Thursday, July 28, 2016

OW, That Smarts! Coros LINX First Ride.

As I mentioned yesterday, I recently took delivery of the Coros LINX smart cycling helmet:


Here is how Coros describes it:


We are excited to introduce our first product, the Coros™
LINX smart cycling helmet. Our industry pioneering
helmet is the ultimate audio solution for cyclists, so
riders can get the most enjoyment out of their cycling
experience without compromising safety.

Coros™ LINX delivers mobile lifestyle demands of
smartphone connectivity, precision two-way audio, and
instant accessibility, all packed into a performance
helmet. It does this ears, hands, and eyes free, so you
can keep focused on your ride and the road.

Open-ear bone conduction audio - no wires, no earbuds,
no safety compromises – links you to your music,
friends, bike mates, navigation, and ride data to enrich
the ultimate riding experience.

And here's a diagram of its various functions:


Now, by way of a disclaimer, I should confess that I'm interested in doing virtually none of these things while I'm riding my bike--and that includes listening to music.  This isn't because I think listening to music at a reasonable volume while riding is particularly dangerous (I don't), or because I don't care much for music (I do).  Rather, it's just because I generally find riding interesting and engaging enough that I don't need the extra stimulus.  Also, I prefer to listen to music at home on external speakers, rather than via devices on my head.  Even on the subway I tend to go without headphones, though I do put them on and crank up the volume when a fellow passenger launches into a psychotic rant or a heated argument breaks out because someone didn't say "excuse me,"which you can pretty much count on during rush hour.

At the same time, I'm not a total luddite.  I live in the 21st century.  I'm a parent.  I run a bicycle blogging media empire.  As much as I like to vanish completely while riding a bicycle, I also want to be able to keep in touch.  In fact, I even wear a "smart watch" so I don't miss important texts such as "Pick up some milk on the way home" or "Where the fuck are you?" while I'm riding, which tends to happen when your phone is buried deep in your jersey pocket.  It was this same smart watch that alerted me to the impending birth of my second child.  I was quite literally lifting my bike off the storage rack to go for a ride when my watch vibrated and I learned my wife's water had broken.  (Hey, the kid wasn't due for another week, I figured I had time.)  I mean, it's not like I wouldn't have checked my phone, it's just that ideally no "My water just broke!" phone call should ever go unanswered.

The point of all of this is that, despite my many sarcastic posts on the subject, I'm by no means immune to electronic gadgetry or modern society's pathological need to be connected at all times.

Anyway, I was quite pleased to receive the helmet, mostly because it afforded me an excuse to fuck off for a bike ride under the guise of "product testing."  First, I unpacked the helmet.  Next, I repaired to the restroom, where I set about installing and configuring the concomitant Coros app on my popular brand of smartphone.  One of the first things the app asks for is your emergency contact:


I chose my wife, even though every cyclist knows you should always hide injuries and bike component expenditures from your loved ones in order to spare them any undue concern:


She immediately texted back asking why she was getting weird texts from something called Coros about being an emergency contact, so evidently the app was working, though I feared our relationship was already on shaky ground.

Once the app was installed and I'd finished my other restroom business I paired it with my psmartphone using Bluetooth technology.  Then I put on some stretchy clothes, fired up the app's tracking feature, and headed out for a ride:


As I mentioned, I generally don't listen to music while riding, but since this was one of the helmet's main selling points obviously I was going to make an exception.  Here's the remote that comes with the helmet.  It mounts in about five seconds:


I'm not sure if you're supposed to mount it horizontally or vertically, but whatever, this is how I did it.

Once I'd fitted the remote I cued up some Shostakovich in order to seem cultured to my dozens of readers:


As mentioned in the diagram above, the helmet uses "open-ear bone conduction audio."  While "bone conduction" may sound like somebody conducting an orchestra using an erection instead of a baton, what it really means is that the "speakers' rest on your cheekbones and send you the music through the bones of your skull.  Having never used bone conduction before, I didn't know what to expect, but I'd describe the fidelity of the Coros LINX open-ear bone conduction audio system as slightly better than hold music played over your smartphone's speaker and held in the vicinity of your ear.  I don't know if that's the nature of bone conduction, or if maybe I didn't place my open-ear bone conduction audio nubs properly, but that's what it sounded like to me.

