What can one say if your editor says to you that we have been sent some techy kit to try out, and would you like to review it? Yes please?
Cycliq Fly6 is a high powered rear LED light unit, with a difference. There is a rear facing HD cam built into the sealed all weather lamp that records what’s happening behind you as you travel along on your bike ride, daily commute or just out with friends. Got your rear covered is what it says on the box.
There’s no need to worry about anything else once you have set up the lamp on your bike and done a quick test to make sure you have a decent field of view. Just remember to switch the light-unit on EVERY time you go out!
All the factual information you need about Fly6 is on their website cycliq.com. It’s an updated design from the original, so here at Cycling Shorts, we are simply going to take it out of the box, fit it to the bike, and run it for a week or so.
Firstly, at just shy under one-hundred-pounds, it seems a lot for a rear LED. Is it worth it? Let’s see.
It comes packaged all nice and neat in a stylish black and red box, padded with shaped foam to keep all the components secure during transit to the shop, or direct to the consumer via mail order.
Once opened, there is a quick set-up guide and notes about recent improvements from your customer feedback.
The lamp feels solid, robust and of a quality build. I liked the fact there were two mounting plates and bands to accommodate a multi-bike set-up. The rubber stretch mounts are more common-place these days and means you can easily remove the lamp should you park-up and leave your bike unattended, being an expensive bit of kit.
I fitted the lamp straight onto my Trek road bike without any problem. Using the aero-seat-post adapter, I found it sat perfectly square to the ground, the body design aligned to take a standard 71.5° rake.
Not knowing what sort of view would be recorded, I positioned the lamp as high as I could without it touching my small tool pouch that was sitting tightly under the saddle.
I found the re-designed mount plate difficult to handle. I’d clipped the lamp unit into the plate slot to check the fitting prior to mounting and couldn’t remove very easily at all. It certainly wasn’t going to come loose, which isn’t a bad thing. But it made me realise that fitting the two mount plates to my two bikes, probably wasn’t going to work as well as I imagined. Maybe they would free off slightly over time if I separate them from time-to-time.
To run the test, I first had to fully charge the built-in Lithium battery. Although it comes pre-charged I wanted to see how long it would take to re-charge and how long it would last, running at full LED power. You can reduce the out-put level several times to conserve energy, or reduce the glare that the main LED emits. [Via the Courtesy Dimmer, opposite the power button].
I plugged the unit into my laptop with the provided USB lead early afternoon. I’d read that the charge LED would go off once charged. Having used re-chargeable lights this Winter gone, I knew that they took a while to fully charge up at work plugged into the USB slot on my PC, and I was right. It was late evening before the LED extinguished. Ok, I’ll test the unit tomorrow then!
Setting off on my Sunday morning bike ride, I’d set the lamp to full power and off I went. Three and a-quarter hours later, back home I switched the unit off. The unit had created a folder on the media card and sliced the ride into ten-minute videos. So they were twelve time indexed files created. I’d noticed that the first hour or so files had already been deleted, not a problem as the unit is there to safeguard any footage of an incident an hour prior to an incident and an hour after the trigger has been set through the bike laying on the ground.
Aimed as a safety back-up device designed to tell a story of what you were doing prior to any incident, then this lamp is a great way of providing additional evidence after the event. You simply must use it on every occasion that you jump on your bike, especially if commuting through town where things can sometimes get a bit more demanding.
The footage the camera produced was of a decent quality to see how the bike ride unfolded. Coming in ten-minute bite size pieces, it provides great footage that can easily be shared amongst friends and family. The file sizes produced are around four-hundred and fifty megabits each, and on the supplied card will hold around eighteen full files.
The recommend free Video Editing software worked a treat too. I found it reasonably easy to cut a couple of pieces from two files and join them to make a short demo.
On my first full power test, I achieved five-and-three-quarter hours recording before the video switched off leaving only the light working. This should last for another hour before being fully depleted.
