Communication Devices

bmccrary

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If there is one thing, other than my center stand that I enjoy more on my bike, it is my intercom system. It is by far one of the best investments put towards the FZ since I have started taking it on longer rides and having my girlfriend ride along as well.

I plan on posting up links to a few communication options for the FZ as well as posting pictures of my intercom and some the pro-cons of it. If any of you have any other set ups or have tried any of these or others please feel free to post what it was how you liked it.




To start, Boneman, took a nice trip the other day and posted this. This seems like a fairly inexpensive and less perminate way to communicate with others. He shares this Pros and Cons in it as well.

http://www.600riders.com/forum/product-reviews/5220-helmet-radios-comms-motocomm-mc554-headset-mic.html





About a year ago I was borrowing a friends 1300 VTX when Jordan and I rode with my parents up to Deal's Gap and the surrounding areas. We did something a bit more simple however the results were not as good.

We used a pair of cheap walkie talkies and hooked up some cheap headsets that we wore under the helments. We tried using the auto connect feature, however the wind noise always kept someone transmitting. So we had to push the button to talk. Another issue was that at speeds over about 50mph we were unable to really understand what one another was saying. The wind noise result will vary depending on the amount of wind protection you have.

Another issue was the the ear piece wasn't the most comfortable and after a little while it was really annoying me and was pinching my ear. However, the set up worked and made the trip a little bit more enjoyable. I think we had about 50 bucks total in the system.




Another system available on the market is the Autocom System.
Autocom America | Motorcycle Communication Systems Guaranteed To Perform

Before I got the J&M, I was looking into this system. They offer several different systems and setups, depending on what your needs are. These guys have a great product and it is definatly worth looking into. However I believe you have to purchase one of those radios like Bonemans, and any other bike you want to communicate with must have a similiar radio or be able to get on that same channel. They have a demo video that shows one of the uses of their product.

One of the things I think I remember not liking about this product was that they volume controls were on the control box which is mounted under the seat or where ever you choose to mount it. If that is the way the system truely works, I am not so sure that I would like that as I am always adjusting the volumes on mine.


One of the other popular communication devices is the ChatterBox.
ChatterBox!
I have seen many people using this setup, however I have never talked to anyone that uses it. The only reason I do not use it is because I do not want the added weight to the helment. From browsing over the website just now, it looks as though that have a few new products out that might be even nicer. Definitly worth a look though.

More to come.

Now for the J&M Intercom System.

Welcome to J&M Corporation

I first saw this system when my father purchased it for his Kawasaki Nomad. We installed it in a couple evenings taking our time when pulling everything apart and routing wires carefully and keeping things neat with cable ties.

A little bit about this system.

The J&M is more of a perminate solution. One that you would leave on the bike and not take off between rides. However it can be removed if you ever sell the bike that the system is on.

This unit has the option to be solo, meaning only one headset hook up or can be an intercom, having a passenger hook up as well.

This J&M has a CB radio built into it as well as a multi-channel weather band radio. Another plus is that it has a Aux-imput that has a "Mini-jack" hook up on it. AKA: personal stereo plug. (iPod, MP3 player or what ever you can put those in)

Here is my set up on the FZ.

IMG_4735.jpg

Here is the unit mounted up on the bar. It is sitting on a mounting bracket for a Vstar I believe however with longer bolt and some spacers and a little machine work I was able to get it to mount through my clutch perch. I have a little issue with contact on the wind screen. However I think I know how to fix that.

IMG_4736.jpg

Here is a close up on the unit itself. You can see the Aux control knob. The top side knob has multiple functions that adjust the intercom volume as well as the CB volume and squelch. The bottom tab is to "Key-up" the CB.

IMG_4744.jpg

It also comes with a rain fly that I keep on the bike at all times. The unit is water proof, however when I keep the bike outsid ( over night trips) I cover it up and when I am washing it as well.

IMG_4740.jpg

Here is the main part of the wiring harness. I have it routed so that it comes down the fork tube and the main connector runs into left side of the inner fairing then down across the top of the radiator hose as you can see.

