THE BEST MOTORCYCLE HEADSETS
We know from personal experience that when it comes to buying gear for our first bike, things like communication and protection levels were a distant second to looking the part. Sometimes, we are still guilty of that, however after owning several bikes (including off and on road bikes) we have leveled the chances of safety taking the podium some of the time.
In the last 5 to 10 years things like helmets with built in Bluetooth have made communication with other nearby riders so easy and simple that it now often feels like something is missing if our helmets are not connected with speakers for talking or listening to music while we are enjoying our freedom on the road.
BENEFITS OF HAVING AUDIO IN MOTORCYCLE HELMETS
Older riders are probably noticing the changes in helmet technologies more than anyone else, but they are also embracing it. There are countless options and safety benefits of being able to easily speak to other riders in your group or even being able to receive a phone call via your mobile Bluetooth connection and chatting with your wife about dinner or the plans for tomorrow, all while still enjoying your riding experiences.
With things like Bluetooth connections to mobile phones and other electronics the possibilities really are endless. The most important factor being safety. The best example I have of this was when friends just a few meters in front of me were able to warn about objects on the road and make sure the entire group were able to avoid them without incident.
Some people have said that the technology interferes with the freedom of being on the road, but it’s not entirely true. These devices can be set to a mute mode or turned off completely if need be, however being able to communicate via a Bluetooth helmet in an emergency might just be one of things you felt grateful to have purchased.
OUR EVALUATIONS OF MOTORCYCLE BLUETOOTH HELMETS
GPS & Voice Activated
THE PURPOSE OF MOTORCYCLE HELMET HEADSETS
The main purpose of a helmets with audio options is to connect you with people or devices like mobile phones which are nearby. They are designed with safety in mind and being able to call someone without removing your helmet if you happen to have an accident. That alone is a massive benefit that I’m sure we’d all appreciate if the situation called for it.
For me, I feel the main reason the Bluetooth headset was invented was more about being able to talk with the passenger riders on long journeys. Anyone who’s been on a bike as the rider or the passenger knows the struggles of trying to have a clear conversation through 2 helmets while competing with the sound of the wind rushing by. Sometimes it feels like screaming. Having a microphone and speakers to talk normally with the other passenger really is a great relief.
Like other pieces of gear and accessories that we ‘must have’ when we go riding, it’s important to do some research to find the one that’s most suitable for your riding style and of course your budget. To me it seems like the first 5 things that I think would be the best are often either the most expensive or have more function or options than I even need. Take a minute and write down what the 3 main things you will need to do with your Bluetooth headset when you have it. Anything beyond those are just going to be a bonus.
There are some really expensive motorcycle Bluetooth headsets out there. We found that some of these offer no more features or options than some of the cheaper helmet audio options. If you decide to by a Bluetooth headset for your motorcycle helmet make sure it’s the one most suited to your needs and you’re not paying mostly for the brand and not additional features that come with a lot of other models if you just look for them.
One thing to be careful of is to avoid mixing or needing to connect too many devices. If you’re just learning to ride or recently purchased your first motorcycle, there are more than enough things for you to focus on, without listening to the latest MP3 you downloaded last night. There are helmets that come with built in Bluetooth capabilities to connect with more than 4 devices.
As a learner, you’d be in safer hands with your mind focusing on the engine and the road in front of you with the audio connected to your phone in case of an emergency. This leads us into the next point.
HOW YOU CAN CHOOSE THE BEST MOTORCYCLE BLUETOOTH HELMET
As we spoke about before, there are reasons like the solidarity of riding alone along a long stretch of highway. I know for me, it’s always been a great way to unplug and clear my thoughts. But, the more I use my Bluetooth motorcycle helmet, the more being able to do things like speak easily with other riders or listen to some music is becoming the norm. Of course, a solo ride changes the scenario, so it’s important to consider yours and the options available when looking to buy a motorcycle helmet with Bluetooth or wireless options.
When choosing a headset for your riding, the number of options and the most popular brands should not be your main focus. Instead, try giving yourself some basic requirements and limit yourself to a specific type of Bluetooth motorcycle headset that covers all of the most important of your requirements.
If you’re like me, one of the main factors in your purchase will be the price tag. Yes, it would be nice to have the $500 headset that connects to 6 devices and can stream YouTube playlists via your phone, but think about it. How often would you really need to have 6 devices connected when riding? I can’t think of 1…and the money saved on a more sensible model headset would leave you some left over cash for a new pair of gloves or even some aftermarket parts for your bike.
One of the main problems I experienced when purchasing my first motorcycle headset was the huge range of options and the wide pricing options. It seemed almost impossible to get something that did everything I needed. So it seemed logical to line up some of the most popular headsets side by side and make the purchase decision simple.
The first thing I did was take a broad look at the types of Bluetooth and other wireless options available in motorcycle helmets. I made sure to cover all bases, even including some models of acoustic headsets which are basically hollow tubes that connect 2 helmets and allow both riders to talk. Of course the main focus ended with being around the wired and wireless technology options, then stacking up the features across each of those styles.
TYPES OF MOTORCYCLE HELMETS WITH BLUETOOTH
There are literality hundreds of different types of devices that will get audio into your motorcycle helmet. From wired options installed aftermarket to a helmets that come with built-in Bluetooth straight out of the box. Some alternate options are wired motorbike headsets that can connect to speakers in the helmet as well.
When it comes down to it, there’s basically 3 distinct models with characteristics that are shared across all the variations of motorcycle audio available today. For example a wireless Bluetooth headset might actually be one you can connect with your phone while jogging or doing other activities.
THE WIRED MOTORCYCLE HEADSET
The classic style of headsets that were available long before the wireless versions became available. I still have a set of wired headsets and they work quite well and there are new models made in this style now. A lot of people, myself included, believe the quality of sound is much clearer with this type of motorcycle headset. Not by a lot, but it can be noticed.