I would imagine a normal user would need to re-charge the unit twice a week to keep the video camera working on the loop.
On the whole, having used the Cycliq Fly6 for the past four weeks, I would recommend it for my main rear light. Although a bit pricey on my initial glance, considering the beneficial footage that this device records and stores, then it’s a price worth paying.
It may not be something that you would consider buying yourself when looking for a lamp for your bike. But it would make a great gift for someone, for those who are looking for additional safety for their loved ones when out riding the bike.
Established in 2013, a Northern-Irish based start up company called See.Sense, Kickstarter funded ICON intelligent lights.
I tested the rear ICON light which has two 95 lumen CREE LEDs and retails at £64.99.
The box contained 2 x rubber mounts, USB cable, the light and a simple, clear user guide.
The set of front and rear is £119.99 and the 30% brighter ICON+ is also available at £149.99 for the set.
ICON is primarily designed as a ‘to be seen’ light, giving up to 270 degrees of side visibility. This is ideal in urban environments. The front ICON has twin LED’s, one with a focused beam, and one with a dispersed beam. According to See.Sense 80% of accidents happen in daylight and the ICON is certainly bright enough to be visible in daylight.
So what is so clever about it…..?
Within 2 minutes of opening the package I had downloaded the app and connected the light with my iphone via Bluetooth. The app allows you to:
Check your battery level
Change from flashing light to constant
Customise your lights to optimise your brightness/run-time using a simple slider
Control multiple lights at once
Set auto-on/off, which automatically turns off your light after 3 minutes of inactivity, or if you walk more than 3 metres from your light
Turn on theft alert, the light will then send you an alert if anything or anyone disturbs your bike to a range of up to 15 metres
Turn on crash alert, if you have a crash, ICON knows and will send a text to your nominated contact for help, which you can cancel if you are ok
Download firmware and application updates as new features become available
The battery life is up to 15 hours (5hr charge) on flashing mode and on the light itself there is a mini LED to indicate battery level, green for 75%+ and red for less than 25%. The app gives a more accurate battery level and you can adjust the brightness of your light using the app, so it’s easy to maximise your battery life if you’re running low.
I am not sure I would ever adjust brightness/flashing with app myself, but it was fun initially dazzling the family!
See.Sense say the theft detection is ideal for the coffee stop, but would I leave my bike locked outside cafe with a £120 of lights still attached? And perhaps the alarm should be on the light, not the phone to scare away the thief? Having said that it worked and I did indeed get the alert when the light was moved.
I like the crash alert feature as I often ride alone, but the most impressive thing about the light is that it adapts to its environment, increasing its brightness and flash rate to keep you more visible in riskier situations such as junctions, roundabouts, filtering in traffic and to approaching car headlights. If you are in an urban setting, where there is a higher level of ambient lighting from street lighting and approaching cars at night, ICON will automatically adjust to be less bright. It is the only light in the world that can react to road junctions, filtering traffic, roundabouts and car headlights.
Even more intelligent is the fact that ICON will soon monitor your environment. It can monitor road surfaces, crashes, near-miss events, light levels, temperature levels and routes taken. With your permission data will be uploaded to the cloud and aggregated data can then be shared with councils to provide information for cycling infrastructure provision, pothole repairs and identify hot spot areas where there are a high frequency of ‘near-miss’ events and crashes.
Philip McAleese, CEO of See.Sense said, “It is our hope that ICON will help to ignite a cycling revolution. Not only does ICON enhance the cycling experience through improved safety and convenience, it also has the potential to empower cyclists to influence their cities through the use of highly accurate, crowd-sourced data. This can create smarter and better cities for everyone.”
It comes with a 12 month warranty and is weather sealed, the website actually shows it being dropped in a jug of water and mine has been soaked several times in winter rain and road spray with no adverse effects.
However after about 6 rides the on/off button became somewhat intermittent requiring a really hard press at an angle to switch the light on as if something is perhaps loose or out of alignment behind it.