You must be carefull not to have any of the wires near any of the charging or electrical systems that pulse. (Plug wires, stater, coil) Or you will get feed back through the system. My first attempt was to run it infront of the battery. That does not work.

IMG_4743.jpg

This is the rider connection. The kit comes with a couple of those holders that have a sticky back side as well as some smaller ones to hold the wires.
I ended up glueing that holder to the tank pad.

IMG_4747.jpg

Here is the Aux-Input. Now the wire for this is plenty long inorder to plug into something that is mounted on the handlebar. However my iPod kept freezing up due to the impacts so I had to put it in my pocket. I purchased an extension and ran the wire back so that it comes up infront of my seat or I can move it further back so Jordan can have control if she chooses.

IMG_4749.jpg

Here is the passenger hook up and the small buttom is the passenger key up. That way the passenger has the ability to use the CB as well.

When Jordan is not riding I can easily put the wires under my seat.

IMG_4745.jpg


Now for the fun part. Mounting the CB antenna.
J&M offers a larger antenna and coax, however I didnt want such a large antenna so we saved some money by going to a local truck stop and picking up a shorter one and some coax.

My first attempt at mounting the antenna did not work to well. I had it mounted to the bottom of the storage peice that runs beside the subframe above the chain. The signal was just not strong enough and I barely could get out or hear anything.

So ended up making a new bracket and mounting it using the holes from part of the FE.

IMG_4751.jpg

IMG_4752.jpg


The signal here seems to be working fine. I did a little machine work got this deal to work rather nicely.

Now this system as worked well for me and since my parents have the same unit. We are able to communicate bike to bike using the CB feature. Not only that but we can talk to the truck drivers as well. Which has come in handy many times already...

Also, as a side note, many of the drivers give warning to the other drivers when there are cops sitting on the on ramps up ahead. Not that I have needed this assistance, but it is a little bit of a perk.

When my girlfriend rides along it is very nice to be able to talk to hear as if I was standing next to her. We can turn on some music and have it in the back ground and easily talk over it or just not talk at all and jam out if I turn the music up.

The only downfall, IMO, is the antenna. It is rather difficult to figure out how to mount an antenna that functions and that looks good as well on a sportbike. You have to get the antenna up and out so that it can send and recieve.

J&M offers two different kinds of headsets. A standard set and a nicer high clarity set. My parents have the nicer set in their helments and I must say they are worth the money. The quality of the music and the overall clarity is amazing.

The kit has a couple different mic socks that you can use. The socks along with the mic filter out most of the wind noise, meaning that communication at higher speeds is still possible.

IMG_4755.jpg

IMG_4756.jpg

IMG_4757.jpg


I guess that is about all the info I have. I would offer this bit of advice, most of these units are going to set you back a few coins so take your time and do alot of research and try to contact someone who owns each of the systems you are considering and get their opinions on it.

If any of you are interested in te J&M system, feel free to PM me about it.

-bryan
 
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Fred

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At the Top of the Rockies Rally this last weekend, I attended a seminar on communications devices. Here's what I can tell you.

Autocom is a very popular system. It works and is recommended. Apparently the connectors are specific to Autocom, so you'll have to buy various cables in addition to the base unit. But it's very customizable.

Cyclecom is another highly ranked system, but I know little about it.

The ChatterBox! is horrible. I have not used it, but many in the seminar said that above 40mph, the microphone picked up so much noise that communication was impossible. Based on their opinions, I would avoid it.

I was thinking about an Autocom for myself. But I spoke to a friend of mine who makes the Mix-It (what I currently use for audio.) He told me,"Wait a year and I'll have something that will blow everybody out of the water." So I'm waiting a year. :)

Fred
 

Doorag

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Wow, that's a very comprehensive write-up. Good work. I've been wondering which system would be best for my wife and I now that we are doing more and more 2-up riding. I'll definitely consider it.
 

texasraider

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some friends and I ordered a bluetooth/rider to rider/fm radio setup.

My buddy ordered them who owns the local Yamaha dealership . . . I plan on posting a link and a review once they come in.
 

