As a general rule, I use my cheapest helmet when bike commuting, the logic being that I don’t really care how I look for a mundane ride and nobody will steal it in the bike parking lot hanging on the bars.
But what if your helmet could do more than protect your noggin? H-Audio’s Smart Helmet combines Bluetooth earphones with rear blinker lights and a headcam system for a more engaging ride. It doesn’t look half bad either with a smooth, dome shape and a tinted, Robocop-style lens that should give motorists intruding into the bike lane some hesitation.
Setting up the helmet is easy: just plug in the charger (it uses a microUSB, FYI) for a few hours to juice up the electronics, pair it with your smartphone, snap the lens into place with the integrated magnets, and away you go.
The helmet has a nice inner liner so it’s snug against your head and nothing chafes, and it even has removable earmuffs for colder weather.
I was slightly disappointed with the audio quality from the built-in speakers as they sounded distant and like you were underwater. But hey, don’t expect them to sound like Apple AirPods especially since they’re not even in-ear headphones. Instead, they’re there to provide you background music while still letting you hear enough ambient noise from your surroundings so you’re always aware of what’s going on around you. And since it connects to your phone, you can also take calls while you’re riding.
The video and photo functions are controlled by buttons on the side of the helmet, and it’s easy to memorize what button controls which function since there are only four: video, photo, phone, and light. Press the “light” button and you get several blinking/static modes to choose from with the nice and wide 220 lumens LED bar at the back.
The built-in camera shoots in 1080p with no stabilization, so don’t ditch your GoPro yet. What it does is give you a quick way to capture interesting scenes on the fly. It should be noted that the video recorder doesn’t work like a dashcam, meaning it doesn’t automatically record and overwrite the files until you decide to keep important clips. Unless you manually press the Video button, it won’t record anything.
Normally, this would be a bit of a dealbreaker, but the helmet only costs P7,500—a 25% discount from its P10,000 SRP—or about the same as a normal, branded road helmet without any lights or cameras at all. In any case, I was happy to forget about the so-so camera and just enjoy having music on the go while also having a huge safety light at the back of my head. It even has a handlebar-mounted remote so you can signal if you’re going left or right, as well as a G-sensor that automatically turns the light to bright red in an emergency stop.
With a full charge, you can play music for up to 72 hours or run the light continuously for up to 12 hours. The helmet is also IPX5 waterproof spec’d. I rode for two hours in an afternoon rainshower and the helmet worked as advertised. I wish the lens had some vents though, as it eventually misted up in our temperate weather.
At 520 grams, the helmet is on the heavy side, and that’s down to the substantial EPS in-molding for the shell. While it doesn’t have CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) certification, the helmet feels sturdy and has a good fit.
For the money, the H-Audio Smart Helmet is a reasonable purchase for bike commuters who want to be able to access their music and take calls on the road, while having bonus features like an LED light and helmet cam.