A common trait among riders new and experienced is to forget to switch off their indicators.
I’ve had many riders tell me they never forget, but that is rubbish. I see it all the time and it’s dangerous as it indicates to drivers that you are turning when you may still be riding straight ahead.
No wonder there are so many accidents where cars drive out in front of motorcycles!
While cars have had self-cancelling indicators for many years, motorcycles are only just starting to feature them.
The solution for these motorcycles is aftermarket self-cancelling indicators which are not only expensive but can fail, especially if not fitted properly.
Now 19-year-old University of Warwick electronics engineering student and avid rider Nicolas Rogers of Germany is taking a year off his studies to work on a prototype of his Indimate system.
It provides an audible indicator alert sound to the bluetooth unit on a helmet which is a simpler and cheaper system than aftermarket self-cancelling indicators.
“While taking my motorcycle lessons I often forgot to cancel my turn signals and when I learned that I’m not the only one with this problem,” Nicolas says.
“I spent a significant portion of my first year at university developing and testing various solutions to the problem.”
His device connects to your in-helmet intercom and plays a clear turn signal sound which can be personalised for volume, duration and tone via a smartphone app.
Cars have had audible indicators for decades and they work to remind drivers to switch them off, even when they don’t automatically cancel.
However, you can’t hear indicators on a motorcycle.
The small Indimate unit can be fitted anywhere on your bike, but probably best under the seat so it can’t be stolen.
There are four wires that connect to each indicator, one each to the ground and positive battery terminals.
Indimate can also act as a Wi-Fi access point allowing the user to connect to their mobile phone.
So if you are listening to music or taking phone, the indicator noise will tick tock in the background.
Nicolas says he is also considering automatically adjusting the indicator’s volume according to the amount of wind noise detected by the phone’s microphone or playing a short “beep” when the accelerometers of the phone detect that bike has returned to an upright position after a turn.
“Forgetting to cancel your turn signal isn’t just annoying, but can put you in a dangerous situation with another driver who doesn’t understand your intentions,” Nicolas says.
“My hope is that Indimate will increase rider safety, and maybe even save a life one day.”
Indimate has been through 15 iterations so far after Nicolas experimented with bright indicator warning lights, vibrating handlebar grips and handlebar-mounted speakers.
He is now looking to run a small Kickstarter campaign for early adopters in the coming months.
He expects the unit will cost between $A62 and $A78.
You can sign up to Nicolas’s mailing list on the website by clicking here.
While the Universal has a very small controller that sticks on the outside of the helmet making it suitable for all helmets, the Boom has the controls on the boom microphone, so it’s only really suitable for open-face helmets or modular helmets when the chin guard is in the up position.
I tested the Boom model and found it so quick and easy to install I am able to swap it in seconds from one open face helmet to another.
The lightweight 55g unit simply velcros into the helmet and the wires tuck behind the liner. It includes a USB charging socket on a cable which you can discretely tuck under the liner.
The only issue I had was that the boom mic is a bit heavy and sometimes droops because the velcro backs of the speakers won’t stick very well to the helmet liner.
The boom has only two controls with plus and minus signs on them. Yet they control power on and off, pairing, tracks up and down, volume and all phone functions.
It sounds easy, but you have to remember how to use them as some functions require using both buttons and others just the one, but tapping it or holding it down for a certain period. It takes a little while, but you soon get used to it.
While the mic features Sena’s noise control system, it was impossible to have phone conversations when riding over about 80km/h with an open-face helmet.
That’s not because of the wind noise in the mic, but because the speaker volume is not high enough. You also tend to shout at that speed to hear yourself over the wind noise, causing the person on the other end of the phone to ask you to stop shouting!
It’s ok for around town and is fine if you don’t wear filtered earplugs. However, IU always wear filtered plugs so phone calls and music over 80km/h are out of the question.
Sena claims up to eight hours of talk time on a single charge and seven days of standby time. I can confirm the latter, but not the former. Who talks for that long!
