Motorcycle Bluetooth For Adventure, Touring & Enduro
When researching for the recent Best ATV Helmets Guide 2019 it was apparent that an increasing number of helmet manufacturers are putting Bluetooth connectivity into their design. They are doing this this by offering ear piece cut outs, flat mount panels on the side of their profiles and even building helmets with Bluetooth communicators already fitted. This opens up two new areas for Motocrossadvice.com to cover. Firstly Bluetooth Communicators themselves, and then helmets with Bluetooth capability built in. I am going to deal with this in two parts. In part one, we will look at Bluetooth communication as a concept, and which Bluetooth communicators are available to off-road, touring and adventure riders. Then in part two, we will look at which Helmets are available with built in Bluetooth capability.
It makes perfect sense that even relatively extreme off-road riders will start to use these technologies. Charlie Boordman and Ewan McGregor made stars out of the BMW R1150GS in their first round the world adventure, wearing Arai Tour X3 helmets fitted with Garmin Bluetooth. That was over ten years ago. Hard to believe isn’t it! With a second programme under their belt, and hot rumours of a third in the series, “The Long Way Up” looking like a reality, I decided we should look into the world of Bluetooth Communicators. In particular, we will consider how Bluetooth can benefit riders of all styles, and the main features they use.
What are motorcycle Bluetooth Systems?
If you are new to the idea of motorcycle communication systems, you would be forgiven for thinking that a motorcycle Bluetooth system simply puts the rider in contact with a pillion. Certainly this was the main function of early wired communication systems. The now defunct wired technology really served little more than just that. Those first steps in to Bluetooth Communicators would often mean trailing wires, clunky battery packs and uncomfortable ear pieces. Well, thankfully all of that has changed!
Motorcycle Bluetooth system Functionality
Whether you are blasting across the desert, negotiating forest trails, or touring across continents, riding with friends is a social thing.
Nowadays, with Bluetooth you can:
- Hold conversations with your pillion and other riders
- Listen to your favourite albums and artists from your phone
- Receive instructions from GPS systems
- Plug in Auxiliary sources such as old school ipods which have no Bluetooth
Modern systems, using what is known as a mesh, will allow you to talk to multiple riders who are spread across distances of up to 5 miles in group mode. It is now an expected standard, to be able to listen to two sources at once, so you can listen to music and receive GPS, or talk whilst listening to music and so on. The implications for group rides, instructors, adventure riding, off road riding and long distance touring are far reaching.
What are the downsides of motorcycle Bluetooth Communicators?
In the interest of fair discussion, we should look at both sides of the debate. As with all products and technology, the golden rule with motorcycles is SAFETY FIRST. It is all very well having your favourite album blasting into your ears whilst on the last leg of a long day in the saddle, but if you don’t hear that big truck bearing down on you, or are distracted from that car pulling into your lane by a phone call from home, things are going to get nasty.
Also, let’s be honest, in any large group of people, there is always one character who can get a bit tiring. If your not sure who that is in your group, it’s probably you! I am joking of course. Having too many people chattering away, connected to a hub, whilst the group is riding technically challenging roads or terrain, is fraught with danger. As such, these systems tend to limit the number of those who are able to talk, to around four at any one time. If you are finding the group chatter distracting, you can drop in and out of the group at will. Bluetooth reconnection is best done whilst stationary, as it can be fiddly. (More on this later).
Personally I am uncomfortable with the idea of using a Bluetooth feature that involves a conversation on the phone, or even loud music whilst involved in;
Urban riding with high levels of traffic hazards, track days, or any kind of competitive riding where you would instantly become a danger to yourself and other riders.
The idea of taking a phone call whilst in motion is a real danger under any circumstances. Far more so than talking to other riders in the same group who all have one purpose. Anyone who has tried to do a simple task like make a coffee whilst on the phone, will know how easy it is to get distracted from the task at hand. For me, if you bike is moving, don’t take a phone call!