The light itself is bulky and doesn’t have the aesthetic appeal of some of the other lights on the market; one rider even went so far as to call it ‘ugly’.
Overall it is bright, functional and easy to fit. It is certainly visible and I even received a couple of complaints about how bright it is! Gadget lovers will like the app and although I hope I never need it, I feel reassured by the crash alert. It will be interesting to see how much data See.Sense is able to collect in the future and how this is used, anything that improves the cycling infrastructure and safety must be a good thing.
As the nights have become dark we all need to make sure we can see and be seen.
Bontrager’s Glo and Ember lights might not be quite the thing if you want to see but they will certainly allow you to be seen.
For the last couple of years I have been using the cheap £2 frog eye lights that are available by the shed load on eBay. While they do a job there is certainly a question over the level of lumens they produce and to be honest there ability to withstand the elements is suspect. I thought it was time to try out something a little more up market, even though this might go against my cheapskate grain!
As soon as I picked up the Bontrager lights I could tell they where going to perform significantly better then the cheap frog eyes.
The marketing blurb on Bontrager’s website describes the lights as follows:-
Test lights supplied by Bikechain Ricci
Instantly add front or rear safety lighting with the Glo headlight and and Ember tail light. Used as a stand alone system in twilight conditions, as additional lighting or as an emergency back-up, these compact, bright and stylish lights can be run in either steady or flashing modes and provide over 40 hours of run time. Each includes two CR2032 batteries and an elastic strap for attachment to a variety of surfaces including helmets.
The blurb on the packaging is slightly more generous with the run times, 50/100+ hours (Glo front light) and 100+ hours (Ember). The Glo offers 5 lumens and the Ember 3 Lumens.
Ember provides a bright rear light even in daylight.
Fitting the lights is dead simple and the multi hole bands allow for very secure fitting to either seat-post or handle bars, as well as potential use as a helmet light.
These little bad boys are way brighter then any lights of this type I have used before, certainly making them worth the money. They really are great lights to allow you to be seen by but not so good for you to see the road ahead. I frequently use them as my road lights riding city streets to and from the dark lanes or off road ride areas, where I switch to my high power Cree LED lights.
If you are looking for something that will help make you visible on your town or city commute in these dark winter months then get yourself along to your local bike shop and pick up a pair of Bontrager Glo and Ember lights.
A definte one to ask Santa to leave in your stocking.
A CyclingShorts.cc Star buy at 90%
Retails for around £25 – £30 per set (can be bought individually).
Hiplok are an award winning lock company who strive to balance ergonomic design and security.
Newest to a growing portfolio of security products is the Hiplok-D. Designed on the classic, sturdy D lock that many will find heavy and bulky to carry, the Hiplok-D has been designed conveniently smaller. Plus, the unique clip feature (available in a choice of colours) allows you to easily attach the lock to a bag strap or belt making it a lot easier to transport when using your bike.
Although smaller, the 13mm hardened steel shackle, hardened steel body casing and tough nylon outer shell still delivers a Secure Silver Award, so there’s no worrying that it won’t be as secure as other bulkier locks. Delivered with 3 distinctive keys, there’s no worry of losing a key and never being able to unlock your pride and joy again!
I lent the D to a local Windsor cyclist who commutes daily to his job as a teacher. He was enthused at the idea of the size of the lock and the ability to carry it easily with his work bag. Although small, the lock is still weights in at 1kg, a factor he found limited the security of carrying the lock on his bag strap. After losing it to a number of road junctions, he eventually had to resort to carrying the lock in his bag. That aside, the 13.5cm x 7cm internal area proved big enough to secure a bike frame to something fixed; although you’d struggle if you wanted to lock your frame and wheel in the same instance (along with larger top tube bikes).
