One of the easiest ways to improve your riding experience without a huge investment is to add a Bluetooth communication system to your helmet.
One question bikers often ask is whether they should buy a Bluetooth communication system or just use the earbuds they already have. You can probably guess from my opening sentence how I'm leaning into this Bluetooth versus earbuds debate. However, both the options have their advantages and disadvantages.
Bluetooth System Vs Earphones
Listening to music while riding is probably the biggest reason why bikers wear a pair of earbuds or add a Bluetooth system to their helmets. A Bluetooth communication system will allow you to listen to music, take phone calls, receive voice navigation from your GPS device, and more. A pair of earbuds will practically only offer music benefits and possibly some communication capabilities if the earbuds have a very powerful microphone. Even so, they are generally not as effective or convenient for a motorcyclist as compared to Bluetooth communication systems.
First, let's look at what the earbuds have to offer.
When earbuds are mentioned, I usually think of a pair of Apple AirPods, as they are one of the most common earbuds on the market. They're so intelligent, they're wireless, and considering they fit snugly in your ears, they're incredibly practical for everyday use.
Apple AirPods are one of the most common earbuds on the market.
I've used a pair of AirPods in a full-face helmet several times. They "worked," but when I made a test call, communication wasn't as efficient as using a motorcycle Bluetooth system.
However, wearing earbuds inside a motorcycle helmet is a bit cumbersome. They fall off when you try to turn your earbuds on and even if you put them on correctly after your earbuds are on, check a few heads later and they either fall off ready or they move around, and the music is no longer sounds great.
To fix this, you can look to custom-moulded earbuds, but that usually drives up the price a bit and any well-rated pair of earbuds is already around the £120 mark. Custom earbuds go north of £350 quickly.
Using earbuds also means you usually must take your hands off the handlebars and focus on your smartphone while on the road to volume adjustment or song selection.
Personally, I've only found two tangible benefits to using a pair of earbuds while riding a motorcycle. First is the ability to use these both inside and outside the bike. The second advantage only applies if you are wearing half a helmet. These covers require a specific half-helmet Bluetooth unit, which limits your options.
Now let's look at the benefits of Bluetooth communication systems for motorcycles.
Bluetooth communication system
As mentioned earlier, with a Bluetooth communication system like the Interphone U-COM, you can listen to music, FM radio, take calls, listen to voice navigation via GPS or smartphone, and communicate with other runners. who also have a communication system - the list of features and benefits is long.
Another advantage for bikers is the ability to use voice commands. Many of the latest Bluetooth communication systems on the market allow you to adjust volume, change songs, make calls, or communicate with another rider or passenger without taking your hand off the handlebar. This allows you to stay focused on the road and not get distracted trying to manipulate your smartphone while trying to ride. Sure, you can turn on Siri with your earbuds on, but good luck getting Siri to hear you over the sound of wind when you're driving down the highway.
Speaker pockets are very common in full-face motorcycle helmets.
While you don't always need a speaker pocket to set up a Bluetooth communication system, it certainly helps.
While earbuds are the most universal option, the Bluetooth communication system works with almost any full-face helmet on the market. I would recommend just checking that your helmet or the helmet you are hoping to buy has speaker pockets. Since most lids nowadays include this blank area to accommodate BT systems, this is usually not a problem. And, since headsets are configured to accommodate these systems, they're generally much more comfortable than holding a pair of earbuds pressed against your ear by the inner liner.
Let's talk a little more about the convenience factor. Do you ever walk in the door and realize you forgot something 10 minutes later? Maybe like your earbuds? This happens to me from time to time too, but you won't have to worry about forgetting your bluetooth system because it lives in your helmet. Even when charging the device, you don't need to remove it from the headset. Usually, you can remove your inner liner. It's also washable, put everything back in its place, and the Bluetooth system never needs to be removed.
You can also find some helmets in the market that already have Bluetooth communication system installed. The only downside here is that the Bluetooth unit cannot be removed and transferred to another headset, so replacing your headset also means replacing the Bluetooth unit.