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Sena 20S


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Just did my first on-bike try of my new Sena 20S communicator. I have a group of 6 friends that ride a lot together and we've been wanting to try a communication system. We've always thought that being able to communicate with one another would contribute to our safety, so clear bike to bike intercom was the highest priority as we looked at different systems. I'm not going over all the Sena 20S can do. You can watch a good video review of this model at www.revzilla.com. Upon receiving the 20S, I upgraded the firmware via the internet per the instructions, paired it with my iPhone, and both were very straightforward. The unit mounted easily to my Shoei Multi-Tec helmet using the clamp. Even though I use custom molded ear plugs with audio, I went ahead and mounted the speakers in my helmet. My earbuds plug into the unit and they override the speakers in the helmet, but if I'm ever going down the road on a short errand, I'll still have audio if not using the earbuds. Upon reading the user instructions for the 20S my initial impression was this is going to be complicated. But after re-reading several times and playing with the unit, it's very easy to use.


I met a buddy of mine in North Georgia last Friday and our first order of business was to pair the two units together. That was a snap and I was extremely impressed with the clarity of the communication that we experienced bike to bike. I was expecting some type of FRS or CB radio experience with static and lag time in our communication. But the Sena 20S has full duplex communication. My buddy Pat and I talked with one another like we were sitting across from another in a restaurant booth. The audio was clear as a bell, absolutely no static, no lag time, simply talk like you do with some one face to face. You pretty much have to be in line of sight for the radios to work with one another, but Pat and I rode 250 miles in the North Georgia mountains and only lost radio contact a few times. We generally ride .2 miles behind one another and if one of us dropped down the back side of a hill we would lose radio contact, or if you were well around a mountain corner you would lose contact as the radio is not going to go through the side of the mountain. I was amazed how little we lost communication after 250 miles of twisty mountain roads. And the safety factor that I mentioned was readily evident on our first ride. It can be very startling when a M/C passes you and you don't realize it till they're right up on you. I was in front of my buddy Pat and he radioed that I had two sport bikes screaming up on my left to make a pass. I try to continually look 360, but I didn't catch these bikes in my mirrors and it was nice to know they were coming via the intercom. Being able to radio about debri in the road, approaching cars, directions, etc. was very helpful, and I think the safety enhancement alone is worth the price of the system. That being said, it was also nice to have a conversation with my buddy as we went down the road together. It enhanced the joy of the ride as we communicated along the way.


I don't listen to a ton of music on my bike, but when I'm riding the 110 miles from my house to the Appalachian mountains, I will listen during that time and the Sena Bluetooth enabled me to cordlessly listen to Pandora during that commute. Again it worked extremely well. Out on a long stretch of country road I tried the voice command to make a cell phone call, and once again it was clear as a bell and the friend that I was talking to had no idea I was on my bike until I told him. He said I sounded very clear and he heard absolutely no road noise or wind noise.


I'm looking forward to trying the Sena when the 6 of us are all paired together, but for now I would give the Sena 20S a rating of 10 on a scale of 1-10. I'm extremely impressed at this point.

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Thanks for the Review.


Have you tried paring with the BMW Audio platform, Nav V and/or iPhone, all at the same time?


Sena offered these instructions, but I'm waiting to order until I hear someone (anyone?) has made it all work successfully.

"You can pair the 20s to your iPhone directly or through the Nav V.


If you pair the 20s to your iPhone directly, you can use the Siri function and also answer calls directly by tapping on the phone button/jog dial on the 20s. You also won't need to have the Nav V with you and powered on at all times to answer calls.


The second method is to pair the 20s to the Nav V via Second Mobile Phone pairing, then Nav V to your iPhone. With this method, phone calls are answered on the screen of the Nav V and you also will have access to your phonebook. But Siri function will not work when tapping the phone button, as the Nav V cannot recognize that signal and transmit it to your iPhone.


