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COROS Linx Smart Helmet In-Depth Review

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The COROS Smart Helmet hit Kickstarter about 4 weeks ago, and I’ve been lucky enough to have a unit for the last few weeks.  The company is far enough along that the unit I was handed to try is essentially a final production unit, making it a bit of a rarity in the crowd funded world.

But what makes it a rarity in the helmet world is that it has not just the ability the play music, take phone calls, and even give navigation instructions – but it does so using technology that makes it relatively safe to use.  That’s because it doesn’t use traditional speakers, but rather bone induction technology that makes it possible to still hear everything around you.  Not only that, but the microphone inside makes it easy for folks on the other end of your phone calls to hear you (The Girl said my call sounded like it was ‘totally normal’).

Of course, I’ll cover all this (and some of the caveats) throughout the below in-depth review.  But if you want the quick version, check out the overview video I put together:

With that, onto the usual in-depth review!

Unboxing:

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You’ll find the helmet in a box pretty much like any other helmet box.  This one has a nifty hole in the side to see the helmet:

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The unit comes in three colors (Black, White, or Orange), as well as different sizes.

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Once we slide out the inner box from the outer shell, you’ll find the helmet and its various parts inside:

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Placing that all on the table, here’s what we’ve got; the following:

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Now to make sense of it all.  First up is the little quick start guide:

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Next we’ve got the remote control and mounting kit.  You only need two of those rubber bands, and there are two each of a larger size and a smaller size (depending on where you mount it).

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Then there’s the micro-USB charging cable:

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Inside one of the plastic bags are additional cushions, in case your head is too small for the size you bought:

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Plus a reflective sticker piece if you want to add it on:

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Oh…and there’s even a nifty carrying bag that it comes in.

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I weighed the helmet in at 410g.  It seemed/felt pretty normal/fine on my head.  Note the company says that exact number may shift a tiny bit once they hit large volume production.

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Lastly, the helmet is both CPSC and EU certified:

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Ok, with all those unboxing details covered – let’s talk about how this thingy works.

The Basics:

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I like simplicity, and in many ways this helmet is rather simplistic to use.  And I mean that in a good way.

I’m pretty sure all of us have used Bluetooth audio devices before (like headphones or wireless headsets), and as such the helmet is simply a Bluetooth audio device.  It’s effectively no different than that of Bluetooth in your car.  Except that unlike your car stereo this uses bone conduction.  That works by using your jawbone as a conduit for the audio, which means that it’s not subject to wind noise impacting it.  Those little red dots above are the bone induction ‘pads’ that rest against your cheeks.

In fact, this is exactly the same technology that’s used in numerous swimming music players, like the FINIS Neptune.  It’s been used for more years than I can remember.  The first device I used with this type of technology was all the way back in 2011.  Why fix what isn’t broken?

Next, it’s got a small microphone built into the upper front portion of the helmet.  This microphone is strategically positioned out of the wind, which means that even when going 20MPH/30KPH, your ‘phone a friend’ contact won’t hear the wind noise.  Instead, they’ll just hear your voice:

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All of this functionality can be controlled by the included remote, which is a sorta-but-not-really small handlebar controller.  I say that because it’s definitely not as tidy as something like the Garmin remotes (be it Edge or VIRB remotes).  It’s kinda dimensionally in the same boat as the larger GoPro Smart remotes, with minor pros/cons between those two.

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Here’s a look at all three:

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Of course, none of these remotes work with each other’s products, so the discussion is somewhat academic.  The way the COROS remote works is that it’s got the following functions:

– The “+” Button: Increases volume
– The “-” Button: Decreases volume
– The “>>” Button: Next music track
– The Phone Icon Button: Actually used for walkie-talky function (in the future)
– The Yellow “C” Button: Answers/Hangs-up Call

As you can see, it’s pretty straightforward.  The remote has a simple/cheap CR2032 coin cell battery in it, and will last a year or two before you’d swap out the battery.  It mounts onto your handlebars using a plastic mount with rubber bands, kinda similar to that of the Garmin remotes, but with a bit more bulk and length.

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Here you can see it popped onto my handlebars:

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Overall I found the unit works perfectly fine.  Though, I did prefer it actually on my top-tube, out of the way since I really didn’t press many buttons often, once I started it.

When it comes to charging, you’ll crack open the little door on the back of the helmet, where you’ll find a micro-USB port.  It’s pretty well protected in there from water:  While charging the unit will pulse a reddish color, and once fully charged it’ll illuminate green.  Makes it super-easy to figure out charging status (the light is to the right of the USB cable where it hits the helmet).

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The company says that the helmet battery should get a minimum of 10 hours of battery life with *both* audio and microphone usage, however just audio usage is probably double that – though they don’t have a specific tested value there yet.

With that, we’ve covered all the basics.  In the next three sections I’ll dive into the specifics of music/audio, then the microphone, and finally navigation with their app.

Music while riding:

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Music.  That’s why most of us are here.

Sure, there’s the whole talking thing, but I suspect 95%+ of usage will be related to listening to music while you ride.  When I lived in Washington DC and rode Skyline Drive each weekend (massive pile of flashback posts there!), I’d often stick my phone in my back pocket and just listen to music from the speaker there.  Since much of one’s time spent on that road is climbing, it was easy to hear the music and the road noises while slowly creeping along.

But once I got up to speed on descents or other flat sections that music would go away.  Enter the value of something like the Linx helmet.  This would have allowed me to continue listening with that bone conduction audio. And best of all, I’d needed nothing more than my existing phone to pair to the helmet.  No special apps.

To start, you’ll pair up the helmet like any other Bluetooth audio device.  Simply hold down the power button for a few seconds on the helmet, and it initiates the pairing mode:

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After finding it within your phone and getting paired up, you can use it like any other audio device.  So it doesn’t matter whether that’s Spotify or Amazon Music – all work great (and both of which I often use).  And of course default music apps too.

