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The Coros Linx Smart Helmet is a decent, well designed helmet with some really nice features and technology included. However, the bone conducting headphones could do with being a little louder and it is heavy for a road helmet.
As with seemingly every new bike technology, the Coros Linx Smart Helmet started off on Kickstarter, smashing through its $50,000 target and finishing on $319,765. The premise of the helmet is that it's Bluetooth connected, with bone conducting headphones built into the straps. Having ridden with a regular helmet and separate bluetooth headphones for a long time, I wanted to see how an all-in-one version stands.
Naturally the first place to start is the connected elements of the helmet. The helmet connects to your smartphone through Bluetooth and acts in roughly the same way as connecting it to a car stereo system. It means that you can play music through the bone conducting headphones, hear directions from your phone, take phonecalls (there is a microphone above the forehead, which keeps it out of the wind), and even has crash detection which sends a message to a designated number if it thinks you've fallen.
Key to all of this is the bone conducting headphones, which sit on the straps above the strap dividers. Compared to regular bone conducting headphones, it means that they sit slightly further towards the front of your head. On quiet country lanes these work really well for taking calls, listening to music or podcasts, or hearing navigation prompts.
However, when external noise gets up a bit, like when commuting through London, music is still okay, but it becomes difficult to hear calls or spoken word. This is a little frustrating as the prompts from the helmet, when turned on/off are considerably louder; it would be good to have the option of pushing the volume to this level for regular listening. Using it to take calls works well and I didn't have any issue when talking to somebody when on a ride in the country, although the volume made it difficult in louder areas.
Turning it on or off is done through a button at the rear of the helmet which is simple to use even when the helmet is on your head. Under this button is a dust cover which houses the micro USB charging socket. Battery life on the helmet is around 10 hours, which throughout the week meant I was charging once or twice. The technology on the helmet can be controlled through either the easy-to-use companion app or a smart remote which can be used to make calls, turn the volume up/down or skip tracks. It sits nicely on the bars and connects easily, although the battery it was supplied with was dead when I received it and needed replacing before it worked.
Aside from essentially being KITT from Knight Rider that sits on your head, it is also Consumer Product Safety Commission certified. I didn't test it in a crash, but it seems well made and likely to provide a decent amount of protection. Coros don't provide much information on the actual protection technology it provides either.
Fit on the helmet is adjusted by a dial at the back of the harness which works fairly well, although it would be nice to have smaller increments between each click and it could perhaps be a little easier to turn. However, it still provides a decent fit and with the height adjustable harness, it has a wide variety of possible positions.
Inside it has fairly thick pads all over, even with one sitting across the harness, which isn't too common. It makes it a comfortable helmet to wear, but it can get a little hot. Ventilation helps this to some extent, but it is designed as more of an aero helmet, with an elongated design, similar in many ways to the Specialized S-Works Evade. It has 16 vents, but if you're after maximum breeze through your hair, you should perhaps look elsewhere.
One of the knock-on effects of having a helmet packed full of technology is that it is heavy, at 400g. When you consider that the S-Works Evade (which is a very similar size and design) is 278g, you can see that there is a fair amount of additional weight.
RRP on the helmet is £179.99, which is relatively expensive given its weight, but when you have a first-of-its-kind product like this, it is very difficult to say whether this is a good price. You can certainly get a lighter helmet plus a set of bone conducting headphones for less, but the integration is what makes this helmet unique.
Overall I liked the Coros Linx Smart Helmet, but it does have some elements that I would like to see modified in the next edition. First is the ability to push the volume higher to allow for better clarity in louder environments. Second is the weight, as it would be good to shave a few grams off to make it more competitive with other helmets in this price range. However, it is still an impressive piece of technology and if you're using it on quiet roads and don't mind the extra weight, it is worth a look.
Helmet that packs in the technology, but could do with increased volume and decreased weight
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Coros Linx Smart Helmet
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product 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?
A smart helmet that allows you to listen to a digital input without needing separate headphones.
Coros say 'The Coros LINX Smart Cycling Helmet enables riders to wirelessly connect their helmet to their smartphone. With Coros LINX, you can listen to your own music, take phone calls, talk to fellow riders, and hear navigation and ride data through our open-ear Bone Conduction Technology and a precision wind-resistant microphone'
This is broadly accurate, calls are easy to receive, connecting to the helmet is a simple process and you can listen to a variety of inputs from your phone.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Material: Polycarbonate shell with EPS impact foam
Ventilation: Aerodynamic optimized, 15 vents
Speaker type: bone conduction transducers
Speaker sensitivity: 100 � 3dB
Frequency response: 100Hz''20KHz
Microphone: Wind resistant, top mounted
Battery: Rechargeable Lithium; 10+ hrs play/talk time
Indicator: LED for operation, charge, low battery
Compatibility: Bluetooth 4.0; iOS, Android devices*
Helmet weight: Approx. 400 grams
Consumer Product Safety Commission certified
One year warranty; Impact exchange program
Seems well made, it at least conforms to UK safety standards.
Performed fairly well throughout with the connection working fine, although volume did become an issue in louder environments
Seems like it would last a while, although with electronic components it is always difficult to say.
Really heavy for a helmet that costs £180
Decent pads and fit, but could do with smaller iterations between clicks to help with micro adjustment.
Difficult to give a score on this given the unique nature of the product.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It performed fairly well with it doing the things it needed to, but it did suffer a bit from a lack of volume in louder environments, which was a little frustrating given the prompts it uses are at a volume that would be more suitable.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Ease of use was great, took me maybe 20 seconds to set up and go.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Low volume was an issue when riding in louder environments.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Maybe if they can increase the volume
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes - if they rode exclusively on quiet country roads
Use this box to explain your score
It is a really strong idea that Coros have nearly got right, most of it works perfectly but they need to bring down the weight and bring up the volume to bring it more in line with what you could get for the money with a regular helmet and bone conductor headphones.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale Supersix Evo 6 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
George is the host of the road.cc podcast and has been writing for road.cc since 2014. He has reviewed everything from a saddle with a shark fin through to a set of glasses with a HUD and everything in between.
Although, ironically, spending more time writing and talking about cycling than on the bike nowadays, he still manages to do a couple of decent rides every week on his ever changing number of bikes.