This is a debate that may well become more prevalent as motorcycle communication systems become more popular. I say, be safe and be sensible. If you are riding within your skill level and are prioritising external sound and data before the latest Deadmau5 album, or that call from home, then you can’t go far wrong.
There is a community of people who are concerned about the safety of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi in general. Bluetooth works in a similar way to Wi-Fi, it is essentially radio waves. Whilst we have been using radio waves for decades, there is an increasing focus on how these are affecting our physiology. There is no conclusive proof that using a Bluetooth device, mobile phone or wireless router system of any kind, is actually causing damage. Which means of course, that there is no conclusive proof that it isn’t either. I guess it comes down to each of us reading up on the subject and making an informed decision as to our priorities. One thing I can say for sure, is that using a Bluetooth communication device is no more dangerous than using a mobile phone, airpod™, home router or any other wireless device.
Activities where motorcycle Bluetooth systems would be a distinct advantage may include;
…long off road social rides, which can be a lot more fun as you share banter with your mate or group of mates. Extensive group touring, both on and off road can be vastly improved with Bluetooth communication. Having directions fed to you at split decision moments, and simply being able to keep conversation flowing for hundreds of miles, really adds to motorcycling as a whole. We all hate having to to turn back and find the road/turn off that we missed four miles earlier, especially as the day wears on! I guess with this shift in attitude, banter whilst riding is going to be more of a thing. At least now, when your mate who is leading takes the wrong turn, you can start winding them up about it long before you even reach the bar!
The advent of Bluetooth communications does put an end to the endless cycle of having to take your helmet off and then put it back on again, every time your phone rings. Having established that motorcycle Bluetooth Systems are here to stay, and that on and off road, there are benefits to be had, lets see what is out there…
Top 5 Bluetooth Communicators for your On / Off Road Motorcycle 2019
As we have discussed, Bluetooth and bespoke protocol processors (Dyno Mesh, and the other manufacturer specific systems), have rapidly accelerated the functionality of even the most basic of systems. For very little money, you can bag yourself an extremely capable package. When considering the best motorcycle Bluetooth communication systems, I am looking at products that offer exceptional functionality, reliability, Safety features and, above all value for money.
In the top 5 Bluetooth Systems for 2019 I am presenting options for off road and on road riders who require the best out of their Bluetooth Communicator system. I have chosen models which will work well for those who are spending long days in the saddle whether you are are touring, adventure riding, offroad, track days ATV or road riding.
Best Motorcycle Bluetooth Ultimate Guide 2019
Sena have positioned themselves as one of the leading manufacturers of Motorcycle Bluetooth Systems. They have achieved this through cutting edge technology, high levels of research and development, reacting to the evolving market and setting their own high standards. Sena proudly tout their mission statement as “Advancing Adventure” particularly when faced with the word “Can’t”.
With products spanning motorcycling, skydiving, boating, mountain biking, industrial teams and even the peletons of the Tour De France, it is easy to see how their reputation has grown. Their passion for adventure and obsession with perfection matches that of their key client base, so if you place a high demand on your equipment then Sena will undoubtedly come up on your radar. Even some of the helmet manufacturers now describe their helmets as “Sena” ready, rather than just Bluetooth ready. That says something quite significant about their market positioning.
Sena products are pretty easy to use within the parameters of a tech item. Of course, any technical product is going to pose challenges. Fitting a kit to your helmet can be fiddly, and navigating apps and menus to set up a product always has those curse moments. Expect any motorcycle communication system to have some foibles. None of them will be as simple as switching on and going.
On the whole, if you are relatively tech savvy, and are happy to mess around with some, clips, wires and speakers, it wont be too long before you are ready to go. You can learn the more in depth features as you go.
Buying tip: Beware when considering the Sena 30K
Something to consider when looking at the 30K Sena!
