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The Techalogic CF-1 Front Light with HD Wide Angle Camera is easy to use, produces decent images for incident/accident duties and runs for over five hours with everything on. The light itself is adequate rather than outstanding, but overall it's still a good commuting accessory.
If you're used to the sleek designs of modern lights, this black box feels like a step back to the old days. I think it's a bit of a lump to be honest – enough to put me off using it on my best bike – but on the winter hack it doesn't bother me unduly.
Halfway through the test period, Techalogic sent us out a new set of mounting hardware to replace the rather bulky setup you see in the other photographs (these are the new ones here).
The new mounts are CNC-ed aluminium, Techalogic-branded and secured with more discreet hex bolts. They come in two sizes, the smaller for bars (or posts – these are the same mounts that come with the rear version, which we'll review soon) of 20mm-28mm diameter, and the larger for 26.6mm to 32.5mm. There's also a stem bolt adapter.
The light attaches to the brackets using a simple slot-together fitting, which you can fasten with either a hex bolt or the supplied thumbscrew. The latter is theoretically handy for easy removal, but needs to be done up very tight to prevent the camera moving on the mount – something that's quite awkward as it's being pretty short and leaves little clearance for fingers. It's only trickier when those fingers are cold.
Techalogic is now supplying these units with a nice blue thumbscrew spanner, though a thumbscrew that works with thumbs would arguably be the best option...
The lens sits above the light with a flush-fitted cover to reduce the risk of scratching, while the control buttons are mounted down one side. The USB and SD card ports are on the other.
The camera records in 1920x1080p format at 30 frames per second, with the 120 degree field of view taking in the full width of the road.
I thought the pictures were remarkably stable given that bike-mounted cameras are prone to suffering from vibration, and there's no excessive pixelation at high speed – the bane of many early digital video cameras. Pausing on random frames always seems to reveal a sharp enough image.
There's a consistently blue tinge – presumably the white balance failing to respond to winter light – but even at speed downhill I was able to ready the number plate of every car that overtook.
Oncoming vehicles are a little trickier, especially at a distance, but the ones causing the problems always proved close enough to mean image was perfectly clear.
The camera can also be switched to stills mode, which shoots static images once a second. The picture quality is grainy even at maximum (12mp) resolution, though, so I didn't find it particularly useful.
The only other issues I had were that very low sun can cause the light to smear across the image, and that old-fashioned side-exiting shifter cables (see the 9-speeds on the video from my winter bike) get in the line of vision. Also, using the stem mount may eliminate this problem.
Sound is recorded via a tiny hole on the side of the unit, and it suffers fairly badly from wind noise. The range is also quite limited.
Using the unit is about as simple as it gets. Press the power button and both the light and the camera are activated. A flashing green light indicates when you're actually recording, but it's set in the front of the unit where it can't be seen by the rider... and the same goes for the battery level warning light.
The light defaults to a flashing pattern and doesn't remember the last setting you preferred, though there's only one – steady beam – besides off. The single 400 lumen LED is adequate on dark lanes and no more, but it's fine for town riding bar the side-visibility (which is nil). The flash is eye-catching enough, though.
Whilst the buttons are easily accessible, they're quite low-profile. I got used to using them by feel with a bit of trial and error, but when wearing thick gloves it's pretty hopeless. Some raised bumps on the rubber covers might be helpful.
The camera functions can also be controlled remotely from your smart device, via the CR-1's built-in Wi-Fi and an app, RICAM. There's a certain amount of setting-up to be done, but it's easy to use. My device was sometimes a bit slow to identify the WiFi signal, but once connected it was very stable with a range I'd estimate at around 30 metres.
You can change the recording file length (1, 3, 5 or 10 minutes), turn off the sound, turn off the timing watermark and select resolutions.
There's a feature called 'G-sensor' which is designed to automatically lock the video file if the camera senses an impact. Thankfully, I had no cause to test this in real life so can't say for sure that it works, but you can adjust the sensitivity in the settings/switch it off if your find it oversensitive. Time and date are set automatically by the app – great, as it's one less thing to mess on with.
However, if you are using the rear CR-1 unit as well you can only connect one at a time to the app, which seems a bit of missed opportunity.
Battery life is described as 'up to four hours' with both LED and camera running, and 'over seven hours' with the light off. With the camera only I did indeed get 7 hours and 20 minutes, and with the flashing light and camera still achieved around four and a half hours. Using the steady beam, battery life fell to around 2.5 hours without the camera running.
So that's as promised, but is it enough? On one longer day out I found myself riding home in the gathering gloom with no front light, while the matching rear unit was still going...
The good news is the CF-1 is fully functional whilst charging, so you can plug in an auxiliary battery on the go. That means leaving the SD card port uncovered, though, which isn't so great in the rain. I found (normal) recharging quick, at about 2.5 hours.
The camera accepts a micro-SD card of up to 128GB – it doesn't come with one, and the unit won't work at all without a card fitted, but they're an optional extra from Techalogic. I had an issue with one they supplied which resulted in the camera turning itself off all the time and disabling the controls (though the light continued to work). Two other cards I had lying around wouldn't work either. I eventually bought a SanDisk Extreme Pro 64GB and had no further problems.
