Intercom Dilemma

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jayjay10117
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Wasn't sure if this should be Technical or Touring but here goes. I recently changed my ST1300 for a K1300GT and was going to move my old Autocom unit to the new bike. A friend suggested that I take a look at one of the new Bluetooth intercoms which would get rid of those annoying cables. He uses an Interphone F4 system which he is very pleased with but a bit of web surfing has also brought the Scala Rider G4 system to light. There doesn't seem to be a lot of difference between them, with exception of price, so I was wondering if any of the members had any experience or advice.

drumwrecker
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Re: Intercom Dilemma

Doesn't bluetooth stuf require a battery?

That would put me off.

I would also check its compatability with the BMW Cambus wiring.

shuggiemac
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Re: Intercom Dilemma

The bluetooth units all have inbuilt batteries that you can charge but trouble with them is once they are flat then you are knackered. So on a holiday or whatever you need to carry another charger. The quality of them is getting better for sure but they don;t handle multiple facilities as well as a good quality wired unit and at the end of the day one cable is not exactly that big a deal, or is it?

We sell top end bluetooth intercoms and cabled units. Autocom is now owned by Starcom by the way and it is the latter which we carry on both the wired and bluetooth fronts. It is our experience that a lot of guys who have a cable unit who change to a bluetooth one very often swap back, as they miss the superior quality of what they had as well as the fact that they never lose power, can handle two - separate phones, music inputs (rider and pillion), GPS, remote volume, high quality sound etc etc.

As with everything though, it all comes down to personal preference. Personally even though we sell them I don't use one very often but that is not because I don't believe in our products, I am just an anti-social sod and the last thing I want to do when I am on a bike is talk to someone else!

Eldor
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Re: Intercom Dilemma

I have a Midland BT-2 on one helmet and I never liked it. Too much wind noise from it (even with a full face helmet).

On two open face helmets, I have Scala Rider G4 units. They're pretty good and they work well with my Bluetooth GPS and phone (partnered via the GPS). The FM radio is really a disappointment though and it has a hard time pulling in even local stations. In North America the only way to buy it is with a boom mic permanently attached to the unit, therefore it doesn't fit most full face helmets. And the unit still attaches to the outside of the helmet which generates some more wind noise (adding to the noise that most open face helmets already have) and I've never been fully happy with the volume level I've gotten with it.

I just changed to a Schuberth C3 helmet which is supposed to be one of the quietest (if not THE quietest) helmets around. I haven't been able to try it yet because we have a snow-tire required law here in Quebec that ends on March 15th. I wear glasses and this is the only full face helmet I've ever been able to put on easily while wearing the glasses. And peripheral vision is superb with it, rivaling that of my open face helmets.

I've ordered and am waiting for the Schuberth SRC communications system, which is a custom version of the Scala Rider G4. Schuberth North America told me that the FM radio reception is even worse than the real G4 (due to antenna limitations) but there's a mini jack connection for a small pocket FM radio if I feel the need. But this system fits entirely inside the helmet without in any way adding to wind noise and coupled with the quietness of the helmet, audio volume should be the best ever.

Having said all that, several members of a local riding club have G4 systems and we've been able to connect to each other quite easily and even from a surprisingly long distance away. This is something that of course cannot be done with a wired intercom system.

My main use of this system is to get the directions and traffic alerts (I have the optional traffic receiver) from my GPS as well as to listen to FM radio while I ride. I rarely MAKE calls while riding but have received calls and that's a handy ability also.

Cheers!

roundincircles
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Re: Intercom Dilemma

Eldor: My LOCAL helmet supplier claims the Schuberth Bluetooth is subcontracted to Scala, it is very expensive to purchase in Europe. I have a C3 by the way and find it noisy, even though I have an 80 db hearing loss, and it may be bike specific but my Arai is less noisy

The wired systems will communicate between bikes when mated to a two way radio like the Kenwood whatever and has an extensive range. The cost adds up of course.

I now have a Bluetooth module attached to my wired (Starcom) system for streaming various devices to my helmet.

ed
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Re: Intercom Dilemma

I was looking to buy an intercom system but frankly found it all so confusing that I simply went off the whole idea. I've also got a C3 helmet but 300 euros for 1 intercom is quite a price I think when for example the BT midland is 200 euros for 2 units. Is the Schuberth unit that much better?

jayjay10117
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Re: Intercom Dilemma

Thanks for the input folkes. Lots there to consider. Personally I always wear a full face helmet as I have yet to find a flip front helmet that didn't have fitting issues. Just that shape of head I suppose. Shuggiemac...you say you sell top end systems. Do you have a website I could visit??

shuggiemac
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Re: Intercom Dilemma

jayjay10117 wrote:
Thanks for the input folkes. Lots there to consider. Personally I always wear a full face helmet as I have yet to find a flip front helmet that didn't have fitting issues. Just that shape of head I suppose. Shuggiemac...you say you sell top end systems. Do you have a website I could visit??

