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review

Coros SafeSound Road Helmet

7
£104.99

VERDICT:

7
10
A good-looking, easy-to-use smart helmet with a sensible feature set, but sound quality remains an issue
Good looking
Easy to use
SOS function is well implemented
Sound fidelity is poor
Rear cradle not height adjustable
Weight: 
354g
Contact: 

The Coros SafeSound packs Bluetooth connectivity and some useful security features into a pretty good looking lid. It's far from perfect, but if you like a bit of background music to your rides, or you need to be available for calls, it's certainly an option.

We've tested a Coros system before in the Linx Smart Helmet which, it's fair to say, has an idiosyncratic look. The SafeSound is much more a traditional road helmet shape, with lines not unlike some of Met or Giro's ranges.

You get an EPS body with the connected tech built in, speakers on the straps, a microphone on the inside (which keeps it out of the wind), accelerometers to sense crashes and an integrated light. The light also holds the Micro-USB charge port.

2020 Coros Safesound helmet - back.jpg

The overall package is heavier than a standard road lid at 354g, but it's not too unwieldy. The fit is pretty good; my only gripe is that the non-adjustable rear cradle isn't really low enough for me to feel fully secure.

2020 Coros Safesound helmet - tension system.jpg

The helmet complies with EN-1078 and the US-equivalent CPSC for crash protection; feel free to make hay in the comments as to whether you think that's useful or not. It's comfortable and well-ventilated, though.

Connecting to the Coros SafeSound is analogous to connecting your phone to your car. You get access to calls, and you can play music or other things through the built-in speakers. Pairing with an Android phone is pretty trivial; you can do it either with or without the Coros app.

2020 Coros Safesound helmet - inside.jpg

The app allows access to one function – crash notifications – you won't otherwise get, though. You can set up contacts, and if the helmet detects a crash it contacts your list with your phone's GPS location. It also sets the rear LED to flashing SOS in Morse code, just in case you've fallen down a ravine in the dark and a Boy Scout is hiking past or something.

Anyway, the chuck-the-helmet-across-the-garden test suggests it's capable of detecting an unusual acceleration and responding accordingly; thankfully I haven't put it to proper use.

Leave a message

Answering calls is easy enough; the call sound is pretty good, the hidden microphone picks up your voice decently, and it's well protected from wind noise. With the optional bar remote you can hold down the answer button to refuse a call, and it's simple enough to fit the remote with just a couple of O-rings and be refusing calls to your heart's content.

2020 Coros Safesound helmet - remote.jpg

The remote also lets you skip music tracks, turn the volume up and down, and turn the light on and off. The light isn't something to rely on as your only rear light (and, technically, it would be illegal to), but it's a bit of extra visibility high up.

Road noise

Let's talk a bit about the sound fidelity. At first glance you might think the Coros was using bone conduction technology like the Linx, but it's not. Instead a strap-mounted speaker pipes sound directly into your ear. Well, towards your ear, anyway.

2020 Coros Safesound helmet - detail 2.jpg

Coros says it 'engineered a unique technology that optimizes a perfect blend of sound quality, with maintaining full environmental awareness' when it developed the Ear Opening Sound System (EOSS).

Not perfect

Certainly you still get to hear ambient sounds, as you do with bone conduction headphones, but there's a fundamental problem with any system that's not creating a sealed airspace to transfer the sound.

Pull even a good set of over-the-ear monitor headphones away from your head and the first thing to go is the bass response, and unsurprisingly, it's the issue here too.

There's hardly any bass at all. That doesn't mean you can't listen to music, and spoken word podcasts work pretty well, but don't expect amazing sound. In terms of fidelity the EOSS speakers can't match a set of good bone conduction headphones like the Aftershokz Aeropex, and those aren't exactly amazing.

2020 Coros Safesound helmet - detail 1.jpg

The sound quality varies significantly depending on the exact position of the speakers, too, but they have limited adjustability so you might not be able to get it just so. The bottom line is that, if you're annoyed by tinny music, this isn't the solution for you.

That fairly major issue notwithstanding, I quite enjoyed using the Coros SafeSound for music on the road. It has two main advantages over a set of bone conduction headphones.

