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Discussion Starter #1
Shopping on a budget so am looking to avoid the expense of a full-blown Bluetooth solution to connect to my phone for GPS turn-by-turn directions and phone, maybe some music on a long ride. Now the simple solution is of course earbuds but not only have I never been able to find a pair of earbuds that don't irritate my ears (what can I say, I have sensitive ears) but I have serious doubts about the inline microphone being of any use given wind noise.

So my question is whether anyone has found a solution that:

1. Uses helmet mounted speakers (like your typical Bluetooth solution would..not earbuds)
2. Speakers provide good sound quality
3. Integrated microphone that cancels out wind noise (boom mic preferred)
4. Connects to the headphone jack on your phone

I'm not looking to communicate with other riders at this point so all I want to accomplish is to get turn-by-turn directions, phone calls and maybe listen to some music on a long ride...hence I don't need a full-blown Bluetooth solution.

I know UCLEAR makes the Pulse Plus but the user reviews (Revzilla and elsewhere) are less than stellar and the mic is nothing more than an inline mic typical of earbuds or any other headphones.

Thanks,
Chris
 

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J&M is the only company I know of that makes something to fit your criteria. It is over $400 for what they sell. The handlebar mounted unit is what you would want for a cruiser.

But you will have to buy their headset to work with their system, which is more money. So it is NOT a budget system.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the quick response.

I'll take a look for grins but at over $400 I might as well go with the Sena 20S Bluetooth solution which is discounted at $200 right now. Maybe they have some cheaper solutions...will have to look.
 

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I think that you should consider how you will use the system (whichever you decide upon) once it's installed.

I mention this in regards to safety.

I swear I think some of the systems creators design their controls sitting at a desk. I wonder if they ever even actually ride tested them.

A few years back I was where you are now; trying to decide which is the best system to choose. Like you I wasn't interested in a 'full blown' connected system. I didn't feel I really needed all the bells and whistles that were out there. However...after much research I found that all the bells and whistles didn't necessarily equate to more expensive. More importantly, I discovered that many systems paid little to no attention to sound quality inside a helmet.

No matter what it does in regards to features, what good is it if you can't hear it well? In my research I came across many riders that expressed disappointment with how well they could hear the system.

Ultimately I changed my search parameters and requirements as I discovered sound quality and controls were the most important aspects in deciding which system to invest in.

SENA makes one of the best out there IMHO. They are very feature rich. Able to connect to just about anything you want to. The sound quality is excellent! It consists of speakers mounted inside the helmet. The microphone (both full and open face mics are included) works under still, idle and full on wind conditions providing clear voice Nav, stereo, radio (fm and 2 way) and comms with passengers and/or other riders. Friends have a different system? My 20s has new tech which allows it to sync with other systems!

The system attaches to the side of the helmet and is operated with touch or voice commands. They also sell a handlebar remote. I love the remote a lot! Bottom line; I can operate all of it's features without interfering with my operation and driving concentration. Split second distractions are dangerous. Even more so when riding a motorcycle.

When you factor in the need for in-helmet speakers, proper controls and efficient microphones you will find the SENA systems aren't that expensive by comparison.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Thanks glhadiator (and everyone else).

Sound quality is most definitely a major component in my decision. It's one of the reasons why I've excluded most of the low-end Bluetooth sets as poor sound quality seems to be a common theme in their reviews by users. That and clunky software design that makes it really hard to navigate the system functions.

The Uclear Pulse Pro seemed to be a potential compromise in terms of sound quality as that's supposed to Uclear's strength, sound quality. But of course the mic has no hope of working while riding so I'd have to decide whether or not I can live with having to pull over in order to talk on the phone. I think I could live with that but having said that I've seen several reviews that call into question sound quality and their bulky size can make them an uncomfortable fit in the helmet so I'm on the fence.

As for the 20s, the current price as a closeout item makes it a relative bargain and I hear what you're saying about features and distractions but at the same time I have one kid in college and another on the verge of starting college so am cost conscious right now. As well, I ride alone. I have a good friend who rides but he lives a fair distance away and getting together for a ride is almost impossible. Well, to be honest, thus far it has been impossible as we went all of last season (my first) without managing a single ride together. Now one day it will happen and my son plans to get a bike at some point after graduation so eventually I'll want those features but right now I don't need the bells and whistles.

