The best smart helmets

The best smart helmets are full of cool tech, and totally worth the messy hair

best smart helmets

It doesn’t matter whether you ride a road bike, mountain bike, ebike, or motorcycle, a good helmet is key to staying safe on the road or trail. But in this day and age, even the simple helmet is getting a high-tech makeover, with all kinds of “smart” elements being added. Once the stuff of science fiction, smart helmets are now a very real product, bringing built-in microphones, speakers, rear-facing cameras, and other features with them. The best smart helmets combine several of these gizmos to make your riding experience safer and more enjoyable.

Helmets may still be the bane of many a haircut but they remain a crucial part of any rider’s wardrobe. Here, we’ve scoured the market to find the coolest helmets and accessories, all of which are available now or are currently in development. Whether you ride a bicycle or a motorcycle, read on to see if any of them might be a good fit for you.

Note: Several of these items are currently only available via crowdfunding websites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Investing in these types of projects can be a risk, and there’s no guarantee that you’ll end up receiving anything. We make no guarantees, as we are not affiliated with any of these companies.

Helmets you can buy right now

Livall Bling ($90)

smart bike helmets

After an incredibly successful Indiegogo campaign, the first Livall Bling helmet began shipping to backers near the end of 2015. Built-in LED strips on the top and rear — which you can control using the Jet remote that’s affixed to the handlebars — serve as turn signals and warning lights. The helmet also works with the official Livall app to issue automatic SOS impact alerts; if the wearer falls, for example, the app automatically calls his or her emergency contact. A windbreak microphone and Bluetooth speaker even allow for hands-free calling.

Unfortunately, production seems to have ceased on the original helmet and Livall no longer sells them via the company’s official website. You can buy its replacement – the Bling BH60 – which isn’t as flashy looking, but offers much of the same functionality.

Read our full Livall Bling review here

Buy one now from:

Amazon

Lumos Helmet ($180)

lumos smart cycling helmet review feature

Of all the offerings on our list, the Lumos — from engineers Eu-Wen Ding and Jeff Chen — is the most affordable and the most reliable. Built for cycling at night, the helmet is outfitted with turn signals in both the front and rear, which are linked to a handlebar remote that boasts several months of battery life. Automatic brake lights are also included, though these drain the helmet’s juice pretty quickly — but they can be turned off. The Lumos is water-resistant, too, so it’ll survive rain showers, if not a dip in the pool. If you’re just biking to and from work, it might not be the best choice (the lights aren’t particularly visible during daytime) but it’s still handsome and surprisingly inexpensive.

Our full Lumos Helmet review

Buy one now from:

Amazon Lumos

Coros Linx ($160)

Many cyclists enjoy listening to music while riding, but that can be a dangerous habit, especially when traversing high-density urban areas with lots of traffic. Coros set out to create a helmet that allows for safe listening and it succeeded with the Linx. Built-in bone conduction speakers transfer sound directly through your ear bones (weird, right?), so outside noise isn’t muffled or drowned out.

The included smart remote and mount snaps easily onto your handlebars and can control volume, playback, and phone calls, while the inclusion of a wind-resistant precision microphone means you can have conversations on the go. Like the Livall Bling, there’s also a gyroscopic SOS sensor that automatically notifies emergency contacts in the event of a collision. We were impressed when we first laid hands on the Linx, and reviews have been uniformly positive from nearly everyone who’s bought one.

Buy one now from:

Amazon Coros

Sena Momentum ($200) and X1 ($200)

Whether you pedal your bike or fire up its engine, Sena has a smart helmet for you. The company makes noggin protection for both cyclists and bikers, both of which come packed with some seriously innovative technology. The Momentum is Sena’s motorcycle helmet, while the X1 is its cycling option, with both sporting Bluetooth connectivity via a smartphone to offer the ability to listen to music, take phone calls, receive GPS navigation instructions, and more. The two helmets are also equipped with onboard video cameras, FM radios, and an intercom system that allows hands-free communication with other riders.