You can then control the playback from the remote.  I’ll typically start the music from my phone, and then once playing I’ll control playback (pause/resume/next/volume) from the remote on the bike.  It’s all pretty straightforward.

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But can you hear it?

Absolutely.

It’s super easy to hear, and works well even at somewhat low volumes.  The one thing that’s super-important though is ensuring that the helmet strap isn’t flopping all over the place.  You don’t need it like a choke leash, but you want it ‘safe’.  By that I mean that if you just wear it how helmet manufacturers tell you to wear it, then you’ll be fine.  But if it’s flopping around, then you’ll get the bone conduction pads flopping around as well, so they lose some of their ‘umpf’ when that happens.

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Again: You do not need it super-tight, but you do want the pads to lightly touch your skin, and you want the strap such that if you crash the helmet doesn’t fall off. Said differently: Just wear your helmet like you normally do.

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Next is whether or not you could hear traffic.

Again, absolutely.

I shot the video at the beginning of the post wholly in Parisian rush hour traffic.  I could easily hear every car passing me without issue even while music was playing.

In fact, I often forgot music was playing because I could hear cars so well.  So on that count, things are more than solid.  If for no other functions, I’d buy the helmet just for its music and not blocking traffic capabilities.

Phone conversations while riding:

Next, the unit contains that microphone we talked about earlier.  That allows you to carry-on phone conversations with folks while riding.  While there’s probably something to be said for the safety of that, there are certainly many scenarios where it’s probably perfectly safe (such as long and isolated bike paths).  So…don’t do something stupid.

The microphone is purposefully ‘hidden’ in the upper edge of the helmet to keep it protected from wind.  And it’s actually pretty impressive how well it works from a microphone standpoint.

You’ll use the audio device just like receiving any other call on a Bluetooth headset, just press the big yellow button on the remote to accept the call.  Alternatively, you can set it as the audio device when making an outbound call.

To illustrate this, The Girl and I held a quick phone call while I was riding.  We both recorded it from either side using GoPro cameras. Obviously, you can’t hear what it sounds like to me, but you can hear what it sounds like for her.  Here’s our quick video of that.  I really want to stress (as does The Girl) that the audio sounds a bit better than in the video, since there’s a speakerphone aspect at play here in order for you to hear it.

So what are the downsides to the platform?

Well, I found it occasionally difficult to hear voice audio from The Girl while riding.  I’m not sure exactly why that is, as music I generally have no problems.  My suspicion is that music has a beat, and for the most part you might know the lyrics – so your brain is filling in those lyrics for you subconsciously.  Or perhaps, The Girl’s voice is just at a certain frequency that it disappears into the road noise.

Either way, even if I held the pods against my head hard and turned up the volume totally on both my device and the helmet, sometimes I could only barely make out what she was saying.  When I switched back to the phone as a speaker (against my ear), I could hear easily.  Again, I’m not sure what to say here.  Perhaps for other people it’d work well (either on the caller or recipient side).  In talking with COROS about it, they noted they’re going to try and do some optimization of the audio a bit more, specifically around voices.

Also note that while indoors I could hear her voice fairly well with the helmet, albeit not as clear as the phone.

Now for me, I can’t remember the last time I took a phone call while cycling.  In fact, I can’t even remember the last time I pulled over to the side of the road to make a phone call during a ride.  I just simply pull over and text.  So in my case, it’s not personally a blocker.  But obviously, for others it might be.

The App & Navigation:

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Last up is the mobile phone app. This allows you to track rides (à la MapMyRide), but more importantly it also serves as a way to give you cycling instructions via turn by turn routing.  Additionally, it offers a method for updating the firmware within the unit.

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Now, the app itself is still beta (whereas the helmet is final production), so there are some little quirks that I won’t hold against them for now.  Nothing major, just minor linguistic and UI pet peeves of mine.

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From a functionality standpoint, most of the pieces did work (save navigation, but more on that in a second).

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As I noted before, the biggie here is definitely the turn by turn navigation.  For this you’ll go ahead and be able to search their online route platform (which was empty for my area), or you can create your own route through tapping.

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There isn’t at this time any method of doing GPX or similar route imports, which is kinda a shame.  Their mapper tool is OK, but I wish it drew the route as you added new waypoints (see above how I have a crap-ton of dots, but no lines until the end), versus waiting till the very end to find out you screwed up.  The company does say that if they hit their $250K funding goal (which…is almost certain at this point), that they’ll add in both Strava and MapMyRide route integration.  So that would likely make it far easier for folks.

Once done, you can save it to your routes list for later access.

After that, you’ll head outside and start your ride by selecting a route from the list.  This will use your phone’s GPS and then communicate the instructions via Bluetooth to your helmet.  At the same time, it’ll be saving your ride activity data.

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In my testing though, the navigation piece rarely worked though.  I’d get random street names every once in a while, but the vast majority of the time it never announced anything at all upcoming. It’s just that it’s a bit limited in terms of how you create and manage the routes (primarily because I can’t see the routes being created until I hit the completion option).  Hopefully that’s something minor they can cleanup in software over time, since technically the software side is still in beta (whereas the hardware is final).

The tracking and time/distance/speed pieces did work however, as did the app GPS track.  Just not the turn by turn instructions from their native app.

(Update: The company is looking into why it failed and trying to reproduce it.  Their initial thinking is that it may have to do with my location – France – but they’re still doing some digging.)

Of course – keep in mind that since it’s a Bluetooth audio device, you can easily use other 3rd party apps that give audio directions (like the Google Maps app in bike mode).  So the world is a bit your oyster here.  And those apps are well known to work well.

Lastly, they’ll be enabling crash detection in the event you have a bad day.  That’s done using accelerometers within the helmet itself.  In fact, the app already asks you for your emergency contact data (though, the functionality doesn’t appear complete yet).  This would be somewhat inline with what Garmin has done on the Edge 820 for incident detection.  The unit supports firmware updates, which you do through the app:

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The entire process to update the firmware is pretty easy, as you can see above – it only took about 7 minutes to finish.

