First the one thing I wasn’t expecting—helmet envy.
I thought the only “statement” I was making while wearing the Lumos helmet was “don’t hit me!” But this morning I was passed by a fellow biker (a rare event where I ride) on a fully accessorized hybrid, brimming with a full complement of pannier packs, and I noticed he was staring at me. Then, I realized it was the helmet. And as I rolled into work, I encountered an occasional fellow biker who remarked, “Boy, that helmet makes me want to start riding again.”
Sure, seeing a cool new bike, could excite the urge to get back on the road again, but a helmet?
That’s the allure of Lumos. The self-description from their website is spot on—
Re-imagining the humble bicycle helmet. Lumos is the world’s first smart bike helmet that beautifully integrates lights, hard brake, turn signals, and helmet into a single cohesive whole. An elegant solution for your safety and visibility.
It’s the helmet that’s hard to ignore, which is a very good thing.
Full disclosure: I am not a recreational biker, but a commuter. More specifically a trundler—a nice way of saying I’m slow. My route from my home in Wyoming (an inner-ring suburban city in Cincinnati, not the state) to Xavier University is about seven miles one-way. I’ve always enjoyed the idea of making my biking part of my week-day routine, logging about 70 miles a week, usually at an average speed of 9 to ten miles per hour. Cincinnati is a city of hills and neighborhoods— I could easily pass through eight different townships on my route, all without a bike lane, and few fellow bikers. I might encounter another commuter once a month, but that’s it. So where I ride, no one’s used to looking out for bikes, so I ride my bike like a car, meaning usually in the middle of the right lane. I am not a shoulder hugger, so being seen is a very good thing.
I’m not only a trundler, I’m a wobbler.
I don’t like to take my hands off the handlebars, even to signal. Often, at a busy intersection, and attempting a left turn I will regress into pedestrian mode and wait at the crosswalk to cross. Lumos’ most car-like feature is an integrated turn signal system that’s actuated by a control attached to the handlebars, which means you can be as car-like as you dare. Pressing a left/right turn produces a loud beep that tells you the signal is actually working. And it was working—almost all the time. More on that later.
The type of instance when the turn signal was most useful to me was at four-way stops. Because like nearly every other biker on earth, my preferred method at a stop sign is not to stop, in an effort to maintain my modest pace. Signaling to the car approaching from the opposite stop that I will be making a left, eliminates any uncertainty of what my intentions are.
Also, the turn signal feature is very handy during those times when a garbage truck is blocking your lane, a vehicle is approaching and you’re trying to get turn a corner. Everyone knows what you are up too. Lumos makes you a more confident biker, but I would say it also creates the temptation to operate your bike in a more car-like manner (at least for me). How? By taking larger roads, meaning a shorter, faster route with more traffic. I tried that twice. Hanging out in the left turn lane and deciding if you can make the turn before oncoming traffic arrives is not my idea of efficient commuting, turn signals and all.
Lumos Score Card (🚲 out of five)
How Lumos works: 🚲🚲🚲🚲 fairly straight forward. Pressing a button on the back of the helmet produces (I think) four different might modes: a solid red, two blinking reds (intermittent and constant), and a warning/braking mode which I never used. I could see its usefulness if you ride in a pack and don’t want to pile up the peloton, but I still defer to cars coming up from behind and will happily move to the side to let traffic past on a two-way street.
How Lumos feels: 🚲🚲🚲 light and balanced especially compared to my old Trek helmet with a headlamp zip-tied on top. The model is quite snug for my formidable-size cranium and when wearing balaclava makes for a very tight fit. Also, the padding underneath the helmet is quite thin and beginning to separate. The Lumos is a one size fits most helmet with adult sizing from 54 to 62cm.
How Lumos performs: 🚲🚲🚲🚲 results may vary. The website claims that battery life is “designed to fit the typical 30 – 45-minute urban bike commute, the battery lasts approximately 3 hours when the lights are on solid mode or 6 hours on blinking mode.” Elsewhere on the website we’re informed that If you use Lumos for 30 minutes every day, each charge will last about a week which adds up to 210 minutes or 3 hours and 30 minutes, which I assume is the solid mode. The problem is that my fully charged functions consistently for approximately two hours and thirty minutes on blinking mode before unceremoniously shutting itself off. Battery levels can be monitored using the Lumos app and an alert can be sent when the helmet is turned on and off or when the battery life drops below 10%.
…and here’s what I learned…mind your “modes”!
Probably the trickiest aspect of Lumos is “pairing” the helmet to the indicator buttons through the down-loadble Lumos app. Everything “communicates” through Bluetooth, plus there’s a braking “warning lights” activation, which I turned off— preferring to extend battery life. As someone who has gone through life with a fair share of “12:00s” blinking back at me on devices because I hadn’t set something up quite right. After wearing the helmet for some time I found this instructional video.
Too bright for its own good?
Lumos is a great “see me” helmet, but the bank of front LEDs is not a substitute for a headlamp for night time commuting. Also, I’ve ridden through a week of rain with no ill-effects to the helmet. Me? I got a cold.
Verdict: worth the cost? YES. Would I purchase? PROBABLY, but it makes a even better gift for that biking someone special in your life. At $179 retail, that’s a lofty price point. But since I’m a commuter with all the built-in cost benefits, well worth the investment. (As was the gift of a waterproof backpack this Christmas). Lumos is available for purchase online at www.lumoshelmet.co
P.S. I haven’t given Lumos the ultimate test of bouncing it off the pavement with my head inside, and hopefully, with these additional safety features will never have to.
Mr. Bean Shows Off His Bike Helmet