Since the launch of the Sena 30K in late 2017, the popular brand has inadvertently upset some of it’s loyal followers. The problem seems to have arisen when 30K users attempted to listen to music whilst connected to a second user via Bluetooth. As we mentioned earlier, the ability to listen to music or GPS whilst simultaneously having useable Bluetooth connection to another rider has become a standard. When customers found that, in fact, this functionality had been lost on what they considered to be a flagship model, their were some very upset people. Throughout 2018, the forums were littered with impassioned people, incredulous that having spent over $300 on a unit, they had lost features present on cheaper and older versions.
When researching for this article, I was not in a position to test this feature for myself. As this is quite a significant issue I contacted a Sena dealer to see the current state of play. The first dealer I contacted was UK based MCA Motorcycle Accessories of Leicester, UK. There answer was fairly straight forward. We have not yet stocked the 30K as the 20S is selling so well for us. (See the review of the 20S below). Next up, I tried Bridge Motorcycles of Exeter UK. They told me the same story. The 30K hasn’t made it on to their shelves. Both dealers were of the exact same opinion. The 20S is a fabulous system and, at this point, offers the best value for money in the Sena range. With this information, it was apparent that the high end Sena model for this article should be the 20s which you can find reviewed below. rather than the 30K
Looking at the negative reviews, it would seem that a large number of existing Sena customers had upgraded to the more expensive 30K with the new Mesh technology, expecting all the features of the 20S PLUS new features. In reality, the 30K, which employs a new “group talk” feature, has actually removed the ability to listen to music or GPS whilst talking to another Bluetooth user. The ability to listen to two audio sources is still possible, BUT ONLY if everyone is using a Sena 30K in Mesh mode. Bluetooth connection on the model has taken a step backwards in many peoples eyes. This doesn’t help if one or more of your mates is riding with something other than a Sena 30K. When connected to someone without a 30K and via Bluetooth, your shiny new 30K will have the ability to listen to just one Bluetooth source at a time.
Digging through the technical support responses and customer opinions, it would appear that the error was a case of miscommunication (very ironic). Sena hasn’t been clear about the reduced functionality of Bluetooth in the case of the 30K. Their has been no official statement, but it is most likely they had to remove one of the two Bluetooth chips found on other models, in order to accommodate the hardware for the Mesh, thus removing a channel. Looking through the various marketing materials, it certainly isn’t clear that Bluetooth functionality was degraded on the 30K. It is easy to see why customers were upset.
The whys and wherefores of how this has happened are not really the point. The point is, if you are looking for a communication system, and you want multiple functionality when in Bluetooth mode, then the 30K is not going to suit your needs. In this instance you will want to look at the 20S If you are buying as a group of friends, or as a passenger/pillion, and all users will be using a 30K, this ceases to be a problem as you will use Mesh, not Bluetooth, most of the time. It is probably best to see the 30K as a completely different product to the 20S, not a development of it. I hope this pertinent information stops you from making a very expensive mistake. Most retailers will not refund a motorcycle communication system once it has been opened.
So now we have tackled one of the most controversial aspects of this subject. Let’s get on with looking at some really great motorcycle Bluetooth communication systems.
Best Motorcycle Bluetooth Communication Device. Sena 20S Review
The Sena 20S raised the bar considerably when it was launched. Taking what they had learned from the Sena 10S, and retaining the FM radio, Sena added the ability to have up to 8 riders on one group. They also added the ability to listen to two Bluetooth sources simultaneously through the addition of a second Bluetooth chip.
The 20S quickly became a benchmark product and remains so today. There are always certain characteristics of Bluetooth, like having to reconnect manually if a you have dropped out of range of the group, which can be frustrating and fiddly. (This is the kind of problem Sena may have been trying to eradicate by developing their mesh system) But, on the whole, a vast amount of riders and dealers agree that the 20S is a benchmark in Bluetooth communication.
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The 20S comes with a comprehensive iPhone/Android app which allows the user to fully configure their unit using a friendly interface, rather than relying on multi function buttons. There are a whole host of adjustable parameters, from volume settings through to group rider configurations.
