Lumos Kickstart helmet – it’s a bit flash eh!

I’ve got helmets for every occasion — commuting, MTB, Enduro — old ones, new ones, even ones with cracks in that ElectricMeg uses for safety demos. I also have  a bit of a light fetish – I have all sorts – and often attach a Gloworm X1 and battery for added effect. So do I need a helmet with flashing lights on it? Perhaps…

For the record, this was an unsolicited review rather like the last helmet review I did. I don’t get money or favours for reviews.

The Lumos Kickstart was born of (you guessed it!) a Kickstarter campaign, same as the Livall I reviewed just weeks ago. I think Kickstarter is good for innovation, and these are genuine innovations that main-brands have been hesitant to go after.

First impressions were good (actually the packaging did encourage me to do an unboxing video, I say noooo…). The packaging and materials all look high quality and well thought out. Once I installed the Android app it paired without hassle and even updated its firmware. It doesn’t come with its own charger but uses stock-standard USB charging. The helmet and remote use the same special mag-lock-style charging cables. Apparently they decided against standard USB cables for weatherproofing reasons.

I also noticed that the Lumos felt quite heavy – I weighed it at 432g, which is about 30% more than other helmets in the the $100-150 bracket and the Livall Bling with its built-in speakers. It looks like there is some substantial mass in the rear where most of the lights and I presume the battery live. Sizing is 54-62cm and fitted me well. I used the helmet on two different bikes – firstly on a road bike, where I didn’t feel like it was heavy even after a 1hr commute. I’d probably not want to use it for a 3hr ride, but that’s not what it’s designed for. One my second ride I was on an upright commuter and barely noticed that it was on at all. Its certainly lighter than a lightweight helmet plus lights (or is that lighter than a light lightless helmet plus lights?).

It was on my first ride that a motorist wound down his window and said: “How do you get your helmet to do the indicating?” “Magic!” I replied. He also noted that it was very visible, and that was 8.30am in January. I felt that the indicating was having its intended effect, because cars behind changed their behaviour towards me. Of course there will always be someone who overtakes while you are indicating, but short of sending out metal spikes I don’t think any device can stop that.

The phone app for the helmet is simple and aesthetically pleasing. I was able to tweak settings including one that beeped every 4 flashes to remind me that indicators are on. The remote also flashes in confirmation, and a small LED above your  eyebrow also serves as a reminder. I’ve got droopy eyelids so I couldn’t see that one at all. I suspect at night it would be perfect.

The kit comes with two mounts for the remote, both operate like a Garmin mount (pity it isn’t a Garmin mount though), and one has satellite buttons. On the road bike I mounted these just behind the hoods under the bars. On the commuter I mounted them on the end of the bars where my small finger naturally goes. This made operating the lights a cinch, no hand movement needed at all. The mounts secure with rubber rings making it really easy to remove or move around to get optimum placement.

The app told me that I had 61% helmet battery remaining after my first 1hr ride.  Day two both ways I had 47% remaining. So I know I can get more than 3hrs on a charge. Lights were on rapid flash and the ‘brake light’feature was on. The manual does warn that this decreases battery life.  It’s an interesting feature – there is an accelerometer built into the remote that tells the brake light to come on when you slow down. Of course I cant see when this happens so have no idea how well it works. You can ‘however see it working when you are holding the remote and helmet in your hands and move it around.

At the end of the day (literally) this is another thing to plug in and charge/manage. You have to ask yourself as a cyclist, is this worth the extra cost (it retails at $239) and hassle? As a commuter, I think it is. The operation is unobtrusive and it saves you having to add extra lights to your helmet or bike. I feel that a flashing helmet is better than a flashing bike – it reminds motorists that there is a human on board. And then again, is this on a slippery slope of ‘safety devices’ along the lines of the mandatory helmet and fluoro vest that motorists will use as an anti-excuse (“Stupid cyclist wasn’t wearing a helmet – he had it coming”. “Sorry mate I didn’t see you, wear a bloody fluoro vest next time eh”. “Cyclists without indicators are a flippin’ nuisance. And cyclists should have to pay rego!”). I’ll leave these things for you to decide.

Sidenote: Poking around inside I noted the absence of a AS sticker making me think “Hmmm is this even legal?” But fear not, mythbuster electricbazza is here to tell you that any relevant standards mark is OK for NZ, and this has the appropriate CE mark. Phew.

 Who should buy this helmet?
  • Commuters, especially if you are not in protected lanes and have to turn and flow with the traffic
  • Commuters on busy cycle lanes

Perhaps not for

  • Roadies doing longer distances
  • Mountain bikers. You’ll just look stoopid…
  • Someone who wants music and conversation with theirs – the Livall Bling does that

Available from Juiced Bikes NZ at $239.  Available in white, black and a very spiffy cobalt blue.

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