Bluetooth speakers are one tech device that is just about everywhere. You can’t walk into a brick and mortar or an online store without finding someone selling Bluetooth speakers. The SmartOmi OPTIMUS is a bit different than most. This speaker is designed for bicycles, and since I own a few of those, I thought I’d test it for what it was made for. Read on for the full SmartOmi OPTIMUS review from a cyclist, including a full cyclist considerations section.
The SmartOmi OPTIMUS has the following features and specifications:
- Model: OPTIMUS Bluetooth Bike Speaker
- Power: 4Ω 8W x 2
- Bluetooth Version: 4.0+EDR
- Play Mode: Bluetooth/TF card/AUX
- Memory Type: ≤32GB TF card
- Music Format: APE/FLAC/MP3/WMA/WAV
- Battery: built-in 6000mAh lithium polymer battery
- Size: 2.59in X 2.59in X 7.08in
- Weight: 590g
What’s In The Box
- SmartOmi Bluetooth 4.0 speaker
- Remote Controller – Handlebar Mountable
- AUX 3.5mm cable
- USB cable
- Bicycle Water Bottle Type Mount
- User Manual
- Various Zip Ties
When I received the speaker my first concern was weight. As a long distance cyclist, the last thing I want to do is carry around extra weight.
My 20 oz. water bottle weighed in at 80 grams when filled and since I always ride with two bottles I am carrying 160 grams of water. The SmartOmi OPTIMUS came in at a scant 58.7 grams which is 21.3 grams lighter than a full 20 oz. water bottle. Total weight savings with one 20 oz. water bottle and one SmartOmi OPTIMUS speaker is 101.3 grams — almost a quarter of a pound. I’m sorry, but if you’re not a cyclist you’re simply not going to understand why we are concerned with weights down to single grams.
Now to address what every cyclist has obviously taken note of and that is that now I am going to be short a water bottle. This is true and also a concern for me. There are options for carrying more water on your bike such as behind the seat water bottle holders or the back pocket of your favorite club jersey.
Cyclists ride in different venues so you have to consider your water availability and decide if this speaker is something that you’ll want to consider adding to your chest of cycling goodies. Supported rides often have water every 25 to 30 miles, while the guy riding his Surly from the West to the East Coast isn’t going to concern himself with the extra 58.7grams and has already added a copious number of water bottle cages to his ride anyway.
The included mounting bracket works much like your water bottle cage. The holes in the bracket are the standard 13/64″ and one of them is a slider so that you can dial in the exact fit to your frame. I do wish that SmartOmi would have drilled out both of the holes as sliders as not all frames allow for clearance and that extra few millimeters can make all the difference in the holder fitting to a smaller frame. The holder weighs a bit more than a standard water bottle cage but that’s not a deal breaker as it’s not really noticeable.
I did like the notched out back side of the mounting holes as it allows for the bosses — the nuts embedded in a frame that you can screw accessories into — to be recessed into the holder although that means that the holder is now flat against your $3,000 carbon frame. It seems that SmartOmi thought of that too as they have included a rubber backing that fits nicely between the frame and the holder resulting in the holder now being better protected against shock and the frame protected against the hard plastic of the holder. I did have to drill holes into the rubber backing but that was easy. I used a 3/16” drill bit and in seconds it was ready to mount. I pushed the stock water bottle cage screws through the holder and the rubber and tightened them down. Good snug fit.
The Optimus comes with a handlebar mounted control that is plugged into the speaker. The cord on the controller is wrapped in a very slick feeling nylon sheathing which I feel would protect against it scratching the frame but I can tell you that it is not something, as a road cyclist, that I would use. This cord is going to be on the outside of the frame and zip ties will have to be incorporated into the install which is not something I am willing to do to my carbon frame.
Perhaps a bike with exposed cables would allow for a nice and clean install but if you’re running internal cables, what’s the point? A wireless controller would most definitely fix the issue and I feel that I would pay the extra dollars to have that feature. I can always simply reach down to where the speaker is and simply use the controllers atop of the unit as the buttons are large and I’m accustomed to reaching down there for my bottle anyway.
The design on The SmartOmi OPTIMUS is very attractive and appears rugged. The multi-speaker grills give it a unique look and feel. There are no buttons that may break off and the small metal loop on the side looks firm and able to be attached to a lanyard or the included hook.
The design very much resembles a bicycle water bottle and given that they include a water bottle type mount I would say that their audience for this unit is definitely people on bicycles. No matter what type of cyclist you may be, if an outboard speaker is what you’re looking for then I would give this speaker a serious look-see. For all of you hikers, backpackers, hang glider pilots, and other outdoor types, this wireless Bluetooth speaker should also do the trick as it is versatile and lightweight while feeling substantial and solid.
Ease of Use
While I did not use the included wired remote for the previously mentioned reasons, it operated just as promised nonetheless. When I used the Optimus while riding my bike I was able to work the top mounted buttons on the speaker with ease even with full fingered gloves. A word of caution is that it may require you to take your eyes off of the road and a few times I began to veer off my line.
Controlling functions like volume, phone, skip, and pause will require the use of the top mounted buttons or the included wireless remote. Which method of control you choose is obviously up to you and I think that I’ve made my choice clear as I’ll simply have to exercise caution when working the speaker mounted controls while riding my bike. I will say that all of the functions operated just as I expected.
The sound output on this puppy is awesome for an outboard speaker. I had no need to use the bicycle bell as everyone heard me — and AC/DC — approaching for at least 100 feet back. I would have liked a bit more bass response but what can I expect from such a small and inexpensive speaker? Volume is limited since you can only go as high as your phone will allow.
Even at max volume, there was no distortion of the sound. When on the bicycle you will notice that sound is moving underneath you as opposed to at you. I placed the unit on the seat tube but placement on the down tube would project the sound at you and give you a better listening experience. I think that this speaker would be great for cyclists that pack for long trips.
This speaker suffers from the typical Bluetooth phone device in that it makes you sound far away. Even in a quite room, my wife said I sounded far away. Hearing her was no problem as it made full use of the entire speaker.
SmartOmi OPTIMUS Claims a 30-hour battery life. Battery life will vary as you may use this to charge other devices and the output volume matters as well. I didn’t run the speaker quite long enough to test the 30-hour claim but it got me through several of my rides with ease as well as home use without needing to be recharged.
The MSRP on the SmartOmi OPTIMUS is $199.99USD but it has been on Amazon Prime for $79.99USD for awhile now. For $79.99USD you can’t go wrong! Sounds great and seems to be durable. Not only is this speaker $120 off on Amazon, but if you use the code VTK52TRS, you’ll save yourself another 48% which brings the price of the speaker to around $40.
I really like this speaker but I have to admit that I’m not really an audiophile. While I enjoy good sound I’m not willing to pay half a week’s salary to obtain such sound. Having said that I feel that this speaker suits me well. Independent volume controls that control the speaker’s output and not your phone’s volume would be nice as well as a deeper bass response. Again, this is not a $300 speaker so I’m willing to live without these things — you just have to know that there will be some trade-offs.
Overall the SmartOmi OPTIMUS is a great speaker that I can feel confident to take outdoors and have it close by as I enjoy my sport, be it cycling, hiking, backpacking and even rock climbing! Sure it has some bulk to it but anything smaller would most likely have lesser sound. If you do pick one up, don’t forget to use the code VTK52TRS for an extra 48% off.
*We were sent a sample of the SmartOmi OPTIMUS for the purposes of this review.
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