Final Thoughts:

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Overall, I’m pretty darn impressed with the Linx helmet.  At the Kickstarter prices of $120, that’s solid even for a well made and attractive helmet (and I like the look of the Linx).  Let alone the fact that it comes with music playing, a microphone for calls, and (hopefully) turn by turn navigation via a phone app.  Even at the final retail price of $200, that’s still a fairly solid deal.

The Kickstarter program only goes for another 12 days, and thankfully, they plan to start manufacturing/shipping just next month in November.  Looking at the hardware they gave me, that’s definitely doable (baring any sort of undisclosed behind the scenes issues).  The software side is very close to being solid, with the only issues I’m seeing more minor nits than major blockers.  Of course, as with any Kickstarter project, it’s the minor things that can sometimes become major things.

No matter, it’s nice to see a crowd funded project so close to shipping and with such stability in their product.  It’s often hard to find such projects these days, but Coros seems like a well executing group of folks.  And as such, it’s one that I’ve put in my Kickstarter order myself on.

With that – thanks for reading!

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128 Comments

  1. Javel Silveira

    Great review Ray!!!

  2. Adam

    Do the controls work with voice recognition such as “read text message” or Call wife, so you can use hands free? Maybe with settings on my Samsung such as Driving Mode?

    • They don’t at this time, at least not with my iPhone (or, at least wasn’t obvious to me or in the instructions that I saw). But I agree, that’d be great!

    • Stuart B.

      Some speakers (also BT audio devices, technically those with the hands free profile I think) let you invoke Siri on an iPhone by doing a long press on the call button, not sure if this would work here…

  3. Stuart B.

    This would be great with ANT+ and some Connect IQ integration meaning you wouldn’t need to the remote. Even without, it seems pretty good.

    I have a bit of a problem with helmet fit. Giro is the best for me, but for instance Kask do not fit me at all, they are so ’round’ that there are enormous gaps at the side of my head.

    Ray, what could you compare the fit to? Is it is similar to your current helmet, as if so then at least I could try one of those on for size…

    • It seems to fit well. I’ve got a medium on both. My other helmet is a Giro Aeon, also medium.

      Agree on CIQ integration. Not sure though if they have a dual chipset in there though.

    • Stuart B.

      Brilliant, thanks for the info!

    • John

      I also have problems with helmet fit, most helmets don’t fit me. Giro do (Large) and so do Specialized (large) as they go up to 63cm and I’ve got a big head.

      But forget Kask, Lazer, Bell, Poc..etc etc none of them fit me as they generally top out at 62 cmd, which is just too much of a pinch on my noggin.

      If this helmet goes up to 63cms I’m sold as i really like the idea of it. For me it will be all about fit. The gadgets are irrelevant if the things doesn’t fit the majority of people.

    • Sean Ormerod

      This would be a perfect use for a ConnectIQ widget!!

  4. sean

    Soon to be seen at Ironman events around you.

    • I believe as an audio device, it would not be permitted.

    • sean

      Agreed, but as a subtle looking one, I bet people will be sneaking it in.

    • Victor

      Is it possible to detach the “speaker” piece and convert it into a regular helmet if needed?

    • Zac

      Technically its headsets/headphones that are prohibited, this would be a grey area… The more obvious issue would be the device streaming to the helmet that would be illegal on the course.

    • Technically the USAT rule is audio devices. It’s covered in four separate rule line-items in the official USAT rule book. All four line-items are virtually identical. Here’s one:

      “Unauthorized Accessories. No participant shall, at any time during the event, use or wear a hard cast, headset, radio, personal audio device, or any other item deemed dangerous by the Head Referee. Any violation of this Section shall result in a variable time penalty.”

      So nope, not allowed.

  5. Dennisch

    Does it work properly without the remote, or is it required for powering the system on/off? My Fenix 3 is perfectly able to control my phone for taking calls, or controlling music and volume. For cycling stats I already have an Edge 520 mounted and I would like to keep the rest of my handlebar clean. (multi-device handlebars are only for elite gadgeteers)

  6. Susan

    Now if this and my Lumos helmet (which is somewhere en-route to me) would have a baby I’d be one very happy bike commuter.

  7. Mircea

    I’m very curious about the voice issue. Not for the phone calls scenario – which I agree it’s fairly limited, but as it relates to listening to audiobooks and podcasts. I’m guessing the same problem is present there, since it’s just voice.
    I think this is also a significant use case, alongside music. I’m very interested what they have to say about it, and what’s the development on this front.

  8. Tim Mifsud

    Ray, thanks for the review.

    Friends of mine have been suggesting I check this helmet out, however the only advantage I can see to having it over the amazing set of Aftershokz Trekz Titanium that I have now is the placement of the microphone.

    I’m not a shill but I think if you are going to do a fair review you need to compare this helmet to a set of Trekz Titanium bone conduction headphones.

    When the Aftershokz are paired with an iPhone and a Garmin 820 you get the audio navigation alerts and can listen to music and take phone calls all with the advantage of pairing them with whatever helmet you prefer. Plus they sit closer and tighter on your head than the helmet appears to. Sure the Aftershokz don’t have a handlebar remote but I don’t think I miss that.

    So in fairness, you really should be looking at the Trekz Titanium as well as they are clearly a sports headphone designed for cycling and they open up the navigational capability of the Garmin 820 for real world use of audio alerts while safely keeping your ears open to the road.

    • Mircea

      Do the Aftershokz Trekz have the same issue Ray mentioned regarding poor voice reproduction? Have you tried listening to audiobooks or podcasts on them? I was thinking about giving them a try, but now I’m unsure whether the problem with voice is the bone conduction tech, or just a COROS issue.

    • Tim Mifsud

      @Mircea I’ve received phone calls while riding and listened to radio talkback broadcast over the Internet and I swear they are clear and intelligible. On straight voices and no music I don’t have to turn them up to hear them.

