your bike, some sticky wedges (again, more spares included) of varying thickness to adjust the angle depending on your seatpost, a microSD card for recording footage onto, and a charging cable. The cable is the same as you’ll need for many mobile phones, so it’s not the end of the world if you misplace it.
The light is bright. On some settings, very bright indeed. Luckily it has a simple dimmer button, giving four levels of bright to less bright for if you’re out on group rides and you value your friends’ eyesight. It has an ‘on’ setting, where the bottom part of the light is lit, while a light around the camera chases in a circular flashing motion. There’s also two different flashing settings, where the lower part flashes, along with the circular chasing light again. On the dimmest setting, only the chasing light operates – giving very little light and probably only suitable as a back up with a second light. This is also the setting – but without the camera running – that is adopted if the battery runs down in use – handy that it doesn’t go straight from BRIGHT to off, and it beeps loudly to warn you it’s switching settings.
There’s a lot of beeping with this light. It beeps when you switch it on, and the number of beeps indicates how much battery you have left. Three short beeps indicates that the crash setting had been triggered. From there it will continue to record, but will keep the hour before the crash setting trigger. So, if you’re found unconscious, someone will be able to see what happened for the hour before you crashed, and find out whether you overcooked a berm, were taken out by a deer, or a driver. In use on the trails, the crash setting was occasionally triggered in minor mishaps – the trigger being a tilt of over 60 degrees for 5 seconds or more – so to override it you need to switch it off and back on again.
However, this light takes up a fair amount of space on your seatpost, and depending on your set up may well not fit below a dropper, so is perhaps not best suited to trail riding. The quality of the footage is excellent in daylight, although there aren’t really any mounting options other than on your seatpost, meaning the only decent trail footage you’re likely to get is of your rear wheel. I have strapped it onto a rucksack strap but it’s all a bit Heath Robinson, and certainly not a GoPro substitute. Where this light – and camera – comes into its own is on the road, where you’d like to prove that someone drove like an idiot before driving into you, and suchlike. It’s worth noting that it also records audio – so while it might not catch a side swipe, it will catch the sound of someone hurling abuse at you as they pass. Or you hurling abuse at close passers. It does however pick up a lot of frame noise, so unless you’re stopped having a polite conversation without someone you’ll likely not hear every word too clearly.
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The footage records in a rather atypical .AVI file format which is not recognised by some common video editing packages, and wasn’t viewable at all on a Mac without additional software. Footage is recorded in ten-minute long files, so the chances are you’re going to want to convert the file format before creating your sick edit/court evidence/YouTube hit, or you’ll have to download the recommended software that does know how to read and edit .AVI files, or something to convert them to something your computer is nmore used to dealing with. This might not seem like a big downside, but in an age of digital convenience this seems a strange inconvenience to have built into the product. The camera records on a loop – overwriting the oldest files once the memory card is full – so if you’re on a long ride you may not end up with footage of the whole ride with the 8GB card provided. You also need to remember to transfer any files of incidents you want to keep.
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What you do with the footage is up to you, however I found I was pleasantly surprised when I contacted the relevant company about this lorry’s close pass. They responded by sending the driver on various training courses, and kept my footage – and explanation of what I felt was wrong with it – to us in future training sessions. A pretty exemplary response from the firm in my view, and perhaps with a more constructive outcome than a YouTube montage. Thanks go to regular columnist Bez for calculating how close a pass it was – for more information on how to go about figuring this kind of thing out from footage, see this column. If you can’t be bothered to read the column, Bez reckons this was about 34cm away from me. Eep.
The Fly 6 weighs in at 142g, so is fairly weighty, but then if you’re wanting to capture footage of other road users you’re possibly more concerned with safety than being a weight weeny. The definition of the footage in daylight is excellent – you can easily read number plates of vehicles, and the angle is wide enough to provide a decent window on the world behind your rear wheel. In wet weather, or mud, the view does start to deteriorate, as you’ll get distortion on the lens thanks to raindrops or spray. I’ve found I can often still make out a decent amount of what’s recorded, although mudguards would be sensible if you want to be sure of getting clearer footage. In darkness without streetlights, the view is pretty poor, although it is slightly improved if you use a non flashing setting, in which case the light is bright enough to light up things behind you and you can make out numberplates of anything that gets near enough to be a problem. I’d usually prefer a flashing setting in the darkness as I think it’s more eye catching, so I think there’s a bit of a trade off here between flashing and effective filming.
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I’ve used my test light on bikes without mudguards and on more than one occasion have forgotten to remove it while cleaning the bike – so far there has been no problem with water ingress. All the buttons and charging points seem well protected by rubbery covers. Battery life is also in line with the ‘up to 6 hours’ promised.
It’s not that I find my commute especially terrifying, it’s more that the difference between ‘that was a bit inconsiderate’ and ‘contact with a vehicle and flying through the air’ seems like a pretty fine line when your Lycra clad limbs are not so very far away from metal clad engines. The Fly6 clearly does nothing to change the balance of risk in this regard. I can admit to there being a definite superstitious element of ‘sod’s law is the day I don’t have it on will be the day I get hit and wish I could prove it was their fault’, but there’s also another rather more bleak perspective to my liking of this light. The ‘if my family are in the position of trying to find out what happened to me, the camera might give them a fighting chance’ take is a cold comfort I hope isn’t put to the test.
Overall: If it were a light on its own, it would be expensive, heavy, but very bright. Add in the camera – which is excellent – and it’s a decent piece of kit for any road commuter who might want to avoid the ‘your word against mine’ scenario.
|Product:||Fly 6 Rear Light and Camera|
|Tested:||by Hannah for 5 months|