In late-November 2016, I ordered a large (58-61 cm) LIVALL BH81H bicycle helmet in fluorescent green. I was drawn to the helmet’s backside illumination and the ability to make and receive phone calls through Bluetooth while riding. For the last couple years, I’ve been using a Jabra Sport+ bluetooth headset, which worked until it failed, deserving its own blog entry… At the time of my helmet order, I also requested a BlingJet 100 (BJ100) – more on the BlingJet later, but I found little use for it and its not worth a handlebar installation.
I was excited to receive the BH81H and BJ100 on March 7, 2017, less than 4 months after placing the order on Indiegogo. After opening the package, I was surprised at how light the helmet actually is – the battery can run for several hours, yet the helmet seems to weigh about as much as my locally sourced NiceRide helmet. The helmet seems solidly assembled and the straps and padding all seem to be high quality. Overall, my first impressions are favorable.
The helmet didn’t have sufficient battery charge on arrival to power up and the instructions say that you must charge it. I plugged the included micro-USB cable into the helmet to start charging it – two red lights in the rear of the helmet illuminated with a steady glow to indicate charging. The manual said to give the helmet about 3 hours of charging time, which I did, but after unplugging the USB cable, the helmet still did not power up. I let it continue charging overnight and the next morning it powered on!
The setup guide describes pairing the BH81H and BJ100 to each other and a separate Bluetooth pairing with my iPhone was easy and just like other Bluetooth devices. If you are interested in reading other data the helmet measures, like heart rate, download the iPhone app. In this early version of the helmet, the heart rate data does not appear to feed into the iPhones HealthKit/Health app, but it seems this type of feature could be added later.
I ended up using the helmet for a little over a month, but in early April, I noticed the helmet was no longer taking a charge. Slowly the helmet lost all of its charge and hasn’t powered up since. I contacted LIVALL support and they said they’d send a new helmet out, but two months later and I’ve received no update. Reports on their site indicate there are issues with the heart rate sensor killing the helmet. I’m not sure if this is actually the case though, because the heart rate sensor on my helmet continued to work while it had battery charge left. It would seem the charge control chip is failing?
While the helmet worked, I enjoyed listening to music and news and placed a few phone calls that appeared to be better quality than my Jabra headset, but I was hoping to get more time with the helmet before making these assessments.
I’ll post more as my experience develops, but I remain optimistic.
** Update ** LIVALL support reached out to me with instructions to detach the heart rate sensor. Doing this, I was able to revive the helmet and it worked until January 2018, when it stopped working again and I haven’t been able to revive it since then. In January 2018, LIVALL support offered a BH61S at a reduced price, so I jumped at the offer. Trials and tribulations with the BH61S are here.