      I find I only have to turn them up so people hear me on phone calls. When it’s not windy or I’m going less than 20km per hour on the bike, I’ve been told I sound like I’m just on the phone. People have been surprised when I tell them I’m actually pedaling on my bicycle.

      I was recommended a pair from a mate of mine and he loves them. I can’t speak for Coros and to be fair I should support them to be able to give a fair comparison. Given I’ve just bought a new Bontrager Ballista though and use it with my Aftershokz I’m not sure I need another helmet right now.

    • Jayt

      Mircea, Can you wear sunglasses with the Aftershokz Trekz? It looked to me like they would interfere with wearing sunglasses and sunglasses are a must for me. Another nice advantage to the helmet is it seems fantastic battery life, this would easily last for a full day ride.

    • Steve

      I agree, I also have the Trekz and love them, I’ve upgraded and bought additional set for my wife. I would also continue to use those over the helmet as I can also use them outside of biking AND if they or the helmet break I still have one of the devices. Not knocking this helmet, it’s cool, but not a good fit for me.

    • Steve

      JayT, yes you can wear sunglasses, I do. It’s sometimes a little tight on space with a bike helmet on but it works out just fine for me.

  9. Bryce

    Cool Product. Not that this is the case here, but anecdotally I read an article out of a literary journal once that concluded that the frequency ranges we have the most difficulty hearing are those used by the voice of our significant other. That incapability increases the longer we are together, and is accentuated more in males than it is in females. :)

  10. Matt

    If they included ANT+ and an optical HR monitor (like that other helmet you reviewed) that would be awesome.
    Controlling it with a connect IQ app would also be great. $120 for this as it is though is really good.

  11. Mahead

    Did you try it with cap? I’m quite interested on this, but most of the time I have to use windproof cap and/or merino wool helmet to prevent my head freezing. If this helmet can handle that, I think they will have another backer. :)

    • I haven’t. Been lucky enough I haven’t had to yet!

    • Kai

      Same question came to my mind. Since I am commuting with my bike and usually wear (at least ;-) a cap from October to March in the morning hours, it would be nice to know if the bone-thing can handle that….

    • Oh, the audio has no problem there since in a typical cycling skull-cap, that portion of skin is still open to the air (and thus, the straps). It’s more the microphone piece. I’ll dig out my cap today, since I was thinking I’ve gotta find it anyway as it got a bit colder last night.

  12. Tim Stevens

    Ray,
    I’m curious about your thoughts about hearing other cyclists call out obstacles and the like on the road while listening to music. I tend to ride mostly in a group these days, with only about a quarter of my riding being done solo. I love the idea of being able to listen to music while I ride though, and I do need a new helmet. You said road noise and traffic were easily heard, but I’m wondering if you were able to tell if communication between riders about “Car back” and “Hole middle” etc. would be heard well, or if those types of things would be made more difficult while listening to music with this helmet? Not sure if you were able to test in such a setting, or if you could maybe infer that from what you did test?

    Thanks,
    Tim

    • I don’t think I have any sections where I had music playing while riding with others. However, when I did the overview video, I actually had music playing the entire time I was recording.

      I was able to pretty easily hear the conversations of the people passing me, etc…

  13. Geoffrey Taylor

    Hey Rainmaker…as usual thanks for the great review. I am not sure if you mentioned it in your review (of course I could have missed it) but will the helmet be offered in different colors?

  14. Doug D

    You were clear that you can hear the music, but didn’t describe how the music actually sounded. Can you compare the sound quality experience versus a decent/standard set of earbuds?

  15. Just before “Final thoughts” I think you mean it’s pretty easy to update the firmware, not the hardware?

  16. Carl

    Thanks for another great review Ray – they are about to start selling (from October 25th) what seems to be the same helmet in Australia (link to iico.com.au) under the name Coros Frontier ($249 AUD RRP). In case someone from Australia is looking at this I thought I’d just mention that it’s not yet clear from the Kickstarter campaign if the Coros Linx will have AS/NZS certification, the last mention I saw regarding this was on September 9 where they said in the comments:

    “I have been updated by the team that we do not have AS/NZS yet, but do have CPSC and EN. My apologies on the confusion, glad we checked on this. Will get back to you on progress on this”

    Guess I’ll wait and see but I’m sure they will get a bump in sales from the review.

  17. Obligatory mention of the BikeSnobNYC post about it: link to bikesnobnyc.blogspot.com

  18. Steven

    How much wind noise do the straps make at speed? Currently I run “cat ears” with the intercom for the tandem so I can hear my wife’s expert instruction from the stoker position when we are going over 30kph. Otherwise I get too much wind noise.

  19. tmr1980

    Hi. Any idea when this will be available in the UK as currently to buy off Kickstarter I’ll need to fork out around $40 in shipping and import duty?

  20. Matt J

    Has anyone else noticed how incredibly similar to the Specialised S Works Evade this looks? Bearing in mind how litigious Specialized are, and the almost certainty that they own various design rights for the Evade, is there not a concern here?

    • M3V8

      ….if Spesh has a patent on the functional shape of the helmet and the patent does cover Coros’ helmet, or can argue for some trade dress protection based on the shape of the helmet not being functional but a mere design attributable to them and that there would be some confusion….no TM or copyright issues here. If had to guess, the only IP concern is IF Spesh has a patent that has claims that cover the shape of the Coros’ helmet.

  21. William B.

    This looks the classic case of someone making great hardware but then trying to do the whole ecosystem themselves. It would seem to make sense to have it work with bike computers and phones so you could say let your Edge 820 handle the turn by turn navigation and it just relay things to you. If they could give you stats aswell then it takes some of the Radar Pace market too.

    I think just being a peripheral that works perfectly with other peoples tech and apps would make more sense. For example it must be cheaper to put ANT+ chips in and do a CIQ app to control it in the way the physical controls do. It would look better, allow features to be updated more easily and also avoid them having to manufacture the remote. They could easily get away without having to drop the price too as integration would be more valued than the remote which costs money to tool for.