Buy one now from:

Amazon Sena

LifeBeam Smart Helmet ($216)

The LifeBeam Smart Helmet is another option that has gone out of production but can still be found on Amazon. Unfortunately, this helmet doesn’t offer the ability to listen to music, capture video, provide navigational cues, or take phone calls. Instead, it functions more like an activity tracker that keeps track of metrics like heart rate, calories burned, and other measures of performance. It features Bluetooth and ANT+ connectivity to share data with other devices and has onboard accelerometers to monitor changes in direction and momentum. Judging from the Amazon reviews, it’s a bit of a mixed bag in terms of delivering on its promises but it’s a potential option for cyclists looking for a different way to track performance.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

Helmets that could be coming soon

Livemap ($2,000)

Helmet-mounted displays will eventually be like flat screens — once cutting edge, now commonplace — as projection and smart technologies become easier to manage. Livemap is a motorcycle helmet that uses augmented reality for navigation; street names, speed, and turn-by-turn directions are displayed directly over the world around you, negating the need to shift focus from the road. Slow to a stop and you can pop up your map. The helmet also includes a microphone and earphones for voice control.

The catch? It’s not available yet and it costs a fortune. You can reserve one now for a $500 deposit, though we’re not sure when it’ll actually launch. The company says next summer, but new technology tends to get delayed several times. For now, check out the Livemap website (you can still contribute to the project) to stay up to date on developments. The helmet’s software is based on the Android platform, so perhaps developers will eventually be able to build apps specifically for Livemap.

Pre-order it now from:

LiveMap

Cross Helmet X1 ($1599)

Cross Helmet best smart helmets

The Cross Helmet X1 is easily the coolest (and most futuristic) looking helmet on our list, one that will make you look like an action hero and, potentially, make you ride like one, too. Advertised as a “next-generation helmet,” the X1 will feature sound control, Bluetooth connectivity, a dedicated smartphone app, and — wait for it — a 360-degree range of vision, which is achieved via a rear camera displayed at the top of the visor, complete with a digital clock and navigation data.

In combination with the wide-view visor, riders will be able to see the entire road, making the X1 one of the safest helmets ever built (assuming it works as intended). The app controls noise isolation, too, so you can block out the sound of traffic or open your ears when cruising through more serene environments. Additional features like group talk functionality and safety lighting will only make the X1 more attractive when it starts shipping in 2019.

Check it out via:

Cross Helmet

Classon ($149)

Classon best smart helmets

Brooklyness Inc.’s Classon cycling helmet combines the safety features of Lumos with the popular skateboard helmet aesthetic to keep cyclists looking and feeling good on the road. An array of cameras constantly scan your environment — front and back — and activate a small light in your peripheral vision as cars approach you from behind. Motion-activated brake lights and turn signals adorn the helmet’s bow and stern, letting other commuters know when you’re about to make moves. The Classon is even compatible with smartphones, utilizing a clever pattern of lights to communicate navigation instructions on the go.

One of the coolest (and most unique) features of the Classon is that it automatically records your rides, which you can then edit, share, or live stream. There’s also a hole designed to fit most bike locks — a nice touch, to be sure. The Kickstarter page says a small batch of units will ship in April of 2018 with the rest to follow in May or June. Meanwhile, the team continues to share updates with the massive community of backers who are waiting with baited breath.

Pre-order it now from:

Indiegogo

Livall Bling BH51 ($150)

Livall’s follow up to its original Bling helmet (see above) is designed with the urban commuter in mind. The BH51 features a more relaxed, casual style while still offering a full suite of functionality. The helmet features warning lights that turn off and on automatically based on the rider’s motion, LED turn signals activated by a remote mounted on the handlebars, and built-in microphones and speakers for phone calls and music playback. It even has an automatic SOS feature to alert an emergency contact of a fall, as well as a walkie-talkie feature for communicating with fellow cyclists. The BH1 was originally scheduled for release in November 2017; however, it is not yet been made available. Stay tuned.