However, I was able to listen to music all day and take a couple of calls without the battery going flat.
I suspect the 3S PLUS Universal would also have the same volume level issue in open-face helmets.
Both claim two-way HD intercom at a range of 400m, so long as there aren’t major obstructions such as buildings.
Bike-to-bike communication systems have become very popular over the last decade. The increased demand has seen a rapid improvement in the quality and capability of these devices. Unfortunately, it has also led to the rise of a lot of sub-standard technology that provides nothing but frustration in exchange for your hard-earned cash!
A good motorcycle intercom system will be able to provide hassle-free communication with your fellow riders or passenger, over a substantial distance, with real audio clarity. It should be intuitive to use, and shouldn’t leave you banging your helmet in rage!
To help you make the right direction, we’ve put together a list of quality recommendations from some of the leading manufacturers. Over the years, a small number of manufacturers have stood out among the rest thanks to the quality of their products, but even among a small group of providers, finding the right product for your needs is still tricky!
Our recommendation methodology is simple. We make our decisions based on a combination of real-life experience, product familiarity, and real-life reviews. All products have to provide a certain level of satisfaction, receive positive reviews from trusted sources, and offer the right balance of value for money. If it ticks the right boxes, it’s worthy of the list.
The UCLEAR AMP Go 2 Bluetooth Communicator is a great choice for riders looking for an affordable entry-level Bluetooth communication device. The AMP Go 2 is the successor to the brand’s celebrated Go system and features a number of impressive upgrades over the previous model.
The AMP Go 2 uses Bluetooth 5.0 for improved performance and now boasts full-duplex intercom technology for easy rider to passenger communication. The 2-person intercom functions to ranges of up to 800 meters, with multi-point connectivity that allows users to connect with multiple Bluetooth devices, including GPS systems and smartphones.
The hardware includes a dual boom-free microphone, high-definition Boost 2.0 speakers, and a weatherproof UCLEAR AMP Go 2 control unit that has a battery life of up to 12 hours. The purchase of this system also gives users access to UCLEAR’s free Clearlink smartphone app.
In summary: this is a great budget intercom system. It’s not without its limitations, such as the lack of features including two-user compatibility, and the lack of music sharing, but for the price, it’s hard to find any real faults with this product. It’s the perfect entry-level device.
Next up, we have the Cardo Freecom 2+. It’s another entry-level device with decent upgrades over the previous version. The Freecom series are given names like 1+, 2+, and 4+. The difference between the products is the number of riders that the system supports. For example, the 1+ is a system for a solo rider only, while the 2+ is a rider-to-rider system. The 4+ is a four-way rider communication system
We prefer the uncomplicated nature of the 2+ arrangement. This small device has some excellent features, including 2 Bluetooth channels, click-to-link functionality, stereo audio sharing between rider and passenger, GPS connectivity, and a built-in FM radio too. Phone interconnectivity allows for accepting and rejecting phone calls, as well as speed dial and other functions.
The system is a small and compact unit that operates using Bluetooth 4.1 technology. It uses interchangeable hybrid and corded microphones, with HD 40mm stereo speakers. The whole system is IP67 waterproof certified, making it an excellent system for wet conditions!
The only real negative point of this system is the limited usable range, which is a fairly low 500 meters. Still, that’s a very minor negative point!
The SENA 5S is another quality entry-level device packed full of top-end technology. The SENA brand is one of the biggest names in the helmet communications industry and their products always receive fantastic reviews. The 5S boasts up-to-date communications technology in a reliable and durable package.
The 5S uses Bluetooth 5.0 technology, a built-in LCD display, a quality microphone, and high-definition speakers. It can be controlled using voice commands, via the LCD display when your helmet is off your head, or via SENA’s advanced Utility App. The app has excellent audio EQ controls, fully customizable settings, and the ability to pair with any SENA or OEM intercom systems.
According to SENA, the 5S has a battery life of 8 hours, a standby time of 7 days, and an operating range of up to 750 meters.
