You need quite a bit of gear to safely ride a motorcycle. And one of the most important safety devices is a sturdy motorcycle helmet. But just bikes themselves are gaining new features, safety and otherwise, so too are helmets. The Forcite MK1 is one of the latest smart motorcycle helmets to hit the market. But is it the best choice for you?
What makes the Forcite MK1 a smart motorcycle helmet?
The Forcite MK1 is made out of carbon fiber lined with an anti-microbial bamboo-fabric liner. The smart motorcycle helmet also features 8 vents and a UV400-rated sun visor with an anti-fog coating. And it’s certified by both the US DOT and Europe’s ECE, which has arguably more comprehensive testing standards, Revzilla reports.
However, the MK1 wouldn’t be a smart motorcycle helmet without gadgets and connectivity functions. Mounted on the chin area is a 166° camera that can record in 1080p/60 FPS resolution, Visordown reports. If you plug in a MicroSD card, the MK1 can record up to 5 hours of footage, and auto-save in intervals of 5, 10, or 20 minutes. And once your ride’s done, you can transfer the video to your phone with the built-in WiFi.
Besides WiFi, the Forcite MK1 comes with Bluetooth, removable 40mm speakers, and two omnidirectional noise-canceling microphones. The smart motorcycle helmet also has a built-in communications system, but it works via voice-over-internet, not Bluetooth. Plus, you can only communicate with other Forcite wearers.
To help with footage geo-tagging and navigation, the Forcite MK1 has a built-in GPS chip as well as several other sensors. But the navigation doesn’t work via a heads-up display, Visordown explains, because Forcite’s CEO considers it too distracting. Instead, the smart helmet uses audio and a flashing LED strip to communicate with the rider, RideApart explains.
How does it compare to the competition?
The Forcite MK1 isn’t the only smart motorcycle helmet available. Sena, which makes motorcycle communications systems, also offers a line of helmets.
Unlike the MK1, Sena’s smart helmets are available in a variety of styles, ranging from full-face to modular to half-helmets. They’re also notably cheaper than the MK1. Forcite hasn’t released official US pricing, but it likely won’t be too far from $1000, RideApart reports. In contrast, the DOT- and ECE-certified Momentum EVO starts at $399.
Unfortunately, as of this writing, the MK1 hasn’t been reviewed. However, its higher price tag appears to be at least partially justified. For one, the Momentum EVO is made of fiberglass, not carbon fiber. Secondly, although the Momentum EVO may be cheaper, and has Sena’s Mesh intercom, it only has one microphone.
Only having one microphone may explain the Sena Momentum EVO’s poor response to voice commands. RideApart reports the helmet really only responds consistently if your bike is turned off. Also, the speaker quality is rather poor and distorts audio.
If you want upgraded noise control and a built-in camera, you’ll have to upgrade to Sena’s $699 Momentum INC Pro. The noise control itself is excellent, Roadshow reports. However, WebBikeWorld reports the top-mounted camera is blocked if you open the visor. That’s why Forcite switched to a chin-mounted camera, Motorbike Writer reports.
Plus, the Sena’s camera has a narrower field of vision than the MK1’s camera. Also, it lacks the MK1’s GPS, extra sensors, and light strip, meaning it can’t geotag or add visual directions to audio ones.
Is it better to buy a non-smart motorcycle helmet?
Other manufacturers have attempted to introduce smart motorcycle helmets.
Shoei, for example, previewed a HUD-equipped one scheduled for a 2020 debut, RideApart reports. However, it has yet to materialize. And Jarvish’s planned line of smart helmets has hit a few snags as well, RideApart reports.
However, getting one of these motorcycle helmets isn’t strictly necessary, especially if you’re just starting out as a rider. Firstly, they’re more expensive than some of the helmets on the market. Secondly, in addition to washing and cleaning them, you have to regularly charge them. And if you treat riding as an escape from social media and the always-connected lifestyle, you may not want to get a smart helmet.
Second, in addition to DOT and potential ECE certifications, consider a Snell-approved helmet. Snell is an independent safety body with even more stringent safety standards than the ECE or DOT, Gear Patrol reports, and many racing series require Snell-certified helmets.
There’s also a new motorcycle helmet feature making its way from the bicycling world: MIPS. It’s a system which limits the amount your head, and therefore your brain, rotates during a crash, Cycle World explains. It’s that rotation that causes concussions and cerebral tearing even when a rider has a helmet, RideApart explains. MIPS is a recent addition to motorcycle helmets, and it raises prices slightly. But speaking as someone whose been in a cycling accident while wearing a MIPS helmet, I wholeheartedly recommend it.
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