Our first look at the Skully Helmet
I was recently granted the opportunity to test the very anticipated Skully helmet, a helmet I’ve been keeping my eye on for the last two years. And so, on a number of sunny days down in the KwaZulu-Natal south coast, I ventured out to put this young man to the test.
SKULLY, Inc., have been acquired by Ivan Contreras and Rafael Contreras, successful businessmen in a variety of global turnaround industrial and technology ventures, with the goal of fulfilling SKULLY’s destiny.
SKULLY Technologies is unrelated to the former SKULLY, Inc., which filed bankruptcy and is no longer in business. Although SKULLY Technologies has no formal obligation to the customers of the now-defunct SKULLY, Inc., and recognize that hundreds of SKULLY helmet enthusiasts around the world have contributed to this product and were understandably disappointed that they never received one.
Look ahead, glance at the Heads-Up Display, then look ahead again without refocusing your eyes.
An ultra-wide, glanceable view of the road behind you enhances your overall safety.
SMART VOICE COMMANDS
Simply speak commands to SKULLY to access the FENIX AR’s smart features. Get directions, take calls, increase music volume – all without ever taking your hands off the bars.
Audio and visual navigation when and where you need it. Instant weather reports for you ride.
Designed from the ground-up to provide superior sound, FENIX AR matches thumping speakers with premium padding to provide crystal clear call quality and dazzling sounding music.
Without a doubt, this is a top-quality helmet, 2nd to none with sufficient attention to detail.
In areas of aerodynamics, weight, comfort, shell integrity, visor operation and seal, strap mechanism, it certainly does not disappoint.
My concern here is, that the helmet only carries a D.O.T. certification which in my book, is dated. I’d like to see the helmet sent for ECE testing and certification instead.
Visor – The visor operates like a quality car door, moves smoothly without restrictions, and seals well all round the helmet opening. Removing the visor is as easy as pushing a button, and it pops off.
Little things like this enhances the whole riding experience. No-one deserves a piece of scrap where the visor opens and closes like a rusted old toolbox, and when you hit rain you end up feeling like someone is spraying you with a hosepipe in the face.
Ventilation – Here again, and similar to most top-of-the-line helmets, ample ventilation is provided, with options to close or open any of the two vents at any time. Both vents are well placed for easy reach to operate.
There is nothing more frustrating than a lack in ventilation, especially if you’ve had a Peppersteak Pie moments before your ride.
Mobile App – The app, although matching the limitations of the helmet personality himself, I would hope that they update the navigation platform to more user friendly and in more ways than one, match the functionalities of Google Maps. Otherwise, can the idea and incorporate Google Maps instead.
Offering a data-hungry music platform such as Spotify could work in countries where data is cheap, but here in SA it’s a No-No. Although one can play music stored on your phone, via Bluetooth, one can not voice control the “Volume Up” etc. through Skully. It only seems to work with Spotify.
Voice Commands – This I found very limiting and frustrating at times. With so little commands, I was surprised that they would even sell the helmet at this point. If you don’t talk from your stomach and with clear pronunciation, Skully simply does not understand. If feel there MUST be a manual over-ride button on the outside of the helmet to increase/decrease volume and control incoming phone calls. Getting your finger to the inside button past the chin piece, while riding, is a mission of note; let alone the multiple presses for certain functions. The fact that, when a call comes in, to first say OKAY SKULLY, then wait a second for his YES response, then say “ANSWER” and if you didn’t get it right the first time, Skully will respond in about 3 seconds that he does not understand. Before you can try the whole process again, you’ve lost the call.
“HUD” Unit – It’s not really a Heads Up Display, it’s just a little screen near your eyeball. HUD is projected onto the visor, this is not. Not a bad thing, because if you flip your visor open, the image would be gone until you close the visor again. That said, I found the image relatively clear, and would suggest you black out the front to increase the quality of the image, especially when riding into the sun. The little screen featured all the necessary information and gave a good view of my six.
Audio Quality – This I found a bit lacking. Audio appeared flat in the sense that I played a Neil Diamond song and it sounded far from the real deal. The speakers are too far from the ear, which caused the audio loss while riding. It tested a phone call (made the call directly on my phone, then started riding) and at half Media Volume on my phone and at 80km/h, I could not hear the person on the other end. I then stopped, increased the Media Volume / In Call Volume (Skully did not understand my voice commands, so I gave up on him). I then travelled up to a 130km/h before losing audio again. This is very poor in comparison with the SENA system. They should look at a better speaker system, and bring them closer to the ear.
Navigation – Here Skully / Mobile App, provided basic guidance. I decided to run both the Skully Navigation and Google Maps on the same route, and at the same time. The Skully navigation had a consistent 25m difference/short to Google Maps, with the latter being more accurate and safe. Yes, I ignored a turn-off to see if Skully would re-route like Google Maps, and he didn’t. Instead, he kept telling me to make a U-turn, and at one stage when I was crossing a bridge stretching a river.
He must hate me or he’s just plain stupid!Don’t tell me to turn when it’s clearly not safe or no way to to turn Skully!
Bluetooth – I found the connectivity good and quick. Not having to pair the helmet with your phone every time, was a plus. One thing would be interesting though, and that is the connectivity / pairing with another Skully helmet, the range and audio quality at any given speed. Here, they will have to learn from SENA.
Helmet Noise – I found the helmet very quiet while I was riding in
Safety – The EMS Pull Straps is a huge step in the right direction. This will assist paramedics in a big way. By simply pulling on these tags, the
Camera – In addition to the rear-view camera, and the fact that they have the technology, to incorporate a forward-facing camera as well. Video from both cameras can be recorded onto a MicroSD card, where footage is time and date stamped. This can be enjoyed on a recreational and a safety level, and will put Skully a few steps ahead of the competition, two cameras instead of one.
Value for Money?Not there yet – you’ve come a long way, but improve your tech and drop the price.
I think that sums it up from my side. I really hope the folks at Skully Technologies will make the necessary improvements, and seriously consider the additional camera. Their technology, both software (phone app) and hardware (in helmet) needs major attention.
The next challenge will be to price the helmet more competitively in comparison to similar helmets in this market segment.