Choosing a Motorcycle Intercom

Choosing a Motorcycle Intercom

A motorcycle intercom can make your riding experience much more enjoyable as you chat to your riding mates.  You can listen to music streamed from your phone or MP3 player and answer or make phone calls as well. If you have a Bluetooth GPS or radar you can connect those as well. These are things you can do with any Bluetooth intercom but choosing between intercom models can be hard for the uninitiated so will help you through it.

We have been selling Bluetooth intercoms for over ten years and we’ve gone through numerous manufacturers. We now exclusively stock Sena – two words explain why – Quality and Reliability.  I'll add here that Sena also has intercoms that work for bicycle and non helmet-wearing users.

I have personally used an intercom while riding for about 10 years and if I’m out there with a mate it’s great to have those comms for a chat as well as for the “where are you going?” conversations.  Safety increases as the lead rider can let the follower know about changing road conditions.  If my daughter is riding as pillion we really spend some time in conversation and when I’m on my own I can listen to music or a podcast and still answer the phone (when I choose to).

Just pair the intercom once to your phone / radar / GPS and the other unit you want to speak to and then it should connect automatically every time you turn your unit on and the phone / GPS / other intercom is turned on and in range.    

With intercoms, broadly speaking, you pay for range and for features.  You can mix and match models if one rider wants different features to the other, but range will always be limited to the lesser range of the 2 units (i.e. a 1.6km intercom will only have a 400 metre range if paired to a 400m range model).

Most intercoms use Bluetooth but there are some cheaper wired units on the market for rider to pillion use.  Bluetooth is essentially line-of-sight so a 1.6km intercom will achieve 1.6km only where the other rider is in view – the signal attenuates with moisture (so reduces in the rain) and throw in some terrain and the rain will drop.   A 1.6km unit will get a better range than a 400m unit in similar conditions as the signal is stronger. A mesh intercom system will allow the range of the intercoms to increase as the group spreads out and the signal bounces from unit to unit.

Features are such things as the number of other units that you can connect to, inbuilt FM radio, cameras etc.  I use a model with a camera, and I can take video or single shots.  The sound is from the microphone so I can overlay “commentary” onto the video and some Sena models (such as the 10C EVO) allow you to add a music background from your smartphone. Quality is surprisingly good but using the video a lot will suck up battery life.  Good news about that though is that I can use a power bank and charge the unit back up on the go.

Upgrading the firmware is done via the Sena smartphone app and that is where settings are adjusted as well.  For camera models that's where you can edit or sort the videos before storing / sharing.

You can pay a lot for features that you may not use. 

A “conference” style intercom allows everyone to talk at once – a one to one intercom means that you can only talk to one other unit at any time. Mesh intercoms are, by default, conference intercoms.

If you can tell us what you may need then we can suggest a model for you but here are some starter questions to think about

- Do you ride by yourself or with other riders?

- Different bikes or rider and pillion only 

- If 2 bikes what type of riding - riding in a group – will everyone use the same intercom model?

- Other features you would want - camera? radio?

Back to blog