Interphone F4 Intercom
Part 2: Ride Report
Interphone F4 Bluetooth
Part 2: Follow-up and Ride Report
by HBC for webBikeWorld.com
(Below) | Interphone F4 Intercom Part
1: Introduction and Features
Bluetooth Intercom Page |
Motorcycle Intercom Page
concur with the Part 1 conclusion -- the Interphone F4
is easy to use; it has outstanding sound and volume; it
pairs with anything Bluetooth; the IP-67 waterproof rating is a worthy
exclusive; it is very reasonably priced for what you get and
a contender for the title of "Best New System" (head-to-head
intercom Buzz Off coming soon!).
This is the Part 2 follow-up for the
Interphone F4 Bluetooth intercom. We now have a
Part 1 and Part 2 for the three most recent generation
of Bluetooth motorcycle intercom systems, the Sena SMH10
Part 2), the Cardo Scala Rider G4 (Part
Part 2) and this, the Interphone F4 (Part
1). The final report in this series will
compare, score and rate each of these systems.
These three systems represent the latest
generation of Bluetooth motorcycle intercoms. They
are feature-rich and provide much better performance
than any of the previous generation of Bluetooth
intercoms we have reviewed. It is very difficult
to choose a "winner" among these three, as each intercom
has a slightly different performance emphasis. It
may come down to availability, price or which feature is
most important to you.
It's important to note that there is still room for
improvement for motorcycle Bluetooth intercom systems.
webBikeWorld readers have been asking for features such
as standardization that would allow brand-to-brand
interoperability and communications; the ability to
simultaneously communicate with multiple intercom units
and other Bluetooth devices; auxiliary input ports;
easily replaceable speakers; removable batteries and, as
always, smaller and lighter modules and headsets.
As with any modern technology, the rate of evolution
for motorcycle Bluetooth intercom systems is extremely
rapid, so hopefully your wishes will come true sooner
rather than later!
First off let me be up front: I consider the Interphone
Bluetooth intercom that was reviewed (here) back in January 2007
to be the first (really) useable rider to rider helmet
system. Its range of over 500 meters was impressive then and
compared to some other less than stellar offerings on
the market today, despite technology advances, it still
While the original Canadian distributor has moved on
to other things, the Interphone is back with us, now in
F4 guise and needless to say I was eager to get my hands
on the new systems.
As way of follow-up to information provided in
One of the Interphone F4 review regarding Interphone nomenclature for their
different intercom models, I found out that the "F2" designation is used for the
Interphone F2 City, a rider-only headset that provides
basic Bluetooth connectivity for mobile phones and
navigation audio along with an auxiliary 3.5 mm stereo
plug for music connectivity.
The Interphone "F3" designation identified in Part One is
for the Interphone F3 Passenger kit. That system has features
similar to the F4 but its intercom is tailored for
short-range rider communication with rider-to-passenger
So that brings us to the Interphone F4. A loaner set of F4s,
identical to the ones originally reviewed (another story
for another day) by Rick and Burn made their way
northward to me for this slightly abbreviated Ride
Report and Part 2 Follow-up posting.
But how does the F4 intercom system compare? Well,
during the time I had the F4 systems they got a thorough
workout, especially on a daily basis to keep one of my
phones paired for emergency and work contact purposes
and for on-going communications via the intercom.
Part One covered the basic ground in excellent
fashion and since it was published, more than a few
comments have been posted and the Editor has sent a few
questions along to me for further feedback and
the objectives for this Part 2 Follow-up report are two-fold: provide
further insight into the Interphone F4 system and
address some of the questions posed.
So, what did I do once the systems were received,
inspected and charged up? What I normally do -- give them
a dry run and then install them in helmets, so here we
Interphone F4 Mounted on Arai XD3 Helmet.
Both systems are the universal fit version with the boom-type
microphone. First up for installation would be the
helmet (review), but as the loaner F4 units would be heading back
down south I opted not to use the supplied adhesive
slide support (identified in the manual as the 'mounting
So I unscrewed the clip that normally slides up
between the helmet shell and liner from the removable
slide support, revealing the inner face. This surface is
covered with a soft plastic material that acts as a
non-skid protective cushion against the outer helmet
shell when the complete headset is mounted.
