Preview of the performance monitoring LifeBEAM Helmet
We first covered the LifeBEAM Helmet sometime ago here and now we actually have one in for review. If heart rate monitor chest straps annoy you, you’ll be very pleased that this space age helmet may offer a solution, as long as you like the look of the Lazer Genesis helmet that is…
Israeli based company, LifeBEAM use a catchy slogan for this helmet: ‘Designed for aerospace, re-imagined for you’. Indeed the technology was developed to sense the critical vitals – heart rate, SPO2 (blood’s oxygen saturation level), blood flow and physical activity – of jet pilots and astronauts during flight, where they are subject to high G-forces; ‘Bio-sensing in extreme environments’ as they appropriately refer to it.
To achieve this they claim to have the world’s smallest, most accurate and versatile bio-sensors for motion-intensive activities to help pilots, special forces personnel and even first responders safely push their endurance limits all the while being monitored in real-time. They are now offering the same sensor and related technology to us cyclists…
And back in the real world of cycling, the LifeBEAM helmet is basically a modified Lazer Genesis helmet that whilst still protecting your head, can also monitor your heart rate and calories to help analyse your performance. To do this the helmet has a small box to the rear, which is the ‘brain’ of the helmet and is compatible with any Bluetooth 4.0 and ANT+ connected device such as your smartphone, fitness watch or cycling computer; our sample connected to a Garmin with no issues. This box also contains the socket to connect the usb charge lead which comes in the box.
This brain is connected to an ‘advanced optical sensor’ that sits on your forehead; this is what provides the aerospace level heart rate and calorie consumption measurement doing away with the need to wear one of those annoying chest straps. As such it’s important to have it positioned correctly…
As I mentioned the sensor sits on your forehead when in use and is certainly noticeable to start with. However, once you’ve worn the helmet for a few minutes you soon forget about it and such is the intrinsic comfort of the Genesis helmet that it is a non-issue after the first ride. I have only used the helmet once so far on a three and a half hour ride and what takes more time is getting used to how low the Genesis lid sits on your forehead. Compared to my other helmets, it is a bit different. Again though you get used to it and it soon becomes the norm.
The sensor is mounted in Lazer’s really clever anti-sweat pad, which is made from a gel material as opposed to the usual sponge offered by many other helmet manufacturers.The sweat tends to be pushed to the temples away from your forehead and flows down well away from your eyes. I really like this feature already.
Jordan Gibbons tested the very similar Lazer Helium helmet here and the LifeBEAM uses the same Rollsys tensioning system. In use it’s an odd sensation to start with as it feels like the helmet is floating above your head, but once you get used to it, Rollsys seems to work well; more of that in the full review though. You adjust the fit by turning the wheel, possible one-handed, on the top of the helmet and via a wire, that goes right around the inside of the helmet, you can symmetrically tighten it without creating any pressure points on the head. Lazer say it ‘permits an accurate and progressive peripheral sizing adjustment’.
The Genesis has 19 cooling vents and my initial ride shows that it is a very cool lid, though if things get too cool, an aero shell can be bought separately. A standard Genesis weighs in at about 280g, whereas the LifeBEAM version weighs in at 359g. Much of this is obviously the brain box.
On that subject, Lazer sell a small light to fit on the back on the Genesis helmet but those of you who plump for the LifeBEAM version will be pleased to hear that you get a light built into the brain box. It comes on when you switch the helmet on, tells you when it’s charged, and so on. It is a neon blue light, a bit reminiscent of something from Tron. It looks very cool – or so I was told.
Upsides are that you get to ditch that chest strap; no more setting off for a race having forgotten to put it on. Downsides, you have to like the Lazer Genesis lid and the weight. It’s not Lazer’s top of the range lid but at this point I can’t think of anything negative to say about it, other than that. I guess a lot of it depends how much you want to ditch that chest strap…
Look out for a full review soon.