Do We Really Need A Smart Motorcycle Helmet??

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When you woke up this morning, it was undoubtedly the alarm on your smartphone that raised you from your slumber.

You might even have felt the vibrations on your wrist, courtesy of your smartwatch.

The smart thermostat would have kicked in to heat your home. And once dressed, you likely opened your smart fridge to get the milk for your morning coffee, before proceeding to catch up with the news on your smart TV.

After that, you picked up your smart keys, got into your smart car, and went to work on a smart motorway.

Once at work, you would have completed the tasks from your smart teamwork app having replied to the email from your boss using the S.M.A.R.T format.

And by the end of the day, you no doubt told the resident office smart arse exactly where he can shove his smart schedule.

man covered in post it notes - information overload
In a world where everything is smart, do you need a smart motorcycle helmet in your life?

The Innate Distrust Of All Things Smart

I don’t know about you, but I get a bit queasy when I have to deal with something that is pre-labeled as ‘smart.’

Who said it was smart?

You?

Me?

Somebody with a brain?

Or was it just the work of a marketing consultant whose sole purpose in life is to sell us yet more expensive junk that we don’t need?

Because in my experience, “smart” is code for “expensive, irritating and generally unnecessary.”

And what do we do when the stress becomes too much?

We simplify our lives by turning all the smart stuff OFF! We go back to basics.

So with that in mind, I find myself asking the following:

Is There Really A Need For A Smart Motorcycle Helmet?

Now, I appreciate I got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. I’m tired and I’m grouchy.

But despite everything I’ve said, I’m not averse to technology that makes life easier or safer.

Especially when it comes to bikes.

And if new-fangled technology is being developed to make our lives safer and more efficient, then surely it’s worth a look, right?

With an open mind, I invite you to delve into the world of smart motorcycle helmets with a look at the top five on the market to date.

Related: 10 Essential Touring Apps For Bikers

Borderless CrossHelmet X1

crosshelmet x1 smart motorcycle helmet by bordeless
The CrossHelmet X1 smart motorcycle helmet (image via CrossHelmet)

So we start with what is considered to be the gold standard in smart motorcycle helmets; the CrossHelmet X1.

With its take-notice design, technology-rich features, and innovative concepts, the X1 looks like the smart motorcycle helmet of the future.

Starting with the ergonomics, the rounded design allows more space than conventional helmets by shifting the chin plate forwards to create breathing and talking space.

And the helmet is fitted with a panoramic visor that is 30% wider than regular visors to increase field of vision.

illustration to show extra space in crosshelmet x1
The X1 provides more space than typical helmets (image via CrossHelmet)

Heads-Up-Display (HUD)

rear camera in crosshelmet x1 smart motorcycle helmet
The rear mounted camera on the X1 smart motorcycle helmet (image via CrossHelmet)

Borderless, (the company responsible for the concept and production of the X1), claims that their smart motorcycle helmet boasts 360-degree visibility courtesy of the HUD.

The rear-facing camera at the back of the helmet projects rear visibility in front of your eyes – like that of a rear-view mirror in a car.

Not only does the HUD boost rear vision, but it also offers various travel information such as directional prompts, turn-by-turn navigation, current speed, weather information, battery level, and network connectivity.

the crosshelmet x1 in action
The X1 smart motorcycle helmet in action (image via CrossHelmet)

Bluetooth Connectivity

As you’d expect with the X1, Bluetooth connectivity comes as standard and is integrated into the design.

Not only does it connect to your smartphone, but it also connects with other riders so you can converse on the move.

With the integrated microphone, the X1 also understands voice commands. Meaning you can keep your hands on the bars and your eyes on the road at all times.

CrossSound Control

The clever noise control system allows riders to control environmental sounds as needed.

The system filters out engine or wind noise to reduce fatigue, but it can also do this when you are listening to music (or speaking to another rider) to ensure you get the very best sound quality.

Touch Panel

One of the things I dislike about Bluetooth headsets is the buttons. With gloveless hands, operating the headsets is a doddle.

But trying to operate them on the move whilst wearing thick motorcycle gloves makes for a clumsy and infuriating experience.

The X1 mitigates this problem with a touch panel module situated on the side of the helmet.

Rather than pressing buttons, you simply slide your finger up or down the panel to increase or decrease the volume; like a trackpad on a Mac.

helmet panel swipe
Innovative swipe panel on the X1 smart motorcycle helmet (image via CrossHelmet)

Safety

The X1 meets the DOT, ECE, and JIS safety standards which means it should be legal across all countries.

It also comes with integrated LED lights on each side to enhance visibility at night.

Ancillaries & Weight

The X1 comes with a clear visor as standard. But riders can buy optional light or dark visors if preferred.

For those who like a seamless experience, a photochromic visor is available which darkens automatically in bright sunlight, and lightens during darker conditions.

The X1 comes in at 1,780g and is available from https://shop.crosshelmet.com/. The cost is $1,799 as of January 2021.

Sena Momentum Inc Pro Smart Motorcycle Helmet

the sena momentum inc pro smart motorcycle helmet
The Sena Momentum Inc Pro smart motorcycle helmet (image via Sena)

In a world where helmet cameras are becoming as popular for insurance purposes as they are for capturing adventures, the Sena Momentum Inc Pro kills two birds with one stone.

Known for exceptional Bluetooth devices, Sena has added an integrated QHD camera into the carbon composite of the helmet.

The careful placement and integration means improved dynamics and less wind resistance in comparison to attaching one yourself.