    Very interested in how this develops but also as other mentioned the Aftershokz comparison.

  22. BrianF

    I had the same question regarding why would someone buy Coros over a device like Aftershokz Trekz Titanium which can be used for both bike and other activities like run, kayak, ski, etc?

    • Lots of folks buy sport-specific stuff, even if cross-over stuff is available. In some cases, as is with Coros, I suspect it’s because the ease of use is simpler.

      I like the fact that it’s multi-purpose in that it’s a helmet and an audio device. It’s not yet another thing to bring with me, since I’m already going to bring a helmet. Somehow, in my head, it just seems ‘cleaner’.

      The flip-side of course being that other solutions can be used during running. To each their own.

    • Vincent Chang

      I have Aftershokz. I found it is useful only if I’m not wearing sun glasses. Which I never did unless long climbing. There are two things on my ears. To be honest, I don’t feel comfortable at all. This will solve my issue.

  23. John

    Ray, that video with your Mrs cracks me up, it’s like she couldn’t care less mate and just wants to get on with her cupcakes. I love the fact that halfway through she gets fed up and starts taking the cakes out the oven and you’re still jabbering away…brilliant!

    Cool helmet though.

  24. John

    Just read on their site that a size Large is a 61cms. Thats depressing seeing as even most helmet manufacturers go up to 62cm’s and 63 in the case of Giro and Specialized (which i use).

    Theres no way 61cms will fit me so I’m out.

    Such a shame, really liked it too.

    • theboxers

      I’m out too with my melon sized 64.5cm head. I have had my Bell for some time now and will need to replace it soon-ish

  25. Marc Simkin

    Ray, have you looked at the Lumos Helmet? How does that compare to this one?

    Thanks

    marc

  26. Jeff McFarland

    How is the bluetooth reception with the phone in a jersey pocket? Any dropouts?

  27. Den

    Hi, Is it compatible with thick chin curtain beard? :)

  28. dieter neirinck

    Ray, how would bone conduction (like this product or the announced zungle sunglasses) compare to earbuds with audio passthrough like offered by Bragi in the dash and their upcoming headphone ? Both offer the possibility to listen to music while still being able to hear traffic, albeit using a very different approach. Which technology will offer the best tradeoff between audio quality and safety ?

    • I haven’t tried the Bragi Dash while riding (just running). Though, I’d say one focuses on using software to outsmart things, while the other…just sorta…happens, by way of how the human body works.

      I know which one I’d trust more…

  29. moshe

    is there any safety features that you forgot to note, like does it detect if you crashed and send an emergency alert or what not

  30. Lionel Gimelfarb

    Ray,
    Will the helmet paired for audio with a Tom Tom spark ?

    I do not always ride with my phone but often with the spark.
    THX for the review !

  31. Phil A

    Be even better if they made a way to put this system on your current helmet.

  32. ezio

    Ray, what is the feeling of the “speakers” in situations like mountains in summer.
    Will they add “heat” in such situations?

  33. John Lehigh

    I’ve been field testing the Linx for several months myself. Of note: You can use ANY smart-phone app just as you would any other BT connected ear-buds/speakers. That means Google-Maps Navigation too which I use with my Linx when I’m on an unfamiliar route (instead of their app).

    • Rodrak

      Hi John, can you compare audio quality of music with convetial headphones or speakers… No one write about this, but I think this is one of the important parameters for audio-helmet.

  34. Tyler

    I don’t know if this is a common problem, but I’d appreciate any feedback.
    I have a short jaw, chin to neck, and I find that almost every brand of bike helmet chin strap lands closer to my neck than chin, and partially chokes me.

    This helmet looks like it would probably be a little worse in this capacity, with the large chin piece.

    Anyone have suggestions on a helmet brand, or some kind of strap adapter to help with this?

  35. Lynne

    I went to the kickstarter page fully intending to buy in but…the helmet sizes won’t fit. They basically went medium and large for sizing and skipped the small. Disappointed:-(

  36. John Lam

    Ray – do you know if they’re planning a MTB version of this helmet? Visors rock in the PNW. Thx.

  37. Oscar

    Any idea if this is submersible with all that tech in there? I don’t know about anyone else, but my helmet gets a bit rough smelling after a few long rides and needs to be cleaned…

  38. Jesper Nygaard

    Impressive list of things you’ve backed on KS. I wonder if you’d care to make a top 10 of the best and worst things you have backed??

  39. John

    Ray, how does the bone conduction technology in this helmet do with spoken audio (e.g., DC Rainmaker podcast) in noisy environments? I listen to a lot of podcasts and audiobooks on my commute, and in noisy areas (like the I-90 bridge in Seattle) I routinely have to crank the volume to 11 to follow the audio.

  40. Eric

    Great review, love your site and keep up the good work.

    It is unclear if mute is available on the remote (I tend to take conf calls while out on a ride), do you know if the buttons will be programable so I can mute the call.

  41. Phil McGuire

    So, I backed the 240 two helmet reward on kickstarter based on this great review, and didn’t read the fine print. My wife, and riding partner needs a small, but I never thought in a million years that such a basic size would be ignored.

    Apparently they’re only coming in mediums and larges? I emailed Vincent@coros.com as kickstarter instructed to ask if they would ever be making a small, and if I could wait, but no reply.

    Not a good kick off in terms of customer service, and now I have no idea what to do.

  42. José

    I assume you can’t use the Bluetooth audio device and something like Garmin Livetrack at the same time since both use Bluetooth?

  43. Shawn

    Do you know when and where the Coros Smart Helmet will be available for retail? Nothing noted on website and their kickstarter program seems to have ended.

    thanks,

  44. I’ve just received a message from Coros telling me that my helmet is on its way and to have a happy fall!

    I hope to God they don’t mean that – or that they know something that I don’t know – yet!