It’s a small device that’s really easy to install, intuitive to use, and relatively affordable. Some reviewers have noted that it isn’t the loudest system, but more people agree that it’s more than enough for most rider’s needs.
If you’re looking for a compact and versatile intercom system that offers exceptional value for money, then give this one a try.
UCLEAR’s Motion Series family is a great choice for those looking for reliable communication devices. For this list, we’ve chosen the Motion 4 Lite. The “4” in the name refers to the fact that it can accommodate four users at a time. The Motion family has a number of different sizes, but we found that the 4 was a good all ‘rounder.
Powered by Bluetooth 5.0 technology, the Motion 4 Lite is an up-to-date communicator with a number of exciting features. It uses DynaMESH technology, which is a great feature for riding groups who use different headset types. The communicator can be controlled with an on/off motion sensor, and by the CLEARLink mobile app. It also has Siri and Google Voice functionality too.
The advertised range is up to 800 meters per person, with a battery life that’s claimed to be up to 18 hours on average.
In terms of hardware, the system uses 40mm Pulse Pro 2.0 speakers for impressive HD audio reproduction and a sophisticated boomless hidden MEMS mic. The control device is small and compact, with a completely universal nature. It offers universal mounting to any helmet.
While it lacks more advanced features that some UCLEAR Motion devices have, this one has an appropriate price tag for an exceptional entry-level gadget.
Following on from the UCLEAR Motion 4 Lite, we have the UCLEAR Motion 6. As we mentioned above, it shares similar DNA to the Motion 4, but with more features and the ability to connect to 6 users at a time. It’s a competitively priced communication device with a surprising number of top features.
This small device uses Bluetooth 5.0 technology. In fact, it was the first system on the market boasting 5.0! It also features 6-rider DynaMESH communication, voice command control, buttonless control, and motion-sensor abilities. The device offers music sharing, music and intercom overlay, call conferencing abilities, private call functions, and Apple Siri and Google Voice compatibility.
It uses the same hardware as the Motion 4 Lite above, including a Pulse Pro 2.0 ultra-premium speaker system with dual boomless hidden MEMS mics, and can be controlled using the brand’s CLEARLink mobile app. The maximum range is rated at 1200 meters, and the battery life is around 18 hours.
Again, this is another great product for those looking for versatility and a universal nature. It’s very well priced too! The only real cons of note are the mounts—they could use some updating. But that’s about it!
Next, we’re back to SENA. This is the SENA 30K, and to date, the 30K is still SENA’s top product. It’s a premium model, but it comes equipped with a wide range of premium features that help it to justify the higher price. Compared with more up-to-date devices, it’s true that some features of the 30K are a little long in the tooth, but don’t discount the 30K—it’s still a solid choice.
The Bluetooth technology on the 30K is one thing that’s a little behind the times. It’ only boasts the 4.1 version. Still, it’s more than capable. It features multi-channel Bluetooth, Adaptive Mesh networking, audio multitasking, and the usual abilities to accept and reject phone calls, and listening to FM radio.
In terms of performance, the SENA 30K still boasts some impressive stats. For example, the intercom offers up to 13 hours of talk time using Bluetooth (8 hours with Mesh). Similarly, it offers a long range of 1.6 km in Bluetooth mode, or a further 2.0 km using Mesh Intercom. Not only that, but it’s also able to fully charge 1.5 hours.
Despite being a little dated in places, the SENA 30K is still one of the best motorcycle intercom systems on the market.
Though it’s cheaper in price and isn’t advertised as SENA’s flagship product, many riders agree that the 50R is a better motorcycle intercom system than the 30K.
The SENA 50S relies on Bluetooth 5.0 technology and features Mesh Intercom 2.0, a multi-person intercom system, an FM radio, and a range of up to 2.0 km! One of the best features of the 50R is the Mesh 2.0 technology. Groups of up to 24 riders can be assigned to up to 9 different channels, and up to six riders at a time can talk simultaneously on one channel.