The Sena also comes with Bluetooth audio connectivity, group connectivity, voice commands, and music sharing.

Impressively, the Momentum Inc Pro also comes with its innovative intelligent noise control, which helps cancel out road, engine, and wind noise.

With the click of a button, riders can enter ‘Ambient Mode’, which allows them to hear their surroundings without removing the helmet.

Specifications

  • Composite carbon fibre shell
  • Quick-release system
  • Scratch-resistant
  • UV resistant
  • Pinlock ready
  • Talk time: 20 hours
  • Weight: 1,800g

You can find this helmet on the Sena website at $699 (January 2021.)

Related: Photography Gear For Motorcycling

Quin Design Spitfire Smart Motorcycle Helmet

quin design spitfire helmet
The Quin Design Spitfire smart motorcycle helmet (image via Quin Design)

Made for people who appreciate simplicity, the Quin Design Spitfire foregoes fancy cameras and instead concentrates on seamless sound quality.

Featuring intelligent IntelliQuin smart technology, the helmet has invisible Bluetooth, crash detection, and an emergency SOS beacon.

With its proprietary circuitry and corresponding algorithms, this smart motorcycle helmet is primed to detect and measure a crash. And the IntelliQuin SOS beacon provides riders with live tracking and help if needed.

If you come off your bike, the integrated chip is smart enough to determine how fast you were traveling, at how many g’s you hit the ground, whether you rolled or tumbled, and if you are up and walking after the crash.

The helmet then sends this information (along with your exact coordinates) to your emergency contacts who can call you directly through the integrated speakers in your helmet.

The helmet can also relay the information to emergency services who can come to your exact GPS coordinates.

The SOS beacon works in a similar fashion.

If you have an accident or a breakdown (or any time you need help), tapping the Quin button will notify your emergency contacts who can then call you through the integrated speakers, and track your real-time location even if you’re moving.

Specifications

  • Crash detection system
  • SOS beacon (live track)
  • ECE & DOT certified
  • 1,497g

The Spitfire can be purchased via the Quin website and costs $399 (prices as of January 2021.)

Quin Design Ghost Umbra Smart Motorcycle Helmet

carbon fibre quin helmet
The ultralight, Quin Design Ghost Umbra smart motorcycle helmet (image via Quin Design)

If you like the design and flow on the Quin Design Spitfire (above) and you have extra cash to splash, the Ghost Umbra makes for an excellent choice.

Thanks to the Carbon fibre structure, the Ghost Umbra weighs in at a staggering 1,270g, and is lighter than most race-bespoke helmets on the market today.

And it still includes the premium features (such as crash detection and SOS capabilities) of the Spitfire!

As with the Spitfire, the Ghost Umbra is ECE & DOT certified. As a race-inspired helmet, it also exceeds all FIM, AMA, CRMC, and racing standards.

This helmet is available on the Quin website and costs $659 as of January 2021.

Reevu MSX1 Smart Motorcycle Helmet

reevu msx1 smart motorcycle helmet
The Reevu MSX1 smart motorcycle helmet features rear visibility (image via Reevu)

The good thing about the MSX1 is that it isn’t trying too hard.

It doesn’t have batteries. And that means it doesn’t need charging.

You don’t need to pair it with anything or ensure its compatibility with your existing devices.

There’s none of the “smart” irritabilities outlined in the start of this post.

It just works. Like a normal helmet.

The difference with the MSX1 though is that it incorporates a clever, rear-view mirror system. So whilst it might not technically be considered a smart motorcycle helmet, it could certainly make for a smart buy.

Incorporated into the shell of the helmet, the mirror ‘bends’ light through diffraction to give the rider a rear-view mirror – the same as in a car.

Specifications

  • Patented rear-view technology
  • Tri-compostite shell: Carbon fibre, kevlar, and synthetic
  • Anti-fog
  • ECE 22.05 and ACU gold accredited

Smart Helmets: Conclusion

It’s a tough one, isn’t it?

On the one hand, helmets have been essentially the same for decades. And there’s a part of me that thinks we should drag them into the 21st century.

Sure, we’ve forged ahead with stronger (yet lighter) materials. And we’ve added ancillaries such as microphones, bluetooth units or action cameras.

But to make the move over to a fully-fledged smart motorcycle helmet takes some thinking!

Motorcycling And Peace

As mentioned above, I’m an avid believer in change and the adaptation of new technologies. But do I really want them at the expense of my sanity?

Do I want them enough to put up with their constant irritations and connectivity issues?

I don’t know about you, but I value peace.

I value the serenity that comes with riding my bike. And I look forward to not having to worry about my phone, my emails, my WhatsApp messages, Instagram comments or LinkedIn requests.

Is it worth sacrificing all that for a smart motorcycle helmet when a traditional lid has worked just fine for decades?

And what about if I drop it? What if it malfunctions, or if the software won’t update?

Like most people, I have enough going on in my life without having to worry about charging or updating my smart motorcycle helmet!

And I certainly don’t need the ballache of chasing customer services or waiting in a live chat queue every time something goes wrong.

But maybe that’s just me.

Is A Smart Motorcycle Helmet The Smart Choice For You?

What about you? Are you ready to take the plunge into the exciting new world of smart motorcycle helmets?

I’d be really interested to hear your opinions.

Do you own a smart motorcycle helmet? Please do let me know how you’re finding it!

Dead set against them? Let me know!

Head on over to Instagram or Facebook and let me know in the comments.

Feel free to share!
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