Coros Linx smart cycling helmet: Our first take

Coros Linx smart cycling helmet gains new tech including bone conduction speakers

The Coros Linx smart cycling helmet was a Kickstarter success story in 2016, amassing an impressive $320,000 – six times its $50,000 funding goal. This year at CES, the company is showing off the cyclist safety product, which is now shipping.

Three main features

As a quick refresher, the Linx features three main hardware features that set it far apart from the cycling helmet of yesteryear. First of all, there are stereo bone conduction speakers that transmit sound without obstructing the ear canals, and allow you to hear the sounds around you. In urban environments, being able to hear approaching cars is extremely vital. The speakers can transmit directions from your navigational software of choice so you can keep your eyes on the road rather than having to divert your eyes to check a screen. There’s also a handlebar-mounted remote with big buttons for volume control, music control, and taking calls.

The most important feature that defines the Linx as a “smart” helmet is the sensor package that can detect a crash incident and call for help.

A microphone situated at the temple inside the helmet is shielded from wind noise, but is also sensitive enough to pick up the voice of the wearer. When used in conjunction with the bone conduction speakers, a cyclist could take a phone call while riding.

Perhaps the most important feature that defines the Linx as a “smart” helmet is the sensor package that can detect a crash incident and call for help. Using the app, the wearer can define an emergency contact. In the event of a crash, the wearer has 30 seconds to check-in with the app before an alert is sent to summon help.

First impressions

During a brief hands-on at CES 2017, we were pleasantly surprised when we picked up the final production unit to find that the added technology hadn’t added much noticeable weight to the helmet when compared to other midrange cycling helmets.

The bone conducting speakers were smartly designed to rest perfectly when the helmet is strapped correctly to the wearer’s head, which in itself is a safety feature. If the speakers don’t sound right, then there’s a chance that you’ve forgotten to fasten your strap.

Audio quality from the speakers is severely held back by the current nature of bone conduction technology. It’s perfectly acceptable for voices — from a call or navigation — but it’s not the ideal solution for audiophiles. The sacrifice in sound quality, however, is infinitely preferable to not being able to hear potential threats around you.

One of the big benefits of having a connected helmet is expanded features via app updates. The app currently connects to Strava, and could potentially support other platforms in the future. Coros did confirm with Digital Trends said that a future app update will enable a walkie-talkie feature that would enable push-to-talk for communication with up to 100 other Linx helmets.

We couldn’t put the microphone to the test while in the trade show environment, but we look forward to giving these a more in-depth test in the near future.

Highs

  • Bone conduction speakers
  • Can send SOS in crash event

Lows

  • Expensive at $200
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