Motorcycle Helmet Headset Review
Bike to Bike on a Budget
Fred Rau- Motorcycle Consumer news
Bike to bike communications systems have been around for a long time, but up until recently, have required some fairly extensive, and expensive, hardware. Working for MCN, I have tried out almost every type of system available, .... I thought I'd share my findings...
My requirements were as follows:
- Must have a minimum operating range (under less than ideal conditions) of two miles
- Must not require attaching anything to the outside of the helmet
- Must not require any wiring to the motorcycle
- Must be portable enough to carry in my jacket pocket
- Must either not attach to the motorcycle, or if it does, be removable with less than 10 seconds of effort
- Finally cost no more than $99 per unit
There are dozens of headsets available for GMRS radios that will work in a motorcycling environment. However, given my self imposed budget restraint of $99 per total unit, .... that narrowed the field... Keep in mind that here are even better headsets available for this application if you don't mind paying the price. But then again, I don't see the need.
Though most of the radios will work in the voice-activated (VOX) mode, I would recommend that you get a headset with a push to talk switch, and use it. VOX is notoriously unreliable in a motorcycling mode, as wind and engine noise tend to set it off.
With the Rocketmate headsets and a pair of AT&T GRMS radios I found on sale at Wal-Mart, I have reliable, clear, simple communications from bike to bike. Average working range is about 3 miles, and the rechargeable battery packs last me about three days of normal use on the road. The Rocketmates have a small weatherproof PTT switch that I attach to the handlebars, within reach of my left thumb. When I get off the bike, I can either just unplug the switch and I leave it in place or pull the Velcro tab and take it with me. The radios, switch and wiring all fit easily into my jacket pocket and can transfer to any bike I am riding. I can also simply unplug the headset and use the radios as handled units when I get where I am going, for keeping in touch with my wife at rallies or races. And I can install extra headsets in our bike tester's helmets, and use a handheld to talk to them on the track when we're doing bike tests or photo shoots. You'll have terrific functionality and versatility at a very reasonable cost.
From North County Yamaha (Motorcycle Dealer)
The following is an excerpt from a magazine whose Editor, Gary Dudar, is also the person who writes for the magazine.
"I think you will be surprised how much fun talking to your friends on bikes can be."
"When I arrived at NCY last month for our ride to the Train Museum I was informed that Kendall had a special request for me. I guess that word had gotten around that I am kind of a radio nut and he wanted me to round up two volunteers to try out some new headsets that he was thinking of carrying. After a few moments I found two people willing to let me install the headsets. John was using a full face helmet and Lisa an open face 3/4 helmet. The motorcycle headset is called RocketMate. Makes sense to me so far. The first thing I noticed is that they look a lot like the setup that I use for my 2-meter ham radio. There have been some noticeable improvements. First, the mini-DIN connectors have been color-coded. This makes it quite hard to mess up the connection. Second the connectors are all made of a softer material that makes them water resistant. Third the radio plug comes in all popular configurations, including connectors for your cell phone if you so desire. Installation was easy. Even if you have never had the pads out of your helmet it's quite easy to figure out where things go. The ear speakers attach with Velcro above or below the liner of the helmet, and the microphone with Velcro to the chin part of the helmet. The boom microphone set up is even easier yet. Slide off the foam cover and slide the boom mike under the padding, attach the Velcro to the ear speaker and you are done. I would recommend using a Popsicle stick to place the wires under the padding so you don't accidentally damage the insulation on the wires. The PTT (push to talk) button is water resistant and attaches to your handgrip with Velcro. Select the channel you want to communicate on, test the volume and your ready to go.
Now for the results of the test. The communication was great. Clear transmissions were possible all the way to highway speeds. The microphones are noise canceling and they really work well. If you have tried other communication devices and have been less than impressed as I have you will not be disappointed by RocketMate. I have tried many different radio and headset combinations and this is by far the best bang for the buck.
The headsets retail around $31.00 and you choose the connecting cords based on your radio of choice, they run around $50.00. Now a little pep talk if you will. The quality of the radio you use will greatly affect your ability to communicate. Don't buy a $19 FRS radio and expect high fidelity sound. Get a good commercial quality radio. The radios used in the test were Kenwood FreeTalk XL (TK3101). These are top quality and are not inexpensive. However you do get what you pay for! Also a good choice is the ICOM IC-F21GM. This radio is twice as powerful as the Kenwood but less expensive. It is also commercial grade. Just so you know Kendall has arranged for us to demo these radios and headsets. Feel free to contact him and check them out. I think you will be surprised how much fun talking to your friends on bikes can be."