Biker Com Bluetooth Intercom System
- Part 3
Biker Com Bluetooth Motorcycle Intercom Communications
Part 3: Using the BikerCom System
by H.B.C. for webBikeWorld.com
More on wBW
Owner Comments (Below)
Motorcycle Bluetooth Intercom Page
Motorcycle Intercom Page
Part 1: BikerCom
Part 2: BikerCom
Common Radio Use
With three sets of North American
FRS/GMRS radios on hand and a lot of Biker Com connection cables
(dual-pin L and K types) on hand I was eager to put the system
through its paces.
Determining if using a common radio system was going to be
a reality, or a disappointment as my experiences to date with
other wireless systems have been was a top priority for this
Our Midland radios use a dual-pin connector (3.5 mm for output
and 2.5 mm for input) and work with other systems using supplied
interface cables and I was kind of expecting that this would
be the case for the Biker Com as well. But, it was not to be;
the Control Box would sense when the radio was plugged in or
turned on but that was about it…a disappointing first step.
After a quick email to the Open Road representative regarding
the situation, an offer to send two qualified commercial multi-band
transceivers was accepted so that I could complete the initial
radio testing of the Biker Com. An expedited shipment saw the
radios travel from Taiwan to Ontario in under two days - great
In the interim, using the Biker Com Push-to-Talk (PTT) switch
along with the Talk button on the radio to initiate a voice
session and transmit it through the system to the radio worked
fine for ad-hoc tests. The initiated transmission is heard almost
instantly at the second radio.
Acknowledging that manually activating the radio minimizes
typical (and problematic) switching delays, the speed and smoothness
in which audio is processed through the headset, Control Box
and radio, transmitted or received, is impressive.
Having managed to get two other Bluetooth systems working
to a degree with external radio systems, neither of them come
close to the efficiency of the Biker Com components.
With the two qualified multi-band transceivers from Open
Road set up, putting two Biker Com systems through their paces
didn’t bring any further disappointments. I remain extremely
impressed with the speed of the system, probably in the order
of less than half a second (<500ms).
With the Editor anxious to get this part published, longer
term evaluation of the common radio capability will continue
and updates posted. I am very satisfied with the results to
BikerCom Bluetooth Motorcycle Intercom Communications System
compatibility (courtesy of BikerCom).
Audio Handling Observations
When the PTT switch is
activated, any other audio is muted until the radio session
is completed or the time-out period, which seems to be fifteen
seconds, ends. After this, the previous audio will resume.
But I also found that after a single voice transmission is
received, the time-out is less than five seconds before the
previous audio is restored. Some more investigation into this
issue will be done.
When the intercom feature is activated, other audio is muted.
The time-out is ten seconds after which the previous audio will
In daily use the Control Box is unobtrusive
and trouble-free. The only time I access it is to add or change
a peripheral connection or when otherwise playing with the system
in some configuration.
With the rider's headset module powered up and the corresponding
Control Box switch (HHR) turned on, powering up the system via
the push-to-talk component results in a light display boot sequence
on the box. By the time this is done the helmet module and hub
are connected and ready for business. The passenger Bluetooth
headset module can now be activated as well.
I have all the peripheral cables for each system colour coded
and marked for function, which facilitates layout changes or
reconnection of the various devices, especially as they get
used between multiple motorcycles in the fleet or as dismounted
for static testing.
To demonstrate just what the Biker Com supports, a typical
BC-MPR Bluetooth: HTC PDA/mobile
BC-Other: Garmin zumo 550
or BMW Navigator III+ (zumo can host phone as well).
Radio: Midland GMRS or
CB, typically tuned to weather advisory channel.
Auxiliary 1: Small MP3
Auxiliary 2: iPod nano.
Audio: New Pioneer XM/MP3
unit (should have done this a long time ago…).
If any of the Priority Two audio devices are active and a
call comes in via the MPR everything gets muted except the phone
audio. Once the call is terminated or cancelled, the music stream
and/or navigation instructions resume in seconds.
