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Veteran Member
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Discussion Starter #1
My wife is really starting to like riding with me as a passenger. I can't tell you how amazing it is to have her with me on rides. But we don't have a way to talk to one another. I am interested in getting some sort of communicators to fit into our full face helmets.

The problem is that I have never needed something like this before, so I am completely ignorant on everything. Wired? Wireless? Bluetooth? Battery powered? I literally know nothing about them. So I was hoping some of you might be able to school me on them, and maybe suggest a few brands and models to choose from. My only requirement is that I want it very simple and as fool proof as possible. I don't want to have to wire anything to the bike, if possible, as I have multiple bikes and ride them all. It would only be to talk to each other on the same bike, so long distance isn't a requirement.

Any help or recommendations you guys can offer would be awesome. Price isn't a large concern, though the less expensive, the better. Thanks!
 

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Aging & Worn
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for now.........guess you'll have to just bite her earlobe and get her attention!! (lol).

Lots of choices out there.........main thing "I" would look for, is reasonable price, privacy frequencies (so nobody else hears you saying "sweet nothings" to her during the ride) and "ease of use."

Communication devices are commonly used on Touring Bikes, so I wonder if they might come as a standard item or an easily installed "option" with bikes of that size and type??

-Soupy
 

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Very Famous Person
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--

When I was younger, we used tin cans with a string about 6' long running between them. It's low tech and pretty inexpensive. We could hear each other real well.

Just my experience. :p

--
 

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Veteran Member
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Discussion Starter #7
It's interesting the you are all mentioning Sena. They kept popping up while I was doing research. Seems nearly everyone thinks they are by far the best bang for the buck. Even youtube video including actual audio from the systems are good.
 

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I would like to find a bluetooth to lesson to Pandora music while riding on long rides.
With my hearing loss I can't find one that has the volume needed.
 

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It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye
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My bike has an intercom, but we never use it. We just do it the old fashioned way.

Hand on the shoulder and she yells "I gotta pee". Means she needs to 10-100.

Tap on the shoulder and point to the left means, "Hey look to the left.

Tap on the shoulder and point to the right means, "Hey look to the right".

Several sharp blows to the to the ribcage on either side means "Slow down or you'll be eating through a tube tonight".

:D
 

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Pale Rider
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528 Posts
Most of the new wireless intercoms are VOX (Voice Activated), but VOX is far from perfect. In fact, it can be really annoying, as they don't always turn on when you start talking, even shouting doesn't always activate them...

If you want flawless communication, without VOX issues, get a wired system which runs on AA/AAA batteries. An alkaline battery will last around 8-hours of continuous use. They are always on. They transmit sound through wires, not radio waves broadcast for a 1/2-mile radius, like Bluetooth sets. They do need to be disconnected before either person dismounts, and once disconnected, you can't talk through them, of course. They're not perfect, but they have advantages over the Bluetooth sets: never need to be "re-charged", instead you just change out batteries; they are private, your conversations are never broadcast over the airwaves -- no radio, except if it has an FM unit built-in, or you connect an external music player through its audio jack intended for such purpose. Disadvantages: batteries need replacing; tethered to one another by a wire, which needs to be connected/disconnected each time you mount/dismount the bike; you cannot communicate with the other person while they are in the C-store (can be quite funny for the person outside, listening to them talk inside the store with staff, the public, where you can make comments, but they may not be able to respond for decency's sake...).

With wireless, Bluetooth units, there are quite a few options available: A2DP (full stereo capability with wireless music players -- cell phones, MP3 players, iPods, etc.); compatible (maybe) with cell phone calls through the intercom (really? like I need this?); compatible with Bluetooth GPS systems (if you can afford/want these types of M/C-specific GPS systems...); ability to link to multiple Bluetooth Intercoms (some only their own kind, others will connect to virtually any brand of Bluetooth Intercom); and other options. They come with varying ranges for communication, so check out the specifications before you buy.

Wireless systems can only be charged when turned off! You can hook them up to your bike's charger outlet, but then you will be tethered to the bike, with your intercom turned off... The VOX is a nice idea, but they also feature noise reduction systems, which try to ignore wind noise -- leads to VOX not being totally responsive, often ignoring your shouting to activate the system... Some have built-in FM radio receivers, so you can listen to radio stations, when your VOX is not active -- sounds like a wonderful idea, but in practice, not so wonderful... Switching between different Bluetooth devices can be a hassle: your companion's BT Intercom is given top priority, normally, but you can switch which device is rated #1; to communicate with other riders' BT intercoms, you have to switch to their 'channel', to communicate with them, which means your companion is out of the loop for the duration. This prioritization can be complex, and it requires (typically) manually switching with a gloved hand, between different BT devices, while riding down the roadway...