For simple and expedient mounting of multiple helmet
systems the Nolan helmets already sport large
3M Dual Lock
fastener templates to their outer shell, so it is a
simple matter to mount two rectangular companion pieces
of the fastener to the plastic material on the slide
support and "snap" it securely to the helmet.
Despite sitting 3 mm farther out than if using the
supplied adhesive, the F4 headset is very much at
home on the Nolan. The speakers are ideally
sized for use in the Nolan N103 and after creating a
small recess in the left side foam liner to accommodate
the shape of the speaker/boom microphone assembly, the
left speaker nestles perfectly in its provided recess.
The boom of the microphone finds support in the
existing channel on the N103 and the right side speaker
mounts in the recess already provided in the Nolan. Not that it is hard to go wrong
here; the speaker recesses in the hard foam liner and
matching cutouts in the removable inserts ensure optimal
placement of the audio components.
Tip: if a companion piece (preferably round) of
fastener material is used to secure the speakers in the
recess, it is best to take a bit of time and cut a few small holes in the
fastener that will match the pattern of
the three ports found in the hard foam recess -- this
tends to improve bass response…
And for the absolute best efficiency, some may want
to move the speakers out slightly closer to the ear. The
whole placement effort is worth it -- better audio with
less volume is the typical result. Just don’t
forget to factor in your ear protection (Note: ear plugs
are always used when evaluating motorcycle intercom
On the flip side, using the clamp slide support to
secure the system to the full-face
Corsair (review) helmets is simple, but the result is not as
clean or effective as with the Nolan. Although the right
side speaker mounts easily due to the in-line 2.5 mm
audio connector, the integrated left speaker/boom
microphone assembly proves problematic.
To get the microphone on its short boom even close to
the mouth area, the left speaker has to sit forward of
the ideal spot in the removable check pad, so a
compromise is needed right from square one. Running the
boom out through the strap cutout positions the foam
microphone cover just at the left side of the mouth.
I just wish more industry players would follow the
Cardo lead in providing extended boom systems as found
Scala Rider MultiSet Q2 (review), or go to modular headset
Interphone F4 mounting base plate.
Pairing the Interphone F4
As noted in Part One, the F4 had no issues when
finding and pairing up with other devices offered up and my
findings don't change the original assessment at all.
My basic test suite of Bluetooth-enabled devices or
peripherals that I use for all my communications system
evaluations and for daily use is as follows:
From a Bluetooth Adapter perspective, one thing to
remember is that when using standard iPod multi-pin
connector adapters like the iCombi AP 21 and Rocket Fish
MBT30, audio output via this connection is fixed (i.e.,
constant output level), so volume can only be adjusted
via the headset controls.
On the other hand, when the peripheral is connected by
wire to a Bluetooth Adapter that is acting as the
wireless host for streaming audio to the headset, volume
controls on either the headset or paired peripheral can
Interphone F4 mounted on helmet
with 3M Dual Lock, bottom view.
Interphone F4 "DualPhone" Feature
The telephone + telephone feature, known as "DualPhone",
works well but depending on which cell phones are used,
the results can
I purposefully tried different combinations
using the five mobile phone devices listed above; the
feature works with them all but it is less than seamless,
although the phones themselves may not be completely
While the manual seems to contradict itself regarding
DualPhone priorities, I found that unless the
multi-function button is actually pressed, the first
call is not interrupted and the system does not switch
audio to the second device, although a very short
time-out does occur that probably represents the headset
attempting to sort everything out. Your results, of
course, may be different.
While this feature may be relevant to some users, it
also makes me want to get up on my soapbox (milk carton)
and voice a small rant about consumers, including
motorcyclists, who absolutely, positively, need to have
more than one communications device available or active
at one time. It is incredulous the things one sees being
done by road users.
