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Communications Connecting - internet cafes, laptops, Palm devices, cell phones - how to connect, use, which one, and Bike to Bike and passenger intercoms.
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  #1  
Old 19 Aug 2011
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which bike to bike intercom?

two of us are off to africa for a few months and were wondering about getting some form of bike to bike communication. in-helmet seems like the best idea but probably more expensive. What systems have peple tried and which are any good? cheers in advance. karl.
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  #2  
Old 2 Sep 2011
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I think I know the features of what I'd like but haven't looked for a supplier yet so am also interested in others views.

This would be ideal:
  • In-Helmet based mic and speaker
  • Switchable VOX/Manual talk, preferrably switch and PTT on handbars
  • Standard UHF CB channels to allow for listening and communicating with other road users (mainly for OZ)
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  #3  
Old 23 Oct 2011
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which bike to bike intercom?

Just spent 9 days riding thru Vietnam using the Scala G4.

Four of our riders were hooked up on the Scala G4 and we were all stunned at how good they were. Open faced helmets, visor up or down, the sound quality, range and noise suppression was superb.

One of the guys tried to stream music from his phone, but this interfered with the intercom and he promptly desisted. Possibly an RTMF issue? And given we hadn't taken the time to RTFM, we seemed to fiddle around for about 15min every morning to get everyone on channel. After that, sweet.

Passing trucks on difficult roads was so easy that it felt like cheating. Put your gun rider out front, get the comms protocols correct, and the back 3 riders just breeze through the difficult passes. I just wish I had them for India/Nepal last year.

Haven't tried any other intercoms, and maybe they're all this good, but I was shocked at what they can do with a bluetooth signal.
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  #4  
Old 24 Oct 2011
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I've used the Scala and it wasn't reliable enought in my view. It was excellent at first, but appeared to deteriorate quickly, and even when replaced we had issues on trips. I've returned to Autocom now, and accepted the fact that I'm "wired" to the bike. Audio is excellent, no faffing re pairing the bluetooth ( a well worded process !) and all works fine. I have my PTT , and radio based comms that works well (you can mod many PMR 466 radios to 3 watts power from the standard 0,5 by the way) so all fine

I have been told that Autocom and Starcom (being the same parent company) have a bluetooth module that will replace the rider lead, and also provides radio PTT, but have not seen one yet

Iain
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  #5  
Old 4 Apr 2012
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I have been using the Sena SMH 10 for over a year now. My wife and I use them for bike to bike. They work at about 1km. If you want to go further, they have a bluetooth hub that you can hook a 2 way to.

This allows you to still be wireless, and have a PTT button on the handle bars and talk on a 2 way. I have used this setup and it works well.

Ryan
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  #6  
Old 4 Apr 2012
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We have also been using the SENA SMH10 for some time, and before that, Scala Rider Q2. It is hard to go back to rider with my partner w/o bike to bike comms.

Why do I have the SENA ones right now? Because the Q2's wore out -- physically, and the battery on one eventually died. The decision to go with a new brand was one of perceived technical merit, but I expect that these will wear out as well.

We are planning a long trip in the range of a year or so. In the planning stage, I am considering what to do about bike to bike comm (important to us, maybe not as much to other couples -- you decide). While I love the convenience of something like the SENA or Scala Rider, I question doing a longer trip w/o carrying a spare set.

I can think of one travel blog with members on HU who became, understandably, rather anxious when their comms died on their trip.

I am researching what options are available which are more "hardwired", perhaps in both longevity of operation as well as resilience in build quality and if this is workable for us. On a 10 day road trip (with long days) we found that we had to not only charge at night but also during lunch breaks.

That said, I love having the SENA paired to my Android phone. While I am not an advocate of phone talking and riding/driving (don't get me started on this one), it does allow me to pull over safely and take a call, or check for voicemail, or call back, especially as required for my job -- w/o taking my helmet off.

