Are motorcycle Bluetooth units just slightly nerdy? Absolutely. Sticking one to the side of your helmet is a bit like sporting a pocket protector. But nerds are smart. And at the end of the day, riding with a Bluetooth device is undeniably awesome.
These little magic gadgets allow you to take or make calls without stopping. Have driving directions piped into your helmet—over the radio station, podcast or playlist of your choice, if you like. Easily toggle in and out of an intercom function that can connect from two (3S) to eight riders (20S) together in full duplex—meaning that you can talk and listen at the same time, unlike a stilted walkie-talkie conversation. Tap into the advanced features and you can even share music over Bluetooth, and manage the system with an app.
No more squinting in your rear view mirror wondering if the whole group made that exit or not, or coming up with imaginative gestures to indicate to those you’re riding with that you’ve got to pull off somewhere for a piss, or to gas up, or for X.
There are a lot of options to choose from with Motorcycle Bluetooth devices. Let’s make the choice easy: pick one of these listed below. Seriously—in addition to helmet-company-specific devices from Schuberth, Shark, etc, there are a handful of reputable third party players making motorcycle specific Bluetooth devices. Scala Rider, Cardo, U-Clear and Sena are the Big Four. And of all these, SENA makes the best performing systems with the cleanest user interface.
And we now carry everything SENA makes—from the bare-bones 3S series to the powerful and full-featured 20S with more features—and all at the same price as you’ll find anywhere on the internet.
The beauty of SENA’s system is that they’ve boiled everything down to two buttons, and, in some models, a so-called jog dial. One button opens up your smart phone’s audio prompt function, the other keys up the intercom, and the dial raises or lowers volume—and if you press and twist forward or back, it’ll skip through songs streaming from your phone. In models like the SMH10R or the 3S series, there’s no jog dial, and secondary functions are activated by holding down a button—a little more learning curve traded for a much lower profile.
It’s all very intuitive and gets our nod for the most functional family of systems on the market. And while we caution new riders to hold off on buying a Bluetooth until they’re comfortable on the bike, once you are, one of these devices improves safety, too. IE: “Watch out for this truck/pothole/sandy corner/decreasing radius hairpin coming up.”
With any Bluetooth device, the quality of the experience will somewhat depend on the quality of your helmet. Something like a Schuberth or a Shoei RF 1200 offers a quiet ride, and therefore markedly better audio fidelity than, say, an entry level option, or, at worst, a cheap modular.