Best Motorcycle Intercom Reviews – Complete Buying Guide and Best Picks for 2018
Have you ever tried to maintain a chat with your passenger while riding along the road on your motorcycle? You’ll believe me when I say that it’s hectic, right?
It becomes even harder when you want to communicate with other riders in your group without taking your helmet off or yelling your lungs out.
But that’s where the best motorcycle intercoms come in.
Among other things, these systems connect you to your pavilion and other bikers nearby. They also allow you to make and receive calls handsfree.
This article brings everything that you need to know when buying your first helmet system.
We’ve analyzed 571 reviews of motorcycle intercoms, and compared them side-by-side.
Below you will find a comparison chart.
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A Few Things to Keep In Mind
Motorcycle intercoms are still generally new in the market. Well, they have been around for, let’s say, 10 years now.
What I mean is that there’s still more room for improvement. In fact, each year seems to bring new changes and more options regarding features and functionalities.
Besides adding more fun to your solo or group rides, these new add-ons also make it a little bit hard to choose one system over another.
I will be taking you through a list of must-have features that you need to consider when purchasing your next motorcycle intercom system later in this article.
Before that, here is a rundown of the most important questions that should guide you when shopping for these gadgets;
- What do you need it for?
- Are you looking for something with an advanced stereo system?
- Does it allow you to connect to nearby riders? If Yes, how many?
- What is its connectivity range?
- Is there a way of curbing background noise?
- How is its audio quality?
- Does it allow voice control?
- Is it affected by extreme temperatures?
- Does it offer hands-free operations?
- How long do its batteries last?
- How easy is it to use?
Sena 20S-01 – Best for Intercom Conferencing
Sena Technologies, a South Korean manufacturer with worldwide contacts is a giant in the cycling market.
This company has a knack for unveiling a couple of new features with every new release. Therefore, it’s not a surprise that the 20S, which is a step up from the popular SMH10, is currently its most advanced model today and its flagship helmet communication system.
One of the key reasons why I think this might be a good buy for you is that it utilizes the famous Bluetooth version on the market; the Bluetooth 4.1.
For the non-tech savvies, Bluetooth 4.1 is held in high regard due to its speedy data transfer and minimal cases of downtime.
The speedy data transfer and strong connection make the Sena 20S a great system for multitasking. This means that you can listen to music either from your phone’s playlist or FM and use GPS at the same time without experiencing slowdowns.
Audio overlapping and recording are 2 other excellent features that this gadget brings. Audio overlapping means that you can now simply reduce the volume of the music or audio GPS to receive an incoming call. This is a great improvement from the interruption-based Bluetooth versions.
This system also offers you an audio recording function that will come in handy for those who love recording video clips along the way. This feature allows you get crisp clear audios that you can add to your videos later and share with friends on your social media platforms.
The ability to connect with up to 8 buddies is a biggie feature too. The Sena 20S currently holds the record for the most connections.
But the most impressive bit is that it can maintain a strong connection within 2 kilometers or 1.2 miles. Unfortunately, this range is strictly on a line of sight.
Even better, if you are traveling as a family or a group of friends, you have total control of riders that you want to add to the list of intercom participants.
This headset also has an amazingly easy-to-use interface. You can control all features through voice command (simply by tapping the device twice) or through an optional handlebar remote control.
Sena SMH10-11 – Best For Audio Quality
The Sena 20S is the advanced version of the SMH10-11. But that does not necessarily mean that the latter is out of the market yet.
First things first. The Sena SMH10 definitely makes a great option for motorcyclists who want a headset that offers the basic functionalities that they expect from an intercom and perhaps a little more without breaking the bank.
One thing that we like about this headset is that it has been engineered to fit well with most helmets. So, if you are looking for a model that won’t be hellish to install, this might be it. I bet this headset’s universal compatibility also makes it a great choice for gifting too!
