When it comes to the ever-changing world of technology, new innovations and the growth of activity-based accessories, we rarely start thinking of bicycles. Of course, there are navigation systems available, but besides the use of an app, a wearable device, or possibly a combination of the two, there’s still very little out there, to (I guess) smarten up our bike rides.
That’s where something like the SmartHalo navigation system now comes in.
Being a cycling enthusiast and always on the lookout for something new and exciting, the SmartHalo is really a smart bit of kit. It is an all in one device that attaches to your handlebars and subsequently spruces up your bike ride by offering you a variety of essential items, like your very own personal Navigation system, Light, Alarm, Fitness Tracker and Assistant - for incoming calls and texts.
The SmartHalo is a new and innovative product that is backed by a highly successful Kickstarter campaign, which is not just about creating a new cycle accessory, but more so about smartening up bicycles and improving the overall riding experience, for the cyclist. Especially, within the city. The unit is competitively priced, it not only fits nicely alongside its competitors, but it stands out as something slick and unique. It also offers an overall eye ctaching design and new levels of thinking and skills in entrepreneurship.
This quality cycling accessory really does set itself apart from anything else on the market and certainly adds a wealth of features to your overall cycling experience and ideally makes for the perfect two-wheeled companion.
As you will probably already know, from reading my website and blog posts. I not only love the outdoors, but also I ride my bike a lot. In fact, my cycling has developed from being a hobby to now becoming my preferred mode of transport, allowing me to travel pretty much everywhere and my chosen mode of transport for my commute to work.
I now live in the Netherlands and here cycling is simply a way of life. With many people, from the older generations to the youngsters, taking to their bikes on a daily basis, in all types of weather, just to get around. The Netherlands is the perfect environment for cyclists, as it is flat, safe, with a wonderful infrastructure and a great place to ride a bike, for anyone who is passionate about spending most of their life on two wheels.
So, in recent weeks I have been lucky enough to recently work with SmartHalo and now get the great opportunity to use this amazing product, within this, my most recent blog post. To not only give an insight into how it can be used in my daily life, but I would also like to give a fair and well-balanced representation of the product, through a review. Taking my viewpoint from my own personal first-hand experience.
My first impressions
We all know the saying, ‘First impressions last!’ So, with any product, it is important to make this become a reality.
From the initial contact, the SmartHalo team have been pretty amazing. Not only are they a team who are creating an exceptional product, but they also team who have really listened and considered their audience. The customer services side of things have been excellent, with no question unanswered and once delivered - the product was simply fantastic.
It is clear, the design team have really thought things through. The product comes in a relatively small box, which is compact and well designed. It is colourful and has the right amount of information on it. Displaying all the appropriate information, that helps to further advertise and inform the user about the cycle accessory.
It clearly markets the SmartHalo into all of the following:
Light - for safety
What's inside the box?
After initially receiving the product, the excitement mounts when you actually get the chance to open things up and see what's inside. Like a child a Christmas, these moments are always the best.
As previously mentioned, the box is bright, colourful and appealing on the eye and when you open up the box, the SmartHalo unit, takes up predominant position. My first impression is one of satisfaction, it is a sturdy unit and of good size. Thankfully, it is not too big and bulky.
It is visible and I would say of suitable size. At first, I did have the feeling that the unit might be a bit too prominent in size, but once out of the box. I was pleasantly surprised, by its overall look and feel.
On the bike it blended nicely into the grey colour of of my commuter bike and I was very happy with this new addition.
Once you remove the SmartHalo from the box, you see the important Halo Key, which is positioned underneath the unit. This is an essential item and it is used to remove the unit from your handlebars if of course, you need to. So it is important to keep it safe and follow the instructions on how to securely fix or unfix.
The installation process
The installation process is easy. Inside the box, you will see all the necessary mounts which are essential for fitting the unit to the bike. Fitting and locking the SmartHalo into place is easy. I followed the instructions and it was pretty straightforward and not difficult.
You get a set of templates, which I followed throughout, in order to help out with the overall installation process and also a warranty card, that obviously gives warranty on the product.
Use the appropriate template to select and fit the size your handlebars. This will determine the correct adapters/inserts, this is easy to do. Once complete, choose the appropriate one, they are labelled either A or B depending on the size of your handlebars.
