One of my absolute favorite vinyls to play on my turntable is Ziggy Stardust by David Bowie. On the back of the album, under the credits, reads the disclaimer, “To Be Played At Maximum Volume.” I couldn’t agree more — good music should be played loudly. But that can be hard in certain situations, for example, when riding a bike around town because you need to hear your surroundings as much as your tunes.
Headphones are an option, but they can be dangerous because you can’t hear important queues like other bikes, electric cars and even sirens. A portable Bluetooth speaker is an option, but you’ll annoy people with your music and then you become “that guy.”
Cleverly, the Coros Linx Smart Cycling Helmet strikes a nice balance with open-ear bone conduction speakers that let you hear music, turn-by-turn directions, podcasts and the world around you.
Unlike headphones that sit right on or in your ear, the Linx’s transducers sit in front of your ears and vibrate your cheekbones. Fitting the helmet perfectly is key. The speaker pads need to be snug, otherwise the audio experience is lackluster. When I got it fitted correctly, I could hear the clearly while being just feet away from a jack hammer tearing up asphalt. In general, audio is as good and loud from the helmet as the that came with my iPhone, and the fact that I can still listen to music and hear my surroundings at the same time is a big win.
The helmet has a slick, racing-style look. It’s light and comfortable to wear for hours on end. You’d never know it has speakers, Bluetooth, a microphone and a battery (which is charged via a hidden Micro-USB port) in its lightweight frame. As for the battery, I used the helmet daily for riding to and from work and only plugged it in a couple times a week.
Pairing the Linx with my phone was incredibly straightforward. The helmet showed up under my Bluetooth menu like any other pair of headphones. If I used the Coros Linx app, I got additional features like crash detection and use of the included smart remote, which allowed me to answer calls, adjust the volume and skip music tracks.