Since its launch, the major update on the 20S has been the type of antenna used. The old unit had a hinged antenna which has now become a moulded shark fin antenna with no moving parts. Not only has this improved connection, but it is one less thing to snap off.
Battery life is good, with around 13 hours of talk time, 10 days of standby and a recharge in around two hours using USB. The unit can also be recharged while you ride if you patch into the bikes electrics via a USB.
There are just 3 simple control buttons for accessing functions on the move. One of the nice features about the 20S is the ambient mode. Pressing the ambient mode button will amplify the outside world through the speakers, making it much easier to communicate with people when you are off of the bike, but are still wearing your helmet.
The 20S comes with a boom style mic, a wired mic that can be attached to the lining of a helmet if you are using full face, and a hybrid mic that has different positioning options. As well as the disc style speakers, which would be fitted in the lining of your helmet, there is a universal mini jack. The mini jack provides functionality for anyone who prefers to use ear buds over speakers. It also has an Aux input, so that you can connect old style iPods and other sources that don’t work with Bluetooth.
Sena’s jog dial design is a real plus in terms of ease of use. However, Off road, touring and adventure riders take note, the jog wheel design does reduce the waterproof rating of the unit. Sena describe the unit as Weather resistant, rather than waterproof. This does mean that in a period of sustained rain, the unit may go into safety mode and shut down to protect itself. One of the future features must surely be a fully waterproof version of the jog wheel, if that is possible.
Finally, voice activation is also a feature. There are a range of commands and instructions that your unit will understand when you activate voice command using “Hello Sena”. If you use Siri/Alexa, then this way of using the unit may well appeal to you.
Specifications and features of the Sena 20S
- Bluetooth 4.1
- Audio Multitasking
- Intercom (2KM, 1.2 miles)
- Eight way Communication
- Universal Bluetooth Communication
- Voice Command
- FM Radio
- Group Intercom
- Noise Cancellation
All in all the 20S was a game changing product when it was launched, and it is still one of the best motorcycle Bluetooth communicators on the market. Value for money, it is top of the Sena products list. I think one of the main factors for touring, enduro, adventure and off road riders has to be the level of Water resistance. Although the Sena will switch off to protect itself, I feel a fully waterproof unit which will stay working regardless of the conditions is a much better choice for riders who will be riding in all weathers.
Sena 10C Pro Combined Camera/Communicator
Best Motorcycle Bluetooth Communication Device. Sena 10C Review
Here is something a little bit different. Most people are aware of the ever increasing demand for a good quality camera for your ride. Since the advent of Go Pro cameras, the world has become awash with HD footage of all kinds. For track days, off road days, Adventure riding, and touring, one of the most tedious aspects is compiling all of the footage after the event. Having to ride with a separate communicator, camera, and wired mics can be a bit much. So if you are looking for a Camera solution and would like to add Bluetooth Communication as an extra, or if you are considering a Bluetooth Communicator and have not yet thought about a camera, this is a great option.
Sena launched the 10C a few years ago. Now updated with a better camera and a few other minor improvements, the Sena 10C Pro is a the latest version of their Bluetooth Communicator/Camera combination unit. If you are a vlogger, or simply enjoy sharing your riding exploits with friends and family, the 10C Pro from Sena will give you a great all round functionality. Even if you already own a camera, and are looking for a new communicator it is worth a look, as you can then re-appropriate your existing camera for a new angle.
How does the Sena 10C Pro perform as a Bluetooth Communicator?
The 10C Pro works really well as a Bluetooth Communicator. It has all of the features you can find on the Sena 20S. This is great news as, there is always the worry that a combination unit will in some way compromise the functionality in some way.
You are going to be able to enjoy up to two Bluetooth connections simultaneously. You can connect to up to 4 other Bluetooth users over a distance of 1KM. There are voice command functions and the unit comes with the same choice of mics and high quality speakers as the Sena 20S. It has the FM radio and you can charge while you ride. The 10C pro even uses the same layout of simple controls including the ever popular jog wheel. I presume this means that the 10C Pro is only listed as weather resistant and not fully waterproof, like its other models.
