Bluetooth connected Road Bike Helmet with wireless remote and bone conductive speakers.
Can you think of a more universal childhood activity than riding a bicycle? It seems that teaching a child to ride a bike is a right of passage as a parent. Additionally, many of us have fond memories of a trip or of the act of learning to ride. My wife and I have taught our ten and seven-year-old sons to ride and are currently working on our four-year-old daughter. Since I have not upgraded from the same ten-year-old Wal-Mart bicycle, I felt I needed something a little newer. Thriftily, I turned to the Facebook Marketplace and found a great deal on a slightly used Trek bicycle. With my two boys in tow, we set out for the bike trail at our local park. I used a generic helmet from Wal-Mart and a pair of earbuds during this activity. Our bikes had no lights, no flashing signals, nor any place to store my smartphone/accessories. Many of the above issues were not that big of a deal. However, I quickly became dissatisfied with the earbuds and the inability to hear my surroundings. When I heard about the 318 Smart riding helmet, I thought the bone conduction technology would revolutionize our exercise.
The 318 Smart Cycling Helmet arrived in a classy 9 7/8 inches wide by 11 3/4 inches long by 7 3/8 inches tall black retail package. The front panel provided a 3 7/8 inches wide by 4 1/2 inches tall black panel and had a clear wrap around window on either side of the box. The central black cardboard island displayed a red “318 KEEP On GOING”, three descriptive white icons detailing the ability to play music, the walkie-talkie feature, the rear lights, an “L” sticker, and a “Cloud” color sticker. I loved the packaging design and the inclusion of the wrap-around windows. I appreciated the option to directly visualize the product, rather than learning about it through flat imagery. The top panel and the left side panel provided “318 KEEP ON GOING” in red font while the right side panel provided the meat of the information. The right panel provided the same 318 logo but also added ten white integrated feature icons: SOS, Bone Conductor, Noise Reduction, Clear Voice, Rear Lights, Walkie-Talkie, Team Chat, Team Management, Music Play and Wireless Control. The bottom panel provided a prominent user warning to remind the consumer to only use this for bicycles, pedal cyclists, skateboard and roller-skaters. Furthermore, it reminded everyone that helmets cannot protect from all impacts, should not be used by users of motor driven vehicles, and should not be modified.
The inner box easily slid outward from the main shell. Within the box, I found the stylish white/black Smart Riding helmet, user-defined instruction manual, Wireless Remote Controller BC30E, 40 inches long USB-micro to USB-A cable, and three retention bands for the controller. Before using the helmet, I decided to peruse the instruction manual and to charge the helmet (1.5 hours). The LED along the back of the helmet was red while charging and green when fully charged. The first panel provided the same warning information as the base of the outer packaging. The second panel showed you how to wear the helmet correctly, and how to rotate the back size adjustment knob to loosen (counterclockwise) or tighten (clockwise) the helmet. With the helmet upon your head, adjust the straps, shell size, chin strap, strap guide, and follow the correct wearing position diagram. The manual did a great job at demonstrating the proper method to wear and to utilize the features of the helmet. The 318 helmet six-digit with bone conductive speakers on either side of the helmet. The adjustable speaker arms were positioned on swivels, which allowed for proper placement against the temples of a variety of head shapes. Instead of an in-ear option, this system will allow your ears to remain open and aware.
The large sized 318 helmet proved to fit my 23 1/2 inches circumference calvarium perfectly. The posterior adjustment knob should adapt the helmet to fit head sizes measuring 23 1/4 inches to 24 3/4 inches. The medium sized helmet should fit head sizes measuring 21 3/4 inches through 23 1/4 inches. For more information about helmet sizing, proper fit, and variations in helmet type, I would encourage you to peruse the https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/bicycle-helmet.html website. Based on the shape/design of the 318 helmet, it fits most closely with the road bike style. The sleek design, the numerous air vents, the lack of a visor and the coverage type all gave it away. To the contrary, most mountain bike helmets have visors, decreased air vents to protect from sharper hazards, and better protect the sides and back of the head. Apply the helmet and then twist the knob until the fit is snug. Adjust the straps, adjust the chin buckle and then open your jaw. The top of the helmet should compress against the top of your head. With the helmet appropriately fit to my head, I turned to the tech component of the gear.
To power the helmet on/off, press down on the button along the bottom rim of the smart riding function device, just beneath the adjustment knob at the back of the helmet. A female voice provided vocal cues as to the power on/off status. Adjacent to the power button, you will find the USB charging port. With the rubberized stopper removed, you can plug the USB-micro cable into the port. The 340mAh battery will charge to full in about 90 minutes and will provide about 6 1/2 hours of music (4-9 hours per manual). To pair the helmet to your smartphone, long-press the multi-function button for five seconds. The green LED will flash quickly to let you know that you that the device was ready to pair. I navigated to settings, then selected Bluetooth, and then chose “LS-BOX” from the list. The LED on the helmet changed to a slow green flashing light, alerting me to the paired status. Pairing could not have been an easier experience.
With the 318Sports App downloaded, I was able to connect the SH50 helmet and the BC30 remote. I selected the “To Connect” button next to the BC30 remote and the App took me to another screen. I followed the instructions, pressed the PTT button on the side of the remote, the volume up and down buttons simultaneously, and then the PTT button again. When paired, the 318 user-defined button was supposed to play/pause or answer a call. This did not work within Amazon Prime Music, Pandora, nor Apple Music, but did work within the Music App on my iPhone XS Max. Apparently, due to iOS restrictions, the wireless remote cannot control previous/last tracks, nor play/pause from the remote. A single press of the button allowed the volume to increase/decrease, however. From within the App, touch “Team” and then type in a six-digit code. You can join another person’s team by adding the same code, or you can press “Scan” and add a scannable QR code to allow a friend to join your team. Within the app you can also press “Cycle” to start a map and bicycle trail statistics feature. From within the Cycle section, you can still use the team press to talk, you can save trails and use the PTT button to hear your speed through the conductive speakers.
The helmet sends sounds through the bones of the skull (temples) and vibrates the ossicles within your ears (ear bones). The bass was not as full as in-ear or around-ear systems, but it was still remarkably clear and smooth. I was pleased with the upper sounds, the mids, and the lows. This system will not provide bumping bass, but it also will not cause passive noise cancellation.
The app needs a little work to fully enjoy this setup. I loved the free teammate chat capability and free mapping/distance/speed/climb features. I wish that the remote worked with more of the iOS apps but the fact that it worked with MUSIC was convenient. Although the helmet was incredibly comfortable, lightweight, well ventilated, and fit my scalp snugly, I wish that there was a way to attach a visor to this helmet. Despite the limitations, the best part of the helmet was the bone conductive sound system. Unless I was riding into a strong headwind, or I was traveling at a significant velocity downhill, I was able to enjoy music/audible books without sacrificing my ability to hear my surroundings. The back flashing warning lights added an amazing safety feature, but my wife thought it was weird that the arrows did not indicate turning direction. Perhaps the 318 helmet version 2.0 will add left/right turning options to the remote.
When considering the comfort, the flashing lights, and the sound features, the helmet earned a 9-9.5/10. I would have given the helmet a 10/10 if the app was a little more intuitive. Neither the well-constructed instruction manual or the app detailed how to program the button on the remote. If you are looking for a new helmet to cruise in style, look no further than the 318 helmet. If the white coloration does not suit your fancy, you can also enjoy the helmet in blue,black, or yellow.