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Bike to bike communications


Mike_Thompson

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Mike_Thompson

I'm sure this has been covered a million times so my apologies for the new thread. I'm pretty new at the whole electronics concept so I'm really green at it. My riding buddy and I are wanting to get some kind of bike to bike communication system and I understand that autocom is a good solution for hooking up my ipod, gps, etc, etc.

 

Where I get confused is... do the various autocom systems only provide earphones, etc and a way to link up your various connnections? Or, does it act as a bike to bike communication system? If it's not a bike to bike system, do you have any suggestions on what to use? The only communication systems I've really heard of are Chatterbox. Suggestions?

 

For reference, I use a HJC Symax helmet and my current system of listening to music is having shoved a pair of head phones up near my ears and traced the wires through the padding. I can't go with ear buds or plugs as they are just too uncomfortable for me.

 

If any of you guru's can help shed some light on this subject or point me to a recent string with this info, I would be very very grateful.

 

Thanks!

 

Mike

2004 DL1000 Vstrom

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For communication between bikes/gps/music etc you will need to purchase an Autocom or a Starcom,Intaride and Baehr also make good systems.Plus you will need Radio`s frs/grs or pmr depending where you live.All of the above co`s give excellent support if you get a problem,two members of this board are Autocom dealers,i personaly have a Starcom and can`t fault them for their help,two riding friends of mine use Intaride again excellent back up.I won`t comment on Chatterbox etc as i`ve never used them but you will find if you do research that most people have one of the top four thumbsup.gif

 

http://www.starcom1.com/

 

http://www.intaride.com/

 

Just a couple to get you started wave.gif

 

Regards Del

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My experience with Autocom is good indeed. On long rides I have my MP3 CD hooked up, handphone on auto answer and I have 5 Watt radio to communicate with my buddies. My experience with FRS radio is that the range is rather limited. Its a little better with GMRS as the transmitting power is double that of FRS.

 

Autocom has excellent flat speakers giving high quality output. I cant however comment on the other available systems in the market as I have not used them before. Good to read up on the reviews available...

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My only experience is with Autocom. I run satellite radio, bike-to-bike, radar detector and GPS simulatneously and the Autocom works flawlessly and completely transparently. Other equipment may be as good, I don't see how anything could be better.

 

I have used a variety of speakers - ER-6's with their ear pieces, ER-6's with custom molded ear pieces, the Challenger custom molded ear phones, and Autocom in-helmet speakers. My conclusion is that the Challengers provide the best noise attenuation and sound fidelity in the motorcycle/helmet environment and the Autocom speakers used over Hi-Fi Earplugs the most convenience. There are custom molded musician's earplugs that would probably work even better than the inexpensive ones I used and linked to above.

 

The bottom line, as I see it, is that when you are on and off the bike frequently, go with in-helmet speakers and earplugs that provide adequate sound attenuation without significantly distorting the sound and, when you are going to be on the bike for extended periods go with custom molded in-ear speakers. Everything is a compromise. That's what works for me after lot's of experimentation, not to mention expense. To me, comfort, convenience and reasonable fidelity are worth it. YMMV.

 

By the way, The Ear Plug Superstore, that I provided the links to, has everything imaginable, reasonable prices, is fast and wonderful to deal with.

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Mike, more than asking which to buy (Autocom is the best IMO), what you're really asking for is an explanation of how these systems work.

 

Chatterbox bolts to the side of your helmet. You connect to your passenger directly by means of a helmet-to-helmet cable. The Chatterbox model for B2B communication has a Chatterbox-made FRS radio built in, adding to the weight of the unit on your helmet. Adding an opinion here, I don't care for having a box bolted onto my helmet. Additionally, I find the Chatterbox components (speakers, wires, etc) to be of lesser quality than most other brands. Chatterbox does work. But as I've said before, it's what most people buy on their way to eventually owning an Autocom.

 

As for the others, basically what they are is an intercom system that also allows you to input outside sources (music, radar, GPS, cell, Bike-to-Bike, etc), and it will prioritize them for you. On some the prioritization (which inputs takes audio precedence over the others) is built in and cant be changed. On an Autocom Super Pro, you decide which gets priority. You can even decide, depending on the input port you choose to plug your accessories into, how much automatic muting will take place.