I found that after 4hrs filming I still had two-thirds available, meaning around 12 hours total. The camera automatically overwrites the card when it's full so there's no problem with running out of space; by that time you should have had ample opportunity to copy any material you want to keep. The ports are protected by a rubber cover which fits fine, but the recess could be deeper for peace of mind.
There's no need to remove the card to transfer files – just plug the camera in to your computer. A USB cable is supplied. File transfer is quick and easy and I was able to play video files directly from the SD card.
Last time we tested a light from Techalogic it was the unusual looking double-ended helmet cam, the DC-1, which was originally designed for motorcycles. The CR-1 is a bicycle accessory from the ground up, and avoids the controversial issue of using protective equipment as a mount.
I've actually found identical-looking (unbranded) versions of the CF-1 on eBay going for £145.00, so in that light Techalogic's price seems reasonable. Also, Aldi does a combined front light/camera called the Bikemate, and that's a very similar price of £99.99.
The main rival is Cycliq's Fly12 HD, which we last reviewed in 2018, but even then it was packing 600 lumens. It was, however, considerably dearer at £255 and is now £269, against which the Techalogic looks good value – the specs and claimed run times are similar.
The CF-1 is hard to fault for value, even against cameras that aren't also lights. The light is fine for town and occasional country use, while the camera is straightforward and gets the job done – so long as you're not after great sound.
Adequate rather than outstanding as a light, but the camera works well and Techalogic gives good back-up
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Techalogic CF-1 Front Light with HD Wide Angle Camera
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the light is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Techalogic says: "Minimise clutter on your bike with our unique, integrated front light and camera 'ALL IN ONE' small compact and neat looking, lightweight unit."
"Cycle front light with integrated Full HD 1080P Wide Angle Camera. Records in crisp FULL 1080 HD. The high-quality 120 wide-angle lens captures everything important behind you in clear visual detail. Settings can easily be configured through the RICAM app."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the light?
Micro SD card required
1920 x 1080 @ 30 fps Resolution
120 degrees sensor viewing angle
Voltage 3.7v battery
Different LED Modes
400 Lumen light output
Micro USB charging
MP4 Video File Type
Battery Capacity 1500mAh/Up to 4 Plus hours
The unit is simple but sturdy, made from chunkily-moulded plastic. The front and back are well screwed together and sealed. The lens protector seems good quality and scratch-resistant.
The light and camera come on automatically when the unit is turned on, and the buttons are just about identifiable by feel – though not when wearing bulky gloves – and you can't see the record indicator light from the riding position. The app is simple and straightforward.
The camera is attached to the mount by means of a bolt with a knurled nut, which can be tightened/removed fairly quickly, though it does need to be properly tight to prevent it drooping. Note the mounting kit has been updated since the main pictures were taken and is altogether tidier.
Techalogic says it's IPX5 water resistant, which should protect against a low pressure water stream from any angle. I used the light in some filthy road conditions and also "forgot" to remove it whilst running the hose over the bike, and suffered no ill effects.
With the camera on and using a flashing light, I got 4.5 hours runtime. This is reduced with a steady light (about 2.5 hours max), or increased with the light off – I got 7hrs 20min, which is as claimed by Techalogic. Recharging takes about 2.5 hours.
As a light this is okay, if not outstanding: it's enough to see you home on unlit lanes, and the flashing mode is fine for traffic. The camera is more than good enough for accident/incident recording, and stable enough not to make you motion sick when watching the replays. The sound isn't great though and picks up quite a lot of wind noise.
Compared to the combined weight of a separate light and camera it's not bad.
Tell us how the light performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It may not be the highest-spec available as either a light or camera, but for commuting duties it's more than adequate – and it's a good deal cheaper than the main rivals. It's pretty easy to set up and use and worked reliably throughout the test. Recharging time is good, which is just as well as you will need it between rides.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the light
It's simple and sturdy, the app is easy, and it shoots perfectly acceptable images. Good customer support, too.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the light
The buttons aren't great to use by feel, I couldn't see the recording indicator or low battery lights from the riding position, and it's kind of ugly.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
I've actually found identical-looking (unbranded) versions of the CF-1 on eBay going for £145.00, so in that light Techalogic's price seems reasonable. Also, Aldi does a combined front light/camera called the Bikemate, which is a very similar price at £99.99.
The main rival is Cycliq's Fly12, which we last reviewed in 2018, but even then it was packing 600 lumens. It was, however, considerably dearer at £255 and is now £269, against which the Techalogic looks good value – the specs and claimed run times are similar.
Did you enjoy using the light? Yes
Would you consider buying the light? Yes
Would you recommend the light to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Better as a camera than a light, but the CF-1 is perfectly acceptable in both regards and undoubtedly a useful commuting accessory at a tempting price. Techalogic has now tweaked the mounting kit to make a much tidier set-up. The buttons could be easier to manage by feel and the indicator lights are obscured from a riding position, but as a simple 'press and go' solution it's good.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale CAAD10 My best bike is: Tomassini Prestige
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,