Then it is important to carefully select the screws and start installing the unit one side at a time. I found this easy to do but, don't fully tighten anything yet as fixing it firmly into place does not allow you to move or recorrect anything.
Next, you will need to use another one of the templates in order to centre the brackets on your handlebars and to also make sure that they are the correct distance apart. This takes a little moving around, but it is really simple. Once moved and you are happy with its position, you can then tighten the screws and firmly fit the unit in place. Finally, you can then use the HaloKey in order to attach the SmartHalo unit to the brackets. This whole process took me around 10 minutes and it was really, hassle-free. Once completed it was good to go and my attention could be turned to finalising the installation of the App.
The device is easy to use and in order to be fully functional it pairs with an app, that is downloaded to your phone or paired device. The app is downloaded via the Apple App store or the Android App store.
Once downloaded you are able to open the SmartHalo app, where you will have two options. You can either sign up as a new user or login if you are already registered with the system. Registering is simple and I was suitably impressed with how smooth the installation process was and what a fantastic job, the SmartHalo team have done with the app.
It is slick in its design, smooth in its use and the overall instructions are first class, easy to follow and informative. They have even included some great animations to show you exactly how it all goes together. A personally really like these simple touches, as it really shows good design skills and highlights good quality.
At this point, I could give a detailed explanation of the whole setup, but all of that is explained in the app itself and it is simple to follow. To explain somewhat, I have included one or two images, of the screenshots, in order to give a visual representation of how it looks and works.
The following information might help
Step 1: Firstly, you will need to create a suitable profile. This will include your Name, Password, email address.
Step 2: Following this, you will need to then confirm your email address is correct.
Step 3: Then, you are required to fill out all relevant information about your current fitness.
Step 4: After this, you will be required to pair your device with your SmartHalo. For this step you will need to plug it into a USB Port and then switch on your Bluetooth.
Step 5: Finally, and to complete the installation process you will need to install the SmartHalo on to the bike.
Now it is time to test
Once the installation is completed and the instructions followed. The really good bits could start.
I used the SmartHalo daily and it performed really well. There were no complications and it made for the ideal cycle companion out on my commute to work, cycles around the city and on longer excursions into the countryside, that surrounds me.
The unit focuses on four main areas and those are as follows:
SmartHalo essentially is a navigation system and it works superbly well. It is simple to use. Open the app on your device, I used my phone to drop a pin on my desired destination and the SmartHalo then gave me a detailed turn-by-turn navigated route.
This route is clearly visible on the phones GPS but is then replicated through the Halo, where a Halo of light, helps light your way. I started with a short route, from my home and into the city. I attempted a route with a few turns, in order to see how it would perform. I worked really well and got me to my desired location.
It works by omitting a coloured light onto the halo. The green light lights up and points you in the direction of the next turn (1/4 of the ring will be green) and as you start to get closer to your turn. The size of the lit up green area starts to get smaller and smaller as it begins letting you know you're almost ready at your next turning point.
It is really clever and if you happen to make a mistake and perhaps overshoot, the Halo will turn red, highlighting the fact you have gone too far and will need to make a U-turn. Thankfully on my route, I didn't need to make any u-turns, so it was really straightforward and it did perform well, as I made it purposefully have some turns both left and right. I would use the facility too much on my commute, as that route is cycled frequently and I guess it just becomes familiar. For me, when I'm unaware of where I'm going or need to be, that is when the SmartHalo comes into its own. Testing this option, it is clearly apparent that it really does work.
One further addition to the navigation setting is great if you are slightly forgetful. There is a ‘Find my Bike’ setting fitted for anyone who loses the bike or perhaps just in case you forgot where you left it. It is a great addition and again after, accidentally losing my bike, I made the unit find it again.
At the moment, I am cycling 32 miles a day on my commute to work and back. It is a great ride to work, but during the winter months, visibility and lights are essentials, out on the bike. The SmartHalo is well equipped with many great gadgets and form me, a very important one is the fact it has a built-in light at the front that is clearly visible at a distance of over 750m.
