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Lumos Matrix Helmet Review – A commuter helmet like no other!

The Lumos Matrix lid is the latest lid from the eponymous company. The original Lumos did so well they have Oprah as a fan! So what’s new with the Lumos Matrix?

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Lumos Matrix Helmet Review

The Lumos Smart Helmet previously cracked the issue of an illuminated and safe bike helmet. But feedback from the orginal Kickstarter helmet and the MIPS version – which I wear regularly – suggested there was a desire for a helmet with a more casual commuter style. Think skateboards, ebikes, etc.

Given the opportunity to stretch their existing designs, or rebuild from the ground-up Eu-wen Ding and team decided to start afresh. As a result the Lumos Matrix helmet has been 2+ years in coming to market. I was lucky enough to have a sneak preview in 2018 of their “black bag prototype” but was sworn to utter secrecy a the time – from my perspective it’s great to see the full featured helmet out in the wilds now

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Since then the new Lumos Matrix Helmet has been made public, I’ve been spinning around Nuneaton for the last few months in their prototype unit getting to grips with the fit, form and function.

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Which ever way you look at it the new Lumos Matrix helmet, this is a big change from the original helmet. I think it is going to polarise opinions, especially from the cycling set where lightness is everything. Whilst the Lumos Matrix is bright, on the rear alone there are now 77 LEDS! – it has certainly not become lighter, weighing in at 580g compared to the 440g of the original helmet.

We know that Lumos Helmets are pretty smart, including Bluetooth to connect with your Apple watch for remote signalling to giroscopes to detect changes in speed to give braking and crash alert functionality akin to that of the See.Sense ACE or ICON bike lights. But the inclusion of the massive LED array on the rear has taken things up a notch, meaning that messages and various other visuals can be displayed of the back of the helmet. Initially, I was a bit sceptical about the need for such an addition, but seeing the percentage battery charge displayed on the matrix was a real game-changer for me in thinking how this could be used

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There will be a matrix package focused update to the Lumos app – which is currently undergoing a major revamp. When that is released you will be download additional animations to the five which come in the box.

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Whilst it is a little difficult to photograph moving LED displays, The out of the box Lumos Matrix animations can broadly be termed:

  • The corner swipe
  • Radar
  • Fireworks
  • Rotating Triangle
  • Side swipe

The standard LEFT, RIGHT and BRAKE signals have been maintained, but now have been “matrix-ifed“. There is no way anyone is going to miss that you are turning LEFT or RIGHT now with the progression of arrows from one side of the helmet to the other. This is a great improvement over the regular Lumos – and is the sort of things previously only on high end Audi’s!

Part of the new app function will allow users the option to create their own Matrix LED patterns. In addition to the standard five patterns, my prototype firmware came will a scrolling “Hello Road” message on it.

There will be the option to enable approved scrolling texts in the app. There will not however be the option to upload your own messages. Hmm, I wonder why that would be??

At which point, this is probably a good time to look over the overall design of the helmet

Lumos Matrix Helmet Review – Design

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Unfortunately, my box was a little battered in the post. But this was just the cover sleeve. Inside the Lumos Matrix is nestled in a tough cardboard box with a very attractive, constrasting black and red theme

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So what is in the box? We have got the Lumos Matrix helmet, of course, a different set of thicker red foam pads, the handlebar remote and mount for controlling the signals, a charging cable and the quick start guide.

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If you already have a Lumos, the same cables and remotes are used here. This is note worthy as a helmet can be paired to two remotes assuming different bikes are in use

Starting off on the inside of the helmet, there are two different sets of pads, to give a broader range of fit. Unfortunately, I now don’t find the fit quite as snug as the original Lumos Kickstarter! That sat on my head perfectly from the outset. I have swapped to the secondary thicker pads, but still, find that the level of movement with the Lumos Matrix is a little greater than I would prefer

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Now it is possible that this is a problem with my head – after all, it’s got to hold a lot of brains, and colossal amounts of modesty 😜 – but in reviewing a helmet and a change I think it is worth while pointing out. When I raised the point with Lumos, I was told that the changes to helmet were made following feedback on the original Kickstarter helmet fit, where some had commented that the fit there was not as universal as they would have hoped. The multiple padding options, along with the changed internal shape, is intended to provide the greatest comfort for a broadest range of riders – which is particularly important as the Lumos Matrix is now not directed at the pure cycling crowd.

At this stage, Lumos is aware of comments from a few testers such as myself about the changes in fit and will be changing the padding in the final production boxes.

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At the back of the helmet is one of the bigger, “usability changes”. The Charge Port has moved from the outside of the helmet to a recess under the outer shell at the back. There is also a circular dock cut out below that with a further charge point.

The dock here allows you to store and charge your indicator remote at the same time as the helmet! This feature had originally been planned for the first Lumos Helmet, however, budget and time constraints meant that it was cut from that launch in 2016

The remote dock is one of a series of features on the Lumos Matrix which I’m eagerly anticipating trickling down (or should that be across? ) to the more road-focused helmet as it greatly reduces that chance of me misplacing the indicator remote when detached from the bike! I’m also really pleased to see that the dock also has power port, as it makes keeping everything charged much easier.

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In order to have the charge /storage section at the rear, it meant the need to change the retention system. Previously on the Kickstarter Lumos, you had a large plastic cage at the rear, this has been dramatically thinned down

Inside, previously the rear retainer went around the sides of the helmet tightening around the head in a band, the location of which couldn’t be moved. Now the rear band is attached separately to the back of the polystyrene and can be to be pulled down lower by three adjustments, to alter where the Lumos Matrix tightens on the head for a greater range of comfort

The oval of plastic even has been given a name by Lumos – The Hair Port – designed to allow for long-haired riders to route their hair through, so things don’t get too sweaty – thankfully I dont have long enough hair to thread anywhere, so that isn’t something I can really test!

