OXFORD METRO GLO HELMET
Weight 300g £49.99
The Metro Glo helmet from UK parts and accessories manufacturer Oxford Products is a road and leisure styled helmet with an inbuilt rear LED and a continuous fibre optic lighting strip around the circumference of the helmet.
Pros: Comfortable to wear and easy to adjust to fit. Excellent extra visibility from the rear LED.
Cons: Fibre optic lighting strip could be more effective and better designed.
Oxford Products website blurb says ‘Road accident studies have shown that the most effective way to alert road users to the presence of another human, is to make the human form as recognisable as possible. When the driver recognises the rider as a human form, their animal instincts kick in and changes their whole approach to the rider. They naturally will take much greater care, slow down and give the rider more space.’
In other words it’s implied that the effect of this helmet will be that motorists will, at some level, sub-conscious or otherwise, recognise you as a vulnerable road user rather than just another road user, and instinctively slow down.
The helmet comes in medium (50-56cm head circumference) and large (56-62cm head circumference) options and the rear LED and fibre optic strip are both powered by a pair of the widely available CR2032H ‘button’ batteries.
As usual with decent quality helmets, it features both chin strap adjustments and a ‘dial’ adjuster at the rear to adjust the plastic strap around the rear of your head to a snug but comfortable fit.
I wore this helmet on several night rides over a couple of weeks with another rider observing the visibility aspect of it from various angles and distances. The observer’s conclusion was "fairly clear"; the central red LED on the rear of the helmet was highly visible and a great backup to the lighting that should also be present on your bike.
The fibre optic side strip was rather less visible, especially in areas with lots of ambient light and / or if you have other strong lights on your bike which draw another road users attention away from the subtle amber ‘strip’ lighting. From the rear and at a distance it is somewhat ‘drowned out’ by the stronger central red LED and from the front the strip light has become so weak it is quite hard to see in all but the darkest conditions and fairly close up. It was most effective from the side where the strip lighting is reasonably light and visible at at reasonable distance (at least up to around 20-30m).
It’s hard to say if motor vehicles passed any wider or not because of the lighting strip. It certainly wasn’t noticeable to me as a rider, but this kind of assessment really needs some accurate means of ‘before and after’ scientifically valid measuring to test the effect (if any). Oxford quote road safety studies in the product information, but these are not referenced.
360 degree visibility from a helmet is a nice idea but I felt it could have been better executed. The fibre optic strip could have been quite a bit brighter and less confusingly coloured (changing to much brighter white at the front, for example, rather than becoming just paler amber offering limited presence). However, I was delighted with the extra visibility of the highly noticeable LED, and the fibre optics on the side are also worth having. As a helmet, lighting considerations aside, it certainly does what it says on the tin.