Smart helmets not only protect you in an accident but can also keep you visible while riding. The Unit 1 FARO helmet that we have here in this review is one of the most feature filled helmets we’ve reviewed to date. The retail price of the helmet ranges from a base price of $209.90 up to $277.20 with the optional MIPS and turn signal addons. Not only does the FARO have 500+ lumen output but the helmet also features a multi-element LED grid hidden under a sleek fabric cover. A well designed companion app allows for full customization of the lighting modes and the ability to enable or disable fall detection, brake sensing, lighting responsive and weather responsive modes. The optional turn signal feature includes a wireless handlebar mounted controller that lets you indicate if you’re turning right or left to notify riders behind you.
The Unit 1 FARO is a sleek smart helmet with an eye-catching LED matrix display on the rear and a plethora of safety features.
|Retail Price||$209.90 – $277.20 (as tested)|
|Rating||9.1 / 10|
|Measured weight (in g)||928 (size medium) / 20 (turn signal controller)|
|Likes||+ Sleek color schemes|
+ Eye catching lighting modes on hidden LED panel under fabric region
+ Intuitive and well designed companion app
|Dislikes||– Premium price|
– Heavy weight due to electronics and integrated batteries
|Where to Buy (US)||Unit 1|
.The Unit 1 FARO comes in a helmet cardboard box with branding printed directly on to it. Inside the box you’ll find:
- FARO helmet
- Turn-signal controller + rubber mounting rings
- USB-C charging cable
- User manual
There are also clever touches such as “we made a thing” text printed on the inside of the box which give it a more premium feel.
FIT & FINISH
The FARO combines classic urban helmet styling with modern LED lighting elements. While the FARO isn’t the first helmet to offer built-in lights, the helmet offers one of the most extensive safety features. Not only does the FARO 1 have a front headlight, but it also has a rear LED and a unique hidden taillight beneath a fabric cover. The multiple lighting elements allow for sequential turn signals and a variety of eye-catching illumination patterns. Unit 1 offers the FARO in a variety of matte colors with fun names such as Blackbird, Stingray, Juniper and the Maverick color we have here. It’s a two piece shell with minimal slits on the top of the helmet and an exhaust port under the rear taillight. There is no fabric visor like the Bolle Halo React or Coros SafeSound, instead the shell slightly extends outward.
There is a single power button on the bottom of the fabric region that has to be held to turn the helmet on or off. As the helmet is powering on or off, a five bar battery status meter is displayed along with a startup / shutdown animation. It’s a slick feature that takes advantage of the taillight and hidden lights. That’s the extent of the user interface as you can only turn the helmet on or off using the button and not change profiles or lighting modes. Although we would have liked to see the ability to switch between profiles via the helmet, it is more intuitive to use the companion app which displays more information. As with other smart devices the heavy reliance on the smartphone app means the helmet can quickly become obsolete if Unit 1 decides to stop supporting the free app.
UNIT 1 FARO APP
In order to take advantage of all the customization features of the Unit 1 FARO helmet you’ll need to download and pair the free companion Unit 1 FARO app. It’s a sleek app with full 3D rotating helmet animation with lighting elements synced to the actual helmet. After you login, you need to pair the app with the helmet and then select the color of your helmet. For some reason, this is a one time only selection so make sure you pick the right color. After that you’ll see a big “THE CITY IS YOURS” text with the rotating helmet animation. There are four main pages: home (helmet battery life + sync status), profile (settings + achievements), discover (find new challenges) and activity history page. From the home page of the app you can also start a ride recording which will track mileage, calorie loss and even estimated Co2 savings.
The best feature of the app is the light customizations which allow you switch between profiles and adjust each lighting element independently. Pressing on the helmet from the home page brings up a profile selection view which lets you choose from three predefined profiles (i.e. balanced, performance or battery save) as well as create your own. The predefined profiles are not editable but have great defaults that ensure either long runtime, bright output or a mixed approach. Creating a new profile allows you to adjust the front / back / hidden lights, set turn signal behavior, brake light behavior or enable/disable the lighting / weather responsive and fall detection features. As you change features the helmet and the app’s helmet animation update making the entire experience fun and interactive.
Even though we generally are mixed about requiring apps, the Unit 1 FARO app is one of the best we’ve seen. The front and back lights can be switched between constant or flash modes as well as have the intensity of the output adjusted from 0 to 100 percent. Each of the lights can even be enabled or disabled which allows you to really personalize the helmet. The hidden light also has the option of changing the color mode between five preset colors for even more personalization. We were also impressed with the turn signal options which allow you to do sequential animations over the hidden light and even do a car like auto-off option (i.e. signal turns off after a few seconds automatically).
ON THE ROAD
The Unit 1 FARO helmet attracts attention on the road, you’ll find strangers complimenting the helmet or asking to take a closer look at the lighting elements. Even with brands like Lumos having made illuminated helmets popular, the attractive color scheme and animations of the hidden light make the FARO stand out. At over 500 lumen it’s a bright helmet that can be used during the day or the night. The Unit 1 FARO shows you the estimated runtime of each mode which makes it easy to ensure you don’t run out of power while riding. We found the flashing modes with no hidden light were great for daytime visibility and leveraged the hidden light during the night.
The biggest downside of the helmet is the 600+ gram weight which is hard to ignore while riding. Unlike lightweight road cycling helmets like the Lazer Vento which might have you checking your head mid ride to see if you’re still wearing a helmet, you won’t forget the Unit 1 FARO. That isn’t to say it is uncomfortable as the weight is well distributed, but you feel it when putting the helmet on or off. The weight is on par with similar helmets from Lumos, but it isn’t a helmet we’d wear for long rides. Otherwise for shorter rides or commuting the FARO is a great option with bright lights that ensure you’re visible on the road. The magnetic buckle and rear adjustment dial are easy to use and adjust even while riding.
Overall, we found the Unit 1 FARO to be a bright and sleek urban helmet. The wide COB LED headlight, taillight and the hidden rear light provide some clever and eye-catching lighting modes. We were impressed with the attractive and intuitive Unit 1 app which allows you to customize every setting and feature. The dense grid of LEDS under the fabric cover in particular has some attractive lighting modes that include fireworks as well as sweeping patterns. It’s a full featured helmet that feels and looks premium. The main downsides of the Unit 1 FARO is the premium price and the heavy weight due to the integrated LEDs and batteries. That said, if you’re looking for an urban helmet for commuting, skating or other activities with integrated lighting then the Unit 1 FARO is a great option.
Disclaimer: The product for this review was provided by Unit 1. 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.