THE BLUETOOTH MOTORCYCLE HELMET & HEADSETS
These first came to the market a few years ago, and the first versions were marketed as being very easy to use which they were. However the sound quality wasn’t ideal and any distance later than a few feet had all sorts of interference and signal issues. As of today, those are all fixed and some of the more expensive models do provide sound quality that’s comparable to the wired versions. As technology continues to improve the wireless versions will surpass the wired styles and become the new standard in motorcycle helmet headsets. In fact this is starting to happen now.
MOTORCYCLE SPEAKERS & STEREO SYSTEMS
There are some motorcycle riders who just want to be able to listen to MP3’s from a nice sound system in a motorbike helmet. To me, the sound of the engine and road was always enough for me when riding alone but you can get some really nice sounding audio headset systems now that are not too expensive. Some will connect to your phone so you can setup voice notifications in place of being able to make calls or speak with nearby riders.
These are the 3 main models of headsets that can be used in helmets. The more detailed information is below and in our motorcycle headset reviews which are always being added to.
BEST WIRED MOTORCYCLE HEADSET
Wired versions of motorcycle intercoms have been around for decades. In recent years there have been some really great improvements to the technology which have allowed for these headsets to be built smaller while including even more options as well as providing better quality sound and connections to your passenger riders.
Wired motorcycle headsets are often slightly cheaper than other styles, however the old saying of you get what you pay for is completely true when buying this accessory for your motorcycle.
Some of the options that I like to consider when looking at purchasing a new wired motorcycle helmet headset are things like, how easy the device makes it to speak to the passengers as well as being able to share media like MP3’s or radio together as light background music during the journey.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
Other aspects to consider is the complexity of using the device. Remember you’ll be using this while riding, so keeping it as simple as possible is very important. Having an easy to control set of functions and large buttons for ease of use are 2 main factors to think about here.
SOME HEADSETS INCLUDE BLUETOOTH OPTIONS
Some wired headsets now include Bluetooth connections that allow for things like connecting to your mobile phone as well as other nearby riders. There are models which allow you to speak with friends up to 400 meters away while maintaining and clear signal.
CHECK FOR NOISE REDUCTION
We recommend making sure that your wired motorcycle headset includes advanced noise control technology as it is really helpful for keeping conversations free of background noise and is great for longer touring trips where road noise and high amounts of traffic can interfere with your talking or music listening quality.
HOW LONG DO THE BATTERIES LAST
The last and probably one of the most important thing to consider when buying a wired headset for your motorcycle helmet is the battery life and charging options. Most of the devices on today’s market are coming standard with 8+ hours of battery life and offer USB charging options, but it’s always something to check as you don’t want to have a headset that only lasts an hour because the batteries are always going flat.
BEST WIRELESS MOTORCYCLE HELMET HEADSETS
As mentioned earlier, there are more and more wireless headsets being made and they are fast becoming the new standard when it comes to finding the best options for your motorcycle communication needs.
In case you don’t know, the latest Bluetooth technologies will allow you to connect to devices like cell phones or connect directly to other riders in your group and share your favourite songs with them all while riding along the highway.
Similar to the wired models, there are certain options and key features that we recommend to make sure your headset includes prior to making your purchase. Audio clarity is the main factor in wireless transmissions. Make sure that you can talk clearly and be heard without needing to repeat yourself or yell at the top of your lungs the whole journey.
REMOVE BACKGROUND NOISE
Technologies like a “Boom Free” microphone as well as ABF noise cancelation will cut down on background noise from the road and engine, allowing you to have a nice conversation at normal levels. A built in intercom system is also a very nice to have feature that allows you to speak directly to passengers via a separate channel and keep other media or riders separate from the conversations.
HANDS FREE OPTIONS
If you receive a lot of phone calls while riding your motorcycle, having hands-free pickup as an option on your wireless Bluetooth headset is definitely a feature that you should add to your “must have” list of options.
From personal experience, I now check the operating temperatures and how the wireless headset handles extreme weather. After some rides across some very hot as well as some very cold and wet areas of the country I don’t want to have to go without phone communication because the model I brought doesn’t work in environments that are anything outside of normal.
My last 3 headset purchases have been wireless. While I still maintain the quality level of the wired versions are slightly better, for things like normal conversations or phone calls there are some wireless motorcycle headsets on today’s market are really great quality.
BEST MOTORCYCLE HELMET MUSIC SYSTEM
One of the best things about the advancements of technology is being able to listen to music or other media that you enjoy in almost any activity. There’s personal headsets available for all types of fitness and recreational things that you like to do, and motorcycle riding is no different.
One of the best things that I liked about having a motorcycle helmets that play music was being able to listen to podcasts while traveling to and from work each day. Even with high traffic and in raining conditions being able to hear all the newest information from my regular channels was great and because a really good time saver as I could listen to audio just like I was sitting at home or driving in my car.
FEATURES TO LOOK FOR
Some of the best audio I’ve heard in a motorcycle helmet was through a small set of speakers connected directly to a phone in my pocket. There were no fancy options or Bluetooth connections to other nearby riders, just a simple setup almost exactly like a normal headset but with slightly larger speakers fitted directly into the helmet.
QUALITY VS COSTS
Being a much simpler design does open up cheaper options, but make sure you are careful of buying speakers that will only last a month or so of riding. There are some very cheap speaker systems available, but trust me, it’s much better to spend a few extra dollars on the initial purchase than having to return to the same shopping process after a couple of weeks of use.
If you just want to listen to music, then this style of headset is all you will need and generally a good audio system for your helmet will be less than $100 which is quite reasonable in comparison to some of the other good quality wired and wireless headsets that we’ve spoke about earlier.