As for the helmet itself, here's a photo, and I apologize in advance for including myself in it:


Here you can see the open-ear bone conduction audio nubs:


And here you can see me breathing fire from my generously-proportioned schnoz because I'm excited to go for a ride:


I'm not going to bother commenting on the helmet's aesthetics because I think pretty much all helmets look similarly goofy.  (And yes, I generally do wear a helmet when riding in stretchy clothes.)  It did feel slightly heavier in my hands than a regular sporty-biking helmet, but once it was on my noggin I didn't really notice.  What I did notice was the presence of the open-ear bone conduction audio nubs against my head, though I wouldn't say it was bothersome; it was just apparent.

Anyway, with Shostakovich sending me into an emotional tailspin and the Coros app tracking my every move I figured I'd try to place a phone call.  So I called my mother, noted author of the parochial school screed in my Brooks blog post from the other day.  She did not answer, though her voicemail greeting was clear and audible through my helmet.  I left her a message.  She did not call me back.  Therefore, I was unable to complete the "receiving a call" test.

Maybe next time.

By now I'd arrived at Sprain Ridge Park (which you might also remember from my Brooks blog post), where I paused to futz with my tire pressure (no, I will not tell you #whatpressureyourunning, that's proprietary information) and admire the manner in which my smart helmet complemented the fork on my Marin Pine Mountain 1:


Not long after, I was picking my way up a rocky little climb, at which point disembodied voice in my head said "Pairing."  Then announced "Power Off" or words to that effect.  Then it said "Pairing" again, indicating the power was still on.  (I soon confirmed this by checking the helmet's power light.)

I do not know why it did any of this.

Anyway, on I rode until reaching the top of the big climb, at which point I turned off the ride tracking and admired my accomplishment:


Amazingly my 10.5 mile ride at a 6.5mph average speed was enough to make me the third-best Coros smart helmet-riding cyclist in the entire world:


Incredible.

However, I should point out that when I set out on my ride my smartphone's battery was at 70%.  Now, after only about an hour and a half of riding, it was at like 15%.  I'm not sure if I did something wrong on my end, but if not that would appear to be a problem.  I should also point out that, while the helmet's weight didn't bother me initially, it did seem to move around a bit more than a regular helmet on rough terrain.  I don't know if that's because I need to fine-tune the fit, or because of the helmet itself.  I'll mess around with it and let you know.

Now it was time to test the helmet's crash alert system.  Incredibly I'd managed not to fall down on my 10.5-mile "epic," so instead I figured I'd just pitch the fucker and see what happened:


My wife did not receive any texts notifying her of my impending demise, even when I botched one of my throws and the helmet landed on a rock hard enough to scuff it:


I can only assume that the helmet had spontaneously un-paired itself from my phone on that climb earlier in the ride, and indeed since then I've been unable to pair it again.  This could be because: a) I'm an idiot; b) The helmet ain't no good; or c) I'd dashed it against a rock.

Regardless, rest assured I'll try to get to the bottom of this, and that I'll continue to subject the helmet to rigorous real-world testing, mostly because I can use all the riding excuses I can get.

And with that, I un-pair myself from this blog until tomorrow.

85 comments:

N/A said...

We have been debriefed!

mike said...

Yo!

N/A said...

I wore briefs today, just in case. Frankly, I'm glad it was not all for naught. I mean, how disappointing would that have been?

Lieutenant Oblivious said...

Went Forth and Prospered! Scranus!

Hoghopper said...

No cippolini bone conduction reference?

BobsYerUnkle said...

"At the same time, I'm not a total luddite. "

Yeah that shirtless photo the other day showing your tattoo clued me into to just how much of a conformist you are in real life.

Travis Downing said...

Amazing coincidence: I, too, enjoy a fine cigar before I set forth on a bike ride. That way I am always prepared in case I have to operate a bicycle in Beijing.

Chazu said...

Niner

Chazu said...

Whoops. Niner now.

N/A said...

Wildcat, the bone conduction nubs don't seem to be fitting snugly against your cheekbone. That may be an issue with the sound quality. I have the whopping experience of using one(1) bone-conductive sound thingy, and I was informed that it needs a good solid mash up against your bones to work best.

Also, that chin strap looks like there's a lot going on there. Uncomfortable? Seems like it would be.

21st Century Cave Art said...

Podium finish! Well the extended smart version.

brother yam said...

Mebbe you threw it outside of the Bluetooth range and it could talk to your phone.

wishiwasmerckx said...

In the "who's a Jew" debate, let's skip the emotions and look at the facts, if you will.

"Generously proportioned schnoz?"

Do you know why Jews have big noses? Because air is free...

Lieutenant Oblivious said...

