Bluetooth was invented to replace wired connections over short distances. This has resulted in a multitude of products, one of which involves implementation into motorcycle helmets. Bluetooth technology enables a helmet-and-smartphone connection, allowing the user to enjoy media and engage in communications while riding.
While it is possible to install a communications platform into almost any helmet, many manufacturers offer their own integrated solution. Choosing a helmet pre-equipped with Bluetooth capabilities will save you time and headaches installing a 3rd party solution.
Keep in mind that major manufacturers (Shoei, Arai, Bell, Schuberth, AGV, Klim) are not offering integrated bluetooth options, but looking at brands like HJC, Torc, O’Neal, and Bilt you will find several inexpensive options. Certain manufacturers do offer proprietary external communications platforms to integrate with their helmets (AGV Rear Share).
What to Look For When Buying a Bluetooth Helmet or Add-On Device for Your Helmet
Bluetooth is now at revision 5, which means you’ll want to look for products with a v4.x or higher. Newer revisions allow more data to be transferred with less power over greater distances. That means higher audio quality, multiple users connected via intercom, music sharing, GPS navigation and more simultaneously.
Does the hardware play well with others? If you’re looking to connect with other riders and not just listen to music, be sure to verify that your device will connect with other brands and products.
Are the electronics safe in the rain, or is it prone to moisture damage? If you see yourself ever riding through rain, the smart money’s on investing in weatherproof gear.
How long can you utilize the Bluetooth features on a single charge? Battery life matters, especially on longer rides.
Because electronics can be volatile, it’s good to make sure the product you purchase is backed by a solid warranty. Most major manufacturers offer a 12-month guarantee on parts and performance, but be sure to double check before pulling the trigger.
External intercom systems will be compatible with the majority of helmets on the market. If you’re running a half-helmet or feel like your gear might difficult to set up with an intercom, be sure to check with the manufacturer or do a quick google search to see if anyone has integrated a Bluetooth system into a similar helmet.
The Sena Cavalry is the first pre-integrated Bluetooth Half Helmet on the market. Sena is well known for their External Bluetooth devices, so it’s you can be confident that the technology powering the Cavalry is bulletproof. It features Bluetooth 4.1, supports up to 4 riders and covers up to a ½ mile radius. The helmet itself is DOT and ECE approved.
Torc has one of the most popular budget bluetooth helmets on the market. It has ECE and DOT certifications, features a pre-installed microphone and speakers, and allows the rider to access media, telephony and intercom features while riding. Torc also integrated a spring-loaded sun visor for convenient protection from glare. The Torc is a little heavier than average (coming in at 5lbs), but makes up for the weight with good noise isolation and solid value.
The Sena 20s is the most popular Intercom system on the market today. It provides the user with full connectivity to their smartphone, and communications with other riders even if they’re using a different brand of Intercom.
Once you’re riding, controlling the Sena is possible through voice-activated commands. You can expect to have a functional range of about 1 mile when using the Bluetooth Intercom, and up to 8 people can connect at a time.
You can use the Music Sharing feature with other Sena users, and pairing new devices is achieved by shaking the device thanks to the integrated motion sensor.
The Scala Rider PACKTALK offers all the same features as the Sena 20s, but is fully waterproof. The PACKTALK also features a proprietary DMC mesh-networking feature which allows up to 15 users to connect in group conversation, but this feature is only compatible with other Cardo units.
The connection range between riders is similar at approximately 1 mile, and features up to 13 hours of talk time.
The UClear Amp Pro is one of the most technologically advanced Bluetooth Intercom systems. It features Bluetooth 4.2, connectivity for up to 10 riders, music and GPS sharing, water resistant construction, and up to 10 hours of talk time. The UClear is compatible with other off-brand intercom systems, so you can still connect with riders using a Sena or Cardo on the road.
This Bluetooth intercom can connect with up to two additional units (must be the same brand) for communications up to 800m. It also streams audio and navigation instructions coming from your phone.
This unit is also weatherproof and features integrated noise control technology to keep communications clear and easy to hear. This unit is a bargain at just $50, and it’s well-reviewed on Amazon. Check it out!