 

The question as to what's provided (i.e. speakers, etc) for listening in your helmet, all of the systems provide speakers and a microphone.

 

The differences (other than those above), then becomes a matter of which manufacturer builds the highest quality components, has the best signal-to-noise ratio, true 100% VOX shut-off (pure silence when not in use)offers such features as automatic volume control based on ambient noise, and allows the cleanest communication.

 

Do your research and you'll come to the conclusion that while all the available systems work to one extent or another (some better than others), no other system offers the completeness of features, variety of features, warranty support, national customer base, national dealer base and factory support that Autocom does. In fact, Tom Beman, the Managing Director (that's Brit-speak for the "owner") of Autocom is a member of this site and often will pop in to offer some technical advice. That's typical of Autocom's commitment to customer service.

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I have the Baehr Ultima XL designed for the RT's radio/cassette system and I like it. You may find some radio interference problems with any system you install because of the bike's ignition system, but careful routing of the cables and proper RF filters will minimize most of the noise. Although the Baehr is a quality product, I had problems with their customer support in the US. I never could get in touch with a real person and they never returned any of my calls. Advantage: Autocom frown.gif

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I know that everyone will disagree but my son (1994 K75S) and I (2005 R1150R) both have the Motocomm systems. They have worked flawlessly for the last 2 years. I am running cell phone, StreetPilot III, Cobra 2 wayradio, I-POD, and Beltronics radar. If you want to pay more go ahead. new in box MotorComm apx. $179.00.

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www.jmcorp.com/

 

I wouldn't use anything but a J&M. I'm a believer in the CB raido. Great for traffice reports, bear reports or any other information you could ever want. J&M makes great audio equipment including headsets.

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I've got a Chatterbox - which works reasonably well. FRS or GMRS versions are available, and as Fernando pointed out, they're built right in, so you don't have to worry about powering (or wiring) separate intercom and 2-way radio. It's powered by a built-in rechargeable battery, or you can get an adapter to power it from the bike electrical system.

 

Mine is mounted to the handlebars, not my helmet. (Though I've had it on the helmet in the past.) I've got GPS, iPod, and Valentine1 plugged into it (via the Accessory Workshop audio mixer) and all three cut out when talking/receiving on the 2-way radio.

Dash-sm.jpg

LARGER version HERE

(The rubber band is my low-budget 'strain relief' for the power cord, and headset extension.)

 

Sound quality is decent, though certainly not stellar. Recently, I was told (by some riders with Autocom equipment) that my transmissions are sometimes pretty garbled. Although, that COULD be me mumbling into the mic as I try to avoid the hazard that I'm on the radio to warn them about. I will say that, except for occasionally weak volume, I could generally hear them clearly. When I use it with other Chatterbox users, however, I've always had good results. (Both transmit & receive.)

 

What I like:

Moderate entry price.

The easy to adjust on-the-fly VOX and channel controls.

The 2-way and aux inputs are not volume linked.

The side-tone (you can hear yourself when you transmit) and the full duplex when using it as a rider-to-pillion intercom. (Meaning you can both talk at the same time, like you would on a telephone.)

Customer service is pretty good: I lost a battery door, and they sent a new one out at no charge, even though the unit was several years old, and WAY out of warranty.

I actually LIKE that it can be helmet mounted, as it allows use OFF the bike - at gas stops, or whatever.

 

What I DON'T like:

Funky shape - makes it hard to use off-helmet.

Sound quality is not as nice as I'd like.

Requires some kind of adapter to feed more than one audio source. (Has one Stereo Aux input. (As well as one Cellphone input, and a Push-to-Talk jack, neither of which I've ever used.)

Battery life is only so-so, if used for 2-way a lot. (I get probably a solid 20 hours out of it, when just used as a way to pipe the GPS, radar and iPod sounds to the helmet, but when I'm riding and talking over it, I only get about 6-7 hours on a charge.)

 

The Chatterbox is a viable (if budget) alternative.

