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Here’s something different: A smart helmet. Yep – a helmet that can gauge everything from your mileage to the wind. Sound like a dream? Well, it exists and many are buying these helmets. But are they really worth it? And are you compromising safety for technology?

How It Work

Smart helmets work via phone app, which sends signals back and worth. Seattle startup Coros brought forth LINX, a helmet-app combo (with handlebar controller) that lets you listen to music, take calls, get turn-by turn directions and track progress made along your route. Reviews are stating that this is a good idea – and that it is accurate. The LINX is an ordinary-looking helmet that has two bone-conduction speakers attached to the straps, a microphone up front and a battery and wireless unit built into the back. It pairs with your phone and a control puck that attaches to your handlebars, allowing you to listen to music, take calls, get turn-by-turn instructions or fitness updates and a few other handy features. As far as hearing any outside noise, it leaves your actual ear canal free to hear traffic, squealing tires, pedestrians and all the other noises for which any responsible cyclist should be on the alert.

What Makes It Cool

The helmet itself is indistinguishable from any other modern helmet; it’s aerodynamic, provides the usual protection, has standard adjustable straps and comes in a variety of colors. The only sign that there’s something weird about it is the pair of nuggets hanging by where the chin straps diverge around the ear. Of course, since nothing is in your ear canal, the sound isn’t exactly booming. The limits of bone conduction mean you won’t be getting much bass, but beats came through all the same, just attenuated. Mids and upper mids are plenty audible, and the various artists I listened to sounded fine. You can set up routes ahead of time to follow with turn-by-turn directions, set it to alert you every mile or kilometer or once you’ve reached some other checkpoint and there’s an emergency function that texts a contact your location and situation if the app detects a fall. Sharing rides among friends and pros, with ghost-racing functionality, is planned, as well.

Safety

Now, while all the bells and whistles can make a smart helmet appealing you may wonder what corners are cut with safety. In Coros case, none. This is also the case for most on the market, though it is best for you to research yourself and try it on before blindly buying it. Or, buy from a reputable site that will allow for a return, such as Amazon or Dick’s Sporting Goods.