Anna’s (CS Editor) thoughts… ‘This Lock is probably not suited to smaller riders to carry on their waistband as you are carrying all the weight in one place. If you’re a smaller rider you may prefer the Hiplok V1.50, Lite or POP as they evenly distribute the weight around your waist or body. The price is slightly more than your average D lock at £59.99, but not the priciest on the market by a long way, remember when buying a lock you need to compare like with like on the Security Award ratings.’
You can find more out about the Hiplok range at their website: www.hiplok.com
Cycling Shorts gives the Hiplok-D 76% rating.
– Small and compact
– Easy to use
– Easy to carry
– Highly secure
– Still pretty weighty
– Clip feature isn’t 100% secure
– Limited locking space
Riding since Feb 2011 Hayley is a 30 year old female who loves adventures. If she’s not on one of her many bikes or in the water on a bodyboard/surfboard, then Hayley is probably out looking for something new to keep the adrenaline pumping! Website: www.hjdonline.co.uk
Stranger in the night – dipping a toe into the dark
There’s a lot of buzz about night riding at the minute – what with the massive national increase in cycling since the summer of Wiggo and the Olympics, participation has skyrocketed both on and off road. With our balmy, breezy summer evenings, cycling through August, September and even October is perfectly do-able, but the switch to Greenwich Mean Time rather spoils the party unless you’re somewhere lit. That’s where quality lights come in – but quality can be pretty pricey. If you’ve never done it before, how are you going to know whether it works for you without taking a punt on a bunch of expensive kit. What you need is an understanding shop and an agreeable light manufacturer.
Luckily for me, I live not too far from such a shop. Run And Ride at Hednesford are literally right on the doorstep of Cannock Chase, which gives them access to miles of trails, and they took it upon themselves to hook up with Exposure Lights to put on a tryout evening – the incredibly accommodating Exposure sent along a massive crate of their finest off road light sets, and Run And Ride invited the world to pop up to Cannock one chilly November evening, where they would strap on some serious lighting kit and lead you on a night foray.
I chucked the bike in the back and packed some cycling kit in the car that morning, and headed straight up there after work. Even early on there was a decent turnout, and it was simplicity itself to get signed up. As a nightriding newbie, I put myself at their mercy as to what to try out, and was both startled and pleased to be given a Six Pack to try, a self-contained handlebar mounted light that lit up the trail not unlike a police helicopter search light. I was impressed.
Once everyone was sorted, we were split into fast and steady groups and set out for a trawl around the Chase. Having not ridden off road at night before, it was a fascinating experience – the nature of the visibility makes you hyper-focused on the spread of light before you, and it all seems much, much quicker, the flickering of shadows on uneven ground keeping you on your toes the whole time. I loved it – I can definitely do the winter cycling thing, which has opened up another six months of riding for me. Happy days.
Six Pack is an incredible bit of kit – a single unit with the battery included, on full power it’ll kick out 1800 lumens for about three hours, with medium (up to 10 hours), low (up to 24 hours) and flash settings, the indicator on the back will change colour to indicate the remaining charge, and it’ll drop itself down through the modes as it reaches the end of the battery to make sure there’s always a bit of get-you-home light in there. Riding with the Six Pack alone was great on straight or flowing tracks, with the beam plenty wide for most occasions, but when we got into the nadgery stuff, very tight and twisty, I found myself turning into corners blind, my eyes tracking the path round the next corner before I needed to turn the bars. If you only ever rode on fast, open trails, the Six Pack would be great on its own, but if you’re likely to face any tighter turns, I think you’d have to go for a helmet-mounted light as well.
I learned a lot that night – I had a great 12 mile ride out on a Thursday evening, and I found out that riding needn’t stop because the light goes. I even found a great new shop – it must have taken a lot of time and effort to organise, and thankfully they had a good turnout to reward their efforts. The staff were friendly and approachable and incredibly helpful (one poor chap in front of me had his chain snap when he got out of the saddle at speed, resulting in a big swap one way, then a big swap the other way, ending in an oddly graceful flying W into the ferns – thankfully he was fine and one of the Run And Ride crew had the chain back together, (oooo, I’m going to say about 90 seconds after the crash happened, impressive stuff), and there was no hint of a hard sell afterwards, just good banter and useful advice. There’s a reason why people are both proud and protective of their local bike shop – that’s another thing I learned, too.