Normally I'm a "get the right gear and don't skimp" guy. I've even gotten my frugal wife to believe that buying quality gear is cheaper and better in the long run than it is to pinch pennies. So were it not for college expenses I'd have already purchased the 20s and this thread wouldn't exist. I may well still do that but before I go that route I want to see what my low budget options are, in particular to get good quality sound in the helmet for GPS turn-by-turn direactiins as, to your earlier point, taking my eyes off the road to look at the screen on my iPhone is unwise and is unquestionably the #1 reason I take my eyes off the road today. Eliminating that "distraction" by pumping the turn-by-turn instructions into the helmet will increase my safety by eliminating 90%+ of the reasons I take my eyes off the road while riding. Not that I spend a lot of time looking at the screen but reality is that every glance away regardless of how brief is by definition unsafe and if you can eliminate those deistactions you would be wise to do so.

More research and pondering to do.
 

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I second glhadiator about Sena being one of, if not the best out there, I have been using the SMH10 for a long time. We have had up to 5 riders connected to a 4 person system. Not suppose to do it, but it did. I got my system before the 20 or the 20s models. They are updated as far as they will go. I like be able to call the wife or ever make the phone read out text messages to me. At the time I got mine, there was nothing out there to match it, now the newer sena will do more features.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I second glhadiator about Sena being one of, if not the best out there, I have been using the SMH10 for a long time. We have had up to 5 riders connected to a 4 person system. Not suppose to do it, but it did. I got my system before the 20 or the 20s models. They are updated as far as they will go. I like be able to call the wife or ever make the phone read out text messages to me. At the time I got mine, there was nothing out there to match it, now the newer sena will do more features.
Thanks.

Please tell me more about the text to voice feature? Is that part of the Sena software or do you use another app for that!
 

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It just part of the samsung phone stuff. Just voice commands. I run up on it by accident when I recieved a text one day. and the phone keep beeping. When I got home I got to playing with it and found out I was able to have the phone read text to me thru the sena and also send it and never look at the phone.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Ok. My iPhone has a similar feature but you have to tap the screen to tell it to read the message. Once a get an option in-helmet solution I'll have to look for a hands-free app for that.
 

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@ChrisHead

I also currently use a Samsung phone (just upgrade from S5 to S8). I wanted to add to what ka4qyi posted about voice commands.

The SENA systems are a leader in the voice commands for helmet systems. Like you I was concerned about adding distractions to my driving. I was very impressed with the voice technology built into SENA systems. I was amazed how seamlessly it operated with the voice systems built into my smartphone! Absolutely no compromises there.

Just to add; When I make phone calls from my helmet they are crystal clear. I have Cobra Slashdown pipes on my bike. Sitting, in-town or highway I can make calls and the person on the line cannot tell I am helmeted and calling from a motorcycle! When listening to music it automatically pauses the music and I can text or call and resume with no effort. I can even include other riders in my phone call! I did this when riding with some guys and they pulled into the next station just so they could slap me on the back and tell me that was the coolest thing they had experienced in quite some time. All of that without ever even touching it!

I hardly ever ride with others as well. But I can honestly say that my SENA has greatly improved my experience.

And hey, I totally relate to your budget constraint.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
If you're not working in sales at Sena you should be...lol

Seriously though, thanks for the info!

The weather here was nice enough for a ride yesterday and we had a downpour earlier in the week so the roads were clean...a rare combo thus far this winter. It's becoming increasingly clear to me that I need to get voice directions in my helmet and I need to replace Google Maps as my navigation app. I spent too much time looking at the screen and yet again Google Maps randomly decided to blow away my planned route and send me off to a random destination that wasn't even close to my intended route. I'm also tired of the fact that it doesn't offer via points that clear automatically when you reach them but instead forces you to tap the screen to acknowledge that you've reached your "stop" and then tap again to get started on your way to the next "stop". Just more time with my eyes off the road and my hand off the bar...not good. Not to mention that my winter riding gloves don't really work with the touch screen despite claims from the manufacturer to the contrary.