Hi Jayjay, many thanks for the enquiry. I am in the Czech Republic so unless you are over here then it would not be worthwhile using us. I also won't put our web address on Kevin's site as I don't want to use someones else's property to try and promote our business free of charge. If you would still like to take a look then I can send it to you in private message but it is in Czech language, though the pictures are universal!

I don't think I would be abusing that principal as such, in simply pointing you towards the Starcom and AutoCom web sites by using Google and you can buy direct from them, if you are in the UK. As I previously mentioned Starcom is now the owner of Autocom and it is the former of these that we have the most experience with. They are top quality units and the issues such as wind noise, which other posters are mentioning, is not a concern as these units have superior electronics that cancel wind noise effect out. This is only a recommendation of course but we have many happy customers here and I would not discuss the products on a site such as this if I was not genuinely sure of it's capability.

roundincircles
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Re: Intercom Dilemma

As a Starcom and Autocom user I can vouch for both but now use Starcom as the connections are smaller in dimension and seem to stand the test of time. Starcom have upgraded Autocom electronics, design and build quality so I am out of date regarding Autocom

As Shuggiemac says it is worth a trawl thru' both websites.

jayjay10117
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Re: Intercom Dilemma

Excellent. Thank you both for the advice.

Eldor
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Re: Intercom Dilemma

roundincircles wrote:
Eldor: My LOCAL helmet supplier claims the Schuberth Bluetooth is subcontracted to Scala, it is very expensive to purchase in Europe. I have a C3 by the way and find it noisy, even though I have an 80 db hearing loss, and it may be bike specific but my Arai is less noisy

The wired systems will communicate between bikes when mated to a two way radio like the Kenwood whatever and has an extensive range. The cost adds up of course.

I now have a Bluetooth module attached to my wired (Starcom) system for streaming various devices to my helmet.

Even Schuberth says their Bluetooth system is by Scala, but they say they handle the support and firmware updates themselves.

And it's not only very expensive in Europe! It's crazy expensive here, especially considering the FM reception is virtually useless. But the fact that the until fits entirely inside the helmet with nothing attached to the outside to make wind noise, means this should be the quietest option around. At least I hope it proves to be in practice as I haven't received my SRC yet.

The only other full face helmet I have is a Shoei and that's fairly noisy because of the Midland BT-2 attached to the outside. The wind just whistles right through it. And I just cannot put on or take off that helmet while wearing glasses. My Arai helmet, as nice as it is, isn't a full-face model so by nature it's noisier than a full-face.

Eldor
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Re: Intercom Dilemma

ed wrote:
I was looking to buy an intercom system but frankly found it all so confusing that I simply went off the whole idea. I've also got a C3 helmet but 300 euros for 1 intercom is quite a price I think when for example the BT midland is 200 euros for 2 units. Is the Schuberth unit that much better?

Since you have a C3, the main advantage the SRC system would give you is that the entire unit fits inside the helmet without anything being attached on the outside to whistle in the wind. Other than that, the Midland BT-2 is quite qood (I have it on one helmet.)

Eldor
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Re: Intercom Dilemma

jayjay10117 wrote:
Personally I always wear a full face helmet as I have yet to find a flip front helmet that didn't have fitting issues.

What would be the proper way to refer to the type of helmet that the Schuberth C3 is? I've been calling it a full-face helmet, but then again it is a flip front. It is by far the most comfortable helmet I've tried (just got it and haven't actually ridden with it yet) and the only full-face that I'm able to put on and take off while wearing my eyeglasses.

roundincircles
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Re: Intercom Dilemma

Eldor, that's a good point about the lack of wind noise with inboard fitting - easy to overlook!

Bails
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Re: Intercom Dilemma

I have starcom and Sena SMH10. I have tried Bikercom , which seemed to have the right idea but fidelity was crap. For blue tooth sound the Sena is the best I've come accross, and price is good $299.00 for two. Battery life is a full day. Did find the music would drop out at times but that was no big hassle.

Now some issues:- No system is perfect with modern electronics, I have iPhone 4, and Garmin Zumo 660. YOu cannot have the phone through Garmin and then to Starcom if you want music Muted for the other functions, such as two way radio ! Starcom does not have dual stereo for modern Phones, so you cannot plug the iPhone in and use the functionality of the iPhone, streaming Stereo for example.

My suggestions are:-

If you want communication by two way radio, go for wired ! If you want to use Garmin, speak to passenger, have passenger listern to own music, and have intercom to other bikes, SMH10 is good.

ed
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Re: Intercom Dilemma

Bails could you tell me is the sound quality talking to the pillion much better with the wired system?

zzrwood
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Re: Intercom Dilemma

One thing to think about with Bluetooth is that if the battery goes flat, you've got nothing...

I have been using an Autocom with Zumo 660 - for GPS directions and pillion communication - for the past five years. Its generally pretty good, but could do with a little bit more volume when traveling at a rapid pace :-) Then again, I am wearing earplugs so its not too bad. Have toyed with getting earplugs with speakers built-in which would fix that, I think.

Rider to pillion communication is fine up to about 130km/h (with ear plugs) - above that its a bit hard to hear. GPS about the same, or a bit worse (lucky I don't often need to "turn left in 50 metres" at 130km/h...)