To pair the 20s to the BMW's audio system, simply use Mobile Phone Pairing. Since the 20s has only one A2DP channel for bluetooth music streaming, you will not be able to use other devices for music."



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I haven't heard of anyone having much luck getting a good BT pairing between the bike and any BT headset other than the BMW helmet setup. I've gone "hardwired" just from the bike speaker leads to the Sena SM-10 to transmit the audio via BT to the helmets.


Just completed integrating all my audio on the bike.


Pretty much duplicated Garry's setup by disconnecting the speakers, tapping into their audio and hardwiring that to a Sena SM-10 that fits nicely in the lockable right-hand compartment where it gets 12VDC power from the USB connector. It then transmits via BT to our pair of 20s headsets. It's absolutely wonderful, crystal clear audio in our ArizonaAl earmolds. My 20s is also paired to my Droid phone via the NavV GPS. I can share XM/AM/FM with my wife or she can plug in her own ipod Touch to cut out my feed and listen to her own music. (She uses the hardwire option for the ipod since she already has her iphone paired via BT to her 20S. She doesn't keep her music on her iphone.)

Did 160 miles yesterday up and over the mountains East of San Diego. It all worked perfectly! Audio volume from each source is independently controllable and memorized by the 20S. The wonderwheel on the bike is still very useful for adjusting volume of the bike audio output.


Sometimes, there is a 1-2 second lag after a GPS audio command before it releases back to my music. That's fine since I usually mute that audio anyway unless I'm really looking for something and wouldn't be listening to music anyway.


I have one more step to complete my system and that is to have the Valentine V1 audio output hardwired to the SM-10 using their audio add-on unit (on order). I'm crossing my fingers for a "no-lag" situation when the V1 picks up a radar signal and am optimistic. Will report back on that.


Bottom line.....VERY satisfied!

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"Have you tried paring with the BMW Audio platform, Nav V and/or iPhone, all at the same time? "


I did have it paired with my iPhone and was able to use the voice command to make or receive phone calls.



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Paul In Australia
I haven't heard of anyone having much luck getting a good BT pairing between the bike and any BT headset other than the BMW helmet setup. " [end quote]


I haven't had any trouble pairing between the bike audio and a Sena SMh10 headset. Bit of a myth I think. Sure the wonder wheel doesn't work, but so what. The rest is fine.



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Brand new 20S seems okay at intercom function and phone linking. Music streamed from the phone to my helmet is great. As soon as the music is SHARED with my pillion (absolute requirement for me) it is just a mess. With units 8" apart and antennae raised, the music is choppy ... not occasionally but CONSTANTLY ... cuts out about once per second ... unusable.


I've been reading enough complaints of poor customer service and (most disturbingly) failure in any kind of real rain, that I am seriously considering going back to my wired system.


I have to decide by Jan 31 so tech support experience will be the determine my actions.

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"Please follow up with rider to passenger music sharing one way or the other. If this is a problem that can't be resolved I am not going to purchase the sena 20S"


I have started a new thread referencing this specific issue ... I need a quick solution as my return privilege is up at the end of the month.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Update ... Service has been great. They SAY that the water intrusion issues were a manufacturing assemble line issue where screws were over-tightened resulting in distortion of a seal and that has been resolved.


Music 'sharing' is still less than perfect but adding an sm10 bluetooth transmitter will eliminate the need for sharing for me and my pillion.



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Received and tested the replacement 20S system and found that, in my case, music sharing was still deficient though better than the initial pair.


I also purchased an SM10. This Bluetooth hub supports links to both my and Sharon's 20S and I intend to use it's stereo as input for iPod, Phone media, and XM. My old GPS audio will be fed to the SM10 AUX input. Had a warm day yesterday and got to test everything for several hours and am very pleased.


While your experience may be very different, my advice would be to NOT rely on using the music sharing feature. Add an SM10 to the mix ... link to your phone for calls only ... and share music/radio/etc via the SM10.


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