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Kickstart this smart bike helmet, or back this one directly

by Jacob Kleinman | June 26, 2016June 26, 2016 3:00 pm PDT

Bicycles are getting smarter all the time as companies release new models jam-packed with sensors and extra features, but what about the lowly bike helmet? A pair startups are set to change that with two unique takes on the smart bike helmet, and both just happened to launch their crowd-funding campaigns on the same week.

First up is Classon, a specced out helmet that comes packed with sensors, cameras, lights a speaker and a microphone. It’s like the Tesla of bike helmets, offering more features than we can count (light-based turn-by-turn directions, blind spot warnings, automatic brake lights and gesture controlled turn signals) and promising even more down the line via software update. It also boasts a sleek design that’s both futuristic and modern all at once. Here, take a look:

Then there’s Domio. This Canadian company takes a simpler approach with a specially designed speaker that attaches to the outside of your helmet and reverberates the sound inside. You could think of it as the Sonos of bike helmet accessories with a clear focus on audio and an innovative design with physical controls you can use even while wearing thick gloves.

You can back both products now, but only Classon is taking the Kickstarter route. Manuel Saez, who developed the helmet through his company Brooklyness, says he’s using the crowd-funding site to beta test the first batch of helmets. Based on the initial response he’ll decide which features to keep developing and which aren’t worth the effort.

You can pre-order a Classon helmet for as little as $129 (down from the retail price of $249), though it won’t actually ship until April 2017. That also includes six months of free cloud storage for the footage recorded by the front and rear cameras plus a warranty, which otherwise come packaged together as an optional Classon Club fee for $99 extra per year.

“I told my investors the Kickstarter price and they said ‘No way. You’re crazy. That’s too cheap.'” Saez told me.

When I met Saez in person his prototype helmet was totally out of juice after a long day of demos (normally it lasts about two hours per charge), but based on the company’s Kickstarter video I can’t wait to try it for myself.

Domio was originally supposed to launch on Kickstarter too. But after some initial positive feedback company co-founder Sebastian Koper decided to take the attachable speaker straight to customers, giving him more control over the launch and a bigger share of the profits. You can pre-order one now for $49 (down from the full $109) and it should ship this fall.

Domio’s a simpler product but there’s plenty to love in that simplicity. Based on a quick demo I can confirm that it sounds great without blocking outside sounds. It still might not be totally safe for city biking, but if you’re alone on a country road it should be perfect. It’s also great for skiing and other extreme sports where you need a helmet.

Which product you prefer could come down to a variety of factors. Are you willing to pay more for tons of features or do you just want a sweet speaker for your helmet? And are you patient enough to wait almost a full year? If you’re not sold on either Classon or Domio don’t worry, we have a feeling the smart bike helmet market is just starting to heat up.

Classon Domio

Jacob Kleinman

Jacob Kleinman has been working as a journalist online and in print since he arrived at Wesleyan University in 2007. After graduating, he took a...

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