Cycling has always been less about the technology and more about the exhilaration and just plain fun of “going” using your body as the power source. But since a helmet is now a part of the equation (and a really important one), it makes sense to bring in the world of music and communication that otherwise gets ignored until you reach your destination. The Coros Linx Smart Cycling Helmet provides the means for head-protection as well as head-hearing capabilities. And it does it in a sensible and efficient manner that makes it a worthwhile part of any ride.
There’s a lot of technology packed into this helmet; having a polycarbonate-derived cool look and choice of 3 color schemes (black, white, orange, and in two sizes — Medium (21 ¼ – 23″ 6 ¾ – 7 ¼ hat) and Large (22 1/2-24”/7 1/8 – 7 3/4 hat). What we have here is a performance road cycling helmet with a high speed, low drag aerodynamic design. Plus 15 vents providing an airflow vent cooling process so that hair, while getting mussed, doesn’t get all sticky on those days where the sun is beating down. Aiding in a comfortable fit is a foam strip lining, but the real “wearing magic” comes from a ratchet system that dynamically aligns itself with the head of the person putting it on. This also works to improve on “wearability” over extended periods of time. Other attributes of the helmet’s physicality is that it’s rain, water, splash resistant and sweat resistant. All in a CPSU and EU certified helmet weighing in at about 400 grams.
So yes, it’s a road cycling helmet but it definitively isn’t doing the job by its lonesome. Part of the system comes from the helmet and all the bits it contains, but controlling it had better not be done by tapping the helmet — that’s just plain dangerous because the hands need to be kept on the handlebars. So that’s why the remote syncing with the helmet is also handlebar mounted (and easy enough to remove once you get where you are going). What’s cool about the remote (passing completely over the tech being used to keep the sync in place with the smartphone app) is its contour shape: this enables all the buttons to be placed front and center, yet segmented from each other so you don’t accidentally press the wrong one. Powering the speaker is a rechargeable lithium battery with a rated 10+ hours of operation (an LED indicator provides status updates), with the remote having its own button battery.
Now it could be said that the two most important things this speaker-enabled helmet must do is 1)enable the rider to hear what’s being sent to him and 2)enable the rider to talk back to those talking to him. The Linx handles that through sensible and clever applications of technology: in the case of the microphone, its positioning provides for wind resistance to remove the obvious and serious impediment to conveying what the rider is saying. But in the case of the rider “hearing” what’s being said or played, eliminating headphones or earplugs inside the helmet doesn’t seem obvious, because how are you going to get the sound to the rider amidst the obvious cluttered audio sensations that will be going on around him? By using bone conduction, is how. Sound is transmitted “through” the head and so bypasses the open space between sound being generated to hear and the ears that then doing the hearing. Instead, transducers conduct the sound through the bones of the skull directly to the inner ear. This not only makes for a better means for conveying the sound, but also allows for a better transmission of that sound. Or to put is simply, it just sounds better this way. Of course you do have to adjust them to your cheekbones inside the helmet, but it can’t all be automatic, right?
Now about that app, it does what the remote doesn’t (i.e., audio control of volume, track forward/pause/play, communications, etc.). The app manages the ride via GPS, provides for voice navigation and music (playlists) and can share ride data to other popular cycling apps, among a number of other features. Plus should it be needed (hope not), an SOS emergency alert procedure triggered by receiving an impact outside of the normal daily wear. All this presupposes wanting to use it since it’s possible just to pair with your phone and play music or listen to Spotify, etc. as you would with any normal Bluetooth connected speaker. But with the Coros Linx Smart Cycling Helmet, you get all that and a whole lot more. Available in limited quantities (while the company repositions how to best sell it), it will retail at $199.