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Do cheap Bluetooth intercoms work?

Gear Best D2 Bluetooth intercom

You can pay hundreds of dollars for a Bluetooth intercom, or less than $50 for a cheap unit, but do they really work?

We tested a cheap $40 Chinese-made D2 500m intercom from Gear Best and found that, yes, they do work, but there are obviously some shortcomings.

For a start, this cheap unit only supports up to Bluetooth 3.0, not the latest 4.1 mode. However, it still works with my iPhone 6+, pairs easily and works every time.

It will play music through your phone, FM radio and auxiliary player, and the quality of sound from the tiny speakers is reasonable, but very loud. In fact, it’s the loudest unit I’ve yet tested.

The D2 also works as an intercom, but only with another 3.0 Bluetooth unit from the same manufacturer. In fact, they claim it will pair with 11 other intercoms and switch to any two at a time.

However, Gear Best only sent one unit, so I couldn’t test its intercom abilities. Instead, I tried connecting it to my latest Sena 20S which is supposed to have universal Bluetooth connection, but it didn’t pair.Gear Best D2 Bluetooth intercom cheap

Yet I did receive some phone calls and every one I spoke to said the sound quality of my voice through the wind-cancelling microphone was clear and quiet.

For just $37 you seem to get an awful lot of features including voice prompts, voice recognition and speed-adjusted volume, but I didn’t notice any changes in volume.

The unit is a bit bigger than most which means there is plenty of room for big buttons that are easy to find, even wearing thick winter gloves.

While it’s a big unit, it’s low profile, so it doesn’t sit out a long way from the helmet and create wind noise. It can be connected to the helmet via a clamp or stick-in pad. The connection is a bit loose, but the speaker wire prevent it from falling off your helmet.Gear Best D2 Bluetooth intercom cheap

There are only three buttons on the unit, so to do all the different operations you have to hold the control button for a varying time, up to a full eight seconds just to switch it off.

For example, the volume up and down button is the same as the next/back track buttons, so when you are trying to turn the volume up a little, you can accidentally select the next track.

The unit is claimed to be water-resistant, not waterproof. I’ve had two much more expensive units ruined by riding in the rain, but this cheap unit does seem to have a pretty tight case and the only input socket has a deep rubber plug which should keep out water. I tested it in light rain without encountering any problems.Gear Best D2 Bluetooth intercom cheap

The Li-polymer 500mAh battery charges in three hours from flat and is claimed to have 100 hours of standby time and eight hours of phone talk, intercom or music play time.

In fact, I tested the unit by playing Bluetooth music at pretty high volumes for nearly 10 hours and it still hadn’t gone flat. However, the music starts to get a bit distorted after five hours, so I turned it down a little.

They claim range from intercom to intercom is 500m which is much shorter than most units, but, as I said before, they didn’t send a second unit so I couldn’t test that.

Unfortunately, the manual is printed in an ant-sized font and I needed my reading glasses to read it.Gear Best D2 Bluetooth intercom cheap

The manual is pretty easy to follow with the added benefit of some Chinglish hilarity:

  • “If there is call coming and intercom, be careful to drive. We advise you stop riding to talk when the weather is bad or there have a traffic.”
  • “D2 Bluetooth headset can only assure to successfully pair with the same series product Bluetooth headset turn to intercom state automatically after the first pairing succeed.”

So, while there may be a few shortcomings, the D2 unit still a pretty good unit for a cheap $40. (Price varies according to the exchange rate. It was $3 cheaper when we started testing the unit!).

As the alternative solution for wireless connection you could consider, for example, the bone conduction headphones.

  1. Some times with these things it depends on what order you try to pair them in.
    I had two different brand devices and the more expensive one could not find the cheaper one so I nearly gave up then I made the cheap one look for the other and it paired right away.

  2. Those prices are USD. Still $56 AUD seems very tempting for something that actually works and two them would make a very affordable intercom between rider and pillion.

    Even better is finding a cheaper site than Bang Good 🙂

  3. Why we use helmets, only because of our safety.

    If you are a serious and avid motorcycle rider, then you know the fun of riding already. There are gears that will make your life easier and more enjoyable. Why not a helmet with Bluetooth ( connectivity? There are times when you will need to talk to the buddies, maybe with the riding partners, this Bluetooth featured helmet will be of great use.

    However great reading and i have learnt that Li-polymer battery can hold charge for long time. Is this harmful for using long time or any bad experience?

  4. I’m doing a round the world trip with my partner on motorbikes ( and trying to save money we bought interphone system…after 4months of tough condtions in central america they broke…producer declared its not their fault but ours…dont save money on something so important :/

  5. I bought a pair of cheap intercoms off ebay (they weren’t really THAT cheap, to be honest) for the wife and myself. Firstly the instructions were written in “chinglish” and very difficult to understand, though I found the manufacturer had put youtube videos up on how to do most things. Then I found that the wife’s unit was fine, but mine only had about 1-2 hours battery life, so I returned it. The second one wouldn’t talk to the remote control, so I returned it again. The third one worked sometimes, but sometimes would make odd beeps, or not connect to the wife’s unit and had to be reset 2-3 times. On top of that the sound was very tinny, and the design meant that if you sat the helmet down without taking care you’d bend the USB plug that connected the unit top the speakers/mic.

    After fighting with it for another 3 weeks I bought a couple of Sena units and never looked back. Cheapies work… mostly… but the quality control is terrible, and you get what you pay for. Save your money and buy a decent brand straight up.

  6. I ordered some “BT headsets” for me and my wife. v6 -bluetooth v4.
    cost $90 for both shipped from ebay.
    after testing them for a few months I bought a spare one for $50 just in case. been using the originals for 2 years now and going fine.
    in the v2 bt era, there weren’t many good headsets. the high end ones were the best and the cheap ones had quality issues with functionality

    today, there are SO MANY excellent inexpensive bt intercoms that I see no reason to pay more then $100 for a good intercom set. I never talk with other riders except my wife who comes with me. I havent tried to pair with a rider on another motorcycle so dont know how it will work but it does everything else amazingly. full duplex phone calls, gps navigation, music, intercom with my wife

    I can ride at 55mph and the other side says audio is clear. waterproof also.

    its just like in the 2005 era when we had ear bluetooth headsets. the good ones were expensive by motorola. the chinese cheap ones never worked right. thats not today. you can buy a fantastic BT v4 headset for $20

    I had the first version of the scala rider in 2007. quality was very bad. the flexible arm came out right after a year. im sure theyre much better today but theres no reason to buy them anymore with such excellent alternatives for little money.

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