  45. It worries me when a young company – especially one which is excited about launching their brand-new product – fails to handle their communications properly.

    Using their own contact form, in the last month, I have sent them to messages asking for some very basic information and have received no reply – not even an acknowledgement.

    It concerns me because it makes me wonder what their after sales support is going to be like. This is a small company and yet already they seem to be exhibiting behaviour that I would associate more with a large corporate.

    I’m sure there might be busy, but at least there should be an acknowledgement – and why do they bother to have a contact form if they are prepared to deal with their customer’s questions.

    • Any chance the messages aren’t being received, or somehow being caught in a SPAM filter on one side or the other?

    • No. I don’t think so. I was using their own contact form.

      I flagged up on the Facebook page as well. I got a pretty bland response to that – and no response at all to the question that I had asked.

      Hopefully the helmet will be delivered soon. There is no delay so far. But it does worry me a bit that as to how well they might engage if I or other customers need to raise any queries.

      We’ll see.

    • Well I eventually got a reply. It took a lot of work to get it – leaving messages all over the place after quite a lot of Internet searching. I noticed en route that there are other people asking similar questions and who also seem not to have received a reply.

      Anyway, it seems that international deliveries have not started at all but that they will start shipping in the middle of December.
      So if other people outside the USA are wondering if their helmets have been dispatched, then it seems that the answers that they probably haven’t – not yet.

  46. Dan

    Mine just showed up yesterday! Crazy fast fulfillment for a Kickstarter! I’m excited to try it on the road today, but just trying the pairing and various features everything worked as advertised and like you describe in your review. I’m really impressed with the quality of the helmet. They definitely did not skimp on the helmet part which is good.

    • That’s really great news. I’m very pleased to you.

      Do you mind me asking where you are in the world? And what courier/Postal Service was used to send it. Was it sent signed for?

    • Dan

      UPS. And I am in Jacksonville, Florida, USA. And I wasn’t home at the time, but I don’t think my wife had to sign for it. Not sure about that though

  47. Dan

    Went for a ride yesterday and it worked great. Good fit and not heavy at all. The music and turn by turn directions were clear even in high winds (probably ~35mph relative wind). Even at full volume it is easy to hear traffic. The remote is pretty intuitive. Didn’t make any phone calls, though. Set up was super easy as well. It took me about 3 minutes considering it came fully charged. Highly recommend. Hopefully they add a capability to use the remote to activate Siri at some point, though.

    • Dan

      Here is a picture of it in use. I hadn’t taken the pod stickers off yet…

    • Martin

      Got mine yesterday, set it up and went for a ride.
      The good: very nice helmet, fit and adjustments are easy, pairing to phone and remote both went smoothly.

      The bad: very hard for me to hear. Ok on an ascent with nobody around, but can’t hear over traffic or with just wind noise on a descent. Tried both podcasts and music, but no difference.

      I checked the fit and that is good, but whatever bone conduction is supposed to be happening isn’t. I played around with pressing the pads against my cheekbone and moving them around, but not better. Ironically, they are loud enough if I just hold them over my ears with the strap loose ( at home standing not on a bike!!)
      The only sound is just what I hear when I hold the pads to my ear. Any thoughts? Maybe I got a defective unit. Reading the reviews everyone seemed to be able to hear really well. I have an iPhone 7 with the volume all the way up ( I also tried the volume up on the remote and it is maxed out). Thanks in advance for any help on this.

    • Thanks for this feedback. It’s very interesting – and of course it’s very concerning.

      I wonder if you could possibly pass it around your friends and let them try and see if they have any better luck. It occurs to me that you might have a defective unit – or else it might depend a lot on an individual’s biology. I’m no biologist, but I can imagine that factors such as bone density and also leanness could affect the system. I don’t know if that means that more dense bone or less dense bone is better. I can certainly imagine that if one tends to be a little on the “less-lean-side” that there might be a greater subcutaneous layer of fat which could prevent vibrations getting through to the underlying bone.

      It needs somebody with a better understanding of these things than me to come along and give some comment.

      Is there a doctor in the house?

    • Martin

      Quick follow up. I had my wife try and same thing. Sound is loudest the closer to your ear even if not touching the face. Moving them around also has no effect. Just for fun, I tried my standard iPhone ear buds holding them against my cheek bone and they are just as loud. I saw another post on the kickstarter page that said it well. Pretty much like holding a weak, poor quality speaker up to your ears. So it isn’t my “special face bones” 😀

    • Martin

      Quick follow up. I had my wife try and same thing. Sound is loudest the closer to your ear even if not touching the face. Moving them around also has no effect. Just for fun, I tried my standard iPhone ear buds holding them against my cheek bone and they are just as loud

    • So it seems that other than DCR’s favourable review, it’s one for, and one against.

      I hope lots of other people will start posting the results of their own experiences with this helmet system when they get them.

      DCR – have you ever thought about introducing a 1 to 5 star ***** rating system on this blog so that your readers can get a quick feel for how well a product has been received.

    • Actually, there seems to be quite a few people that have received and commented on the helmets within the various Kickstarter comment sections.

      I used to do stars a long time ago (rating of 1-5), but it just wasn’t logical. Too many people value things differently. And then someone would get upset when I’d rate a cheaper product a higher amount of stars than a more expensive product, because the cheaper product did it’s job better.

    • Yes, point taken. But what I had in mind was a reader voting system so that people who read your blog could give their own rating.

    • Interesting. I hadn’t throught about that. I’ll give it a ponder.

      I’m slightly more inclined to do so for people who register, just so the system isn’t gamed too much.

    • Yes, I’m sure that that would be very prudent thing to do.