Time to start researching apps and make a decision on an in-helmet solution.
 

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I have a rather dated phone, but I have never had good luck, performance, whatever, with a phone nav app on a motorcycle. Some apps do OK for finding the fastest route to/from work during rush hour, but when going any distance at all, they have all failed me. That's why I have a dedicated GPS unit.

If you are going to use your phone as your GPS, too, there are helmet sets out there that use a 3.5mm jack. I have a set, but it is very old. I was not especially happy with it, so I switched to a Bluetooth unit when I upgraded to a smart phone. Without some form of amplification, they don't get very loud and any ambient noise will drown them out.

I have yet to find any helmet speakers that work well at highway speeds and a full face helmet. The wind noise is just too much. I have a UClear Amp setup now and I like it a lot. I can use helmet speakers when not planning on being on the highway, or earbuds if I am. Their earbuds come with several cushion sizes, of course, but also a set of flanged cushions that taper down like a cone but in increments. These provide excellent sound plus good ambient noise reduction. I use them if I am going to be on the highway for any length of time. I will admit that after 7 or 8 hours, they do start to hurt the first day, and sooner if I use them on consecutive days, but I can hear thru them and I don't have to worry about going deaf from wind noise. I'm not sure how well the microphones work. I only take calls from my wife if I'm on the bike and she would only call me in an emergency.
 

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I worked on the road as a military contractor for a number of years. In that time I used a laptop for GPS Nav. I did this because dedicated GPS devices were only just beginning to be developed and generally sucked. I continually upgraded thru the years. I experienced first hand the features that were being developed. Much of it was very clunky to start with.

Fast forward and about four years ago I stumbled across a program called 'Sygic'. I needed it because I was on the road again and wanted a GPS program that would work on my Smart Phone and tablet.

Add up all of the years of experience and you can imagine what it would take to impress me with A GPS Nav program on my Smart Phone! But I was very impressed with Sygic! It was the first time I felt like the voice commands worked well enough that I would trust them even in high traffic conditions with lane changes and complicated turns.

I can Navigate by voice while listening to music, passenger comms, rider comms and/or getting phone calls. In fact I have it run in the background. I only look at it when I initially set it up and when I'm done riding. I can even set it up to let me know if I'm exceeding the posted speed limit! No other GPS that I used was ever very good at setting me up in the proper lanes for upcoming turns. This program does it so well I can operate in high traffic with confidence.
@ChrisHead
LMAO! I thought the same thing when I was writing my post about SENA! They should pay me! (ha ha, not likely)
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Sygic and Scenic are at the top of my list of apps to test. Am hopeful they have advanced enough to avoid the need for a dedicated motorcycle GPS...certainly while the kids are in college and the tuition bills are coming in. I'll have to live with a phone app for now...dedicated GPS is a future thing at best.

I haven't looked at Sygic in detail yet but did look at Scenic over the weekend and it looks like it has real possibilities. While it doesn't have it's own web interface to create maps it's not hard to do it on the app and it will import routes you define on Google Maps. I saw a demo posted by a user on YouTube and it appeared to work pretty well. Of course it's nearly February now and I'll have to wait for more riding opportunities before I can test again and right now the forecast isn't favorable.

In the meantime I'm having difficulty resisting the urge to pull the trigger on the 20s as it appears to meet all of my current and future requirements (and then some) and is significantly discounted as a closeout item. If anyone wants to send me some ZillaCash or Visa gift card it will make the decision that much easier ;-)

Thanks all for the feedback!!
 

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Go ahead ChrisHead, pull the trigger on the 20s. Just think, in a few months you be glad you did and didn't miss the money.
 

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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
Almost did last night but just couldn't bring myself to do it. Still pondering the wisdom, both short and long term wisdom.

That and waiting for the ZillaCash to come pouring in from the community ;-)
 

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Just a quick reply

I have been looking at "Fortnine" the youtube channel for motorcycle reviews. This is his take on audio tech.

(i couldn't post yet, but look up "fortnine" "best motorcycle earbuds, speakers.)
 
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