VEGASRIDER

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I was hoping a member would do some type of write up / review on communication devices. Thanks, it was better than I was hoping for, with the pics and all.
 

Steph

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as we are on seperate bikes we like to use these motorola sets.

How do you like them? Is road noise a factor? or engine noise? Hubby and I were looking at them...although I'm not sure I can hear a thing over his Vmax when I am riding behind him on my FZ6, he has a stupid loud HMF exhaust. Since he got that, I've started wearing earplugs...ugh
 

fast blue one

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So far so good. The mics are voice operated but dont seem to be activated by anything else yet. All in all -->:thumbup:
 

bmccrary

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The "Blue Tooth" stuff seems to be taking off here recently. I keep seeing the add for Nolan Helments that have blue tooth. I am assuming they have something already built in.

Texasraider, when ever you get your blue tooth set up in please post pics and let us know how it works. I have been wondering about that stuff.

-bryan
 

Bruce McCrary

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A distributor rep friend of mine recently had to buy a couple of Nolan N-Comm's for samples. He messed around with trying to install the hardware for a while, gave up and asked me to do it for him. I jumped at the chance as it would allow me to gain some knowledge about them.

The helmets themselves are modular in design, which I have mixed feelings about, but they are also typical Nolan. You'll either love 'em or hate 'em as a rule. While they are a fairly nice helmet and weren't uncomfortable, I tend to fall in the I don't love them catagory...

It took me a little over an hour to install the first one, about 20 minutes to get the second one. It wasn't that it was terribly difficult, they just don't install like a J&M set up would and I had to re-train myself to do what the instructions said, not what I wanted to do. Which is a pretty tough thing for me.

It's an interesting set up though. The speakers and microphone are all built into one... 'mat' for lack of better words, that uses a circuit board style technology to connect them together on the 'mat'. The entire helmet liner has to be removed and this 'mat' installed in the shell, the the liner is re-installed over the 'mat'. It works pretty cleanly and required very little 'customizing' on my part.

If your not using the blue tooth option, a small chip installs in the right side of the helmet toward the front, using a special filler and cover piece. If your using the blue tooth deal then that piece snaps into the same space that the cover would go.

Two wires with small connectors are attached at the rear of the 'mat' and are tucked in between the liner and shell when not in use. One is an auxiliary input jack for Ipods, MP3's, XM's, whatever, and the other is for a special connection cable when the intercom is being used. You read correctly, when you are riding a passenger and want to utilize the intercom part of the system the rider and passenger have to be connected by wire, helmet to helmet.

I won't claim to know squat about blue tooth, and someone please correct me if I'm wrong as I want to, and need to understand it, but I'm under the impression that in order for it to work you have to be using a cell phone. So in order to talk bike to bike you are basically just making a phone call. Right or wrong?

I never actually got to use the helmets as the rep needed them back before he even gave them to me. So I had to leave that night as soon as I was done with the installation and meet him halfway between the two towns we live in to get them back to him. He was going to a BMW dealership with them first thing in the morning...

Overall I felt they were OK in design and layout, but I'm not sure I'd buy into them. At least not until I know more about blue tooth technology.

I freely admit that I am old school and have had a great personal and working relationship with J&M and their products over the years, so that obviously influences me. But I just can't get past the deal of having the two helmets wired together with the Nolan system. Even though J&M uses hardwired helmets, the connections go to the bike, not the other rider and for whatever reason I like the idea of that better than having a cord dangling between myself and my passenger.

Bruce
 

codeblue

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ChatterBox GMRS X1 for me. It's good for a 5mile radius, has private talk channel to avoid those unwanted chatter. Right now it's setup as a mount on the left side of my full face. I will start using my tank bag to keep it since it's only water resistant.
 

chuckfz6ryder

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Great topic! I hate not being able to talk to my wife when we ride. I find myself constantly looking in my mirrors for her. I just ordered these:
AVP-H2
Accessory Speaker Microphone for Motorcycle Helmet.
For Closed Faced Helmet
Includes two speakers that attach inside the helmet.
Boom microphone to go inside helmet.
PTT button that wraps on handle bar.
Extra long cable
Works with ALL Midland GMRS/FRS Radios

I paid $76 including shipping, any Midland radios will work. Best Buy has a pair of radios with rechargeable battery packs and base charger for $28.

