Rider communication systems adding features to broaden appeal

Publish Date: 
Mar 20, 2013
By Beth Dolgner

MOTORCYCLES CARRY the stigma of being dangerous, but nothing sounded more dangerous at Dealer Expo than a communication system representative explaining how you can now take calls while you are skiing.

It sounds like an invitation to get intimate with a tree, but it shows just how much in-helmet communication has grown. It’s not just for road-trippers on Gold Wings anymore.

Now that everyone has embraced Bluetooth technology, companies are trying to define themselves by enhancing it with more practical designs and better reliability. During the Expo, SENA Technologies and UCLEAR stood out as interesting alternatives to the traditional speakers-and-a-boom setup.

SENA focused on diversity, offering a variety of setups to fit particular helmet types and even style of riding. The SMH10R was designed to be as slim as possible and geared toward sportbike riders. The system mounts to the left side of a full-face helmet (see photo, above), and the battery compartment mounts on the back. Two smaller pieces, SENA figured, is better than one bulky piece mounted to the side of a helmet. The result is better aerodynamics, and less pointing and laughing from your friends.

The SPH10H-FM has a control module that’s removable via a clamp so that installation on half-helmets is quick and easy.

Touring riders haven’t been left out, either; the new SM10 is a Bluetooth stereo adapter that allows both rider and passenger to listen wirelessly to onboard audio on the Harley Ultra Classic and Honda Gold Wing.

UCLEAR, powered by BITwave, features a speaker in each earpiece, eliminating the need for a boom microphone. Built-in DSP noise and echo cancellation accommodates for the lack of a boom. The system works with voice-activated controls for making hands-free phone calls and communicating via intercom with up to nine other riders.

Blue Infusion Technologies was displaying gear and gadgetry in one small product (see photo, right). The BEARTek audio regulation gloves feature six touch points on the fingers, and tapping the thumb against any of them controls a different function of a paired Bluetooth smart product. While most communication systems boast hands-free usage, the BEARTek gloves are ideal for the solo rider who’s looking to stick to a smart phone rather than a full in-helmet system. (Continued)