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West_Coaster

Lexin B4FM Review

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West_Coaster

This is my review of the Lexin B4FM intercom system.

 

Rationale for purchasing: I ride mostly with my wife and a friend and his wife, so 2 bikes, 4 people. We wanted a simple intercom that would allow us to talk to each other, and not really much else. We don't listen to music while riding, and don't have a bunch of electronics we want to pair up to such as a GPS. The system would need to allow all 4 of us to talk at will, and require no pressing of buttons or anything while underway, no distractions. Needed to be simple to setup as I'm the only tech savvy one in the group, and the rest suffer from NPFBS (No patience for Bull $hit). Lastly, we didn't want to spend a ton on the intercom.

 

Research: I had read that Cardo and Sena were the industry standards and were the most reliable and feature packed systems - unfortunately the prices reflected this. We would be looking at close to $1K for 4. I started looking at less expensive systems because primarily we wouldn't be using more than 10% of the high end units features. I also didn't care about compatibility towards other systems because it's 99.999% the 4 of us riding together. There were a lot of cheaper options, however most have drawbacks such as complexity in setup, short battery life, noisy comms while moving, dropped connections and cheap or flimsy mounting and hardware.

 

Decision time: With a lot of information read and a lot of Youtube videos watched, I decided to give the Lexin B4FM a try. It was $159 for 2, so for a little over $300 we would have 4 intercoms. I was a little nervous about setting up the intercoms as the instructions appeared slightly confusing to connect all 4, but it had received some pretty good feedback and I figured if they didn't perform, I would just return them and try something else.

 

My experience: The intercoms came in a nice box with everything I needed to do the installation, including both a boom mic and an internal mic. I started with my Shoei GT AIR. I took out the padding and the intercom installed very easily. Where I had to McGyver things was where the wires come out of the helmet to the unit, my cheek padding needed a cutout to pas the wires. So a small 1/4" channel was cut into the cheek pad plastic retained and voila, successful installation. The speakers are Velcro'd in and I used the non-boom mic they provided in my full face helmet. My wife has a 3/4 LS2, that installation was slightly more difficult as some of the internal padding cannot be removed. I had to use the boom microphone on her helmet and ended up using a bit of hot glue to keep the wires from flopping around. 

The mounts are either a 3M pad and small metal bracket, or a separate bracket clip. Only my helmet was able to use the clip. I'd rate the clips a 7 out of 10. The boom mic is a little flimsy, meaning it moves quite easily. We'll see if it flops around over time.

Yesterday we were set to go for an all day ride to get some pie, have a burger and let the girls do a little wine tasting in backcountry Ramona. At my house, I was able to easily pair up both my wife and I for the ride to my buddies house. We took off and almost immediately I was able to hear wind noise from her mic, however she reported my mic was quiet. Sound quality was good and more than enough volume was on tap. My initial thoughts were that I was not going to use the intercom today because I didn't want to hear wind noise all day. We arrived at my buddies house and we installed the other 2 intercoms. After fiddling around with the instructions, I finally was able to get all 4 working, seemed like a small miracle though and I was not entirely sure I could do it again. I did notice that the boom mic's have an orientation making and my wife's was facing front instead of back, so I was hoping that might help with the wind noise, but I was not very optimistic. 

 

Lexin has a connection scheme where the intercoms are either an end unit, or a bridge. A bridge is a unit that connects to an end unit, and also to another bridge so 2 connections. The end units make only one connection to a bridge. So each motorcycle has one end unit, and one bridge unit, and the bridge units connect the 2 motorcycles. You start by pairing the 2 bridge units on channel 2. This is done by holding the vol - and intercom button until the unit goes into pairing mode, and you repeat this on the other bridge unit. Pairing mode is shown by an alternating red and blue LED, as well as a message through the speakers. Then, one either of the 2 bridges, you press the intercom button and the unit will say, "scanning" and then "connected". The LEDs on both units go blue. 

Next, you pair one end unit to a bridge unit on one motorcycle, and repeat for the second motorcycle. These pairings are done on channel 1 and use the vol + and intercom buttons. They pair the same way as the bridges.

You can then turn on the connections by pressing the intercom button on one of the bridges to start the bridge to bridge connection, then each end unit until all 4 intercoms are talking.

 

Confused yet? Well, after you do it a few times, it starts to make sense and is actually pretty simple. It can get confusing when things don't go to plan. If you get stuck or confused, you can press the vol - and + and easily reset the connections on a unit to start fresh.

 

So we all took off and immediately started chatting it up. After a short highway ride we were on some back roads when I noticed how quiet the intercom was, there we zero wind noise, and non of us could hear the bikes engines or any other ambient noise. At that same moment, my buddy commented on how well he though these intercoms were performing. Everyone's voice was clear, when nobody was talking, it was quiet. No clicks, scratches etc. We spread out a bit to see what the range might be. I'd say about 500 feet is the range where you start hearing a little scratching to the voice with it getting worse as you get farther away until you lose connection. This was on the highway on a straight road with no hills or other things to interfere with range. It pairs back up in about 10 seconds after you get closer again. Lexin claims 1600 Meters which is a mile, no way it will go that far. 

We rode from about 10am to about 8pm and left all 4 intercoms on all day. The intercom tells you battery percentage when you power up, so at the end of the day I turned it off and then back on and it reported "low battery" which makes me think we were getting to the end of the batteries life, about 10 hours in intercom mode. They claim 8 hours talk mode, so pretty fair. 

 

At dinner, we were talking and all concluded that this intercom does what we needed it to do, was surprisingly quiet all day, and has plenty of range. We never once lost connection other than the range test we performed. 

 

I must caveat this with a few things. One, I don't like that when I'm in intercom mode, Bluetooth to my phone is disconnected so I can't hear Google maps directions. Not a big deal for me as I have a phone mount and can see the directions easily, plus Google maps talks to much lol. Second, the pairing is a little confusing, but once you understand the pairing scheme, it sorta makes sense. Next, we are not using any of the other features simply because we are not interested in them. But I can see if you wanted to also stream music or anything Bluetooth, not being able to use Bluetooth and intercom simultaneously would be a deal breaker. You can do this if your only connected to one other unit, it's the bridge functionality that stops the Bluetooth, so just have 2 people doesn't require a bridge and then you get full functionality. I'm not sure how this compares to the higher end Sena and Cardo systems, I'd have to imagine that for 2x the price they have better features. But I cannot imagine having a better connection, audio quality and wind/noise cancellation. It's dead quiet when nobody's talking, how does it get better than that?

 

Overall, we're going to stay with the Lexin intercoms, we were quite surprised how well they worked and the range was good as well.

 

 

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