The 10 Best Helmet BT Inserts
This wiki has been updated 26 times since it was first published in April of 2016. Why should car drivers be the only ones to enjoy the convenience of GPS navigation? Now motorcycle riders can get that same advice on the road with one of these helmet BT inserts. Using Bluetooth technology, these systems don't just relay directions, they also allow for conversations between you and your fellow riders, as well as streaming music and taking phone calls. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
November 06, 2020:
Anyone who rides a motorcycle and has ever used a Bluetooth communication systems knows just how important it is to get a high-quality unit. This is vital not only for good audio quality, both for talking and listening to music, but also for ease of use, stable connectivity, and range. Ease of use is important because you don't want your attention to be taken away from the road because you are fiddling around trying to adjust the volume or switch songs, and stable connectivity is vital for the same reason, since trying to re-sync your device with other units while driving can be dangerous.
With the above in mind, we removed two knock off models that were simply trying to sway potential buyers with low prices and designs or names reminiscent of better-known, higher-quality options. These included the Bibine M1-S, which is a knock off of the Fodsports M1-S Plus, and the FreedConn TCOM-SC, which is trying to fool users into thinking it is part of the respected Cardo Freecom line.
Another change we made was to replace the Sena 20S Evo with the Sena 50R and Sena 50S, both of which are newer models from the company. While these two units may seem similar when looking at the specs, there are some notable differences that should be taken into consideration before making a purchase decision. The 50R is designed for more intense riding situations, like those where you expect to be subjected to extreme weather and traveling over dirt roads and through clouds of dust. It can also adhere directly to your helmet and doesn't have a built-in 3.5-millimeter auxiliary port. The result of these last two modifications allows it to have a slimmer profile than the 50S. Conversely, the 50S has the aux jack and uses a clamp and handy quick-release mount, which can be more convenient when it comes time to charge the unit. Perhaps most notably though, the 50S is equipped with a jog dial, whereas the utilizes a three-button design.
The Cardo Packtalk Bold is a new addition to the list this year and it, along with both the aforementioned Sena models and the UClear Motion Infinity, is equipped with Mesh technology that allows you to connect with large groups of other riders. It also comes with premium JBL speakers that offer some of the best sound quality of currently available models.
We are extremely impressed with the safety technology the UClear Motion Infinity boasts and we would love to give it a better ranking, however, it seems to be a bit buggy, which can be quite annoying. Also, its cool gesture controls can be a tad too sensitive and take some getting used to.
December 11, 2019:
No matter the size of your riding party, certain features are vital in just about any helmet insert, and we placed an emphasis on things like battery life, range, and weatherproofing, while trying to stick with brands that have earned a reputation for quality in the industry. The Cardo Freedom 4 Plus are particularly good for bad weather, as they boast an IP67 waterproof rating that should stand up to rain and dust with no problem.
Over the past several years, however, most major brands have closed in on one another in those feature categories, with only minor differences in talk time and distance. As a result, we also had to take extras into account, like the LED lights on the Lexin LX-FT4, which are as much a safety feature in their increased visibility as they are a touch of cool. We also discovered that the Buyee GPS Interphone on our previous list was something of a knockoff version of the Freedcon Full Face Intercom we've included on this ranking, so we sent it packing.
Most of the models on our list will prove relatively easy to install, but that will also depend somewhat on a user's familiarity with their own helmet (removable cheek pads, precut wire routes, etc.). Beyond those points there's little more to it than the placement of some Velcro or 3M tape to adhere the components to your lid.
The Soundtrack To Your Life On The Road
For a long time, it didn’t seem like anything could improve this experience.
Riding a motorcycle is one of the few experiences available to the average citizen that provides a genuine sense of freedom. An open road in front of you, your problems receding into the rumbling wake of the motor, and a natural, high-speed breeze combine to give one the stimulating sensation of flying.
For a long time, it didn’t seem like anything could improve this experience. A good soundtrack could do the trick, but unless you owned a touring cycle with a beast of a built-in stereo system, your options for listening to music were severely limited. Headphones don’t fit very well underneath a safely fitted motorcycle helmet either.
