If you’re going to ride as a group, you need to be able to communicate with your companions. You won’t be able to hear each other over the sound of the engine unless you don’t mind shouting. Even if you can hear each other, you’d have to be side by side to have a conversation. Turning and looking at the other person isn’t an option when you’re driving a motorcycle.
Hand signals can also be dangerous. They can distract you and your peers from what’s happening on the road. They may be ineffective if you’re riding in separate lanes. You shouldn’t have to take your hands off the handlebars to send a message to your friends while riding. Use a motorcycle Bluetooth headset to stay safe when riding as a group.
Why It’s Important to Communicate on Group Rides
Riding as a group wouldn’t be the same without some form of communication. You might as well ride next to a group of strangers if you can’t talk to the person next to you. With the proper equipment, you can share riding tips with your companions, especially if some of them are just learning how to ride a motorcycle. You can also coordinate with the group to make sure everyone stays on the same page. You might have to change your route in the middle of the trip. Unexpected weather and road closures can easily change your plans when you least expect it.
Chances are you will need to stop more than once as a group whether it’s to use the bathroom, drink water or grab a bite to eat. If someone needs to stop, they can easily use the communication device to tell everyone else to pull over. This gives everyone time to reduce their speed as they merge into the right lane.
Being able to communicate will also help you and your crew stay safe on the road. It’s no secret that riding a motorcycle can be dangerous. In 2019, motorcyclists were nearly 29 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a crash per vehicle miles traveled. Hitting the road is no joke.
If you want to travel as a group, use your communication equipment to help your fellow riders navigate the road. Encourage each other to watch out for oncoming cars when changing lanes, merging into traffic or turning. Riding conditions can also change on a dime. The leader of the group should watch out for sudden changes that could put the other riders at risk. If you’re driving in a remote area, your companions will be there to call for help in an emergency.
How to Communicate as a Group
There’s really only one way to communicate while riding a motorcycle. You’ll need to use a hands-free wireless communication device to stay safe. This way, you can always keep both hands on the handlebars. You shouldn’t have to take your eyes off the road, either, when sending a message. The only tool you have to access the device is your voice. The best motorcycle intercoms come with voice activation technology to keep riders safe.
Most communication devices feature what’s known as Bluetooth wireless technology, which uses radio frequencies to send data over short distances. It was first created in 1998 and has since become the preferred way to connect to wireless devices. Most devices have a range of up to 100 feet. Your fellow riders will need to stay in this range to communicate with the group. Cars, trees and other obstacles will further limit the range.
Over 95% of mobile devices support Bluetooth. You can use this technology to connect your intercom to your cell phone, so you can send a text or dial a call hands-free while riding. It’s the best way to stay in touch with your loved ones or call for help in an emergency instead of having to physically reach for your phone, which isn’t an option unless you have come to a complete stop on the side of the road.
What to Look for in a Motorcycle Communication System
Finding the right Bluetooth motorcycle intercom can be tricky, especially when you’re trying to connect a bunch of different riders. Use these tips to find the best communication system for your team:
Syncing and Communication
Simple Bluetooth may not be enough when it comes to keeping your team connected on the road. The last thing you want to worry about is someone falling out of the loop.
The problem with traditional Bluetooth is that it creates a single-file chain link between the leader and the other riders. The chain starts with the leader and moves from one person to the next. That works if everyone stays in place, but the road tends to be unpredictable. If someone moves out of the chain by passing enough riders or leaves the group altogether, the chain will be broken, which means the leader will have to start a new chain from scratch by refreshing their intercom.
That’s why it’s best to use Bluetooth helmet speakers that come with dynamic mesh communication (DMC). Instead of creating a single-file chain from one rider to the next, the system creates a direct link between every rider in the group, so there’s more than one connection per rider. This means everyone can stay connected to each other even if someone leaves the group or falls out of range.
Consider the size of your group when choosing a communication system. The intercom should let you connect to more than the current number of riders in your group. You might need to make room for additional riders or their companions later on. Experts say it’s best to limit your group to five to seven riders. If your group is larger, split it up into smaller groups, so you don’t take up as much room on the road. Otherwise, you’ll likely draw the ire of other drivers. To keep everyone connected, look for a system that supports up to ten riders or more.
There’s no point in communicating if you can’t hear what the other person is saying. The speakers should produce crystal clear audio in virtually any situation, even if you are using a loud pipe. Knowing whether a speaker produces quality sound can be difficult when choosing a communication system unless you can try it out in store.
The best communication systems use brand-name speakers to instill more confidence in the rider. Look for systems with speakers from industry-leading brands that you recognize, such as JBL, Bose or Pioneer. These companies are known for making some of the best speakers on the market today. Their equipment will typically perform better on the road compared to standard intercom speakers.
Riding a motorcycle can get messy. Mud, rain and snow can wreak havoc on your communication equipment, especially if you and your companions like to go off-road. That’s why you need to make sure your speakers are 100% water- or weather-proof. It should be able to withstand everyday moisture without losing a charge. This equipment can easily cost several hundred dollars per person, so treat it with the care it deserves.
The device should also withstand some wear and tear. There’s a chance you could drop it on the side of the road. Find an intercom with a solid protective case to keep out of harm’s way.
You can’t communicate as a group unless everyone in your posse has their own intercom or headset. These devices also need to be compatible with each in order to work properly. Make sure everyone in the group is using the same kind of technology — preferably DMC Bluetooth.
Everyone also needs to be able to attach the intercom to their person so that it doesn’t fall off. Most intercoms are made for full-face helmets. They usually clip onto the side, so the device stays near their mouth without obstructing the person’s line of sight.
If some of your companions have a half face helmet, they will need to use a special half helmet Bluetooth headset with a boom microphone that can be mounted to the helmet. The intercom should work with a wide range of helmet makes and models, so everyone can use the same device if they so choose.
Fit and Comfort
Never underestimate the value of staying comfortable on the road. If the device is pressing against your face or digging into your neck, it will deter you from using it in the first place. The device should be easy to adjust, so everyone can position it as they see fit. There shouldn’t be any cords or wires hanging down that could obstruct your view of the road. The system should be comfortable to wear and easy to use, so everyone feels inclined to stay connected.
If riding a motorcycle is just one of your many passions, consider finding a wireless communication headset that can be used for other activities, such as skiing, snowboarding or riding an ATV. The device should attach to any kind of full-face helmet, including those used for various recreational activities. You are sure to get your money’s worth if you can use the device virtually everywhere you go.
Nothing could be more important than your health and safety when riding a motorcycle. Your communication system should help you feel safe on the road, not put you at risk. Everyone on your team should make sure they are using this equipment for legitimate purposes.
If everyone is talking on their phones the whole time or chatting about something unimportant when they should be focusing on the road, someone could easily get into an accident. This equipment should be used to coordinate with your fellow riders. Leave the chit chat for when you reach your destination.
Try It Out
Once you find the perfect motorcycle communication system, it’s time to try it out. Give yourself and your crew plenty of time to meet up before you hit the road. You might need a few minutes to sync up the different devices. Everyone should make sure their intercom is firmly attached to their helmet before taking off. Practice using the device by talking to each other or dialing a call hands-free on your phone.
Now that you have mastered the art of communicating while riding a motorcycle, it’s time to take off on an adventure with a group of your best pals. Enjoy the road and stay safe!