After months of “Are you there?” “No the Bluetooth isn’t working again” “Oops, I don’t have the right cord to charge these”, and more challenges than benefit with my husbands and my old helmet communicators, we started a quest for reliable communication.
Our quest turned up the Sena 20s, and after two years of use, I’m ready to share the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Now, you may wonder why helmet communicators are important. After all, isn’t the beauty of riding being alone, in your helmet, with no one else to bother you? No sounds except the rumble of the exhaust and the rushing of the wind. This all sounds great, until you are traveling with your partner. Gotta pee? Best wait until a stop sign. Hungry? Hope he gets hungry too. Need a break to stretch your legs? Stand up on that bike, there’s no way to share that information. Out of gas? Out of luck.
When my partner and I decided to upgrade our helmet communicators, reliably connecting to each other was at the top of the list. Taking phone calls and listening to music were nice bonuses, but could we talk when we need to talk. Sena has made pairing quite easy, though when you are riding with friends, you may find yourself looking like this at the beginning of the day.
One button pairing was a treat. Now, if I needed gas I could tell my partner, without having to hope he noticed my turn signal, zooming past him to get in front so I could point at his gas tank, or running out. We also found ourselves leaving the Sena’s connected for miles, not even talking, just riding truly together. The challenges we have found are that the connection is only line of site, so the communicators are only effective in mountain passes between riders of the same skill level. Also, like all technology, it can get buggy over time and need to be re-paired. Sena has created a phone app to expand range and improve ease of use.
From my perspective the sound quality has been great, however, from the people who talk to me over the intercom or on the phone, there are some challenges. Off and on there is an echo when we are paired, so the person talking to me can hear themselves about a quarter second after they are speaking. Turns out this makes talking very challenging. I have also gotten feedback that when people call me on my Bluetooth, I am a little quiet. We have asked Sena for help and they sent a new base for the headset, but it still has both of these issues some of the time. Since it isn’t constant, we are sticking with it for now.
The speakers easily either stick to a velcro you can mount in your helmet, or on my Shoei Hornet, there is a little pocket the speaker fits right into. If I can install these, anyone can.
I find the Sena 20s incredibly easy to use. There are three buttons and a dial. Press two of the buttons to turn it on, one button to start my audio book or music, hold the button to talk, the rear button for radio. There is a button on the bottom for ambient noise, for example needing to ask a pedestrian for directions or chat with the gas station attendant. And, there are so many things you can do, they made a user manual for your phone. For example, my husband dislikes country music and rap music. If am feeling particularly mischievous, I can beam my country music to his head set. Is there anything that is more fun on a 600 mile day?
On a five point scale, I think the Sena 20s falls at or above four stars. It is has been the most reliable helmet communication system we have used. I consistently recommend the Sena 20s to friends.
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