I bought my first helmet a year before I actually bought a motorcycle. I figured seeing it, next the riding jacket I bought at the same time, would encourage me get the motorcycle. The process of buying the helmet was a little more detailed than I anticipated. Safety features, the materials the outer shell is made of and what the inside is lined with, compliance and regulations it adheres to, size and weight; these are all important considerations. All of a sudden, the cool “piss-pot” type helmet didn’t look so appealing after all.
That first helmet was a modular/flip-up helmet, a hybrid of sorts between a full-face and an open face. Essentially, I could flip up the chin guard component as and when, which was great for air and if I wanted to have a comfortable conversation without having to take off the helmet. After about two years, the chin guard was a little wobbly and the noise from the wind as I rode ramped up so I went and bought myself a full face helmet. I say it flippantly, but helmets aren’t cheap and so, in addition to considering features and how the lid looks, price was also a factor.
And then I came across the dream helmet. The Skully AR-1, billed as The World’s Smartest Motorcycle Helmet: heads-up display; situational awareness with ultra-wide angle rear view camera, GPS navigation and high-speed microprocessor; connectivity, with Bluetooth and internet via phone; and intelligent sound, with integrated audio, hands-free calling and music streaming capacity. They were running a campaign on Indiegogo, raised funding and then, all of a sudden, declared bankruptcy, allegedly for mismanagement of funds.
While I am not a fan of being accessible on the bike — I like not having to answer calls when riding — I do like some of the other things, especially being able to see what is happening behind me without having to turn around constantly, checking mirrors, trying catch what’s going on in the blind spots. Fortunately, Skully’s demise wasn’t the demise of smart helmets, with a growing number of brands incorporating a variety of technology into their lids.
It’s getting to the point where it is hard to decide, and one would probably need some lottery money to purchase but the wish list is growing, including:
The X1 has a dual monitor heads-up display (HUD) system where information like navigation, weather and time can be displayed without your having to take your eyes off the road. It has a wide-angle camera mounted on the back to show what’s happening behind you; adjustable CrossSound Control to equalise and reduce noise; a touch panel in the left earpiece that enables you to tap or swipe to control things like music and calls; and it connects to your smartphone to access Siri or OK Google and, with these, control music, calls and navigation. It is said to have an operational time of four to six hours before needing to be charged and its mobile app is for both Android and iOS.
Sena Momentum Inc Pro
Korean company Sena produces a range of Bluetooth and communication devices and cameras for cycling, skiing and motorcycling. The Momentum Inc Pro comes with a camera with 135-degree field that can record video at Quad HD and full HD resolution. The helmet comes with an Intelligent Noise-Control system that allows you switch ambient mode on and off to control how much you hear of your surroundings. Link your smartphone with the Sena Utility app and preview your video recordings with the Sena Camera app. A dope feature is audio multitasking where you can listen to music or directions while having an intercom conversation. Obviously best when on the open road at an easy pace. Last thing I would want is to be doing is having a conversation while navigating Chapman’s Peak Drive.
Made in Australia, and primarily available there as well, Forcite’s MK-1 seems a work in progress, but I still wouldn’t mind having one to play/ride with. It has a 166 camera mounted on the chin that records in 1080p/60 FPS resolution from which you can transfer footage to your phone via built-in Wi-Fi at the end of a ride. The Bluetooth controller, which you can mount on your handle bars, allows you to control music, activate voice assistant, and deal with calls. With the 40mm speakers, you can listen to music and the omnidirectional dual noise-cancelling microphones ensure that you can either have conversations or narrate your videos.
All these helmets are well designed and tick the necessary boxes when it comes to safety and compliance. The tech is what sets them apart for me.