Communications systems in motorcycles

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Communications systems in motorcycles

Post  JamesGoodchild on Mon Apr 16, 2012 6:47 pm

Communication between rider and passenger or bike to bike is nothing new. BMW, Honda, Harley, Suzuki and others have been doing this for years. Aftermarket vendors like J&M, Autocom, etc either provide a white label product to the original manufacturer's systems or have replacement and/or complimentary systems. Tradionally, these systems have been hard wired, where the rider's helmet has a speaker and microphone physically connected by a wire to the communications system.

So what's changing? Well in a word, bluetooth (or blutooth). Helmets no longer sport the hard wire to the bike or to the passenger helmet. This technology offers some interesting benefits, but also comes with some challenges. As someone who has worked with both hard wired systems for years and with bluetooth for the last year, I thought I'd share my opinions with the forum.

Hardwire:
Pros:
-Established technology
-Consistent delivery - system is always available
-Systems are relatively easy to debug

Cons:
-Physical wire of the helmet to the bike
-Adding multiple devices like CBs, FRS radios, GPS, radar detectors, etc can cause a rats nest of wires

Bluetooth:
Pros:
-No wires
-Did I mention no wires...

Cons:
-Still in its infancy with protocols for device to device communication between vendors being ironed out
-Expensive
-Usage is about 10-14 hrs and then you need to charge the battery in the helmet
-Complex to debug issues - frequently you need a vendor to write a firmware patch

So what would I choose? Well, I've decided to be an early adopter of bluetooth. Even with the cons, it is still fantastic to ride with no wires banging your helmet in the wind. Battery life on the road hasn't been an issue yet and the convenience getting on/off a bike without disconnecting yourself is quite simply liberating.

If you have some questions on the topic, drop me a line.

_________________
James Goodchild
---------------------------------------
2011 BMW K1600GTL :B
2008 Piaggio 250 Betty's toy
2005 BMW K1200LT :B
2001 HD FLSTSI
1957 BMW R60 :B
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