Sena 10C Pro Bluetooth Communicator Features
- Up to 4 riders 1km
- Dual system Bluetooth functionality
- Voice command for basic functions
- Boom or wired mic
- New improved larger speakers
- FM Radio
How does the Sena 10C Pro work as a camera?
Again, the 10C Pro by no means embarrasses itself. OK, the stills camera is only 3.7Megapixel, but how often do you use a camera on your bike? The video for the 10C pro has been uprated to around 2K – and will give 30 FPS at 1440 with the 64GB SD card (Not supplied)
Picture quality is not the best on the market, when compared to high end dedicated cameras. You are not going to be using this camera for professional filming assignments! It is is perfectly good enough to use for leisure riding, sport riding and even vlogging. For the latter, you can use it in combination with your other cameras and get a mix of shots, whilst reducing the amount of kit you need to wear.
Set up is made a whole lot easier with the neat internal WiFi. This feature allows you to live stream to your smart phone and see exactly what the camera is seeing in real time. It also allows you to send the footage to the smart device, without the need for removing the SD card, editing or converting the files. This means you can be sharing content online minutes after you have shot it.
Another neat trick on this model is the addition of loop mode. Anyone who has used a GoPro will know that this is not a new idea, but it is now available on the Sena 10C in this Pro variant. Loop mode means that the camera will continue to film once it has reached the card capacity by overwriting the previous 2 hours of footage. As you ride, you have the comfort of knowing that the unit is always recording data. If at any point you want to save a section then you exit loop mode at the push of a button. If there are no incidents that you need to save you just let it keep looping. I can see this being very useful for long rides when there is very little happening, courier riders, or urban riding when you may want to use it as a kind of dash cam, or if you are looking to catch a particular shot and don’t know when or where it may happen!
This feature is supported by another upgrade for the 10C, which is the ability to charge while you roll. Using a micro USB connection, you can keep the unit charged via 12v to make sure you don’t miss a thing on a long day in the saddle
Maybe this is not the device to buy if you are looking for a dedicated high end camera. If you are currently shopping for a Bluetooth communicator and you could see the benefit of having a camera too, then this is a really good option to consider.
Sena 10C Pro Camera Features
- Accepts an external SD card up to 64gb (Buy separately)
- Internal Wi-Fi to allow real time streaming to your smart phone
- Noise cancellation system for audio
- Watch and share to social media instantly without the need to remove the SD card and convert files
- 3.7MPX camera
- 30 FPS at 1440 for around two hours with a 64GB Card
- 135 Degrees Field of view
- Loop mode.
- Charge while you Roll
2. Cardo – Motorcycle Bluetooth Communicator
Generally considered as Sena’s rival market leader, Cardo have a long history with Bluetooth communication products. Back in 2003 they were one of the only manufacturers in the world, to be producing Bluetooth headset to link to a phone.
Since then Cardo, have continued to develop and evolve the concept of Bluetooth communication for the motorcycle market. In fact, Cardo are in fact a company who have been first to the line with many Bluetooth communication features. They boast the first built-in FM radio, rider to rider communication, long range intercom, music sharing and mesh device concept. In 2018, they released their natural language voice activation system which not only mimics, but integrates with, Siri and Alexa.
Cardo feature here in the top motorcycle Bluetooth Communicators guide with their flagship system.
One of the nice things about the Cardo approach, is that they offer a selection guide on their website. You can go through and checklist all of the things that are important to you as a rider, and the site will present the models which will meet those needs.
The correct choice from the five communicators offered by Cardo is influenced mainly by the number of people you want to connect too. They have grouped their products into units that are for a solo rider (Freecom 1+), through to up to 15 people in a group (Packtalk). From the Freecom 4+ and above, you see JBL speakers added to the specification as standard, as well as Cardo’s App compatibility. These legendary speaker manufacturers have design fantastic sounding headphones for Cardo and the feedback from many sources says that you can really hear the difference.