Adam
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  #7  
Old 5 Apr 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mavis cruet View Post
two of us are off to africa for a few months and were wondering about getting some form of bike to bike communication. in-helmet seems like the best idea but probably more expensive. What systems have peple tried and which are any good? cheers in advance. karl.
Have a look at our site, The prep page and and Thank you's page could be helpfull. Look at the Autocom and RS Hill comments.

Our Autocom systems have been reliable-ish but we have needed to replace Mic's when they got rained on through open visors.

I'd go for a Peltor system from RS Hill if I was spending out again
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  #8  
Old 5 Apr 2012
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Altough bulky I prefer an auto com and a vox walky talky system. But in a wast pack they're ideal.

Cardo scala are good but not as waterproof as they pretend to be. 2 out 3 died on us during rain going through northern france last june.
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  #9  
Old 12 Apr 2012
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we have the G4 of Scala, and about 20% of the time it works great!
the other 80... it is a nightmare!
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  #10  
Old 12 Apr 2012
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Intercom

We use the Autocom series 7 system coupled to small 3Watt Icom UHF radios. The system works very well, VOX and noise cancelling works well too.

The only problem we have encounted is the microphone foam covers deteriorate and need replacement (fair wear and tear I suppose given their age). We made our own replacement covers as it was hard to get the OEM units due to where we live
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  #11  
Old 12 Apr 2012
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Whilst convenient, all the Bluetooth systems suffer from the same downsides.
Need to recharge frequently.
Lack of range bike to bike.
Not as robust as a bike mounted system.

My advice is either Autocom or Starcom (now the same company), hardwired into the bike, a 5 watt UHF handheld plumbed into the system, advantage of having the handheld is that you will be able to take it with you when you are off the bike, and still be able to talk to others of your crew.

Don't worry about being wired up to the bike, you'll soon get into the habit of unplugging before you get off, and if you and the bike have a high speed separation, the wiring will separate, thus not ripping you ears off.

The hardwired systems usually have better volume, and thus better sound, better range (assuming you use a good quality UHF), better reliability, you don't have to remember to recharge, and they can be trained to make a damn good cup of tea.
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  #12  
Old 12 Apr 2012
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We┬┤re using Scala Q2 since three years, 20.000+ km all-weather for B2B-connection, additionally linked to a pillion each wearing a regular Scala Rider. No problems to speak of, very reliable system, solid build and solid mount to the helmet, full day power supply, quick charging, 500m distance, lightweight and foolproof.
Cheers
Chris
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  #13  
Old 16 Aug 2012
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Sena SMH10

G'day,

This thread hasn't been posted to in a while so hopefully someone out there is still interested in a good bluetooth coms headset to get.

We recently bought the Sena SMH10 headsets. We have done a few weekend trips so far with them and so far highly recomend them for anyone doing our sort of riding.
Our sort of riding is going slow and taking in the sights and stopping for photos regularly. My wife and I ride seperate bikes and 90% of the time keep within eye contact distances from each other. In the past when either of us wanted to stop it wasn't easy unless you happened to be in front of the other bike. So first we tried radios a couple of years back. We spent heaps on top quality motorolla waterproof sets and helmet harnesses and push button switches for handle bars and other junk and ended up leaving it all at home because the hassle and comunication quality wasn't worth it. It was all money badly spent compared to what we have now with the Sena system.

The Sena system is all contained in a small attachmeet to the left side of the helmet with a loom for mic and speakers inside the helmet. All of which fits easily under the padding. No holes to drill and not that difficult to relocate to a future new helmet.
It is tap to talk and tap to stop listening but you can set them up as voice activated if you want but we haven't bothered. Also they can access your phones and GPS etc. if that's your requirement. I still prefer being incomunicato with the rest of the planet when I'm on my bike and I like to stop to look at my GPS rather than running off the road trying to do so.
The headsets mainly get turned on for tricky situations that the front rider wants to warn the rear rider about. Like after I pass a truck on a mountain range and can see the road aheadis clear that the Misses can't see. I just call her through. As we are Madagascar based at the moment there is plenty of hazardous road sitautions for us to discuss on any trip.