      It might even help to up the number of registrations as well

  48. Larry

    Mine arrived yesterday. Configured with smartphone (Nexus 5X running 7.0) and tried during a chilly ride today. I’ve previously used an older Aftershokz wired Sportz M2 bone conduction headphone while cycling so was somewhat familiar with the sound and had an idea what to expect. I usually listen to podcasts while riding so the clarity of spoken words is much more important to me than music. As a helmet it seems fine. Fit was accurate based on their guidelines. Would be nice to see MIPS in the future. The integration of the audio system is better than using a regular helmet + separate bone conduction headphones from a usability standpoint. Glasses and headphones don’t have to compete for the space around the top of your ears. The voice clarity and volume of the Coros is better than my older Aftershokz. That being said, both can be problematic in high ambient noise situations. The remote is handy and beats control via phone or buttons on headphones. I just pause until I’m back to a quieter environment. Realistically you need sound isolating earbuds for loud ambient noise which isn’t that safe for cycling. Like all bone conduction headphones there is some audio leakage but not too bad. So far, my only disappointment is that the remote doesn’t have a button/function to skip backwards. Especially in podcasts you sometimes want to skip backwards 10 or 20 seconds. Other than configuring the app, haven’t really dug into it much. Haven’t tried the speakerphone either and since I rarely make/receive calls anyways, it’s not a big feature for me. Will give a try to using the text/messaging app on my phone for speaking messages and replying by voice control, but haven’t done that yet.

    • Well that sounds like tentative four stars than

    • Martin Mattingly

      Update to my earlier post. Did another ride this morning and had a better experience.
      A few thoughts/tips:
      * much better experience on a quieter ride; obvious I know, but…..
      * I found a significant increase in volume by slightly twisting the strap above the speaker so that the speaker moves partially off my face open toward my ear. With both sides positioned like this it is quite loud, but requires somewhat frequent re-adjusting as it moves back when you hit the usual bumps from the road
      * the lack of volume may be due to the apps used on the iphone7. About same using the music and podcast apps, but it is much louder when I get speed and HR updates from my cycling app every mile–I had to turn the volume down on the settings for the app; thus someone using a different phone or different apps may have a different experience
      * As was noted in a former comment, if you are riding through a particularly noisy area just hit the pause button until you clear the area and then go back to listening

      I am pretty sure the unit is functioning as designed. It just may be that those of us with 60 y.o. ears riding in an urban environment may not enjoy it as much. Maybe a future design that boosts the output a bit will make it better for a wider range of people and environments.

    • Larry

      After a bit more use, I’d have a hard time putting a “star” rating on the Coros. I’m feeling the volume level has gotten a little bit more limited. The problem is it’s based on perception rather than real non-subjective measurements. The other major factor seems to be the audio level and technical craft of podcast producers. Some are clearer than others. Female voices are easier to hear than bass male voices (e.g. GPS voices are usually female). This is also a slight factor with regular headphone/earbuds but bone conduction puts you more on the audio perceptional edge especially when competing with ambient sound. Excellent podcasting software like Pocket Casts (Android/iOS/Windows Phone) have a “volume boost” setting which helps a bit. So far, haven’t found a single “volume booster” app which has any effect either wired or BT. It seems like the exact position of the bone conduction transceivers can make a difference. I’m still playing around with tuning the fit. Also, other BT remote control pods like the Satechi BT Button work fine with the Coros and can offer features not present in the Coros one. Unfortunately for outdoor cycling, we’ve been hit with snow so my ability to do more outdoor testing will be limited.

  49. Larry

    Mine arrived the other day. Configured with smartphone (Nexus 5X running 7.0) and tried during a chilly ride today. I’ve previously used an older Aftershokz wired Sportz M2 bone conduction headphone while cycling so was somewhat familiar with the sound and had an idea what to expect. I usually listen to podcasts while riding so the clarity of spoken words is much more important to me than music. As a helmet it seems fine. Fit was accurate based on their guidelines. Would be nice to see MIPS in the future. The integration of the audio system is better than using a regular helmet + separate bone conduction headphones from a usability standpoint. Glasses and headphones don’t have to compete for the space around the top of your ears. The voice clarity and volume of the Coros is better than my older Aftershokz. That being said, both can be problematic in high ambient noise situations. The remote is very handy and beats control via phone or buttons on headphones. I just pause until I’m back to a quieter environment. Realistically you need sound isolating earbuds for loud ambient noise which isn’t that safe for cycling. Like all bone conduction headphones there is some audio leakage but not too bad. So far, my only disappointment is that the remote doesn’t have a button/function to skip backwards. Especially in podcasts you sometimes want to skip backwards 10 or 20 seconds.

  50. I’d be pretty interested to hear if anyone in Europe has received their helmets yet. On the Kickstarter website, people are starting to get a bit annoyed at the lack of communication and the lack of any definite news.

    One of the Coros people has now admitted that they have prioritised the sending out helmets by geographical region rather than by your place in the queue on the Kickstarter project. This seems pretty unfair to me.
    The Coros Facebook page is blocking any comments which are at all critical – even “why haven’t I received a reply to my last question?”

    Anyway, anyone in Europe received one yet?

    Certain delivery dates have been put back apparently – but there is no specific information. I’ve now seen one comment from someone who says that they are available in the shops and in fact I’ve just done a search of eBay and I find that they are available on eBay as well – although in Australia. The eBay price is rather more than you would pay on the Kickstarter project – but that’s entirely normal isn’t it. It certainly think that they would want to show loyalty to their initial investors rather than start gaining the product out commercially.

    • Coros isn’t working with *any* retailers at this stage, so any shops that have them are just a matter of some given individual putting them for sale (either one or multiples they bought).

      While it’s non-ideal for companies to communicate poorly around shipping, almost all Kickstarter projects ship by region rather than queue order. I do agree that blocking/deleting Facebook comments is never a winning strategy.

    • In fact the helmets which seem to be advertised on eBay link to ebay.co.uk are a different style and colour to the ones which have been advertised on the Kickstarter project.

      If I haven’t made some mistake, it seems to me that Coros might have produced a different product run for commercial exploitation.