If I had to do it again I'd definitely consider the Autocom. I've heard very little negative about them, and they enjoy an excellent reputation here. (It's already been mentioned that the head honcho there is an regular contributor here, and offers exceptional troubleshooting expertise.)

 

Hope this helps!

G.

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Can you actually ride that bike? eek.gif
Yep. It and I will be at Willow Springs next weekend. (I wonder if they'll ask me to take off the gadgets and my side cases?)
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Chatterbox does work. But as I've said before, it's what most people buy on their way to eventually owning an Autocom.

 

Gawd, Fernando speaks the gospel -- that statement is SO true. The Chatterbox components are indeed of a quality that is, shall we say, not premier... My wife and I used this system for two years (and bought two models) before we got tired of not understanding what we were saying (btw, we just put it in a pocket so you don't have to hook it to your helmet). I went with Autocom this Winter and the difference is like night and day! I wish I would have put all that Chatterbox money into Autocom at the very outset. Other units (i.e., J&M, Baehr, Stargate, et al.) are also good but you'll never see a bad review of an Autocom; they are unequivocally rock solid. That's as sterling a testimonial as I can give. Happy communicating no matter your choice!

 

Lastly -- way to go in asking your questions. Six months ago I didn't know what was going on with high-end "communicators" like I mentioned above. Autocom gives you a basic setup, but you really then have to pay ala carte for just those extra options you may need. Study their brochures and things will become clearer. They're a little pricey, but ultimately as you will see, their system is ingenious.

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Mike_Thompson

The responses have been great guys, thanks so much! What I really didn't understand and had to go back and read again was that the autocom does have bike to bike communications. See... I thought that you would have to get the autocom to act as say... a router. All the seperate devices would plug into it and it would help tie it all together. Well, it a way, that's what it's doing. After reading a bit more, I realize now that through autocom you also use a transceiver for the bike to bike communications. I thought you'd have to get a seperate system like the chatterbox.

 

So, in my mind, I thought I would have to get an autocom AND another system such as the Chatterbox. Got it... all clear now.

 

My last question would have to be... any chance that autocom or any of the other companies around are going wireless? I remember someone posting something about a helmet, but I didn't see it here. It might have been a different site. Whoops...

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Mike_Thompson
Can you actually ride that bike? eek.gif

 

YOu might want to check out the postings for the guy out here that's looking for a solution for sunglasses. How much of a glare do you catch with all that hardware? thumbsup.gif

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The responses have been great guys, thanks so much! What I really didn't understand and had to go back and read again was that the autocom does have bike to bike communications. See... I thought that you would have to get the autocom to act as say... a router. All the seperate devices would plug into it and it would help tie it all together. Well, it a way, that's what it's doing. After reading a bit more, I realize now that through autocom you also use a transceiver for the bike to bike communications. I thought you'd have to get a seperate system like the chatterbox.

 

So, in my mind, I thought I would have to get an autocom AND another system such as the Chatterbox. Got it... all clear now.

 

My last question would have to be... any chance that autocom or any of the other companies around are going wireless? I remember someone posting something about a helmet, but I didn't see it here. It might have been a different site. Whoops...

 

Mike,

 

I've been a chatterbox user for 6-7 years now (currently an FRS X2). Although I can hook up cellphones and GPS etc, I typically don't. I do use it mostly for B2B comm. I like the fact that in that mode, I am free from being tethered to my bike.

 

If you look on the Aerostich site or in their latest catalogs, you'll see HJC is coming out with a new unit. A base unit that will mount somewhere on the bike and can take inputs from Cellphone, MP3, GPS and other devices. The base unit on the bike has a small (3"?) antenna. On your helmet, you'll just have a pretty small receiver/xmitter that works via Bluetooth and receives and transmits to the base unit. Looks pretty interesting and at $497 seems priced to give some of the other multi-input devices another competitor.

 

I have had no problems with my chatterbox units. The only folks I know of who have hadn't installed them properly. They are sensative to wind and the mike needs to be well protected from it. I've held a perfectly audible conversation at 150mph with mine. Not bad for a $204 unit.

 

Good like with whatever you decide on.

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