Massive thanks to Run And Ride and Exposure Lights for a great evening and an extra six months riding a year!
As the name suggests, this is described by the Italian manufacturer as a unisex helmet suitable for both road bike and mountain bike use, and has some features that would appeal to commuters too, but is it a case of ‘Jack of all trades, Master of none’ ?
I have owned this helmet for 6 months, and wear it on my daily commute and on my longer weekend rides.
Light weight, it is the lightest helmet I have owned so far, weighing only 262 grams for the universal size (52-59cm). (MET state that the helmet weighs 270g)
Good ventilation, when riding on frosty/cold mornings I have to wear a warm cap underneath, I have never had to do this with any of my previous helmets.
Longevity, the box states that it comes with a three year warranty, and unusually its lifespan is between 8-10 years!
The advice given by most manufacturers is to replace a helmet after 2-3 years of use, depending on its exposure to UV and the damage that comes from handling. But MET have an initiative called Low Impact On Nature (L.I.O.N) that not only prolongs the life of the product but also reduces its ‘carbon footprint’ and waste during production. Surprisingly the helmet does not retail at a higher price compared with other shorter-life lids of a similar spec, so you save money too! (Also, last years models, as this is, are currently discounted in many outlets, for sale for only £29.99 instead of MRP £39.99, making it an even better deal).
MET offer a helmet crash replacement policy, which means that if your helmet is seriously damaged (due to a crash or serious fall) within three years of the purchase date they can offer an equivalent helmet at a discounted rate, providing you can supply proof of purchase, and the broken helmet.
Minimal exposed polystyrene, the outer shell which is moulded and bonded to the inner during manufacture (as most do nowadays, except for the very cheapest ones) covers the back of the helmet too. This feature adds to the look and feel of quality and must help to protect the inner from knocks and UV light.
From the picture above you will also see the integrated rear LED light, this contains four red LEDs and is operated by pressing the whole assembly, it has a flashing and constant mode.
This is also the ratchet tensioner which adjusts the frame that sits around the head:
From this internal view you can see the washable pads and see the insect net that is moulded into the helmets front vents, you will also notice that the whole helmet is an oval shape, so may not be completely comfortable with someone with a more rounded head shape, for me though it fits perfectly.
The straps and quick release clip are easily adjustable; in fact I had my fit set up within seconds, as I hardly had to adjust anything straight from the box. The straps don’t rely on a thin rubber band to hold the excess in place, which can easily snap and leave a long piece of strap flapping in the breeze, the strap is a loop and is retained by a sturdy moulded piece of rectangular rubber, a much better design, also the strap itself is not so long as to have any free to stick out, it is also finished by a plastic end that is easy to pull even when your fingers are cold or when wearing gloves.
In the past I have often had trouble in getting the straps behind the ears to sit close to my head, but with this helmet these are tensioned properly, matching the front ones, so making it a secure fit.
Styling: This is of course a personal opinion, but the overall style is more generic than other helmet brands on the market, nothing about it stands out as being uniquely MET, unlike some others who seem to add peculiar shapes and designs in order to stand out, I like the look of the pointed rear protrusions as they look very strong and therefore more protective than bare polystyrene. I chose this colour combination because the turquoise is very reminiscent of the famous ‘Celeste’ used by Bianchi, as I have one of their bikes, thinking that the Italian made helmet might be purposely designed to match the Italian marquee. (All MET helmets are designed, developed and manufactured in Italy, at Talamona, in the heart of the Italian Alps).
My only (minor) criticism is that the switch on the light often needs pressing several times to either switch it on or off, especially when the temperature is low, I have noticed that in this years model it looks as if the light has been moulded in a red plastic rather than my clear one, so this issue may have been resolved already.
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