Is the CrossHelmet X1 a design ahead of its time or a marketing gimmick?
If you’re new to the CrossHelmet, it’s a smart motorcycle helmet with a HUD (head-up display). There’s a camera built into the back that displays the feed in a kind of rear view mirror in your helmet. Along with the HUD you get a Bluetooth intercom and sound system inside the helmet, a brake light and other ‘smart’ features.
Pretty cool in theory, but if it all works in reality is another matter. With the hype surrounding the CrossHelmet, we decided to dig into it, so we’re looking at:
- The story of the CrossHelmet
- What you get with the CrossHelmet X1
- The technology in the X1
- The X1’s best competition on the market
Then we’ll answer the questions we hear a lot when talking about the CrossHelmet X1.
Let’s gear up and get into it.
- What is the CrossHelmet X1?
- CrossHelmet X1 Standard Features
- Technology in the CrossHelmet X1
- Alternatives to CrossHelmet X1
- What We Think About the CrossHelmet X1
- FAQs About the CrossHelmet X1
What is the CrossHelmet X1?
The CrossHelmet X1 is a smart motorcycle helmet including a HUD and Bluetooth connectivity.
It started life back in 2017 as a Kickstarter campaign (1). Japan-based Borderless launched the helmet with these main features:
- A head-up display offering a 360° field of vision with back-facing camera
- Sound management (read: noise cancelling)
- Bluetooth intercom and connectivity to a smartphone
Which added up to make it the “smartest motorcycle helmet ever” (1).
It comes in matte or gloss black, takes 10-14 weeks to ship (2), and is DOT and ECE certified. It might sound good, but at a shocking price of $1,799 – is it worth the price of a small motorcycle?
CrossHelmet X1 Standard Features
Before we look at the bells and whistles on the CrossHelmet X1, we should look at how it’ll perform its main job – keeping your brain in the right place.
CrossHelmet X1’s Shell
The shell of the CrossHelmet is made from ABS and LEXAN polycarbonate, which is normal polycarbonate that’s trademarked by GE Plastics (3). This is unfortunately the cheapest and least protective type of shell material – offering less absorption of energy than fiberglass, aramid, Kevlar or carbon-fiber helmets while coming in heavier than those materials.
You can choose from two shell sizes which are used to make three helmet sizes each. The sizes are M 1-3 and L 1-3. It feels unnecessarily confusing when it could have been XS, S, M… You get the picture.
Padding in the CrossHelmet
The next layer down from the shell is foam. “Foam” is pretty much all we know. The company’s website and promotional materials don’t give any more details, so we have to guess this is again standard (and cheap) EPS foam.
The inner padding is pretty bulky, especially around the ears. There’s no details on what the material is, but it’s machine washable – which is useful – and you can pick up a replacement (4) from CrossHelmet for $49.
The visor on the X1 has three tint options and you get two in the box. It claims to be anti-fogging, but we’re a little doubtful since it does actually get foggy without much breath or temperature difference.
One thing that really sticks in the throat about the CrossHelmet – when you consider the price, you don’t even get a visor button or handy notch. You’ve got to put your hand on the visor and pull it up and down, making it easy to smudge up your view.
You do get a decent field of view, which is one of the main selling points of the helmet. You better hope you remember your tinted visor, though, because you can’t wear sunglasses and see the HUD.
There are panels that sit on top of the visor connectors that work like a trackpad; you can run your fingers along to control volume, calls, and more.
On top of the touchpads, you also get a pair of LEDs, adding a little extra visibility when you’re cruising at night.
You can also download an app for iOS and Android which lets you control a range of settings including for the speakers, which unfortunately are not great quality according to reviews.
Now for the tech that the app controls.
Technology in the CrossHelmet X1
Tech is what CrossHelmet trades on. It attempts to wow you with cool-sounding features, but do they work and are they useful?
CrossHelmet – The Smart Motorcycle Helmet with HUD
The HUD sits at the top of your field of vision, like a rear view mirror in a car. It connects to the camera mounted at the back of the lid, letting you see everything going on behind you.
You can overlay GPS directions or weather updates to the display, too.
Here are some of the issues you’ll find with the HUD:
- It’s not sturdy and will bounce about, so it’s hard to focus
- If you’ve got a passenger, you’ll only see their visor behind you
- In sunlight, the display is impossible to see
- You can’t wear your shades and see the display
- Maps only work with the CrossHelmet apps, which only shows distances in KM
The HUD claims to extend your field of vision to 360° but in reality, you might not be able to see things as soon as they leave your eye line.
CrossHelmet X1’s Sound Control
The CrossSound Control is a noise cancellation feature. It should allow you to choose if you want to have environmental sounds coming in or not. You can be aware of your surroundings in the city or cancel out engine noise on a country road, for example.
It doesn’t seem to work that great, from what we can tell.
Alternatives to CrossHelmet X1
None of this sounds all that appealing, so we’re going to look at how you can achieve similar results that don’t cost an arm and a leg.
Helmet with Integrated Bluetooth – Sena Momentum EVO
To get the Bluetooth features of the CrossHelmet, save yourself about 75 percent and get a Sena Momentum EVO.
This helmet has a fully-integrated Bluetooth speaker and microphone system, plus:
- Mesh 2 intercom and Bluetooth 4.1 so any Sena helmet in range can connect
- 10-17 hours of battery life depending how you use it
- A composite fiberglass shell and multi-density EPS foam for great safety
- A sturdy neck roll and a chin curtain for internal noise reduction
- DOT and ECE certification
Create Your Own Smart Motorcycle Helmet with HUD
You can add a HUD to your helmet without having to buy an expensive new lid.
The Argon Transform adds 150g to your current helmet and can easily be fitted without drilling, so no compromise to your shell’s integrity.
Another mod you can do for less money is to add a motorcycle dashcam.
This one from VSYSTO adds a camera to the front and back of your motorbike plus a display that can be fitted around your dials.
What We Think About the CrossHelmet X1
We reckon the CrossHelmet X1 belongs on the list of failed smart helmets along with the Skully, which you’ve probably heard about.
For the huge price, build quality isn’t up to expectations. It’s fiddly to get working with the tech; one day, when the app isn’t supported anymore, you’ll be left with a shiny panel above a big visor.
- You do get a much broader view – the camera offers 170° rear view
- The front of the helmet is very open, again enhancing your peripheral vision
- It’s heavy at 1920g
- A full charge can only last about 4-6 hours
- The shell and build quality just isn’t what you want when you spend nearly $2,000
- You can’t use the rear camera when you have a passenger
- There’s not a lot of airflow so it gets sweaty
FAQs About the CrossHelmet X1
What’s the best smart helmet?
The best smart helmet is the Sena Momentum EVO, with a fully integrated Bluetooth system that lets you talk to up to eight other riders over Bluetooth or limitless over Mesh. Plus, you can connect it to your phone for GPS, music, and calls.
Is CrossHelmet real?
Yes, CrossHelmet is a real helmet that has been produced and shipped. The features are all present when you receive it, but aren’t very easy to use or of very high quality. It’s produced in Japan and is available on Kickstarter and the company’s website.
How much is the CrossHelmet?
CrossHelmet costs $1,799 for the basic unit including two visors. Shipping in the US costs $145. Not cheap.
What happened to Skully?
The company that produced the Skully smart helmets shut down and declared bankruptcy in 2016. Skully produced a helmet with the same rear-camera concept as CrossHelmet. The company reportedly wasn’t able to fund a production run (5) or settle supplier invoices (6).