Smartphone apps that use GPS in real time chew up battery life fast. Once you get that high-tech helment paired with your smartphone again, you need to repeat the test, but wrap your phone up in lots of bubble wrap and secure it to the inside of the helment. I'm guessing the pairing was disconnected by the distance of the throw.

Have you ever done a review of that COBI advertised on the side of your blog? That comes with a battery to keep the smartphone charged, which makes a lot of sense for GPS use on the smartphone.

wishiwasmerckx said...

Lt. Oblivious, true that. Google maps eats my android battery like a fat kid eats cake.

Anonymous said...

Bone conduction and no Cipollini joke? Too easy and predictable?

Frickus Rungus said...

How can something that comes with a multi-button remote be called "hands free"? Do you use your bone conductor to push the buttons?

Frickus Rungus said...

How can something that comes with a multi-button remote be called "hands free"? Do you use your bone conductor to push the buttons?

Advertised heavily in Playboy, so you know it is old said...

That Open-ear bone conduction audio stuff ain't new.

Anonymous said...

Also, Mr. Snob is hitting his product placement stride (not that there is anything wrong with that...)

Anonymous said...

I gotta a pair for ya....

Chazu said...

First, you should have called me* instead of your mom. The ringtone on my phone for inbound calls from you would be Crazy Eddie screeching "...Insane!!" over and over again. That means I'd be "insane" to let the call roll over to voicemail.

Second, if a foam Fred chapeau is pitched in the woods, does that fucker make a sound?

*My number is vintage Crazy: 718.645.1196

Lieutenant Oblivious said...

It is an old wives' tale that bone conducting leads to blindness and:or hairy palms!

Sax Huret said...

Arturo Fuente, good 'shop choice there Snob.

Anonymous said...

Yeah the notification didnt work bc the helment was too far from the psmartphone
Which means if either your phone or helment get separated from you or each other in a crash, no notification. all this solving-of-problems-that-do-not-exist biek technology can drink a bidon of my chamois squeezin's. IMHO

Francois said...

Bike blogging media empire? So by reading this post, I was part of the system? I thought riding a bike made me a rebel…

The helmet/app might use accelerometers to determine if a sudden movement is a fall or not (to avoid false positives), which would explain why it didn't trigger the signal.
I suggest you try it by actually falling from your bike. If you have an old mattress or couch or something, you can ride passed it, and fall on your side, lending on the soft stuff.

Anonymous said...

I think I would just go with wireless earphones instead of this thing, which sounds like it still needs some work? Although I'm in the same camp with regard to limited audio stimulation while on my bike.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Re: pairing/distance comments:

1) The helmet randomly started saying "pairing," "power off," etc. well before the test. I think that's when it unpaired;

2) The first test was a drop, not a throw, and the helmet didn't go too far from me (though admittedly I don't know what Bluetooth range is);

3) Since it unpaired, I have not been able to pair it again. (Will have to forget device and start from scratch.)

--Wildcat Etc.

BikeSnobNYC said...

N/A,

I would think if I tightened the straps any more it would be uncomfortable, since I can already feel the nubs. Plus I played with them manually (that sounds dirty) and it didn't improve quality all that much. But will keep experimenting.

--Wildcat Etc.

Frickus Rungus said...

I've got an idea for a new feature for this helmeant.

If it gets too close to your wireless bluetooth dropper post, it sends a text to your SO warning them that you have your head up your ass again...

BikeSnobNYC said...

Lt. Obvi,

Have not tried it, but hopefully will get to.

--Wildcat Etc.

BikeSnobNYC said...

BobsYerUnkle,

I know, right? I also wear blue jeans, t-shirts, and sneakers. How you dress is totally what determines whether or not you're a conformist.

--Wildcat Etc.

Blog Drafter said...

Shostakovich Symphony No. 8 will blow you away. I heard it live w/Ozawa and the San Fran...no one applauded at the end, too stunned. The futility of war, etc. I applaud your post and taste, Snob, and will now leave posttastehaste.

janinedm said...

I regularly have music, but 90% of my rides are for city transportation. There's nothing transcendent or interesting about 6th Ave at rush hour. If I'm out in Lob's country with deer and whatnot, no music.

N/A said...

#whatsneakersyourunning

dancesonpedals said...

You can't spell 'scrotum' without several of the letters in coros.

Rupert Psmith said...

I use a psmartphone.

janinedm said...