This motorcycle intercom uses Bluetooth V3.0. Although this isn’t the strongest version, the good news is that it will still allow you to maintain a stable connection with up to 4 other riders along a 900-meter stretch.
Similar to other intercoms, the range of connectivity might be considerably lower especially when riding in cities. It may even cut out altogether on busy streets and in corners. But what’s so good is that it reconnects automatically once the riders are in sight.
Another definite advantage of Bluetooth V3.0 is its compatibility with multiple devices that support HSP/HFP which is standard on most phones.
It also accommodates most MP3 players, audio GPS and other audio gadgets that utilize the A2DP (Advance Audio Distribution Profile) spectrum.
Receiving incoming calls through this headset is seamless. You simply need to make some noise into the mic or hit a button. On the same note, you can also make voice commands to make a dial hands-free.
Most users report that the audio quality is top-notch. Worth mentioning here is that most people who have used the SM10-11 and the Sena 20S affirm that the SM10-11 leads in terms of audio clarity when making or receiving calls and listening to music although it might be affected as the needle approaches the 100km/h mark.
Another great feature is that all the audio functions- phone, music, GPS, intercom, and music- have an individual volume setting. Even better, each audio input retains its audio input after reconnections.
This headset’s battery is rated for 12 hours talk time and 10 days standby time from a 2.5-hour charge. You can charge it through a USB or your bike’s cigarette lighter.
FreedConn T-COMVB – Best For Affordability
A motorcycle intercom is a great way to maintain a lively chat between you and other riders and your pillion. Unfortunately, these devices can get really pricey especially if you are eyeing Sena, Interphones, and Midland among other big names.
Freedconn, however, proofs that you don’t have to sell a kidney to enjoy this fun.
This manufacturer’s T-COMVB is among the most affordable yet reliable models that I found for you. It might be a good choice for riders who are just starting out and don’t want to spend chunks of change on devices that they aren’t sure whether they’ll perform as expected. It also makes a great choice for an inexpensive gift.
Besides its incredible price tag, the main reason why we include the Freedconn T-COMVB here is its simplicity and ease of use.
First, I have to say that this is a great option if you are looking for a weatherproof headset. This system beats the Sena 20S in that it has been crafted to withstand both rainfall and sun.
This communication system also prides itself in its extensive applicability. Similar to the Sena SMH10-11 above, the Freedconn has been upgraded and now uses the Bluetooth 3.0. It supports Hands-Free Profile (HFP), Headsets Profile (HP), and Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP).
This means that you can connect it to your phone, GPS, MP3, and other intercoms. Speaking of intercoms, this headset allows pairing with 3 riders and 2 intercoms.
Admittedly, this number is low compared to other high-end gadgets including the 20S. But I wouldn’t complain considering its price.
This motorcycle intercom offers a range of 800 meters. The manufacturer says that it can maintain a reliable connectivity even at 120km/h although most buyers report that audio starts becoming a digital soup at 96-112kph which is still commendable for a device at its price.
Other great features include above-average audio quality and a battery that could last you at least 8 hours off a 4-hour single charge. FM is also a great extra.
Yideng Bluetooth Motorcycle Headset – Best For Ease Of Use
The Yideng is yet another communication system that is designed to meet the needs of most intercom enthusiasts without being insanely pricey.
Of course, we don’t expect it to bring some top-of-the-range features that high-end models offer. But I think this model still has a lot to go for even at its unbelievably low price tag.
Other than connecting you to your pillion, the Yideng also allows you stream music from your phone or mp3 either wirelessly or via its 3.5mm audio jack.
It’s a good thing that this headset can connect to virtually any helmet. Its Bluetooth 3.0 wireless connectivity allows you to pair with up to 3 riders and do intercom conferencing with 2 riders.
Even better, you have the option of connecting your Bluetooth-enabled GPS to this system to transfer the voice navigation closer to your ears.
It also has FM radio functionality so you can listen to some stereo music and get traffic information all from one device.
