Here is how Coros describes it:
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:
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:
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:
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.