Also, reading the comments, I think that the bone conduction part on poor design. I'm no sound engineer, but it seems to me that on the straps the sound waves can travel in all kinds of directions not just being focused at your cheekbones and that you'd get better sound those things were in the helmet near the rim. Like cut out a hole in the styrofoam near the temple and nestle a (smaller? I think it would be smaller) think in there. Anyway, every set of bone conducting headphones I've seen are held to the noggin by hard molded plastic and not fabric. There must be some reason for that. Which is a bummer for them, because everything else the helmet claims to do can be done on your phone already without even pairing it to a helmet.

N/A said...

My phone thinks it's smart, but it really just uses trendy buzzwords and has a fashionable case.

Anonymous said...

Snob, you are such a luddite! You've got the bone nobs in the wrong place! If you want *audiophile* quality they much attach securely to your scranus. The time to attach them was when you had repaired to the WC.

clyde said...

Yesterday - I owned the podium ... Today I am pack fodder. Good thing I did not get the helmet to try - I would have assumed the bone nuns were a suppository

Dorothy Rabinowitz said...

you can't spell "sore cock" without all of the letters coros

babble on said...

My best friend in primary school was always deaf in one ear, but last year, her medical plan from her tenured position at Dalhousie University allowed her to have a bone conduction hearing aid implanted, and apparently the sound it conducts is exquisite and refined. Maybe yer next smartlid will come with a toolkit so you can dril a hole for yer speakers...

So, several broken fucking record things: the weight of a helmet is proportionate to its ability to exacerbate a head injury, (and whiplash.) Y'kmow, force, momentum, yada yada. yada, but also, and perhaps more importantly, a heavy helmet is far more likely to get thrown back as youe head is rocketing forward, leaving your all important frontal lobes unfuckingprotected. THAT's what makes MIPS so brilliant. a) it's almost weightless, and more importantly, b) it is secured to your noggin with more than a cheezy, mobile fucking chin strap. If you're going to strap on a plastic lid, do your brain an actual favour and protect it. Any healment designer worth his creds has done their research, and is smart enough to include scientifically proven protection in their brain bucket. It's not new technology any more, and so you'll find there's actually an assortment of them available, other than that sweet, light as a feather, top of the line $300 Lazer Helium so many of our Vancouver racers choose. My son sporta Giro's new Quarter, a flat black, skater style lid that comes in at a reasonable $100 canuckian.

Common. Fucking. Sense.

Heh, and snobbums, love? Thw whole "drains my smartphone" thang? That's why the truly connecteed smartcyclist goes with Garmin. Just sayin. Oh, and sweetie pie? That little podium you enjoyed? Congratulations. It's a bit of a kick, isn't it? Heh heh. That's your first foray into the world we stravadicts inhabit. Heh. Welcome to the dark side. :)

tim joe comstock said...

What is this place? What manner of creatures are these?

ken e. said...



BIKE NRDS

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure about the SMRT HELMENT but I have a pair of bluetooth earphones that I use at the gym, and they have a range of about thirty or forty feet away from my phone before they start messing up. So just dropping the SMRT HELMENT shouldn't take it out of range or anything close to it.

BamaPhred said...

I like yer real world test. Accelerometers. The helment may not have registered enough impact to trigger the accelerometer. It's too light. Use a bowling ball for a fake head, afix coros to said bowling ball, drop on ground. Or put it on your own head, and take a header into the street. Your choice.

dnk said...

If you would have screamed, or at least ran around naked after throwing that helmet, that video would have all the potential of a viral YouTube performance art piece.

bcstractor said...

So when the helmet wears out because of sweat and scratches do you have to throw the whole thing away?

Lieutenant Oblivious said...

Accelerometer? So maybe if you hit Fred Woo-Hoo Speed and use your Dick Breaks to stop really fast it will call your emergency contact? What if you bust some Martyn Ashton moves while mountain bieking? But please be sure your head and smartphone stay within Bluetooth range.

Matt said...

So ur telling me that one of the "features" of this helmet is to send an email to your emergency contact whenever you crash? Not really sure I like this feature. Typically when I crash I'm hoping nobody saw it. Now if they can maybe add in a 'clapper' app so that after you crash and realize you hurt more than your pride (and are in need of actual help), you have to clap twice to activate the email feature, our as an option, just shout out "I've fallen and I can't get up". THEN I'd consider it. Basically, I don't want no stinkin' helmet ratting me out that I crashed unless I need it to. Maybe there's an adjustable G-force setting where you can weed out the minor crashes and only acknowledge big ones.

wishiwasmerckx said...

