MOTORCYCLING often results in spending a lot of time with your mates, but not saying much, and never mind the mad misinterpreted hand signals.
Modern communications can do away with these problems, and the Sena Bluetooth Motorcycle Intercom SMH10 I used in Cambodia is the best yet. Being able to simply press the big button on the side of the helmet unit and have ‘Carnage’ Penfold listening up was fantastic – convenient for swapping information about the ride, but I found it also added to what I got out of the ride when he’d come on, waxing lyrically about something he’d just seen, run over, avoided or accidentally swallowed. Actually, I could have done without the latter…
The Sena units have a range of about 900 metres depending on conditions, can be configured with boom microphones for flip-top or open face helmets or small stick on mics for full-face lids. The base unit attaches to your helmet either with a clamp or via and adhesive pad and the speakers are either incorporated into soft pads which mount in your helmet via velcro or (with the optional clamp Kit) you can use your own headphones (I used my Earmold earplugs with built in speakers).
We found fitting up a helmet only took 10 minutes or so, and nothing’s permanent, you can move your Sena to a new lid if you want to. Once you’ve got your helmets configured, you pair up up to four Sena units and everyone can communicate. From there you can add add your Smartphone via Bluetooth or use the MP3 plug for music etc directly from an iPod. You can also add Bluetooth GPS, so verbal instructions are heard inside your helmet.
Powering the unit is an internal battery which is good for around 12 hours of talk time – recharge via USB and you can use and charge at the same time. Everything’s water resistant (I’d remove the main unit and stop using it in really heavy downpours) and it comes with a two-year warranty. Controlling the unit is two buttons and the Jog Dial. Everything’s pretty easy once you get the idea of how it works, with voice prompts through the speakers helping out.
The Sena system offers lots of different models of intercom, from a low-profile model for sportsbike riders to inexpensive units reduced features compared to the $209 (single unit) or $399 (double pack) SMH10 Cycle Torque tested. With the accessories we used, the cost goes up further, so I’d recommend you have a chat to the people at Sena before you order, so you get what you really need.
Being able to talk to your riding buddies makes you feel like you’re part of the future, and catching a few tunes through the same system can make a dreary ride a lot easier to digest, while pillion passengers simply love pointing out to riders what they’re seeing and how they’re feeling.