    • That’s definitely weird, since the Clever Training folks asked pretty recently about carrying the units and were told that they wouldn’t be doing any retail at this time. I’ll have them poke again to see if they get a different answer.

    • Yes, that would be very interesting to know – if you are allowed to share the information with us.

    • Deborah

      The ones for sale in Australia are called Frontier and must have been through an accreditation procedure because they have the Australian standard sticker. He Kickstarter ones do not. Bike bug is selling them

  51. Adam

    I got an email last week saying that they couldn’t deliver my orange helmet (I got 2). I asked if they could send me black or when it might arrive if I wanted to wait for it. I have yet to hear a reply. I also asked about shipping notification and haven’t heard anything. I’m not in a rush as it’s cold here, but I’d like to get an answer.

  52. Vincent Chang

    I received an email asking if I’d receive WHITE instead ORANGE on Dec 1st. I replied with question about what option I have. That’s it. No response since.

  53. tmr1980

    Based in U.K. received my orange medium helmet today. Haven’t used on bike yet, impressed with quality of helmet (seems to be a copy of the specialised evade helmet design). Playing music/remote work seamlessly. Don’t really plan to use app so haven’t had a play with that yet.

    Just need to try on road and hopefully volume will be sufficient.

    Anyone else got a view on effectiveness out on road?

    • That’s great news. Well done.

      Could you tell us roughly what date you placed your pledge?

      Also, what delivery service was used? Several of us keep on asking these questions on the Kickstarter site and then get any answer.

      Also, there’s been one backer whose complained that the sound is much louder on one side than the other – although that’s not clear whether it’s because of the positioning on their head or because there is a fault in the unit.

    • tmr1980

      21 Oct is when I pledged. They used 4px and it’s taken 7 days from getting tracking number to recieving it.

      No issues over sound being louder on 1 side as far as I’m aware. If I was being picky the bone conduction pad is slightly lower on the right strap vrs the left hand side but that’s no great shakes.

      Are you in U.K?

    • No, Paris. Not quite as smart as DCR, though.

  54. Adam

    Hey All,

    We got 1 of our two (they told me orange was back ordered and I chose to wait) as it’s winter here and I can wear my wife’s. The ONLY complaint i the charging cap (and power cord) is very short and a little difficult to plug in the cord to the helmet. I haven’t worn it riding, but I we put it on and can definitely hear the music as I’d expect.

  55. JoeL

    So I took the leap for a Coros BT helmet based on Ray’s sneak peek and have generally been pleased. However, it doesn’t seem to play nice with the Edge and my Galaxy S6. I was riding today with the unit paired and no audio streaming. I received nearly continuous phone disconnect and connect notifications on the Edge. After turning off the Coros, my 520 and phone remained paired.
    Is this a known BT issue or something just peculiar to the Galaxy S6 and Coros where the Coros becomes a channel hog and the S6 can’t maintain 2 BT connections simultaneously?

  56. Bob Foster

    I use the Wahoo RFLKT+ run off a Galaxy Note 3. Running the Wahoo with the helmet will significantly shorten battery run time?

  57. Patrick

    I’ve had the Coros helmet for several months and have the following observations.

    The volume (too low) is a problem, and almost a dealbreaker. I like everything else about the helmet, but I got it to listen to podcasts mostly and take the occasional phone call. I’ve tried moving the pads around, but they are snug against my face and the sound is mostly drowned out by wind noise and to a lesser extent traffic noise. I’ll try the podcast app with the sound booster to see if that helps. Don’t know if mine is defective or if everyone else is having the same problem, but my brother bought one also and has the same volume problem.

    This winter, I’m using a thin Gore ear cover under my helmet and surprisingly the volume is boosted to a normal level. Go figure – I would have thought the opposite. So there may yet be a workaround during the warmer months.

    • Vincent Chang

      Hi Patrick,
      I’m still waiting for mine. However, I have been using AfterShokz. They are bone conductor. The volume shouldn’t be an issue since they contact your cheek bones. Since you mentioned ear covers, are they adding pressure to make them contact better?

    • I haven’t used phone conductor headphones before and so I don’t have any idea how good they can be. However, I can tell you that the sound can be heard by others if they are close enough to you. From that point of view, it does seem as if they produce sound – not just vibration – if you get my meaning.

      Having looked at images of AfterShokz and other dedicated bone conduction headphones, I can see that they seem to be contained in a kind of plastic harness which grips your head and therefore pressure is applied quite naturally to the bones just in front of your ears. This does not happen with the Coros helmet system. There, the bone conductors are attached to the straps and they dangled down from the helmet as ordinary helmet straps would do. It therefore becomes more of an issue to fit them tightly to your head and so I can imagine that maybe they are less effective than dedicated bone conduction phones. It can be slightly more of a problem because in some instances with the Coros helmet, the straps on either side have been produced in slightly unequal length and this makes even-sided adjustment a bit of a problem.

      If you are really interested in listening to music that I think it may well be quite a big deal. However I don’t listen to music, I listen to talk radio – I recommend BBC Radio Four. When you listen to talk radio, you are at all concerned with the purity of the sound or catching the high notes or the low notes et cetera. Speeches much more forgiving when it comes to listening to it through a sound system. Also for telephone calls, the system works fine and in fact I find it very useful because it has ended the business of me scrabbling around in my back pocket for my phone while I miss the call.

      If you want hi-fi sound then you might be best off harnessing a couple of Bang and Olufsen speakers to your head. They might even double up as a crash hat. If you want something that attaches a bit more securely to your ear bones then maybe you’re going to have to find a plastic frame which grips your head and holds the bone phones in place – Hannibal Lecter.

      I suppose the ideal might be simply to have an AfterShokz which can be controlled by a Bluetooth remote attached your handlebars – but even this wouldn’t give you a particularly great sound.

      If I’m in a particularly musical mood then quite often I just hummed to myself when I’m cycling. But then I’m over 60 and people are quite forgiving of that kind of behaviour.