Snob, bluetooth range is the probable explanation. Your mistake was you should have hurtled your Iphone into the rock along with the healment.

N/A said...

BLUE TOOF






The robot verification thing wanted me to identify all pics of grass, and it's not even Wednesday!

BikeSnobNYC said...

wishiwasmerckx,

As I said above, I'm reasonably certain the helmet un-paired from the phone before the test.

--Wildcat Etc.

Bryan said...

You are only a small step away from Strava with that tracking! Just think of the KOMs you can snag!

babble on said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Seamus O'Snob said...

I like the way you think, wiwm. But really, upon further review, Snob's method, not necessarily his technique, was correct. Consider that your coros is attached to your head, your smarty phone is in a holder on the cockpit. Your are struck by a texting soccer mom in a speeding SUV. Your body is hurled beyond bluetooth range, whilst the remains of bikey are drug by the undercarriage of said SUV as it flees the scene. Now is that paring going to be an issue? I submit yes, yes it will be an issue.

And if it gets hit with an iron frying pan said...

Your wife can, or should get a text, and can she then text you into the helment? If yes I never want to own one, because I don't want to receive a "I told you so".

BikeSnobNYC said...

Seamus O'Snob,

It's almost like it's a BS feature meant to sell more foam hats to neurotics.

--Wildcat Erc.

Stephen Markacs said...

Did you actually bike up Ridge Hill on the Marin? That's a beast of a hill and the cars crank up it..

BikeSnobNYC said...

Stephen Markacs,

Yes. I use the sidewalk.

--Wildcat Etc.

leroy said...

I'm not sure I appreciate the purpose of a helmet that transmits voices directly into your head.

I paid my dog good money for a foil covered model to keep voices out.

Results were mixed, although admittedly I didn't use the custom earplugs he threw in for his karaoke night.


Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure it mounts so that the middle letter is the "C" in Coros ... just a guess.

JLRB said...

Whatfewquencyyoupairing

DB said...

Lance and Trump are both in Iowa today.
Coincidence?

DB said...

Putin is probably on his way to join them.

66 said...

67

67 said...

68

BamaPhred said...

The coveted 69 podium. I have no life, and it's to dayum hot to ride.

bieks said...

Your helment tweeted it out and now the whole world knows #whatpressureyourunning

Dooth said...

Instead of throwing the helmet--sprint for 100 yards then hit the brakes, dismount, run to the nearest tree and give it a head butt. Please.

Arizona redneck said...

Tim Joe,you came in right behind a Canadian. As I'm sure you're aware they're kinda slow with a flair for stating the obvious as if it was a profound mystery...

Anonymous said...

I must purchase a multifunction-smart-device-solution to I problem that I didn't know existed. Thanks for the info.

dem_bieks! said...

Some of those smarting phones aggressively manage bluetooth to keep the battery alive longer. It would be no surprise to me the bluetooth connection drops.

You've got bluetooth audio connection, bluetooth input, bluetooth data connections in this helment and GPS is running too!

You better have two batteries for your phone.

babble on said...

Heh heh, to which said slow, stupid Canuckistanian politely replied, "Why, whatever do you mean, kind sir? Did you mean to say "Statng the absolutely obvious as if it WERE a mystery?"

Y'see, sweetness and light, up here in the Donald's toupe they teach grammar right from primary school, so that little kids in grade six understand subjunctive verbs and how to use them.

Huh. And there you have it. You're living proof that the blindlingly obvious remains a mystery to some. Sorry 'bout yer luck, sunshine. xo

bieks said...

Finally figured out the multiposition controller. The center button is an electronic horn.

You have it in the NY "U" position where it shouts up "UP YORS!" in case you just took a really big bite of your sandwich.

Rotate it 90 degrees so it's a "C" and it's in Bradley Wiggins mode.

Next, is the upside down "U" - Cipo mode: catcalls in Italian

Finally, missle mode (backwards "C") where it shouts incoherently in a Manx accent.

bad boy temporarily south said...

Smokin' ganja mon.

bad boy temporarily south said...

Enjoying the heat and humidittity on parris island.

dancesonpedals said...

you can't spell sweaty balls without wet ballet

Adam Smith said...

Generally, I like downhill longboarding on my Drop-through longboard. Sometimes my best friend go out with me on his cycle, we two enjoy our time so much.
thanks

cpm said...

So, drywall screws into your cheekbones then?

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Rocky said...

Great invention. It's really helpful device for riders. Good to know the technology. Please suggest me where to buy?
Thanks for sharing with us.