Take some time to do your research. Learn as much as you can before you order. Try to imagine how you will use it, and what your priorities are for using it. Then decide which method will meet your needs best: wired (non-VOX, no other devices to connect, except for a song player), or BT with some, or all, of the bells and whistles. Cheers!
:coffee:
 

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Veteran Member
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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks for the comments and opinions, everyone. We ended up getting a set of Sena SMH-5. Reviews were very good for them, especially for the price. I have them installed in our helmets and the initial testing seems pretty good. We haven't been able to get out on the bike with them yet due to my work schedule and rainy weather.

I thought the point of riding is so you don't have to talk.
Well, joking aside, my wife and I have done the no-talking thing for most of our 17 year marriage. We've recently had an epiphany, and this is part of getting us connected as man and wife again, so to speak.
 

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Premium Member
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Communicate.

I am with ODE on this.
Mrs Snippets knows which shift lever to garb to get my attention.
I have figured out most of the interpretations of the thumps, pokes, taps and squeezes.

Unkle Crusty*
 

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Discussion Starter #16
We took a relatively long ride yesterday. The communicators worked great. It was great to be able to talk about things we see, and just discuss whatever. Unlike some of you ( :) ), we love talking to one another. Part of the peace of motorcycling for me is connecting with her. There was little extra noise that came through, usually when we were next to a loud vehicle like a garbage truck or something. Voice was very clear, and the volume is capable of going much louder than we need, even on a Harley doing 70mph. And at a casual 45mph on the backroads it is almost like talking face to face. That clear. Overall I am impressed, and would recommend these to anyone that wants a budget communicator. We paid about $175 for a dual set on Amazon.
 

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Not being loud enough to hear at highway speeds is a common complaint with these devices. It's great that you found one that works well.
 

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I bought the Sena 10 kit for my Bell Mag 9 helmet. Very simple to install and use. The downside is the wind noise that is picked up by the microphones so that I now experience a higher level of background noise, which is very annoying. And this is with a large windscreen on my bike (but it doesn't really block much of the wind flow that hits the passenger). What I really like about the setup is that is has Bluetooth capability and I have linked it to my Garmin Zumo GPS device. With sun glare on the GPS screen sometimes it is unreadable, and prior to getting the Sena 10 I could not hear the turn by turn instructions from the little speaker on the device unless I was at a very slow speed. Now I can hear the GPS instructions easily. Maybe my solution to wind noise is to use full face helmets instead of 3/4 helmets, but summer riding is just too hot with full face.
 

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As I posted earlier, I have the Sena 10 system that I use with my wife and my Bell 3/4 helmet. I think I have found the solution to the wind noise problem where the noise was pretty constant and more than just annoying when we had the system on but were not engaged in conversation. Now I keep both units turned on, but I do not activate the intercom feature so that both of us are spared the wind noise generated through the other person's microphone. When either of us wants to talk to the other, we tap the large button on either helmet which activate the intercom, talk, then tap again to turn off the intercom feature. This way we can talk when we need to but not have the wind noise constantly in our ears. And by staying on, and using the Bluetooth feature, I can still get the spoken instructions from the Garmin GPS. I'm pretty happy with the set up now, as is my wife as passenger.
 

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Charlie Tango Xray
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As I posted earlier, I have the Sena 10 system that I use with my wife and my Bell 3/4 helmet. I think I have found the solution to the wind noise problem where the noise was pretty constant and more than just annoying when we had the system on but were not engaged in conversation. Now I keep both units turned on, but I do not activate the intercom feature so that both of us are spared the wind noise generated through the other person's microphone. When either of us wants to talk to the other, we tap the large button on either helmet which activate the intercom, talk, then tap again to turn off the intercom feature.
Ohhhh, now I see why you were getting the constant wind noise. Sorry I didn't catch that on the other thread. We turn ours on and off when we chat. Sometimes its best that the Mrs doesn't hear what I say while dealing with the clueless cagers anyway.;) Plus we often have 3 or 4 units in the group. I couldn't imagine the wind noise if everyone left their microphones on all the time.
Lurch, my wife and I have Sena 10s and love them. Most of my riding buddies are switching over to the other Sena models with good results too. Its also nice to be able to talk to most everyone in the group at the touch of a button. Warning about gravel on the pavement mid corners etc comes to mind.
 
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