LifeBEAM Helmet Review
LifeBEAM Helmet Review
Review of the LifeBEAM Helmet, the one that aims to spell the death of the heart rate monitor chest strap
There can’t be many of us cyclists who enjoy wearing a heart rate monitor chest strap. It’s one of those things that many of us view as a ‘have to use’, so you strap it on at the start of every ride and hopefully don’t really give a thought to thereafter. But come on, if you never had to wear one again, would you really be bothered? We doubt it and that’s what the people at LifeBEAM also reckon, with their helmet with a built in heart rate sensor…
‘Built in heart rate sensor’ is a bit unfair actually, as Israeli company LifeBEAM 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’ as we reported in our Preview article.
Though the sensors can also monitor SPO2 (blood’s oxygen saturation level), blood flow and physical activity levels, it’s heart rate that most cyclists will be interested in and I have to say that it does seem incredibly accurate. Paired to various Garmins we have here, the heart rate data was always spot on, matching the figure produced by chest straps connected to other units. No issues there then.
But there are potential issues, so let’s deal with those first… Obviously the helmet’s heart rate monitor will only work if you remember to charge it up. Battery life in chest straps is pretty astounding; I can’t recall the last time I changed one but in this day and age of electronic gears, rechargeable lights, helmet cameras and GPS units, we are all very familiar with recharging stuff. The modern cyclist needs to be on the ball with keeping everything charged up and USB leads are as much a part of a toolkit as are Allen keys.
The LifeBEAM’s battery life is good with a charge lasting well over a week of moderate rides. LifeBEAM claim 15 hours of continuous use which is realistic and I’ve yet to be caught out. It holds its charge well, still being charged and ready for action after a month or so of no use at all. So a bit of a non-issue really but like any electric gadget there’s the potential to be without a heart rate monitor come ride day if you are not on the ball.
Another issue is the pronounced mark that’s left on your forehead from the sensor. It’s noticeable enough to be a talking point and make cafe stops interesting. The Lazer Genesis helmet feels like it sits relatively low on your forehead and I had to set it tighter than other lids. This was to ensure accurate readings but also to get the best out of the rollsys system that Lazer employ to secure the helmet to your head. Again it’s a minor issue and didn’t bother me that much, though the forehead mark may be odd if you were to commute to work in the LifeBEAM just before going to that important morning meeting; that mark would still be there well over an hour after removing the helmet!
Wearing a cycling cap underneath can deal with the mark issue and surprisingly the LifeBEAM’s sensor works through a cycling cap but is thwarted by a thicker winter hat. This is a downside to training without a chest strap on those really cold days and I have yet to think of a way around this, apart from cutting a small hole in the front of the hat, in line with the sensor’s position. Perhaps LifeBEAM need to offer a tailored winter hat…