The Interphone F4 owner's manual expresses my sentiments well:
prioritize your riding, not telephone calls." Enough
The Interphone F4 Intercom and GPS: Notes
I am lucky in having four motorcycle navigation devices
on hand and access to other models as needed. But as of
late, getting the systems and devices paired up has been
pretty boring because everything typically works so
well! Note that
I said "typically".
The Garmin zumo 665 and 660 found and identified the
"Interphone F4" device in five seconds or so and with
partnerships established automatically, mono navigation
and stereo music audio is pushed from the devices to the
headsets in short order.
There is a slight switching delay, sometimes
accompanied by a burst of white noise (hissing) when
audio is switched between devices/profiles, an issue
probably related to the "short time-out" experienced
when using the DualPhone feature.
I haven’t experienced a delay
that is this long or this audible with any of the other
motorcycle intercom headsets I have used recently, especially when
employing navigation devices. It is not a big detraction
however, and the issue is actually acknowledged in the
In a three way configuration with the headset with
navigation device hosting a mobile phone, the zumo
models successfully supported the standard mobile phones
using the headset profile and all basic phone features
were available via the zumo mobile phone application
Multi-function devices typically do not always work
well when hosted by a zumo unless paired via the "Phone"
feature or by actually de-selecting or disabling the "Stereo Headset" option on the device.
These potential conflicts -- also known as exercises in
frustration -- can often be mitigated by first
rationalizing how peripherals will be used especially
when using navigation or other multi-function devices
that support both "Audio" and "Phone" options for audio
Interphone F4 headset mounted in Nolan N103 helmet.
Speaker wires with quick disconnect.
Note channel in EPS foam for speaker wire on right side of helmet.
On the Road: Using the Interphone F4
Many of you know by now where my priority lies for a
Bluetooth helmet system: the intercom. If the
work well, then the system is usually between a rock and
a hard place with me…objectively speaking of course.
Intercom setup with the Interphone F4 is ho-hum easy. With both systems off,
press and hold their multi-function buttons for about
eight seconds to initiate pairing mode. When both sets
are flashing the familiar alternating red and blue LED
pattern, press the multi-function button on one unit. A
few seconds later the LEDs go to a steady blue state --
If pairing an Interphone F4 with an older Interphone
initiation sequence is the same, but once they're paired, the
older Interphone intercom's LED will flash a rapid blue, while the
F4 LED will remain a constant blue. Just remember that
intercom range will be limited to that of the earlier
I didn’t actually break out the measuring tape, but
the Interphone F4 really does have a very impressive intercom
reach. Direct line of sight in a typical residential
environment didn’t result in any dropped sessions even
out to six or seven long blocks.
On the road (riding, not standing in the middle of
it!), typical operating range is right around 1000 metres
or 3,280 feet (one kilometre = 0.62 mile). This is impressive,
but not unexpected and it intrudes into the exclusive
territory covered by the
Sena SMH-10 system
The resultant Interphone F4 audio however is not of
the same consistent quality provided by the Sena.
The automatic gain control in the F4 does a good job of
maintaining or averaging out audio across a wide noise
baseline, but at times it is obvious under or
over-reacting to ambient noise levels and ongoing audio
As intercom range stretches out close to maximum,
volume goes way down and audio, while still
understandable, is degraded, probably on the order of 10
to 20 percent. Once the separation distance is back in
the 600 to 750 metre range, all is well. Are we getting
spoiled? I think so.
I also observed that once the link was lost it would
not auto-restore when the systems were brought back in
to close proximity and the second system usually got the
three-tone end of session signal. So it seems the
Interphone F4 intercom is terminating a lost session
rather than allowing the lead system to go into scanning
Virtually all of the newer systems evaluated over the
last year or so are so good at restoring the intercom
that experiencing this issue with the F4 was a surprise.
Manually starting another session quickly activates
the intercom again, but I am a bit disappointed in what
should be a standard and reliable feature. Having said
this, I realize that this may be a default setting used
to help conserve system power as active search/scanning
modes all consumer power.
Waterproof to IP67:
Something that is obviously up to the task is the
weather protection skin membrane covering the Interphone
F4 modules. The Interphone F4 is the only intercom
module we know of that has undergone IP testing and is
certified to IP67 (IP6 = "Dust Tight" and IP7 =
"Immersion up to 1 metre").