I would love a wireless system, but there would need to be a better battery management model than anything I have seen to date - either replaceable batteries, so you could take a spare, or a way of charging while riding - for when you forgot to charge it overnight while touring.

Cheers from Oz

jayjay10117
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Re: Intercom Dilemma

I have done a fair bit of surfing in relation to this problem and believe that the best reviews I have come across are at www.webbikeworld.com/motorcycle-intercoms . As far as Bluetooth systems are concerned, they are in no doubt that the best sound/volume is to be had using the Interphone system. The jury is still out on this but It's looking more and more like the Interphone F4 for me. It seems to have all the features of the Scala with better sound. The only point where it is inferior, as far as I can see, is 'Bike to Bike' range and that is not of great importance to me. I can also buy Interphone locally and it's cheaper than Scala.

stevew
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Re: Intercom Dilemma

We have a similar setup to you, but changed to "Shure" earbuds. This gave a dramatic improvement to sound quality and levels over the standard Autocom speakers, requiring a 50% reduction in Garmin 660 (and 550 before that) volume adjustment.
Cheers

Bails
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Re: Intercom Dilemma

jayjay10117 wrote:
I have done a fair bit of surfing in relation to this problem and believe that the best reviews I have come across are at www.webbikeworld.com/motorcycle-intercoms . As far as Bluetooth systems are concerned, they are in no doubt that the best sound/volume is to be had using the Interphone system. The jury is still out on this but It's looking more and more like the Interphone F4 for me. It seems to have all the features of the Scala with better sound. The only point where it is inferior, as far as I can see, is 'Bike to Bike' range and that is not of great importance to me. I can also buy Interphone locally and it's cheaper than Scala.

Funny they gave Sena SMH10 the Product of the year for 2010

http://www.webbikeworld.com/motorcycles/best-motorcycle-products-2010.htm

Bails
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Re: Intercom Dilemma

ed wrote:
Bails could you tell me is the sound quality talking to the pillion much better with the wired system?

Sound quality is very good on the passenger intercom, also very loud ! Speaker size is quite large , Battery life is great mine lasted for a good 12 hour day, and that is listening to music. Might add that I do turn off when stopped.

It is not perfect, if you have iPhone you can only pair one item, as the iPhone uses both profiles , so although it is supposed to be able to pair with Phone and headset , iPhone will use both profiles. I found that my best course of action was to pair iPhone with Garmin and use the Garmin Music player, you can select tracks via the Sena , but you cannot use the iPhone playlist. For me at $299.00 for two it was a great deal !

jayjay10117
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Re: Intercom Dilemma

[http://www.webbikeworld.com/motorcycles/best-motorcycle-products-2010.htm[/quote]

Bails wrote:
Funny they gave Sena SMH10 the Product of the year for 2010

http://www.webbikeworld.com/motorcycles/best-motorcycle-products-2010.htm

I'll check that out but they definitely said Interphone sound was better. There was even an audio sample provided for comparison.

ed
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Re: Intercom Dilemma

Thanks for the reply, sounds like the wired system doesn't have that much of a quality advantage afterall.

jayjay10117
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Re: Intercom Dilemma

Thought I had better clarify my reply to Bails above. I was confusing my mention of Scala with his reference to SENA. Sorry about that. I have checked the review on the SENA and indeed it seems impressive. Price not far off the Interphone too so it's possibly the way to go. Thanks for that Bails :-)

Bails
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Re: Intercom Dilemma

jayjay10117 wrote:
Thought I had better clarify my reply to Bails above. I was confusing my mention of Scala with his reference to SENA. Sorry about that. I have checked the review on the SENA and indeed it seems impressive. Price not far off the Interphone too so it's possibly the way to go. Thanks for that Bails :-)

No worries, I purchased mine from e-bay and had them 4 days after. As stated they are not perfect but very good for the price. Very easy to get up and running, I reckon 10 minutes to fit. I am still to read the instructions and have used them quite a bit.

ed
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Re: Intercom Dilemma

I ended up going for an obscenely expensive Baehr wired system because I had a local distributor who got me a unit and fitted it for me at very short notice just before I went on holiday. Just back from the longer trip 2up with it and although I've nothing to compare it with very impressed so far. The cable isn't too much of a problem, no more so than the other fumbling I've to do with gloves, earplugs, helmet and stuff before I get on the bike. We both had earplugs in all the time and were able to talk at 160+ kph despite the wind noise on a GS. Sometimes we could talk normally and hear each other very clearly at this speed and other times we had to raise our voices to be heard. I think this depended on whether it was blustery or not outside and how the noise sensors react to this. What put me off a bluetooth system was that I like to drive quite fast on the motorway when possible and I wasn't sure that a bluetooth would be so good for that. I've it wired up to a Zumo and occasionally use it for listening to music when I'm on my own on the bike. A minus point is you can hear some crackling in the earpieces at higher speeds, I think this is windnoise from the passenger microphone though perhaps fiddling with volume and windsensor adjustments would improve this. Really sold on intercom systems now and wouldn't ever want to do a longer trip without one.