Whether you're cycling through busy city streets or quiet country roads, wearing a helmet is pretty much a necessity when on a bike. However, the Lumos Helmet takes matters a step further.
The company knows it can be tough to find a helmet that you both like the look of and which provides ample protection. Lumos joins a growing range of smart helmets looking to change that.
Complete guide: The best smart cycling tech you can buy
Not only does the startup's $179.99 offering look to provide both looks and protection, but it also packs in smart lighting features to help keep users safe when on the saddle.
Does it justify the expensive price tag? We've been wearing the Lumos Helmet for the last few weeks in order to find out.
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Lumos Helmet: Design
As we alluded to, the cost of investing in a smart helmet means this isn't a decision you can afford to take likely. And, let's face it, considering this is going to be sitting on your head, you want it to look as inoffensive as possible.
Unlike many of its smart cycling rivals, the Lumos Helmet retains a traditional, sporty look, with perforations across the top of the plastic mould and smart lighting fitting into the back and rim of the unit. In total, 48 LEDs will shine bright once the device is turned on, with a white strip of 10 white lights shining on the front and a larger section (seen above) resting at the back of the head. We've been sporting the black model in our testing, but you can also pick up variations in either white, blue or a pretty loud yellow.
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Once you power on the helmet and connect it to the accompanying smartphone app, a red triangle will consistently show, while lights sit on either side and act as the indicators. Inside the helmet, you're given the usual soft padding, and an adjustable wheel rests at the back to make sure you can tailor your fit to the size of your head. The helmet can accompany adults with a head size of between 54cm and 62cm, and naturally a chin strap is also attached to keep everything nice and tight.
On the head, it feels very comfortable. Since this is a plastic shell, it doesn't rest as heavy as the 450g spec would suggest, and the distribution of weight is also good; the LED-packed back section doesn't feel any different to the top or front of the helmet. It may take some time to accept the cyborg look and stares at traffic lights that comes with all these flashing lights, but that's not an issue exclusive to the Lumos.
We'll explore the smart features below, but, generally speaking, this is a smart helmet that provides one of the stronger fits and designs we've tried so far.
Lumos Helmet: Features
Outside of the flashing lights, this is a helmet which blends fairly naturally with dumb options on the market. But the real selling point here, and where it looks to separate itself, is the integrated smarts.
Those lights we mentioned earlier? Well, they're not just there to make you seen in the dark, they can also be adapted to help you indicate to drivers and cyclists around you. This is controlled through a remote that you attach to the handlebars, with one press also ringing an indicator to let you know when the lights are still flashing.
As we've mentioned previously, the concept of cyclists indicating solely through the lights on their helmet is a nice idea in principle, but whether you trust drivers to be watching the back of your head is down to you. Particularly in daylight, though the lights are still visible, we still found ourselves also sticking our hand out as a soft signal on busier roads.
This is also true of the automated brake lights. It's a pretty hard thing to test, since the helmet is on your head, though in low light we did notice the helmet react consistently to sudden changes in pace on the bike. If you want to adjust the sensitivity, you can do so through the app, and be sure to note that this feature isn't based off the movement of your head – it's instead all monitored by the accelerometer in the mounted controller. The lights work exactly as intended, though whether you want them to replace your regular lights or signalling is more of a personal preference, as we say.
And, really, that's about where the smart capabilities of this helmet end, though it is worth mentioning the companion app and integration the device has with the Apple Watch. If you have the smartwatch attached to your wrist, you can solve the signalling issue we touched upon somewhat, since the Watch app learns how you gesture your arm and corresponds its light to this. Our Apple Watch failed to sync up with the helmet during testing, so we're yet to see how this all works on the road, though we expect it's limited by the fact you would have to gesture with the same hand for each direction.
Other than this, it's all very basic stuff. You can use your smartphone to track rides from within the app, if you like, which also has the option to sync over to Apple Health and Strava. It's also the place where you'll be able to check on the battery of the helmet itself, as well as the remote controller, and update the device's firmware.
The only real knock we can give the Lumos is that its features are pretty limited when compared to its rivals, which are often found to come with the likes of Bluetooth audio, call support and more. With that said, what it does set out to do it achieves to a solid standard.
Lumos Helmet: Price and battery life
As you might expect, the Lumos isn't pumping out lights without a power source, and you'll have to make sure it's consistently charged in order to take advantage of the features above.
In our experience, we haven't found this to be too much of a hassle. Lumos indicates you can expect around six hours of life from one charge, which we'd say is about right – even after using the device during some fairly lengthy rides, the battery doesn't drain too significantly. Once you do need to juice things back up, the proprietary charger will get things back up to 100% in just under two hours. That's fairly routine, and in our time with the helmet we only needed to recharge once after the initial charge.
This will naturally vary depending on how much you're cycling around with the Lumos, but something that won't vary between users is the price – and it's high, coming in at $179.99. Rival options from the likes of Livall and Coros also cost well north of $100, so it's a difficult problem to avoid, but in our view this still represents too big of a leap from a "dumb" alternative.
- Smart lighting shines
- Stylish, traditional design
- Solid battery life
- Limited smart functionality
- Expensive as hell
- Buggy Apple Watch support