Can You Hear Me Now?

If you’re taking a trip on your motorcycle that has any sort of length to it, you will probably get tired of feeling isolated inside your helmet. Communication between rider and passenger can really enhance a good motorcycle ride, from allowing discussion about where to stop next, to the ability to point out scenic features. So you are probably going to want a motorcycle intercom system to make this communication possible.

Motorcycle intercom systems come in three basic types. The most basic form is the acoustic intercom system. Wired systems are next and require electrical power to operate. Finally, wireless intercom systems use some variant of radio technology to allow communication between rider and passenger or even between riders on different bikes. How do these different systems work, and which one should you get?

The acoustic intercom system is the most basic design. It doesn’t use electronics at all, which means there are no batteries or wiring hookup required. So how does it work? The acoustic system is an evolved version of talking and listening through a tube. An arrangement of tubes is hooked up between the helmets of the rider and passenger. It sounds pretty low-tech, and it is. But it does manage to work decently well. This system would only work between rider and passenger.

Wired motorcycle intercom systems connect to a central control box, which has electronics and a battery. One of the main advantages of wired systems is the total lack of interference. Communication is sharp and clear, and the volume can be adjusted to overcome wind and road noise. However, there is still a feeling of being “tethered” to the motorcycle.

The latest versions of motorcycle intercom systems employ wireless radio technology of some kind. Early wireless units used FM radio technology. Longer range systems that work well for rider-to-rider conversations include FRS systems (Family Radio Service) and GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service). Intercom systems based on these two technologies have a range of two to three miles, depending on the obstructions between them. Wireless systems are now beginning to employ Bluetooth technology, which provides clear communication, but is limited in range (no more than 800 to 1600 feet).

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