For $100 total cost for bike to bike communications, I don't suspect they will be fantastic, but they seemed to get some good reviews.

If anyone has used these, did I waste my money? I will update in a few days as they were just shipped today.




Installed them today and went for a quick ride.


My helmet was flush inside, speakers not very comfortable, but not too bad.
Sandy's helmet had pockets recessed in the ear area, she doesn't even know they're there


75 MPH and wind noise wasn't too bad. I got radios with a 30 mile range for $70. They seem to work for a mile or so, but we are in a hilly/wooded area here.

Seems like for $150 complete for bike to bike communication, they will do what I wanted them to do
 
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Fz6Sa

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Over the last year or so, I’ve been through quite a few comm. solutions, - mainly due to the fact the wife is unwilling to get on the back seat on longer rides if she can’t communicate with me.
First of all, it seems that the helmet in itself is a deciding factor; - I use a Schubert S1 when riding with the wife and on longer trips, and A Schubert R1 for normal daily solo use. The wife uses a Caberg 104 Solo helmet. All the mentioned helmets are full-face.
In the Schubert helmets, wind noise is not an issue, even at speeds above 180Km, but the Caberg (which has no wind guard) suffers from 85Km and above.
I also have a TomTom Rider2, A Nokia N95 and a 4Kam Camera mounted on the bike, all of which I (In a ideal world) would like to hook up to the helmet mic and speaker.
For my solo rides, I started out using the Cardo Scala-rider headset (Bluetooth) I got with the TomTom. This worked just fine with the TomTom and the phone, but there was no way of hooking up the mic for the camera. I was however a satisfied user of this configuration, since the audio on the 4Kam camera is substandard anyway.
The wife then started complaining about the absence of intercom and I started looking around for a solution. I tried all sorts of cheap “Chinese” solutions, without any luck. Then I ordered the Team version of the Cardo Scala headset, - since I had a good experience with the product as for solo use.
Installation and fitting of the Cardo products is a blaze, - I had no problems what so ever in any of the helmets, and the speakers and mic were small enough to fit inside comfortably. Next step is then the parring of the two headsets (its Bluetooth), which also went fine, - just following the instructions. Got the wife up from the couch, into her bike gear, started out on the road, and started talking …………. BUT:
It turned out to be, at its best, one way communication. First of all I had to whistle to activate the connection; second of all it cuts out mid sentence. The wife is unable to initiate communication. All though this could be considered an advantage, the wife did not see it that way. She was, to put it nicely disappointed. I should mention that we did like 25 tests, both on and of bike before this system was dropped, - I assumed that is was faulty configuration from my side that coursed the system to malfunction, but nothing could solve the issue (Not even Cardo, when I wrote them).
So after this I went out, got me a couple of Midland G8 radios, a couple of matching headsets, used a full Sunday on installing the headsets in the helmets, and WOLA,- SUCCESS!! I know its old school, but it works!!
The G8 radios have a range of 5Km so they double as Bike2Birk communication, plus long range intercom. The batteries supplied with them are good for something like 24 hours of normal use. Only annoying thing is that the helmets now are wired to the pocket where you keep the radio, and to the “push2talk” button. The wife straps the P2T button to the thumb, and claims its perfect, and I have mounted it on the handlebar, clutch side so I can operate it with my thumb.
Last and final step in the process is to hook up the TomTom, The Phone and the camera. All of this is possible and I’ll start on that once I put the bike inside for the winter.
 

steveindenmark

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I have the Starcom1 Advanced which works well enough but I want to move to Bluetooth.

Scarla gets so many different reviews, some brilliant and some awful. I think it all comes down to what day they assembled the product.

Steve
 

bmccrary

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I have the Starcom1 Advanced which works well enough but I want to move to Bluetooth.

Scarla gets so many different reviews, some brilliant and some awful. I think it all comes down to what day they assembled the product.

Steve

Sounds like the company needs some quality control within the process. Where is the company located?

-bryan
 
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