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Motorcycle intercoms have gained extreme popularity recently for the conveniences and safety it offers. It is famous for featuring enhanced driving focus that every motorcycle rider should have over everything else. No more surprises along the road, since the first biker can warn the others. No more unnecessary stopping along a busy road to discuss the route. It is a relatively cheap gadget that every rider should invest in, in order to have full control during every travel.
Yes, some riders travel alone in order to get away from everything else. It is one of those perfect times to unwind and detach from this crazy technological world we live in today. However, under today’s circumstances, you are bound to need some form of communication, navigation, and even a bit of music along the way.
Convincing someone to get a motorcycle intercom is actually the easy part. The confusing part is in choosing which one to purchase given the wide variety of choices in the market nowadays. To help any confused rider on which motorcycle intercom is worth your hard-owned money, here is a thorough guide that contains every little thing you need to know about this valuable and helpful gadget.
The Different Types of Motorcycle Intercoms
First off, let us first get to know the different types of motorcycle intercoms commonly available in the market today. This will basically make you understand why the prices of these intercoms vary greatly and hopefully, can give you a clearer understanding of which one suits your needs the most.
Wireless Intercom Technology
This is the most complex yet technologically advanced as it uses different radio technologies namely GMRS, FRS, FM, and Bluetooth. Other intercoms use other technologies, especially for extended ranges.
FM or frequency modulation is similar to the FM radio we are all familiar with. However, a narrower frequency is used for motorcycle intercoms. This results in a clear sound in short distances and no obstructions between the transmitter and the receiver.
FRS or family radio service and GMRS or general mobile radio service pretty much works like walkie talkies. The only difference between the two would be range. Motorcycle intercoms that use FRS radios can work great for as long as the distance is within two miles with less obstruction. On the other hand, GMRS radios work great in long distances.
However, the thing with FRS and GMRS frequencies is that because they are public frequencies, you risk being heard by someone else or you can hear other conversations just the same. This can be especially experienced in heavily populated areas and therefore, is not recommended for private conversations.
Bluetooth is currently the most popular choice of technology used in wireless intercom systems. It is efficient, allows private conversations, and can reach hundreds of feet. Basically, this works with the Bluetooth pairing up with the Bluetooth of the person you are supposed to talk to. You probably have used Bluetooth in your smartphones to transfers files or pictures so you must have the idea.
However, Bluetooth wireless intercoms are designed for short-range communication. This should pose no problem as riders usually ride together somewhat close to each other. To lengthen the distance, some brands add another technology in the form of either GMRS or CDMA which is code division multiple access with the latter being famously used by phone carriers.
Bluetooth technology is also highly preferred over others because of a whole lot of other features it offers including connection to smartphones, GPS devices, and music players which basically opens up more options.
Riders can then operate their smartphones and make a call or receive calls, navigate without getting the hands off the bike or eyes off the road, and even listen to music. In fact, some even let users share music with other riders. How crazy wonderful is that?
Wired Motorcycle Intercom
This type is not being used that much anymore. Because wireless intercoms are so much more practical and provide a lot more freedom while riding, wired intercom systems are becoming quite rare. Designed only for rider-to-passenger use, the wires run from the passenger to the rider are all connected to a central control box where the battery is located.
As far as efficiency and dependability are concerned, this is great because external interferences do not affect wire systems just as it would wireless systems. In addition, some wired motorcycle intercoms can be plugged into an FRS/GMRS radio. As long as it is capable of voice activation, it will probably work well with wired intercoms.
This type is not expensive at all. However, some find it a bit hard to unplug the units every time they get out of the bike.
Factors to be Considered When Looking for the Best Motorcycle Intercom
Motorcycle intercom technology has greatly evolved that it has become much easier to get lost in the long list of features that will leave you more confused than ever. This is why we never suggest going straight to the department store to get your own motorcycle intercom without researching a bit more about it. Chances are you going to leave with the wrong intercom in your shopping bag or use the intercom without even knowing how to maximize the features.
For all these, we hope you will be enlightened by this list of factors that should be considered whenever up and about to purchase a new motorcycle intercom.
Motorcycle intercoms today have so many controls and functions that it can get pretty confusing especially since you will be basically using this with your eyes focused on the road.
First, choose the one with simple controls with all the features that are most important to you. Second, remember that you should be able to touch all the controls conveniently with your gloves on. It is basically impossible for a rider to remove the gloves every time you want to reach out for the controls.