One thing that makes the Yideng motorcycle headset unique is that it is usable in all weather conditions. Yes, it allows you to go skiing, snowboarding, and even cycling in the rain or sun without losing its performance integrity.
Speaking of performance, this intercom maintains a strong connection at between 600 and 1000m while supporting 60-80mph. The sound quality is great as well although a few buyers do wish that the speakers could get a little bit louder.
Lexin LX-B2 MotoFon – Best For Style
Thanks to its impressive design, the Lexin LX-B12 might be your go-to intercom if you want something with a little bit of style.
But I would like to mention here that the Lexin LX-B2 is purposely designed for solo riders and motorcyclists who want to stay connected with their passenger.
This device’s intercom has a range of 10 meters which is admittedly so short to maintain a conference among some riders on a busy highway.
While this won’t be a good choice for guys who enjoy hitting the road with their buddies, I bet it won’t be a problem if you don’t participate in group rides.
The Lexin LX-B2 is based on Bluetooth 3.0. Considering its short range, the key advantage that this intercom offers over other similarly priced motorcycles (Yingden and Freedconn T-COMVB) is a stable connection and extended talk time hours (8-12).
Another great feature is that this headset allows you to make or receive calls both manually and hands-free. This feature alone is a great deal for a helmet intercom headset that costs way below a hundred bucks.
User control is a walk in the park too. Most riders appreciate that there isn’t much to learn or to remember. You can have this system installed and set up in less than 5 minutes.
The major issue that we have against this intercom is its short coverage. Other users also report that this system takes some time to start up after being switched on.
Best Motorcycle Intercoms Buying Guide
What is a motorcycle intercom?
It’s very likely that you already know what this is. For the uninitiated, a motorcycle intercom, also known as a Bluetooth headset, is a system that makes it easy to chat with your passenger and other nearby riders comfortably without yelling or taking your helmet off.
These gadgets have a microphone and a set of speakers. Several high-end helmets come already fitted with these accessories right out of the box, but you could also purchase the system separately and add it to your existing helmet. This article brings the latter option.
What do you want it for?
The market has hundreds if not thousands of these devices. They all come at different price tags, of course, depending on what they are capable of doing and the brand.
In my experience, and as any other motorcycle enthusiast will tell you, one sure way of narrowing down to your ideal device is by determining what you intend to use it for.
Most people, especially those who ride solo, want a Bluetooth headset for casual purposes such as listening to music and audio GPS.
If you hate having to pull off at the side of the road to make or receive a call, then a headset that allows you to dial or receive incoming calls is what you need.
On the other hand, if you are fond of making long road trips in a group, it might be a great idea to go for headsets that allow you to connect wirelessly and chat along the highway.
Figuring out what you’ll be using the headset for beforehand minimizes the chance of paying for features that you won’t use. It also eliminates the risk of falling for a device that won’t meet your specific needs.
What Features Should You Consider?
Wired or wireless?
There are 2 major ways of getting music and audio into your helmet; wired and wireless. I’m sure you are already pointing out that wireless is the most convenient option. That is true.
Don’t despise wired headsets though. Most people still favor these classic models with the perception that they have crispier sound quality than their wireless alternatives. They are also known to use far much less power.
The major drawback of wired headsets is that they tend to limit your freedom of movement to the size of the cable. They are also more prone to breaking in case you accidentally ripped them off.
On the other hand, wireless technology is making huge leaps to make up for these differences. Manufacturers have worked hard to improve the sound quality, and you might not notice the difference especially when listening to digital music.
Wireless is slowly becoming the new standard, and the popular 3.5mm jack may soon be a thing of the past as proved by Apple’s latest iteration of the iPhone.
Connecting with other riders
Not unless you only want the helmet intercom to play your favorite music playlist, it might be a great idea if you can connect with other riders especially when making long trips.
Being able to communicate with your riding buddies is not only fun, but you could also share important safety info while on the road.
