Livall sent me their BH51M smart helmet to test. It has Bluetooth communication, 270-degree LED lighting, indicators, SOS alert, and can be set up to pair with other Livall helmets to provide short-range communication.
The concept and application of technology in the Livall BH51M is sound. I’ve tested a few rucksacks with similar technology and sometimes the lighting has seemed a bit slapdash. The lights on the BH51M though, are the sort of thing you’ll find on a car. The lights are visible around 270 degrees and bright, so you’ll be visible to even the most myopic road user.
There is a remote control that fixes to your handlebars which activates the indicators. I’ve tested similar items where the remote control has been like a cheap car alarm fob. The remote control for the Livall is more is a lot more solid and reminds me of the better quality in-car Bluetooth kits.
The speakers and Bluetooth communication worked well. There’s an app for your phone and that helps you set up the SOS feature, more on that below. Although the speakers were quite clear, on a particularly windswept bit of road I had to hold my hand round my face like Inspector Gadget to hear what my caller was saying. Another worry would be that the speakers aren’t very personal. Everyone around you will be able to hear your conversation or music.
The SOS feature is something we’re seeing on various products now. Accelerometers in the helmet tell the app in your phone if you’ve ‘crashed’ and the app then texts your location to the emergency number you’ve set up.
Unfortunately, I had an issue that literally caused a headache. The sizing comes up a little bit big. I normally take a Large, my head is about 60cm. The Livall came in a 57-61cm size, and it felt too big. The BH51M is also heavy, and the 470g is concentrated mostly on the rear support band. What this meant was that after only a short ride my external occipital protuberance (the sticky out bit at the back of your head) was quite uncomfortable. After an hour or so I had quite a headache. This isn’t to say everyone will have the same problem, but I tried adjusting various parts and it just didn’t fit me. That sort of weight, nearly twice what my current regular helmet weighs, needs to be balanced and comfortable on your head.
The Livall BH51M has won a multitude of awards including “Product of the Year” in the Urban category at ISPO Munich 2018 (the largest trade fair for sports business in Europe) for urban commuter cyclists. Earlier in January 2018 this helmet won “Tech for a Better World” Innovation Award at CES in Las Vegas and in 2017 the helmet won the overall “Accessories Award” at Eurobike and the “Sports Device” IFA Innovation Award.
The BH51M looks good as a commuter helmet, the tech all works quite well. The lighting system is very tidy and effective. I just can’t get past the weight and how uncomfortable it was on my head. Luckily Livall do lighter helmets with similar integrated technology. You’ll save something like 100g depending on which one you choose. You can also try on a Livall helmet, as they should be in stock in your local Evans or Halfords, Wiggle also stock them.