Cardo Packtalk – Best Motorcycle Bluetooth Communication Device. Cardo Packtalk Bold/slim Review
Cardo enter our best motorcycle Bluetooth Communication at the very top level of product functionality and performance. With all of the fuss surrounding the Sena 30K, I was very interested to see what Cardo have brought to the table at the 30K price point. The answer would appear to be, one of the most capable, and highly specced systems available. The Cardo Packtalk bold/slim offers two choices of head unit. The difference between the Bold and Slim is all in the size of the head unit. Using a system initially designed for HJC, you can have a choice of a bigger unit which has a built in battery, or an ultra slim one with an external battery. With the latter, the battery is clipped on at the rear of the helmet, leaving just a low profile control unit on the side. Personal taste will dictate which you will prefer.
The Packtalk range was upgraded in early 2018 with a complex digital sound processor. This processor improves an already impressive level of sound quality. It also facilitates their “natural voice activation” system.
The main feature of Cardo Packtalk over a purely Bluetooth Communicators system, is the dynamic mesh network. Before we go too far into the Cardo system, let’s just look at what this mesh type technology is offering.
How does a Mesh motorcycle communication system work?
In short, a mesh system will create small clusters of riders, which in turn will be linked together to form a group. Using this type of technology, Cardo are able to achieve up to 15 riders linked in a group. With the clusters each having their own broadcast distance, the effect is that a daisy chain of connections will pass communication up and down the “mesh”. As this web of clusters expands and closes up with the riders, so the field of communication moves with it. This self made network will work up to 5 miles in distance! Individual riders, or clusters of riders can drop out of the group but remain in contact until they are out of range.
If someone drops out of the group completely, the mesh system will patch them back into the group automatically. This “self-healing” feature is pretty impressive, as anyone who has tried to rejoin a Bluetooth connection on the move will know. With Bluetooth, the rider rejoining would have to request access via the person they are paired too. Pairing Bluetooth whilst riding is all very fiddly and should be avoided. With the Mesh system, all of this happens automatically, making sure you stay in touch with the group without having to fiddle with buttons on the move.
Bluetooth only riders can patch into a Packtalk group by joining to one of the Packtalk riders in Bluetooth mode and piggy backing their connection. Whilst the Bluetooth rider will not be able to rejoin automatically if they drop out of range, they will be able start off connected to the pack. All they need to do is keep up!
Where Cardo Packtalk seems to have outshone the 30K is in Bluetooth mode. Whereas the 30K will not allow you to have multiple Bluetooth sources going at once, the Packtalk will. Reading between the lines, this is due to a bridging system that links Bluetooth and Cardo’s DMC (Dynamic mesh) system. This is important, as it is this extra layer of function that allows you to connect to a second Bluetooth device, whilst maintaining a conversation. If you need to keep a dialogue with your pillion and want to share music simultaneously for example.
Packtalk is a highly advanced system and so expect there to be a learning curve before understanding everything fully. Every technical product will throw a challenge or two. This is one of the most advanced systems on the market, and therefore it will take a few ride outs and some head scratching before you understand everything it is capable of. There are bound to be some cursing moments as you try to set up a group of multiple riders. or fiddle with the settings on the app. Ultimately though, this system will reward you with some very impressive features.
For the off road riders, tourers, and adventure riders, there is one thing to note. The Cardo Packtalk range is FULLY WATERPROOF. You can ride as long as you want, in the wettest weather, with total confidence. For me, this is the deal clincher. As an off road rider, I would have to look at Cardo products.