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Speaking off sweaty, I’ve actually been pleasantly surprised how much air passes through the Lumos Matrix. Given it initially doesn’t look to have a huge amount of ventilation compared to many road cycling helmets. The four small squares on the top were initially all the design team had planned on the helmet.

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Thankfully cooler heads prevailed (sorry couldn’t help myself!) and the team made some additional large, if subtle, vents front an rear giving a much pleasanter level of cooling. Two large vertical vents can be seen at the back either side of the matrix

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Which are mirrored at the front by two further vents either side of the front light.

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The eagle-eyed will have noticed that there is a new logo on the helmet, which is also now printed on the straps, and embossed on the side of the plastic lid

When asked about this change, I was told that the new logo is visually cleaner and allows for a broader series of products in the future. When pressed on this point, Eu-wen was naturally tight-lipped. He did, however, smile whilst saying they have a new and different product in the works, currently at the design stage. Like both of the Lumos Helmets, they are also aiming to bring to Apple Store as well, but perhaps on a different shelf! So very much a case of watch this space when it comes to Lumos!

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Speaking of the logo being embossed in the lid, this is possible as the plastic of the lid itself is now thicker. This added to the weight of the helmet, but given the intention for a wider use case than just cycling, it does mean that smaller scuffs and bumps can now be shrugged off without damaging the internal polystyrene protector.

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Another reason for the move to the hard shell, is that with changed focus of the Lumos Matrix it has to be expecting more impacts, and from different angles due to the use cases from skaters, borders etc,

There is a MIPS version of the Matrix coming, however, the pre-orders will run slightly behind the regular helmets – but plan to have a different colour to the yellow liner if MIPS will agree – this is in order to coordinate with the red and turquoise padding!

Lumos Matrix Helmet – Specification

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  • Battery life:  10hrs
  • Battery Capacity 1800mAh
  • Lights Front: 22 bright white LEDs
  • Lights Rear: 77 RGB LED Matrix
  • Weight: 580g (Lumos Kickstarter MIPS 380g)
  • Fit: Now a wider range, accomodating 56-61cm

Lumos Matrix Helmet – User Manual

Than Lumos Matrix manual can be found HERE

Lumos Matrix Helmet – Using the Device

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Regular use of the helmet is quite easy – it is a helmet after all. If you want to ignore all the Bluetooth things, you can merely use the button to activate the helmet and ride on. The power button has now been located on the LEFT strap hanging down from the lid. Only a small change, but it does make switching the helmet on that little bit easier when riding

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Pressing the remote LEFT or RIGHT buttons, triggers the appropriate turn signal on the helmet

Pressing the power button will sync through the five installed animations on the rear.

If you DO want to get deeper into the helmet then you’ll need the Lumos App – iOS Lumos AppAndroid Lumos App – currently it is only in beta, and doesn’t have the custom animations mode

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Once the app is downloaded, you need to pair the helmet which is a relatively swift procedure, before then pairing the remote. Pairing is initiated by long pressing the power button until the matrix starts to “breathe” at which point the helmet will auto connect to the app

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On the slightly more mundane side of things the app allows you to check the battery of your helmet and remotes – It will also allow you to choose when you are notified about the battery level, – I have it set to power on, and power off

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Previously the app has been something which you would open to check the status of the battery for the helmet and the remote. With the numerical display on the Matrix means you only need to do that for the remote

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You can opt to adjust the flash patterns of the front and rear lights. Personally I prefer to keep the front light of solid, and opt for one of the rear animations rather than a particular pattern there

The app can also be used to toggle the gyroscope enabled brake light. Personally, it’s one of those features which I don’t know why you WOULDNT want to have it enabled? Perhaps so you don’t highlight to others your skateboard has come to an abrupt halt?

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The other major reason which people will need to access the app, is to update the firmware on the Lumos Matrix. My feeling being given the functionality of the matrix, we may multiple updates.

Might be a daft thing, but the surface of the plastic does feel a little soft – in a nice way – but as a result the white helmet does easily pick up marks, which take a little effort to wipe off. Not the end of the world, but I think the black version of the Lumos Matrix is a wiser choice

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Lumos Matrix Helmet Review – Conclusion

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As I’ve mentioned, I am a BIG fan of the Lumos helmets. Their MIPS unit is my daily commuter, and frankly as a “cycle to work” helmet, I genuinely don’t think it has any competition to worry about… and I would extend that the Lumos’ own Matrix Helmet.

Please don’t confuse me, as I’ve mentioned in the review there are several features I’m desperate to have on my normal Lumos helmet – the front frosted light, the internal remote holder/charger and a more robust shell are but three. I’m personally not a big fan of the additional weight, but I think it is just possible that the Lumos Matrix may be a significant product. Namely as I think it might encourage some people who wouldn’t normally purchase a helmet to do so.

Why do I think that? One of the GP surgeries I work at is very familiar with me biking in with various gadgets and lights blinking, and I include the Lumos Kickstarter in that. The very first day I cycled into work with the Lumos Matrix on, one of the receptionists immediately commented – “Hey what’s that I love it? I have to get one! Bet my son would love it!” – That tell’s me Lumos have something special on their hands

With the current weight, and the general fit, I’m going to give the Lumos Matrix a 3/5 TG score. But I’ll certainly revisit this review, both when the app comes out of beta, and when I’ve been able to try to next version of the padding

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James Gill

Author of TitaniumGeek, which started after smashing off my RIGHT elbow. <br /> <br /> After learning a lot about olecranon fractures, I was introduced to the world Zwift, and slowly transitioned into writing about sports gadgets and the like<br /> <br /> Trying to keep up cycling, swimming and running whilst being a busy General Practice Doctor