Have you ever bought a new pair of sneakers you loved so much that they inspired you to work out longer or run farther? Coros’ new line of SafeSound bicycling helmets (starting at $ 179.99) have reignited a spark in me to get out on my bicycle more. They’re the most stylish smart helmets I’ve seen and come with ample features, from a collision detection system that alerts your closest friends and family if you’ve taken a spill, to a pair of Bluetooth-connected earphones attached to the helmet straps. The SafeSound helmets comes in three styles for mountain biking, road cycling, and urban riding. They’re pricey, but well worth the cost if you ride often and would use the earpieces for streaming music, taking calls, or listening to directions.
What Is Coros SafeSound?
SafeSound is a line of smart cycling helmets from Coros. The helmets are considered smart because they contain a collision sensor and have the ability to connect to your phone via Bluetooth, giving you two key benefits.
First, there’s an emergency alert system for crashes. When the helmet detects a collision, it relays the information to your phone and tells the Coros app (available for Android and iOS) to send an emergency text message to up to three people (we’ll touch on this more in a bit).
The other key benefit is audio. The helmets have earphones and a wind-resistant mic, letting you listen to music, get audio directions, and take phone calls while riding. The two earpieces are external to your ear, allowing you to hear ambient noise, such as traffic.
The Coros app offers ride-tracking, too. You can record your speed, distance, time, and so forth. By enabling audio updates from the app, you can hear your stats in real time as you ride. If you prefer to use Strava to track your rides, you can continue to do so by connecting it to the Coros app and still get all the benefits that Coros has to offer.
Design and Options
Even though Coros SafeSound helmets come in three styles, the technology and features are the same across all of them. They all have a taillight and a micro USB slot right below it for charging. They get up to 10 hours of battery life. They ship with the same remote control and charging cable. They use reinforced polycarbonate for the shell and premium EPS impact foam inside. All the padding is treated with a product called Agion that combats microbial odor. The differences come down to design and price.
SafeSound Urban Helmet
Bicycle commuters and others who ride to get from point A to B will likely gravitate to the bucket-style Urban helmet. It comes in matte black or glossy white with 10 air vents, cut like thin strips. The white model has light gray accents on top. A soft black brim attaches to the front inside of the helmet with Velcro.
The SafeSound Urban lists for $ 179.99 and is available in small, medium, and large. The small and medium helmets weigh 11.3 ounces, and the large one size weighs 12 ounces.
A dial adjuster in the back helps you achieve a snug fit. The bucket shape means the helmet sits low, down past the base of the skull. Because I quite like this style and fit, the Urban SafeSound turned out to be my favorite of the three options.
SafeSound Road Helmet
Coros’ SafeSound Road model fits like a classic bicycle helmet and is meant for people who do long rides on road bikes. It costs more than the Urban helmet, listing for $ 199.99, and comes in small (10.6 ounces), medium (11.3 ounces), and large (12.0 ounces). You can choose matte black, glossy white, or matte red with black accents.
The Road style has a more aerodynamic design. It has 16 spacious air vents and the same dial adjuster as the Urban helmet in the back, though it’s positioned much higher as a result of the design. This model doesn’t come with a visor.
SafeSound Mountain Helmet
Last is the Mountain helmet for mountain biking, which sells for $ 219.99. It’s only available in medium (11.3 ounces) and large (12.0 ounces). The color options are black/camouflage or dark gray.
This model has more protection down the back and sides of the skull compared with the Road helmet. It comes with an adjustable hard plastic visor and has 17 wide-cut air vents.
As mentioned, the safety features are identical across all three models. A collision sensor and emergency alert system are the hallmark features. The helmet must detect a strong impact (1 g-force) for it to trigger, and won’t trigger if the helmet is empty. So if you drop the helmet, it’s unlikely to send a false alarm. Even if it does, there’s a 30-second delay, allowing you to stop it.
To use the emergency alert feature, you need to set it up ahead of time in the Coros app. You can send the alert to up to three numbers. The alerts come via text message, so be sure not to add a landline number. You can choose people from your phone’s contacts app or manually enter them.
Importantly, when you first enter your emergency contacts, they receive a text letting them know from a phone number that isn’t yours, so you might want to give your contacts a heads-up before you add them. It’s a US number maintained by Coros.
Another safety feature is a red LED taillight integrated into the back of the helmet. It’s bright and much more stylish than lights on other smart helmets I’ve seen (some of them are real tacky). You turn the light on and off from the app. It flashes when on. There are no options for a solid light or long flashes versus short ones. One nice touch is that the taillight flashes SOS in Morse code whenever the collision sensor activates an emergency alert.
Ear Opening Sound System
The audio system is designed to give you the convenience of headphones without the danger of blocking noises around you. Coros calls it the Ear Opening Sound System, or EOSS.
The earpieces look like two small discs, one on either side, attached to the helmet straps. Each disc has a little funnel that points toward the opening of your ear; they almost look like little whistles. You change the fit by tightening or loosening the straps and sliding the earpieces up or down. You control the audio—you can change the volume, play, pause, and answer calls—with a handlebar-mounted remote control, which runs on a coin cell battery. The remote, mounting equipment, and battery all come with the helment.
Older helmets by Coros, including the company’s first model, the Coros Linx, used bone conduction technology to get sound from the helmet into your ears safely, but it ditched this system because the results are mixed for different people. It didn’t work at all for me. The audio sounded completely tinny and without bass unless I pressed the earpieces tightly against my jaw. You can’t exactly hold them in place while you’re riding, though. When I wasn’t pressing the pieces against my face, the audio worked, but it sounded bad. Needless to say, I was very curious to try the new EOSS.
Surprisingly, I had nearly the same experience with the EOSS as I did with bone conduction. No matter how I adjusted the helmet, straps, and earpieces, the audio sounded terribly thin, unless I physically held the pieces in place. Then it sounded much better than I ever expected, full and rich. Maybe it’s the shape of my face, but the straps just don’t come anywhere close to hugging that top part of my mandible. I wanted to be able to hook the earpieces behind my ears so they would stay put. As is, there’s no way to keep the audio outputs where they need to be for the sound to have any richness. Again similar to my experience with bone conduction, the system works, it just doesn’t sound good to my ears.
While SafeSound helmets cost more than ordinary bicycle helmets, they’re priced similarly to other smart helmets. And in looking at other smart cycling helmets from companies such as Lumos and Sena, I’m much more drawn to the SafeSound line by Coros. They have a contemporary design without looking techy. The Coros logo is understated, thankfully, so you don’t feel like a billboard on two wheels. I’d actually wear these helmets riding. I love the bright taillight, and that it’s USB-rechargeable. The audio experience was disappointing in testing, but if you use it mostly for directions, riding stats, and calls, then you might not need richness in sound.
Some other smart helmets I’ve seen have an excess of lighting that makes them look like a holiday decoration, or they have obvious and ugly buttons on the helmet itself for controlling the audio. Few of them have all the features that Coros SafeSound offers. As much as I like these helmets, there’s still room for improvement with the earpieces and how they stay in place. If you’re willing to find a way to make the audio work for you, then a Coros SafeSound helmet is the smart cycling helmet to buy.