The basic two control systems are the button-operated systems and the jog dial operated systems. The jog dial system is a kind of knob or wheel that allow the user to go through the menu.
Voice and Music Quality
Are you interested in listening to music while riding? Or do you want straight out functions for communication only? Depending on your answer to this, you need to find either an intercom with a great voice quality alone or both voice and music quality for absolute efficiency and entertainment.
However, do not set your expectations up high. Motorcycle intercoms still are first and foremost for communication purposes before anything else. Do not expect it to work like your iPod player and then give it bad reviews just because of something it is not designed to be in the first place.
Motorcycle GPS navigation systems have become equally popular as well and what is even better is that they offer voice instructions for as long riders have a Bluetooth powered intercom headset.
This does not just offer a more convenient option but a safer one as well. Instead of looking at your GPS device from time to time, you can hear the instructions right at your motorcycle intercom headset.
Calls are expected to come and go especially on long drives. This is another great benefit of wireless motorcycle intercoms. Since they use Bluetooth technology for connections, they can be easily paired up with smartphones in order to take and make hands-free calls. In addition to the convenience that this offers, it is also regarded as safe which should matter greatly especially if you are a frequent rider.
The Number of Possible Connections
Motorcycle intercoms vary in the number of connections they allow. Some allow only two to four but some allow as much as 10 to 15. This pretty much depends on the brand, model, and of course, the price.
Lower-cost units typically let two people communicate easily. Prices go high as the number of people allowed to communicate increases.
Riding in a motorcycle makes the rider vulnerable to various environmental and road factors. That includes rain, humidity, dust, dirt, and all sorts of things that one might possibly encounter. For this, there is no question that you definitely need a weatherproof motorcycle intercom.
Most intercoms today are either waterproof or water-resistant since no one really knows when they are going to encounter rain on their road trips. While some riders make use of cheaper water-resistant intercoms in a plastic bag just to keep it on the safe side, you can skip that and instead go for the waterproof or weatherproof system which ensures that despite any rain or hazards, your system is safe, will still work efficiently, and would not be damaged.
Headset for One Ear or Both Ears
Now, this factor depends on personal preference, some find it convenient to use just the one-ear headset while some prefer both ears since volume tends to be a common concern with motorcycle intercoms. However, should you choose the both-ear intercom, make sure you can still hear other vehicles honking at you on the road.
Voice-Activation and Push-To-Talk Switch Features
Motorcycle intercoms that automatically go to the inactive mode when not used for a specific number of minutes usually have voice activation features. Since this also saves battery, some still do prefer this feature.
On the other hand, some prefer the push-to-talk switch feature instead of the voice activation because of reliability.
Noise Reduction Capabilities
Since you are exposed to environmental factors that could affect the noise quality of your motorcycle intercom, most prefer intercoms with noise reduction capabilities simply because there is no use using an intercom if you cannot communicate clearly with your co-riders.
Built-In FM Stereo/Music Features
If riding with some good music seems to be your cup of tea over riding alone with your thoughts, then find a motorcycle intercom that comes with either a built-in FM stereo or something that can be connected to your music player. This should not be hard especially if you are getting a wireless Bluetooth intercom.
Intercom Mount or Stand-Alone System
Motorcycle intercoms can be mounted on the helmet, put directly to the ears, or clip to the belt or to the bike itself. Again, this is a feature that is of personal preference. Choose the one which you would be most comfortable riding with.
Some motorcycle intercom systems are even versatile enough and can either be mounted, clipped, or put directly onto the ear. This also depends on how bulky the motorcycle intercom you are about to choose is.
The Most Popular Motorcycle Intercom Brands
To give a bit of insight on which are the most popular and bestselling brands with regards to motorcycle intercom, here are some of the front liners in the industry today.
This brand first incorporated Bluetooth technology into their motorcycle headsets way back in 2005 and has not looked back since then. In fact, all the other brands followed.
Sena is a company that not just gained popularity in the United States but around the world as well especially in France and Italy.
Despite being relatively new to the communication market, they have created a name for themselves with their great and innovative products. In fact, they have been tagged as having a very good after-sales service that can be easily compared to all the popular brands today.
Finding the right motorcycle intercom need not be a dreadful task and it would not be for as long as you know your needs and preferences and keeps yourself educated on what to look for. Typically, you get what you pay for with regards to motorcycle intercoms. Another great tip here is to look for reviews from real people which should give you a better idea.