Some riders will run ear buds up through their helmets. This is a viable option for shuffling songs on a long ride, but it won’t give you any control over volume, tracks, or incoming phone calls. Also, any chance that you might become entangled in a wire running down to the phone or MP3 player in your pocket could put you at serious risk while on the road.
By equipping your helmet with a Bluetooth insert, you allow yourself the opportunity to safely listen to music along your ride. Since the device is wireless, there’s no worry that you’ll get caught up in any cables. The units also often have controls built into a piece that adheres to the exterior of your helmet. This allows you to raise and lower the volume, answer phone calls, and skip from track to track in your music library.
With a properly installed Bluetooth insert, you’ll also find that it’s easier to run navigation programs to guide you to your destination. That way, you won’t have to pull off to the side of the road every few miles to reread your directions and attempt to memorize any exit numbers or complicated turns.
Signaling Through The Noise
Good tunes, safe navigation, and the ability to take phone calls are all well and good when you’re out riding alone, but some of the most rewarding experiences on motorcycle come from setting out in a group of riders.
Group riding instills a deep sense of community among bikers, as you endure the twists and turns of the road together. There’s an unspoken bond among bikers, and I mean that quite literally. For a very long time, the only way that bikers could communicate with each other on the road was through the use of hand signals.
Different groups of bikers may employ different signals specific to their journeys, riding styles, personalities, and more, but there are a few signals that have a universal appeal for their clarity and ubiquity.
In a car, these signals are all done with the left hand because that hand has access to the driver’s side window.
The most familiar of these hand signals are the same ones you probably learned in your high school driver’s education classes, but have rarely, if ever, had to use. They’re your basic left turn (let arm extended straight out), right turn (left arm pointed up, bent at the elbow), and stop (left arm pointed down, bent at the elbow). In a car, these signals are all done with the left hand because that hand has access to the driver’s side window. On a motorcycle, it’s so your right hand can readily manipulate the throttle and brake while signaling. For that reason, all common, inter-cycle signals are all performed with the left hand.
Despite the variety of signals available to bikers, there’s a limit to what you can convey without learning how to speak one-handed sign language. This is where a Bluetooth helmet insert can make a world of difference. When riders in a group all have Bluetooth-enabled helmets, they can use the accompanying microphone system to verbally communicate with one another.
By communicating verbally instead of using hand signals, you never have to take your hands of the controls. The resulting ride is much safer. You’ll also enjoy the ability to casually converse with your group, share observations of beautiful sights, describe dangers in the road ahead, or simply argue about where to stop for lunch.
This kind of communication can also come in handy if you have someone riding on your bike with you. They can hold firmly to your waist and still be able to let you know if they need to take a pit stop, or if they have any other concerns.
Choosing And Installing Your Bluetooth Helmet Insert
Now that you’ve heard of the many benefits these inserts can provide, you’ll want to find a model that suits both your physical helmet and your riding style.
If you routinely ride alone or, at most, with a passenger behind you or in a sidecar, you don’t need to worry too much about radio communication distances. Some of the models on our list can maintain contact with other Bluetooth-enabled helmets across greater distances than others. You can easily sacrifice this feature if you don’t intend on traveling in a group of riders.
If, on the other hand, you regularly set out with your fellow bikers on long adventures, the odds are that your formation stretches out across several hundred feet or more.
If, on the other hand, you regularly set out with your fellow bikers on long adventures, the odds are that your formation stretches out across several hundred feet or more. For your purposes, communication distance should be the first thing you use to evaluate the quality of an insert.
Other key features to look for are battery life and noise cancellation. Good battery life will allow you to stay connected longer without having to recharge. Noise cancellation in your microphone will allow your fellow riders — or anyone on the other end of a phone call — to hear you more clearly.
When it comes time to install whichever unit you purchase, follow the instructions carefully. Your helmet is your most important piece of safety gear. Your Bluetooth insert will likely install its small speakers and microphone in a pattern that interweaves with the helmet’s padding. Make sure that your helmet still fits properly after installation is complete.
Also, be sure to install the control portion of your helmet on the left side. This is the piece you’ll use to answer calls, change songs, and more, and you want to manipulate it with your left hand for the same reason that you perform your hand signals on the left side.