The emphasis on water resistance may be a result of the
European origins of Interphone, as European weather can
be a bit iffy in some regions.
The outer sheath completely
encases the intercom module except for the connection
port, and as long as the headset connector is properly
seated, waterproof integrity is maintained. I managed to
expose both units to several days of prolonged and heavy
wet-weather use and they survived just fine.
Equally as impressive as intercom range is the
connectivity reach between headsets and paired Bluetooth
I can be 15 metres (50 feet) or even more away
from a paired device while wearing the helmet with
headset and receive noise-free mono or stereo audio. For
a device that uses Bluetooth Class Two power for device
pairings it is extremely effective.
Battery Life: Battery life or duty cycle time is also outstanding. I typically saw ten to twelve hours of heavy intercom
and two to three hours of intermittent music streaming
from a single charge. When using it just for phone
monitoring the system would last for almost three full
days of riding.
Flexible strain relief on microphone (L). Three indents in speaker recess enhance bass response (R).
Interphone F4 Bluetooth Intercom
- wBW Bottom Line
the loaners from the Editor in a plain brown
box, I cannot comment directly on the
original packaging from my perspective.
shape; pleasing to the eye. Minimalist
controls blend into the overall look and
feel of the module, all enhanced by the
The single port is well recessed, the
interface connection well protected.
Mounting assembly is strong but lightweight.
Locking lever is a bit lightweight.
controls are easy to find and use with light
to medium-weight gloves, more difficult with
cold-weather gear. The waterproof skin
feature is seamless and despite its
smoothness offers great grip for handling.
Weak point - the locking lever is "OK" at keeping the Bluetooth module seated, but it
will release if bumped or pushed hard from the bottom.
Another concern: while a solid (tight) fit between
interface connector and port is necessary to keep the
system waterproof, getting it pushed in and pulled out
takes a fair bit of effort and the connector itself
doesn’t offer much grip: repeated use may weaken the
elbow joint unless the user takes care. A short ribbed
extension for grip would really help here.
Excellent to Outstanding
||The F4, like
its predecessors, has the basics. But
it still takes a hit here (comparatively) in
not having an auxiliary stereo input port.
Design, cost and certification concerns are
all relevant, but at the end of the day, it
is still missing…
Performance is outstanding. For the features is has,
the F4 does not disappoint.
Even with the observations
regarding some audio degradation and (probable) lack of
a restoral routine in the intercom, the F4 is an
outstanding system that exhibits the same high
performance levels established by the original
communication range of the F4 is right up
there with my current link champion, the Sena SMH10.
But the F4 is still in second place due to less than seamless
performance in providing consistent audio quality and
in restoring the connection automatically if
it is lost.
||As with its
predecessors, the F4 can only pair with one
other F4 or another compatible Interphone
intercom unit and when used as a pair, the
system works extremely well.
Multi-user functionality is not provided
with the current release.
Audio Input & Control
Excellent to Outstanding
|| I waffled
on this one. System audio input via
Bluetooth and intercom, and subsequent
control of the audio is outstanding but not
having an auxiliary input for a wired
connection is to me a serious oversight.
Within the current market place virtually
all other contenders provide this feature
and for good reason.
This feature is not available on the F4.
Unfortunately, something that could be easy to implement
has not been done.
For simple sharing of music or
navigation audio, especially between rider and passenger
via the intercom link, this is a requirement that is
still missing in action by most systems.
is telephone(s), navigation device, intercom and music.
||Close -- and I
mean close to the Sena headset, especially when using the Nolan N103.
If the diminishing volume and restoration issues were not
issues then the F4 and the Sena would be in the ring
competing for the title.
||Like the Cardo
Scala Rider series, this latest Interphone iteration is
fully compatible with its predecessors and in all
likelihood its current siblings. It may seem a trivial
thing to some consumers, but from an overall
communications perspective, it’s not.
options available for the Interphone F4 are
replacement parts. Unlike many of the
newer systems, including the G4, the Sena and
others, it does not have an auxiliary input jack.