The light is safely concealed in the unit and it is possible to set the light to come on automatically when it gets dark or to switch it on manually with two taps of the Halo. It is a great addition and easy to use. It has the function to be set to flashing or can be easily adjusted to maintain a solid beam and then adjust the brightness through the app.
It is a good light, but not as good as many lights found on the market today. I used it in addition to my normal light, the one on the Halo only really acts as a visible warning sign and there to make other road or cycle path users aware of your presence, it definitely should not be used to replace a stronger light for use on the very darkest of roads or routes.
Alarm & Security
An added extra to this great cycle unit is that the SmartHalo comes with added extras. One of those great features is that the bike accessory has a built-in alarm, with a set of important, internal motion sensors.
This works by if motion is detected and your phone is not near the SmartHalo, then it will give out a warning signal and red lights begin to appear on the Halo. This signifies warning and deters thieves from tampering with the device. If it is that more movement/motion is detected then more lights will begin to appear and a few seconds later if tampering continues it will eventually result in a 100dB alarm being activated. Obviously, this forms a great security deterrent against the unwanted activity. It just needs a protective passcode to enable deactivation.
To establish a suitable password. It will need to be set up during the whole installation phase. This is undertaken and by tapping the centre of the Halo, through a code like format. Once the code has been recognised and you enter the correct code, the alarm sounds will stop.
Furthermore, an added bonus is that once fixed the Halo can only be removed by using the HaloKey. As a result, the bolts holding the brackets in place are found under the SmartHalo, making it impossible to remove the device without the Key. To remove, the Key will attach to the side of the unit and subsequently releases the locking mechanism inside. This then allows you to take the unit safely off the bike when needed.
In my opinion, it serves as a great security measure against anyone wanting to steal from you and in this day an age, a very important addition to any expensive accessory.
Another great feature and one that was beneficial to me was the built-in fitness facility. As I cycle daily to work, I do like to keep track of how many miles I’m cycling. As a result, I do like to integrate my statistics with my Strava account.
Although not tracking directly through Strava, I can still keep a track of my recorded data, by downloading the file into my Strava dashboard. This is through a GPS file. Besides this, it does have the functionality to go directly into the Apple Health App, but some other devices will need to use an exportable file.
The fitness tracker, found within the app is accurate and it clearly allows you to see the amount of time you spend cycling, where you have been cycling, the distance covered, average speed and a few more focus points.
Phone and Texts
Another great function is the phone and text alerts, whereby the facility can alert you if you receive a text of phone call on your mobile. This is a good function and can be switched on and off. The reason I say this, is for the simple reason if you phone beeps every minute or so then maybe it is better that is turn off. Otherwise it can be a handy addition.
The battery is housed in the unit and I found it lasted a long time. It can be used for up to 20 hours or can last for 6 months in the standby mode. The facility has a USB rechargeable battery, where you have the ability to charge the unit while it is housed on the bike or you can simply remove it with the HaloKey and then charge it away from the bike. I did this in the house, on my desk and attached to my laptop. The charging point is protected by a very handy rubber flap, which protects the essential charging components from water entering the SmartHalo.
I really enjoyed using the SmartHalo and think it is a great cycling accessory and a really great idea. There is no doubt it is a well built, robust item and will certainly last any potential user a long time.
It works alongside a really well-made app. Which is graphically good, has simple to follow functions and also has some really good features. It is easy to install and I found it very straightforward to follow, from setup and then through regular use.
During the time I was using it, it worked perfectly well and I was suitably impressed with its overall accuracy. Without confusion and complication, it gave me the correct turn by turn navigation, through the city streets and on my country routes. I found the alarm is a valuable feature that works well. It is loud, works well and would definitely deter any would-be thief. It is a great addition to the bike, especially when parking on the city streets.
When in use I found the coloured LED unit easy to follow, accurate and not distracting. The colours and directions are easy to follow and it performed really well, getting me to my desired locations, each time I used it.
For any cycling enthusiast, it is a good little unit to have and does everything it says it will do. It is competitively priced and comparable with other items on the market. I have been suitably impressed, I enjoyed using it and I think it is well worth a look at.
You can take a closer look at the SmartHalo on the following social media channels. I would most certainly recommend it. I understand that SmartHalo have been working on a newer version of this great device and I understand it will be released at the end of May 2019.