Specifications and Features of the Cardo Packtalk Bold/Slim
- Connection from 2 to 15 riders
- Highest quality JBL Speakers
- Universal Bluetooth Connectivity
- Around 1KM range when riding in normal Bluetooth mode
- FM Radio
- Merge any Bluetooth connection with the DMC Mesh system
- Automatic Volume Control sensor Raises and lowers volume according to external noise
- Audio Sharing with connected rider
- Comprehensive App for smart phone control
- Charge while you ride
- 13 Hours Talk Time
- Drop from the Group to a Private connection with any rider of your choice
Cardo Scala Solo
Best Motorcycle Bluetooth Ultimate Guide 2019; Scala solo review
OK, it is time to switch it up a bit. We have looked at some of the most complicated and feature led units on the market. However, not everyone wants that. What if you simply want to listen to some music, GPS, or have the comfort of knowing you can make the occasional phone call? You may not want to talk to other riders while in motion. For many, the solitude and peace of motorcycling is the whole point.
Well worry not. Cardo have just the product for you too. The Scala Solo delivers the most basic of Bluetooth Communication unit. You can make a call, you can listen to music, and you can receive GPS instructions. This is a single Bluetooth connection device. That means that all of those features will be accessed, one at a time, on just one device. That device is likely to be your smart phone. Make sure that you keep your Smart Phone fully charged, or at least have a battery pack available, because if your phone dies, your entertainment will go with it.
The Scala solo comes with a noise cancelling, low profile, boom mic. Speakers are basic, but functional.
The housing is Cardo’s totally waterproof and dustproof and so off-roaders can use it with confidence. There is not much more to say. The Scala solo is ideal for the rider who wants some connectivity but is not looking to plug in to the outside world, other than the ability to phone if required.
In terms of company information and history, there is not a huge amount of information out there on Uclear. They have been building Bluetooth Communicators for some years and have some established models in the marketplace. They also derive much of their technology from systems built exclusively for the military, so there is little doubt as to their capabilities.
Like Sena and Cardo, Uclear have a model for each of the various price points and feature specifications you may require. From the information that they do provide, it is easy to see that their military pedigree has shaped their product range towards adventure sports. For this reason they feature in our top Bluetooth Communicators list. Uclear have their own Mesh technology which operates much like Sena’s and Cardo’s with a few subtle differences. They also have the latest Bluetooth 5 technology on their current ranges.
Functionality can be fine tuned using their dedicated clear link mobile app which gives you complete control over their higher end models using your smart phone.
Advanced beam forming is Uclear’s clever unique selling point. Rather than employing the traditional boom mic, or chin mount mic used by competitors, Uclear have devised a unique system which is moulded into each earpiece. The easiest way to explain this system is to imagine holding a torch either side of your head. If you were to direct those torches so that the light intersected on the ground in front of you, you would see a hot spot where the beams intersected. A brighter section, where the two ovals or circles combine. Well, the Uclear mic system works the same way with sound. Positioning the speakers either side of your helmet as you would normally, the mics form a hot spot of “sound collection” just in front of your mouth. This makes Uclear units one of the easiest to fit as there are less wires and sticky pads to worry about.
The built in DSP (digital sound processing) chips in Uclear products are very capable too. Not only do they recognise the sweet spot generated by the beam system, processing the audio accordingly, they will deal with noise suppression and audio enhancement.
These are great technologies for any rider. However, for dirt bike, off-road, adventure, track day and solo riding, Uclear recently introduced an industry first with their Usafe Crash Sensor. This feature is only available on their top end Motion infinity product at this point. Given the companies marketing direction, which is aimed squarely at adventure sports such as ATV, snowboarding, rock climbing, skiing, snowboarding and power sports in general, this is a feature they should consider expanding across their entire range.
The Usafe crash sensor will recognise a suspect head movement and unusual rotational acceleration patterns resulting in an impact. Following activation, if you fail to respond to the unit when it prompts you, it will contact preprogrammed emergency numbers and let someone know you may be in difficulty. When linked to a GPS or Smartphone with GPS, It will give precise locations so that the emergency services can find you. This is a huge leap in safety features for Bluetooth Communication units. Weeks after its launch, motocross rider Lucas Nelson was using a Motion infinity when he crashed on an off-roading day. The unit alerted his girlfriend and let her know exactly where he was so that marshal’s were able to locate him. Lucas is recovering from serious vertebrae injuries. Had he been out alone, and without this technology it could have been much worse.