If you are thrilled by this versatility, the next 2 points are a must-read.
Number of possible connections
Motorcycle intercoms also vary with the number of devices that they can connect to ranging from 2 through 8.
This choice depends on how often you ride as a group and the maximum number of riders that you’ll need to connect to at a go.
Being able to connect to multiple devices is a cool feature. The only catch is that it hikes the cost of the device by a huge margin.
I don’t know about you but rarely do I ever find myself needing to connect with more than two other riders. So, I have no business spending a few hundred bucks for a headset that allows up to 6 connections.
If you want an intercom that keeps you connected to other riders nearby, it will be important to check the distance over which the device promises a secure connection.
This varies from one model to the other. Fortunately, this is among a few other features that don’t affect the price. So, go for the best performer here.
While the main idea behind a motorcycle intercom is to make communications a breeze, you don’t want it to distract you while at top speed on a busy highway.
That’s where a device that allows hands-free operations comes in handy. Not all models will offer this feature, and you’ll need to part with a few more bucks for headsets that offer it. Among other things, intercoms with voice command allow you to pick and make calls without letting go off the handlebars.
But is it so necessary?
Well, anyone who has switched from a purely manual headset to a hands-free model finds it a must-have feature.
However, you don’t have to kill yourself for it especially if all you need the headset for is listening to music on short distances.
Sound quality is one feature that you don’t want to compromise regardless of your budget. As I have said before, an intercom eliminates the hassle of yelling as you try to communicate with your passenger or another cyclist amidst wind and engine roar.
That being said, these headsets are only as good as their sound quality. You not only need a model that can get loud enough for your needs, but its sound quality should also be as crisp as possible.
Speaking of sound quality, consider if the headset has a way of muting unwanted background noises, for instance, from the engine and other vehicles on the road. Most intercoms use ‘Boom Free’ microphones and ABF Noise Cancelling Technology to boost the sound quality.
Ease of Installation and Use
Helmets that ship with an onboard intercom doesn’t involve any complex installation procedures. But they can be darn expensive.
On the other hand, standalone Bluetooth headsets offer two options for installing them to your existing helmet.
Some require you to use 3M double-sided tape to stick them on the helmet. Others ship with a compatible clamp that you use to hold them in place.
Either way, you need to be sure that the gadget is held firmly in place and won’t fall off or require to be adjusted every now and again.
Importantly, the device should ideally be simple to use. Luckily, most manufacturers are working on this, and most of the recent offerings are way much easier to operate than they were a few years back.
Battery Life and Charging
In my opinion, battery life is the second most important feature after audio quality. I believe no one fancies to be stuck with a device that can’t hold power for a few hours.
Fortunately, and as I hinted earlier on, most manufacturers today are making all stops to offer you batteries that last for hours even with continuous use.
The current standard battery life is 8 hours, but this may be affected by the number and type of features that the headset offers and how you use the device too.
What we’ve just discussed are the basic features that make a great motorcycle intercom. However, it’s always good to compare add-on features that competing devices offer.
For instance, an intercom that throws a GPS or camera into the mix without breaking the bank isn’t a bad idea at all. Such a model will go a long way in giving you a good bang for your buck.
As you may have realized, there are a lot of features to consider and decisions to make before narrowing down to your ideal motorcycle intercom.
The most basic but important features include the connectivity range, battery life, and the number of participants that it can allow in an intercom conference.
The Sena SMH10-11 is our pick of the best motorcycle intercom. We like that this system offers some great features without being unnecessary pricey as its sibling the 20S.
For instance, although this headset uses Bluetooth V3.0, it is still capable of maintaining a sure connection over a distance of up to 900 meters which is still so good.
We also like that the SMH10-11 allows intercom conferencing and it’s compatible with a range of devices. These are pretty much some of the functions that the 20S offers only that the SMH10-11 intercom does not take its price through the roof.