Like virtually everything other system on the market,
other than the optional in-ear adapter that can be used
with the IMC Camos BTS 300 Bluetooth Intercom and other
BTS systems, there is no ability to utilize an in-ear
headset. The lithium battery cannot be replaced.
Very Good to
||The boom style
headset provides close to a perfect fit in a
three-quarter or flip-style helmet, like the
Nolan N103, but the boom itself is five to
ten centimeters short of being optimal for
The universal boom assembly in a full
face helmet really brings out the shortfalls
in this integrated approach. The
thin-wire headset is the way to go for
anything other than a three-quarter or
Setup and Configuration
||Not much to
comment on here -- simple controls, simple functions and
virtually seamless connectivity right from the start.
actually like the little F4 Pocket Guide, which can be
figured out if the icons used are understood: the table
becomes a quick reference conditional matrix. In reality,
continued use of the F4 will negate the need for the
Ease of Use
Simple to understand and simpler to use. Only heavy
gloves will pose an issue in getting the Volume Up or
Down the first time.
The multi-function control is not a problem.
Only niggling issue is the effort required to
seat/remove the connection plug.
||Overall "active use autonomy" is
really good from the F4. When all the features are being
used on a rotating basis the battery will keep things
going for a longish (eight to ten hour) riding day or
longer if peripheral use is minimal.
worked and continued to work as advertised,
even in heavy persistent rain and high
As my original Interphone and
upgraded units are still fully capable of an
honest days’ work and have endured far more abuse, I
suspect the F4 units will do the distance.
|Maintenance and Support
required, outside of periodic charging of
the modules (far less than most other
systems on hand).
I keep the modules wiped off and make
sure the mounting components are still
tight. The multi-language manual is
good, albeit not error-free.
||At the listed
price of $225.00 USD for each F4 intercom,
that amounts to somewhat less than what I
paid for the first original Interphone units
a few years ago and given the enhancements
and advancements, the F4 systems are well
worth the price.
Appreciating everything and
factoring in a longish and positive Interphone history,
the F4 systems are a smart investment, even with
specific exclusions and minor issues factored in.
year warranty always adds value and peace of mind, as
does having a good distributor.
Bluetooth: Version 2.1 +EDR
Pairing: Up to eight (8) devices
Multipoint: Up to three (3) devices (e.g. telephone +
intercom + stereo).
Profiles: 201 Headset, Hands-free,
A2DP, AVRCP and SBC (Sub-Band Codec, an audio
encoder and decoder codec within the Advanced Audio
Distribution Profile (A2DP).
Range: 500 m under open field conditions (claimed).
Active use autonomy listed as up to ten (10) hours.
Time: Up to 700 hours
Time: 3 hours or less depending on
Charging: 100-240V AC, DC output is 5.0V at 0.7A nominal
Dimensions: 90 x 46 x 20 mm
Weight: 84 g (including ear phones and microphone).
Like the Sena SMH10 system, the
Interphone F4 pleases me, a lot, and I’m pretty darn
fussy -- trust me. The positives include the
long-distance range for F4-to-F4 communications and also
the long battery life. The minuses are the minor intercom audio loss
and the occasional problem with restoring the
communication link. Also, I'd like to have an auxiliary audio input
port, although this is an issue with most of the
intercoms we have reviewed.
As I stated earlier, if the
Interphone F4 intercom didn’t exhibit a couple of weak
spots, I would really have to toss a coin to decide the
winner between the F4 and the Sena SMH-10,
because everything else on the F4 makes sense and works.
While the F4 may not be the most fully-featured system on the
market, its design philosophy is similar to previous
generation Interphone intercoms -- it focuses on basic
requirements and for the most part, gets them absolutely
Interphone F4 Intercom Part
1: Introduction and Features
Review Part 2: Interphone F4 Bluetooth
|List Price: $225.00 each.
Interphone F4 at RevZilla $199.99
Interphone F4 at the wBW Amazon.com Store: $174.99
|Color: Matte Black
||Made in: Philippines
First Reviewed: January
2010. Part 2: July 2010
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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See Part 1 for Interphone