Check it out via:

Livall

Accessories to smarten your helmet

Ahead ($120)

By now, we can probably all agree: Smart helmets are awesome. What’s not awesome is spending tons of money to replace your favorite domepiece with a high-tech head-cage that may or may not fit comfortably. Ahead, a Samsung-funded Kickstarter project led by a group called Analogue Plus, looks to remedy that problem. It’s a little device that affixes to an existing helmet — a variety of different mounts are included, so most any helmet is compatible — and utilizes an oscillator to conduct sound through the helmet and into your ears.

Connecting Ahead to your smartphone via the dedicated app allows users to listen to music, make phone calls, activate your digital assistant, and track various fitness metrics, among other things. Dual narrow-angle microphones on either side of Ahead also ensure that ambient noise is eliminated, even at speeds up to 40 miles per hour. Plus, it’s durable and IP45 rated for water and dust, so it should survive most rides, even in inclement conditions. Ahead was scheduled to begin shipping in October of 2017 but as of this writing, it’s still in preproduction mode.

Pre-order it now from:

Kickstarter

Lightmode Proton Kit ($129)

Lightmode is an attachment designed to work with any motorcycle helmet. This is more decorative than “smart” technology. Perfect for Tron cosplay, you merely have to glue these lights on with the provided two-part adhesive to ensure they hold at high speeds. A flexible sticky mount holds a tiny controller for the lights, the latter of which last up to 13 hours on two AA batteries and features three modes (constant, slow blink, and fast blink).

Lightmode also comes in two kit sizes, with the larger Proton kit affording you about 15 feet of piping in one of seven colors. The company crushed its initial Kickstarter campaign in 2014 but its followup project is still up on the site at the time of this writing. Lightmode is selling its new “S” series, which feature an updated controller and are available in an array of different colors, for $129.

Buy it now from:

LightMode

BE-Link ($48)

The BE-Link is another Kickstarter project and though it isn’t a smart helmet per se, it is a convenient add-on that delivers some smart features. The BE-Link is essentially a pair of wired headphones that can be installed in any helmet with a die-cut Velcro cradle or the dedicated BE-Link Cradle mount ($15). One of those two options works with pretty much every helmet on the market, which means you can add Bluetooth to your rig, or quickly transfer it between different helmets as needed. And, since you’re supposed to replace your bike helmet every three years, this could save you a few bucks in the long run.

An updated 4.0 version of the BE-Link is also available, offering improved sound, more control, and extra features, for $149.

Buy it now from:

Amazon Be Headwear

Helmet ideas that didn’t work out

Skully AR-1

Skully AR-1 best smart helmets

Prior to closing its doors in April of 2017, the San Francisco-based startup Skully was in the process of developing the AR-1, a crazy smart motorcycle helmet that looked every bit of a game changer. The helmet, which raised more than $2 million in funding via Indiegogo, featured an integrated heads-up display which projected a live feed from the helmet’s rearview camera onto the inside of an electrochromic visor. The helmet also supported Bluetooth, allowing you to take phone calls and listen to music sans cables. Skully did actually ship some units to a few fortunate riders but after funding grew thin and founder Marcus Weller was unable to close a deal with Chinese company LeSports, the venture (unfortunately) collapsed.

Forcite Alpine

Do they have snowy mountains in Australia? Turns out, the answer is yes. So, Sydney-based startup Forcite created a smart snow helmet dubbed the Alpine, tricked it out with tons of cool features, then took it to Kickstarter. The Alpine is outfitted with a 4K action cam (with image stabilization and slow-mo capabilities), a helmet-to-helmet walkie-talkie, fog lights, and a smattering of useful sensors, including an altimeter and an impact sensor. The Forcite team was seeking $200,000 and ended up roughly 75 percent of the way to its funding goal. Often, companies modify their product (and their goal) and start another round of funding. This doesn’t seem to be the case with the Alpine, however, which sort of fell off the face of the Earth after it canceled funding in October of 2015. At $800, the Alpine wasn’t going to be cheap but it’s still disappointing to see it fall by the wayside.