Last weekend away was when they proved invaluable.
We where 7 hours ride away from home and decided to stay at some accomodation that we hadn't stayed at before. We ate and drank merrily that night and went to bed knowing that I had all Sunday to do the 7hours back home ready for work on Monday. About 1am the Misses got up and went to the bathroom and ultimately stayed there the rest of the night throwing up. By morning she was still throwing up and getting sicker. No one should ride with food poisioning, it just isn't safe to do so, dehydrated with no real sense of balance etc. But she decided to do a few Ks to see how she went as she could contact me anytime if she needed to stop, turn back or whatever.
We ultimately rode the whole distance that day with stops every 50Kms or so to give her the breaks and mouthfulls of flat lemonade she needed to stay afloat. Two days later at home when she recovered enough to get out of bed and be mobile again she said she wouldn't have been able to do the return trip without me talking to her and encouraging her along the way.

Also we had not charged the units that night and my biggest fear was that we would run out of batteries before she was safe at home but the batteries lasted for a full 9 hours that day. We had used them for at least 2 hours talk time the day before as well.

In general, we can speak clearly with about 1 km distance between us. At speeds above 120kph you have to listen a bit harder but that is more to do with the quality of the helmet you use. I have an AGV and had to cut some foam out for the ear speakers to get the best result. The Misses has a Shoei with speaker holes already installed. The volume control is a simple twist of the talk button so all controlling of the units is quicker and easier than wiping rain off your visor and immeasurable easier than the old radio system we had. They come standard with cigarette lighter chargers so you can charge direct from your bike out in the bush. We have been heavily rained apon a couple of time and they also handled the water without issues. You just have to remember to close the charging socket properly.

Anyone who needs or wants someone else in their helmet with them could do a lot worse than check out the Sena SMH10 units. I reckon they are brillient and they will coming on all our rides from now on.

Check them out at Sena Bluetooth

thommo
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  #14  
Old 25 Aug 2012
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+1 for the Starcom. It lives in a dry bag under the motorcycles dash. Allowing the cables to come out the dry bag roll top but protecting the unit from rain. Sealing the unit would have issues arrise from condensation we've been told.

We've been through a couple of Mics before we found out that they hate water. There's a solution, think 'sucking' the mic regularly in the rain to remove moisture.

Did the cheaper uniden UHF radio (not waterproof) before getting quality waterproof uniden items. Charge on the radio last a few days riding and easy to leave the charger connected while stopped for a few hours.

We have had up to .5km-1km separation in mainly jungle/mountainous terrain and with the radios still never switched from low power to get the message through. Using a semi-secure channel too (CTSS) so hopefully local officials don't get concerned (I believe they would use VHF with security though).

Ipod connected for music with the speakers placed correctly in the helmet is excellent for music. Riding at a max 95km/h I don't use hearing plugs as I don't feel comfortable in south east asia. Gps connected also but the Garmin Montana is putting some seriously funky interference out through the powered mount and is unbearable. Still working that one out.

The radios are obvious on the dash of the bikes and I'm concerned for use in Russia/EU but its on the Carnet and fingers crossed they don't think we're an 'international couple of mystery'.
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  #15  
Old 25 Aug 2012
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I have used the Autocom system and Scala q2 and G4 . The Autocom systems is good a little bulky and being hard wired no problems plug in and go ... draw backs lots of interference from other radio's on the same frequency and being a Radio could cause a few problems at borders if you do not have the correct licence

The bluetooth sets both the q2 and g4 never had any problems with them, the range is shorter but that has never been a problem, always worked even in the bad weather. Battery life is good q2 always lasted at least a day and the g4 maybe two days . The g4 does have an adjustable vox (from a computer) and in my mind is a wonderfull piece of kit and does not require a radio licence .
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