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First, you don't have to find two things, and that's a major benefit for me because I never know where anything is. Second, headphones and helmets don't always play nicely together, so just wearing one thing makes life easier, especially if you're also planning sunnies.

You're not getting an immersive music experience from SafeSound, then, but it's certainly good enough for a bit of background if you're riding on your own – and without blocking out traffic noise and such.

As you ride faster you get more wind noise and the music gets less audible, but at cruising and climbing speeds the EOSS system is up to the job. Again, feel free to comment on how great/awful/unsafe/useful listening to music when riding is. I'm all ears.

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Battery life is good. I've ridden in the SafeSound for up to four hours without getting anywhere near flat. It's not going to last a 600km audax, but it's pretty quick to charge when you're on a cafe stop.

Overall

Okay, there's some work to be done with sound quality, and the adjustability of the speakers and rear cradle. But overall I quite enjoyed the Coros SafeSound, and I did pick it out of the helmet box when I was off on my own and wanted a bit of a backing track. The feature set is sensible – there are no pointless indicators or odd social media feeds as with the Livall Bling BH60SE – and it's a nicer, lighter helmet than its predecessor.

If you want music (and phone interruptions) it's worth a look, and it's one less thing to hunt down when you're leaving the house. At £104.99 it's reasonable too – almost exactly the same price as the Livall Bling, the only directly comparable helmet we've reviewed, but a little better.

Verdict

A good-looking, easy-to-use smart helmet with a sensible feature set, but sound quality remains an issue

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Coros SafeSound Road Helmet

Size tested: M

Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

The company says: "For cyclists who want to stay connected on the road, SafeSound - Road is the helmet that provides a superior cycling experience. Unlike traditional brands and methods of entertainment, SafeSound - Road offers a rare combination of road safety, premium sound quality, and prime craftsmanship."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

From Coros:

Fit and Structure

Our SafeSound Adjustable Fit System secures the helmet by requiring minor adjustments. We even dialed-in on the improvement of the helmet strap by introducing a comfortable, yet effective material for the chin-strap. All supported by updated tri-glide sliders to hold both the helmet, and EOSS in place throughout the duration of your ride.

Shape and Design

We placed comprehensive research and development into our new shape and design of SafeSound - Road. Our premium EPS impact foam enhances the overall effectiveness of the helmet experience.

We were also able to shed off 30g of total weight, while maintaining superior quality build. Making it our lightest helmet ever.

Smart Remote

Our flexible handle-bar mounted cradle ensures optimal placement to minimalize distractions while riding. Giving you complete control over your audio and call functions while taking the lead draft position in your group.

Ear Opening Sound System (EOSS)

We identified an already innovative idea, as an area of much needed improvement. With numerous comprehensive tests in our lab, we engineered a unique technology that optimizes a perfect blend of sound quality, with maintaining full environmental awareness.

LED Tail Light

The positioning of our LED tail light ensures complete and direct visibility to motorists on the road. With three different light modes: on/off – you have full control over your visibility.

SOS Emergency Alert

Our new lab results are in and the SOS Emergency Alert feature is better than ever. It ensures that where ever you are, we got your back covered.

SafeSound will detect an impact and automatically send an exact mapping of your location, to a list of emergency contacts within the COROS App. At the same time, the LED tail light will begin flashing S.O.S in Morse code for anyone nearby to identify.

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
6/10
Rate the product for durability:
 
7/10
Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
6/10
Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)
 
7/10
Rate the product for value:
 
6/10

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Pretty well: sound isn't great but there's a trade-off with being able to hear other stuff. It's a much better looking lid than the previous one.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Good looks, sensible features, ease of use, SOS function works well.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Sound quality is poor, cradle needs height adjustment.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

It basically matches the Livall Bling, the only other comparable helmet we've tested.

Did you enjoy using the product? For the most part, yes

Would you consider buying the product? Maybe

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Maybe

Use this box to explain your overall score

The poor sound quality will probably be a deal breaker for some people. I enjoyed using the SafeSound, which is easy to get on with with a sensible feature set. I've given it a seven, which you'll think generous if you're a high-fidelity type, but overall it's a good effort.

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 47  Height: 189cm  Weight: 94kg

I usually ride: whatever I'm testing...  My best bike is: Kinesis Tripster ATR, Merida Scultura, Dward Design fixed

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track

Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.

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