The actual device has a sleek design, which is paired with HD speakers and a mic. It features simplistic 3-button functionality for easy ride ergonomics that can be controlled via an app or using voice commands if needed. The battery life on the SENA 50R has an average of 13 hours (Bluetooth) or 8 hours (Mesh), and it can be charged in only 60 minutes.
Other cool features of the 50R include advanced noise control, music sharing capabilities, a built-in SBC codec, and SENA’s 50 Utility App.
If you’re looking for multi-functional versatility from a high spec device, then consider the SENA 50R.
Our last recommendation for the best motorcycle intercom systems on the market is the Cardo PackTalk BOLD system, with enhanced audio from JBL. It offers excellent audio quality, an advanced Natural Voice Operation interface, sophisticated intercom technology—all wrapped up in a small and sleek package.
This device uses Bluetooth 4.1. While it’s not the most advanced, this system packs a serious punch. It’s able to host multi-party communication for up to 15 riders, with an impressive range of 1600 meters between riders. With 15 connected riders, that’s a range that covers up to 5 miles! Adaptive Mesh networks facilitate seamless group communication with ease.
Notable features also include advanced voice recognition technology, voice-controlled speed dial, automatic call transfer, and more!
The hardware includes a tough IP76-rated shell with a roller-wheel interface, interchangeable hybrid and corded microphones, and impressive 40mm HD audio speakers from JBL. The battery offers up to 13 hours of talk time or a week on standby, and the awesome ability to charge while you ride! Other cool features include mobile phone conference calling, FM radio streaming, self-adjusting volume control, and advanced noise-canceling technology.
As no system is truly perfect, the PackTalk BOLD has a few negative points. The input controls can be difficult to use, the Cardo App could be better, and the volume isn’t as loud as it could be. Still, this is an excellent device that will certainly do the job!
However, this can be difficult when you’re out on the road unless you have your laptop with you.
The 50 series now comes with wifi capability allowing you to automatically download firmware updates with the special charging cable.
Just plug in the wifi charger and connect to a nearby wifi source such as your phone’s hotspot.
Mesh is an intercom software system that allows multiple riders to connect even when some riders are out of line of sight.
It’s not a system I use much, but for group rides it is very convenient and is a vital safety feature. (In fact, on one occasion, a rider behind me yelped and I knew straight away he had gone down even though I couldn’t see him.)
Critics say the Mesh software is unreliable, but Sena claim the flaws have been fixed.
I haven’t found any difficulties at all. In fact, there is less “crackling” interference from surrounding obstacles such as blind corners, trees, buildings, trucks, etc.
Sena says the intercom range s up to 2km in open terrain, which is about right by my tests.
I haven’t tested its full capacities with a “virtually limitless” number of riders in Open Mesh and 24 riders in Group Mesh intercom. (I don’t have that many friends!)
However, I have no reason to disbelieve Sena’s claims that Mesh extends range up to 8km (5miles) between a minimum of six riders.
Sena 50R tech specs
Price: $545 (single pack), $965 (dual pack)
Warranty: Two (2) year from date of purchase on manufacturers defects
Dimensions: 97mm x 48mm x 27 mm (3.8in x 1.8in x 1.0in)
Speakers: 40mm diameter, 7.2mm thick
Weight: 65g (2.29 oz)
Operating temperature: -10°C to 55°C (14°F – 131°F)
Working distance: up to 2 km (1.2 miles) in open terrain; Mesh extends up to 8km (5miles) between a minimum of 6 riders
Bluetooth Intercom: 4 riders
Open Mesh Intercom: virtually limitless (9 channels)
Group Mesh Intercom: 24 riders
Microphone Noise Cancellation: Advanced Noise Control
The new UN ECE 22.06 proposal also seeks to include testing for head rotation in a crash, visor shatterproof durability and the ability of modular helmets to protect you when the chin bar is in place and when it is open.
Members of the UN Working Party will continue discussions on the ECE 22.06 proposals in June 2020 with two years of research results incorporated before it’s finalised.