Audio broadcasting from the Control Box to the rider and
passenger headsets works really well and as long as nothing
of a higher priority intrudes the stereo steam is virtually
perfect. Only when range limits are reached will the link drop,
as will the intercom when active.
Like most of the new or updated systems on the market the
wireless links are extremely reliable. Dropped links are re-established
seamlessly and noise levels remain very low even in built-up
BikerCom Feature List
||10 m (33 ft.)
||10 m (33 ft.)
||For MPR headset
||10 m (33 ft.)
||For radio use.
||Per radio specs
||Audio IN only
|Aux 1 (Wired)
|Aux 2 (Wired)
|Notes: a=Audio Priority.
Note: This list is not official and
specifications may change at any time.
Some System Tips
Both of the Biker Com headsets
can be reset at the same time if restoral action is necessary.
To do this, put both headsets modules in to Pairing Mode. With
the Control Box accessed, turn on the rider and passenger power
buttons (HHR and HHP) and then turn on the main power switch.
Both headsets will then automatically reconnect to the Control
Box as confirmed by the status lights. Just remember that if
the headsets are reset sequentially, then the rider headset
module must be done first and it must be active, before pairing
or reconnecting the passenger headset module.
Power Management: While connected to a live
12v DC power source the Control Box will remain powered as long
as the supply voltage is 12.5V or greater: once the voltage
falls below this point the system will power itself off.
This feature was specifically highlighted as an enhancement
in the printout of the manual supplied with the last two systems
received. It is a good feature and should prevent the system
from (eventually) draining the battery if left on.
Pairing and Profiles: If either of the headsets
is paired to another device other than the Control Box, that
profile should be deleted from the device before subsequently
pairing it to the Control Box. From a Bluetooth perspective
this makes sense and it helps to eliminate device errors.
Compatibility: I also managed to individually
connect the rider headset module and the Control Box to my Sony
VAIO large screen multimedia notebook that has Bluetooth onboard,
and also with my new netbook, which is equipped with a RocketFish
mini-USB Bluetooth adapter. This is neat stuff and a story for
Close-up of BikerCom intercom module.
Bottom Line Ratings
||Big colourful box.
Seemingly old-fashioned and clunky until it is opened
to reveal everything packed carefully inside. This
is one well thought-out system. Everything required,
less the helmets and users, is included in the package.
||Simple design, that
provides optimal functionality. The Control Box
seems overly large, even though it has to accommodate
the physical interface strip. On the positive side,
the Control Box remains relatively cool, whereas
the components of some other systems can become
hot, literally, to the touch.
||Control Box is heavy
duty with nicely finished edges and sealing. Module
and all headset components are well made, fit tightly
together and appear robust. the push-to-talk (PTT)
control is small, easy to install and use. Cables
are thin, thus lightweight, but have reinforced
(strain relief) connectors.
A minor detraction is the set of small and overly
thick adhesive pads intended for use in mounting
the headset assembly to a helmet. A test mount revealed
how little adhesive surface the pad provides; it
had trouble keeping the headset assembly in place
on the helmet and the thickness of the pads moves
everything further out into the air stream.
||As a hub-based system,
it rivals wired systems for versatility and performance.
As a Bluetooth-based system it performs as well
or better than other standalone Bluetooth systems.
The Headsets, an integral part of the ‘system’ can
also function as standalone devices, albeit in a
The speakers are very good -- on par with anything
else evaluated this summer except for the
Twiins intercom units (review). But I still
think some improvement could be made.
While a common radio can take care of group requirements,
being able to use two systems together would be
icing on the cake. To some degree enabling the rider
and passenger headsets with a Class A powered link
feature would do the trick.
One of the best features is the ambient noise
monitoring capability -- it provides automatic gain
control so that audio levels remain constant as
ambient noise levels increase or decrease. I have
come to deeply appreciate this feature and wish
it were a part of a few other systems.
||If the Control Box
and optional Noise Filter units can be accommodated
there isn’t much else to worry about, except which
mounting option to exercise for the helmets. Ignoring
the provided adhesion pads and using something a
bit more effective will resolve that fitment issue.
