As technology advances, electronics have become both more powerful and more compact while also reducing in cost. This means there are more and more ‘connected’ and ‘smart’ devices on the market. A majority of these devices seem like marketing ploys, like refrigerators that tell you when you are running low on milk. However, some ‘smart’ devices incorporate electronics to add creative and useful features. Today, we’ll be reviewing the Coros SafeSound Urban helmet, a ‘smart’ device that’s surprisingly useful.
The Coros SafeSound Urban helmet combines multiple gadgets – tail light, bluetooth headphones, cycling cap – into a sleek and comfortable helmet. Overall it is a compelling smart helmet that’s perfect for a ride around town or commuting with.
The SafeSound series of helmets from Coros are their latest line of smart helmets. What makes these smart are a number of integrated features: Taillight, Bluetooth connectivity, Microphone, Earphones and an SOS feature. If the built-in sensors detect a collision, the helmet can notify up to 3 emergency contact via text message through the connect phone app. Unlike their previous helmet lines, the Linx and Omni, which utilized bone-conduction speakers, the SafeSound series uses what they call Ear Opening Sound System (EOSS). Although EOSS sounds like something to come out of a marketing focus group, the directional earphones are surprisingly effective at allowing you to maintain situational awareness. Note, the SafeSound helmets don’t support the walkie talkie feature that the Linx offers.
Here, we’ll be looking at the Urban version, which is designed for the commuter or city riders. Coros also offers mountain and road biking variations with the same features but with different helmet designs.
|Likes|| + Easy to set up |
+ Handy remote
+ Impressive battery life
|Dislikes||– Non-replaceable electronics |
– Earphones don’t stay aligned
– Limited App customization
|Where to Buy (US)||Coros|
The Coros SafeSound Urban helmet comes in a large professional cardboard box that features a protective outer box and a sliding inner portion to access the helmet. Inside the box you’ll find:
- Coros SafeSound Urban helmet
- Helmet remote
- Remote mount and two rubber straps
- User manual
- Micro USB charging cable
The helmet is functional right out of the box, and was shipped with a partially charged battery.
DESIGN & USABILITY
As with most ‘urban’ or ‘commuter’ style helmets, the Coros SafeSound Urban helmet has the smooth rounded “skateboard style” helmet design. While typical cycling helmets have aggressive and angular vents, the 10 air vents in the SafeSound Urban are discreet. The helmet has a dual color design, the bottom portions of helmet a matte black plastic and the other portions of the shell are the primary color (white or black). Between the vents, you’ll also notice an accent color with subtle textured overlayed, which gives the helmet a sleek look. For the white helmet, the accent color is gray while the black helmet uses a glossy deep black.
The sides of the helmets have subtle ‘COROS’ wordmark that feel like stickers. On the front of the helmet, Coros has integrated a soft brim/bill protective visor that protrudes a few inches from the helmet. The brim/bill is part of the front portion of the helmet padding, which means it isn’t removable. We found this to be a nice feature that blocked out glare from the sun during early morning or sunset rides similar to a cycling cap.
The rear of the helmet has an integrated taillight which is shaped like an inverted ‘U’. The tail light is smaller and more subtle than we liked and can only be turned on in a flashing mode. It would have been nice to have this tail light brighter and larger as with the current design, it’s only visible when you are directly behind it. Coros has also utilized the tail light to indicate other status like blinking blue when connected and illumination in sections to show the remaining battery percentage. You can also check the battery status while the helmet is on by doing a short click of the power button to hear an audible battery level report.
In terms of adjust-ability and fit, the SafeSound Urban features the standard adjustments of modern helmets. There is a retention system with adjustment dial on the rear of the helmet for tightening or loosening. The helmet straps feel like standard nylon with plastic buckles. On the chin portion of the straps, Coros has added a softer material to prevent abrasion. With the plush interior pads, we found the helmet to be one of the most comfortable helmets we’ve worn.
One of the major selling points of the SafeSound helmet are the EOSS design. We would describe the headphones as directional speakers that funnel sound toward your ear canals. The audio quality from the speakers is better than we expected with a full sound profile. You don’t get the deep bass or crisp treble that higher quality in-ear headphones provide but it’s better than using your cell phone speakers and is more discreet. One issue we found was the headphone would not stay flush against our head and despite adjusting the fit, they would rotate away from the ear reducing the effectiveness.
In terms of phone calls, the SafeSound helmet also has an integrated noise reducing microphone so that you can ride and talk. We found the phone call quality to be decent for both the rider and the person on the other end. The microphone does pick up some wind and surrounding noise, so you’ll need to speak up if you’re in a noisy area. It was also similar to speaking on speaker phone, with the typical ‘echo’ type effect.
This SafeSound helmet needs to be sync’d with the Coros App (available on both iOS and Android) using Bluetooth to set up SOS emergency contacts, some basic controls, as well as to take advantage of the Coros ride tracking. You can also view the battery level of the helmet in the app.
You can set three emergency contact phone numbers for the SOS feature to text in case of a collision. The contacts can be set via your contacts or entered manually.
Through the app you can do some basic controls. With the Android version (1.15.13) we tested the following options were available:
- Turn on/off tail light
- Turn on/off voice feedback – Enabling these will allow you to set distance or time increments for receiving updates about distance traveled. Also you can set ‘speeding’ reminders for speeds upto 30-100 km/h (19-62 mph) which is an unusual feature.
- Pair a remote – Pairing the remote doesn’t enable any customization aside from seeing the ID of the remote the built in functionality.
- Language setting
- Firmware update
- User guide – This doesn’t seem to be set up by Coros as it leads to a broken link.
With a paired SafeSound helmet, you can start/stop rides and monitor the speed/distance using your phone’s GPS. We didn’t explore this very much aside from doing a few test rides. However, Coros sells a number of active watches so the app features a number of fitness statistics and lets you store and track previous workouts. Additionally, once you’ve started a ride, you can also hold a button on the remote to get auditory real-time time/distance information of the active ride.
Overall the app seems well designed, and the fact that Coros’s watches are so popular we have faith that the app will be supported for at least the near future. There were a few minor bugs with the app (at least with the version we used), however we didn’t experience any crashing or instabilities.
Having been disappointed by other ‘smart’ gadgets before, we were hesitant about the Coros SafeSound Urban helmet. However, after a few uses we found the helmet to be both comfortable and extremely useful. With Bluetooth connectivity and EOSS, the helmet also lets you safely interact with your phone to listen to directions, take calls and even hear stats for your active ride. Also, the SOS and collision detection sensors provide some piece of mind in case of an accident. The Coros SafeSound Urban helmet combines multiple gadgets – taillight, Bluetooth headphones, cycling cap – into a sleek and comfortable helmet. Overall it is a compelling smart helmet that’s perfect for a ride around town or commuting with.
Disclaimer: The product for this review was provided by Coros. The views expressed on this website are solely those of the authors and are here to help people make an informed choice before a purchase. The authors or the blog itself does not get any monetary compensation from the product manufacturer or third-party websites/vendor links that are posted here.