This would mean the new regulations would not come into effect in Europe until, at the earliest, 2023.
That will be followed by three years of coexistence with ECE 22.05 rules.
Longtime Australian helmet law advocate Wayne Carruthers says that means they would not affect Aussie riders for about five or six more years.
New helmet regulations
The controversial change is that helmets should not be modified from original manufacturer specification, which appears to have serious implications for intercoms and action cameras.
“Accessories must be fitted in accordance with the helmet manufacturer’s instructions,” the proposal says.
“Only accessories approved by the Authority shall be used. In case of any other modification or addition of non-approved accessories (helmet cameras, visors, communication devices, etc.) the helmet homologation becomes invalid.”
The Australian Motorcycle Council has long said that ECE 22.05 only affects the helmet at the point of sale and should not impact on the owner’s desire to fit accessories, so long as they do not affect the integrity of the helmets.
For example, you shouldn’t drill holes in the helmet to fit them.
However, the new rules seems to suggest that helmets are not allowed to be modified … ever!
Not so, says Wayne.
“Basically the move means helmet manufacturers selling helmets with their own accessories must test them to ensure the helmet with their accessories fitted meets the standard and have approval numbers for the accessories,” he says.
Wayne points out that the phrase “Only accessories approved by the authority shall be used” means aftermarket accessory manufacturers would have to go through an approval process for use on helmets.
“Since comms and camera technology development is moving so fast by the time 22.06 came into force in Europe let alone Australia we would be likely to see standardised inbuilt mounting cavities in helmets for many makes and models of accessories,” he says.
Every day, new technology is introduced to motorcycle gadgets to improve the riding experience and make it safer. More and more of the modern bikes have heated seats/grips, tire pressure monitors, rearview cameras, and more. Today, you can find some high tech accessories that will help you deal with discomfort, inconvenience, and weather. Even if you prefer the traditional route, there are several high tech gadgets that can elevate your experience. Below are some of the high-tech gadgets you can get to pimp up your ride.
1 Helmet Sound System
If you ride your bike regularly or for long distances, you’re likely to feel dull at times. Well, this can change with a helmet sound system which lets you listen to music and communicate. You can pick phone calls, connect with other riders via intercom, and follow GPS navigation using the helmet audio systems.When buying this gadget, look out for multi-device capability, sound quality, durability, battery life, and volume controls.
2 Motorcycle GPS Navigator
It’s never an option to use your smartphone for navigation while riding a bike unless you’re willing to stop and get off the road every time. That’s why you need a motorcycle GPS unit. A motorcycle GPS makes it easy for you to navigate while you focus on the road. In addition, the system offers extra features such as hands-free calling, streaming music, and alerts.
3 Rearview Camera
A rearview camera helps you to easily see what’s behind you, adding safety and convenience to your ride. Rearview cameras for motorcycles give you a rear vision that your rear mirrors can’t. The mini camera is usually placed on the bumper of your bike, giving you a perfect view of your rear. When buying a review camera, look out for key features like waterproof, night vision, and viewable angle.
4 Motorcycle Jacket Airbag
The motorcycle jacket airbag works in a more or less similar manner as the airbags in a car. When the system deploys the airbag, the air cushion inflates to protect the most vulnerable body parts such as shoulders, elbows, and the spine. You can use an airbag vest which can also serve as a reflective vest or get an airbag jacket. Modern airbags strike a balance between comfort, safety, and good looks.
5 Brake Free Helmet Light
The normal brake lights on your motorcycle work just fine. However, they are mounted low on your motorbike and are not easily noticeable in traffic. Brake Free Helmet Light mounts a smart brake light on the back of your helmet, making it easier for motorists to see you. It detects when you’re slowing down and responds accordingly to regular braking, engine braking, and emergency braking. It attaches to almost any helmet using a magnetic mount and uses LED lights that make it visible both day and night. It is a smart brake because it needs no wired installation or connected apps. The gadget is weather resistant and stays lit all the time, only becoming brighter when you brake.