Another safety feature which Uclear is pioneering is the hand gesture control. They already have voice activation, but the addition of hand gestures to control music and volume regardless of what gloves you are wearing is yet another example of how Uclear are putting riders safety first. This neat system uses a laser to read the hand signal. Although you have to be a little more careful about where you mount the unit (to avoid false positives from your shoulder), this is a great option to be able to use. You can switch hand gesturing on and off as you require it.
Uclear Motion Infinity
Best Motorcycle Bluetooth Communication Device. Motion Infinity overview
The motion infinity is aimed squarely at those who want to push their riding to the limit. It is a fully featured Bluetooth 5 / Mesh technology system offering a whole host of new and unique features. The Infinity is an adventure sport product. If you are going to be riding for extended periods in harsh conditions then the Infinity has been designed to do just that.
Motion infinity Bluetooth Communication
The Motion infinity will connect with most Bluetooth devices. Uclear suggest using your smart phone for GPS, music and telephone, as opposed to having separate units for each. The Infinity will connect to other manufacturers Bluetooth communicators and uses full duplex communication with two way conversations being possible with more than two riders.
Motion infinity Mesh Connection
Uclear’s Dyno Mesh technology will allow connection for multiple riders even if some of those riders are not using a mesh product. It will automatically reorganize grouping as riders change positions and allows for the maximum amount of communication distance allowed by the FCC between cells, (pairs of riders). Focus is on keeping the group in touch with the lead riders.
Motion Infinity voice command
Like Cardo, Motion Infinity have a full range of vocal commands that also integrate with Apple Siri and Google Voice. The voice activation updates constantly via the cloud to ensure it is always operating with the latest commands.
The ear pieces, which incorporate the microphones for the advanced beam system, are a little thicker than some other earpieces, something to bear in mind if you don’t have cut outs for earpieces in your helmet. The motion infinity is a complex system. You will need to spend a bit of time getting to know the individual features and capabilities. On the plus side, the new mic system will save some fitting time.
The Infinity Units are designed for all weather use and so you can use them off road and for all weather touring with confidence.
Finally those two Uclear Safety features are both present on the Motion Infinity, and it is for this reason that it appears in our top Motorcycle Bluetooth Communicators list. Firstly the hands free gesture feature will enable you to control basic volume and music settings with a series of simple hand movements. This is ideal for when you are wearing thick gloves or mitts. This feature drastically reduces the amount of time you have your hand of the bar. The gesture language is easy to learn.
Perhaps my favourite of all of the features on this product is the Usafe system. Knowing that your unit will call an emergency contact if you are lying unconscious at the side of the road is a real comfort. I think this type of system is a big priority for the industry, especially for off road and adventure riders, or adrenaline sports of all kinds.
There are a wide range of products out there and it is easy to get lost in the variations and features. I have tried to keep this article focussed on key features and benefits for the off-road, adventure and touring communities. I hope you have found it helpful in narrowing the range of products you are looking at.
If you are looking at Bluetooth Communicators, don’t forget to check out the Article, Best ATV helmets which features a whole host of dual sport helmets, many of which have speaker cut outs and are ready to receive a Bluetooth Communicator.
We have seen some impressive features, my favourite of which are the Uclear safety features. It would be good to see manufacturers collaborating and developing this system so that it could become a standard on all price points. Potentially this could lead to some kind of cross manufacturer alert system where an SOS could be sent to any riders within a given radius, or to your dedicated group.
While on the subject of suggestions, the UClear Dyno mesh system places priority on keeping the group in contact with the lead riders. It is always helpful to be able to keep in touch with the rear of the group too. Maybe an option to configure your group so that the system picks up voice channels from front and rear, would be advantageous. Food for thought. Anyone who has dropped off of the back of a group with a problem would certainly agree.
If you have any comments, ideas or suggestions please feel free to leave them!
Look out for Top 5 motorcycle Bluetooth Helmets