Whether you’re chatting with your mates during a group ride-out, or livening up a solo Sunday blast with the perfect soundtrack, a motorcycle intercom has become a pretty popular bit of kit with travelling adventure bikers in recent years.
The good news is there are plenty of options on the market to choose from, but this does mean it can be tricky to decide what to spend your hard-earned cash on, particularly as different intercoms boast a wide variety of technical features.
So, to help you cut through the lingo and simplify your shopping, we decided to take a look at the different types of riders that use intercoms, and the features they need, to help you make the right choice. And, to further point you in the right direction, we’ve also teamed up with leading intercom manufacturer Sena, who’s suggested an intercom in its current range that’s well suited to each task.
So, without further ado, let’s get started.
If you prefer to ride solo with only your favourite road trip playlist for company, then a simple Bluetooth intercom will suit your needs. The short-range wireless technology will provide a reliable connection to your phone, allowing you to listen to music on your bike.
Of course, that’s not to say you’ll want to compromise the quality of your intercom when you’re in the saddle. Simple doesn’t have to be a by-word for poor quality.
Keep an eye out for features such as HD speakers, to ensure your music sounds great, a good battery life of 10 hours or so to cover even the longest days on tour, and easy-to-use buttons to allow you to adjust the volume or answer calls while you’re riding along.
Simple Bluetooth intercoms can also be paired with others to support rider-pillion chat, if you do occasionally take company on your trips away.
Sena recommends theSF Series: Small, simple Bluetooth intercoms to support solo riding or small groups. All models boast a long battery life, HD speakers, and chunky buttons to control what you’re listening to while you’re on the go.
The motorcycle Youtuber
Sometimes it can be hard to find the words to describe a stunning road or remarkable vista you’ve seen while out on the bike, which is why there’s been a huge boom in riders carrying action cameras on their rides to record everything they see in the saddle. But, fixing a video camera and an intercom to your helmet can lead to serious buffeting when you’re on the go, which is why some manufacturers have started to combine the two.
There are plenty of perks to this approach. Not only can you declutter your lid and save money when it comes to your initial purchase, but combining audio and video recording can save you time when it comes to editing your footage.
A good intercom/camera will be able to record what you’re seeing, what you’re saying, and even what you’re listening to at the same time, so your footage gives watchers the full experience of being there with you in the saddle.
Sena recommends the10C EVO: The sleek unit is designed with aerodynamics in mind and records 4K video as you ride. On top of that, Sena’s Smart Audio Mix allows you to record the music that you’re listening to as well as your intercom chatter, so you can record the complete experience.
The group rider
If you’re looking to keep in touch with your mates while you’re on a group ride-out, you may find simple Bluetooth intercoms don’t quite cut it, especially if you’re riding in a larger group.
That’s where a relatively new innovation, Mesh technology, comes in. Mesh systems work by connecting all the headsets in a group to one another, forming a network that continues to work even if one rider drops out of range. This is differs from simple Bluetooth intercoms, where units daisy-chain onto one another, and one rider leaving can disrupt the entire group.
Mesh intercoms can support groups of over 20 riders across distances of over five miles, and sometimes even more. To put it simply, if you’re riding in a big group and want to keep the banter flowing during your ride, look out for Mesh during your next purchase.
Sena recommends the 50R: Mesh 2.o technology supports groups of up to 24 riders over a distance of up to five miles, with automatic reconnection if someone drops out of range, while the new technology also helps transfer 80% more data than previous iterations, providing crystal clear audio and a solid connection. A simple Bluetooth connection can also be made to a phone or device on solo rides to keep the unit working for up to 13 hours.
The lazy biker
If installing earbuds, microphones, and a bolt-on motorcycle intercom to your helmet seems like a bit too much faff, you’re in luck. Plenty of manufacturers agree, and in recent years have seen a wave of helmets hit the market with intercoms pre-installed.
The best combine all the features you’d expect from a high-end intercom (Mesh technology, high-quality speakers, phone integration, etc), built into the shell of a top-quality touring helmet.
Don’t forget to ensure that any helmet you buy meets all the safety and comfort requirements you’d have for a lid in the first place. Discover our tips for buying a touring helmet here.
Sena recommends the Momentum Evo: With an integrated Mesh intercom, DOT and ECE certification, plenty of ventilation, and plush inner liners, Sena has designed the Momentum Evo to be the hassle-free, smart helmet you take on tour this summer.
The tech lover
Last, but certainly not least, we have the most top-spec, cutting-edge intercoms that combine just about every feature you could want for your ride-outs.
They feature both Mesh technology and Bluetooth connections for group and solo rides, mammoth ranges (up to five miles) for group calls, voice-activation so you don’t have to take your hands off the grips while riding, microphone technology to filter out wind noise, the best speakers.
You name it, they have it. If budget isn’t an issue and you want the best tech money can buy, these are it.
Sena recommends the 50S: Sena’s top-of-the-range motorcycle intercom features Mesh 2.0 Intercom technology to get you connected during large group rides, HD speakers to guarantee top sound quality when you’re in the saddle, and an impressive battery life of up to 14 hours when using Bluetooth. Voice commands also ensure you don’t need to lift a finger while you’re in the saddle, although it’s also fitted with a glove-friendly jog wheel should you want to skip track or turn the volume up.
Sena Motorcycle Intercoms
Now that you’re equipped with a better idea of what you’re looking for from a motorcycle intercom, head over to the Sena website to check out its full range of intercoms.