Setup and Configuration
||Even with more pieces,
more buttons to push and more lights to watch, everything
went together, everything worked the first time
and everything in the instructions was completely
Take the time to set the volume output levels
on connected devices, set the individual helmet
volume levels as well as the intercom activation
levels, then sit back and let the Control Box maintain
the helmet environment.
The ‘Easy Button’ has been getting a workout
this summer -- this is a great trend.
||There is very little
to ping here, every feature works as advertised
and with compatible radios available, the common
radio capability seems to work just fine, although
I am going to put a small place-holder here to allow
any longer-term feedback.
With the Control Box powered, the headset modules
always receive a full-power signal, leaving only
the headsets to run on internal power and run they
do. I easily get ten to twelve hours and more of
steady use (music steaming and intercom use) from
Apples to apples between both wired and wireless
systems: the BikerCom stacks up near the top
||While the slight-of-hand
Control Box controls can be a tad difficult to manipulate,
unless frequent access is needed they are not a
big downer. But simply changing them all to pressure
switches would resolve this issue.
The Multi-Function Button makes life simple at
the Headset level. It is easy to use with virtually
any weight of glove. The rear-placed volume controls
are a bit harder to access. Once the volume and
activation levels are set, the system takes care
of the rest.
||The Control Box is
vehicle powered and the headsets run on high-capacity
batteries that provide long life. Based on current
use times, the claimed talk-time of 15 hours is
not likely far off the mark.
Missing is the ability to determine or be informed
of battery status, visually or aurally.
||With three headsets
in use on various helmets and two systems installed
and moved between four motorcycles in the fleet,
exposure has been pretty extended over three months.
Nothing has broken and though I had concerns over
the small and seemingly fragile push-to-talk units,
they are all surviving very well.
||Other than charging
the headsets infrequently and keeping components
wiped down, nothing has been needed. What has really
helped to boost this rating is the continued first
rate support from the OpenRoad representative.
There is an obvious and very tangible desire
to build and evolve the BikerCom based on user requirements
||The MSRP is listed
at $749.00 USD. Some promotions, if still valid,
may bring the price down to $699.00 for a bundle
that includes the optional filter and free shipping.
Compared to some upper tier wired systems that
have similar Bluetooth functionality as cost options,
everything packed in the BikerCom box is well worth
||If the pricing listed
is maintained or even reduced with promotions, based
on design, features, components and capabilities,
the BikerCom system represents a very good investment.
My concern is that there is no current North
American distribution entity. I have been extremely
happy with the service provided during this evaluation
and hopefully this is indicative of how other consumers
will be treated.
In some ways this is a tough one to
call. As a hybrid it sits squarely between fully wired systems
and stand-alone Bluetooth systems.
Acknowledging that many wired systems are now offering Bluetooth
enhancements to expand peripheral use or to remove the wired
connection to the helmet, the clean sheet design taken for the
BikerCom just seems to provide a better payout, at least for
Putting on my ‘best of all worlds hat’, I could wish that
the headsets had more autonomy, the Intercom had more power
for greater range and possibly (down the road) for inter-system
connectivity and, that a long list of fully qualified North
American radios with connection cables were available.
But even with my wish list not totally satisfied, based on
design, intended use, proven functionality and performance the
BikerCom is a winning system.
If due diligence is done for the North American market and
an aggressive pricing strategy is used other manufacturers may
be caught looking over their shoulders rather than ahead.
Part 1: BikerCom
Part 2: BikerCom
Motorcycle Bluetooth Intercom Page |
Motorcycle Intercom Page |
Product Review: BikerCom
Bluetooth Intercom System - Part 3
Details and Owner Comments
in Part 1 of the BikerCom
The webBikeWorld intercom evaluators always wear properly
fitted ear plugs while riding during the intercom evaluations and this is reflected
in thee opinions on sound quality and speaker volume. Your experience may
and probably will differ. Always wear high-quality, correctly fitted ear plugs
when riding a motorcycle (more
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Details and Owner Comments in
Part 1 of the BikerCom Review