One common reason we hear riders give for why they ride is “to get away from it all”. While I completely understand the serenity of being alone on a bike, just lost in your own thoughts and away from phones, computers and other technology, I also like having the option of staying connected. I started using a Bluetooth in my helmet about three years ago and while I never felt like I was missing something before I had one, I cannot imagine riding without one now and here’s why.
Your passenger doesn’t necessarily know sign language
For those of you that ride with a passenger, having a Bluetooth in both of your helmets should be a no brainer. Between the already loud street noise and the rumbling of the motorcycle exhaust, it is nearly impossible to convey a message between the rider and passenger. I remember riding as a passenger with a friend on the freeway when a wasp flew inside my jacket. I franticly started to motion the rider to pull over but by the time he figured out what I was trying to tell him, I got stung 4-5 times. There are so many reason to communicate with your passenger and a helmet Bluetooth is the most convenient way to do it. And for those of you that don’t want to constantly hear your wife nagging in your ear, the Bluetooth does have a mute button.
It’s actually less distracting
Contrary to popular belief, Bluetooths are actually not that distracting. I mean sure, if you are having a full on phone conversation while riding, your focus might be shifted away from riding but especially for those of you who use a GPS to get around town, a Bluetooth in your helmet can actually help you stay focused on the road. Think about it, if you use a phone mount to clip your phone to your bike while using a GPS, every second you look down at that phone, you are taking your eyes off the road. How much easier would it be to just hear the navigation directions in your ear? No need to look down at your phone. Having your phone in your pocket rather than in front of your face while you ride will also remove the temptation of checking text messages or e-mails that come through while riding.
Safer group rides
We can all agree that two sets of eyes, or even three, four or five sets, are better than one. When riding in a group, your buddy riding behind you or in front of you may notice something on the road you did not see. If they are able to easily communicate that to you, it could potentially save you from an otherwise hazardous situation. There’s been numerous occasions where a riding buddy of mine warned me about something I didn’t notice via our Bluetooths. It’s also very helpful for the lead rider to be able to communicate with the others in the group and give them directions on where to go well in advance so there are no sketchy last minute maneuvers. On a recent trip to Ireland, while following another rider, I took the wrong turn at a roundabout and got separated from the others. Since I was in a foreign country with no sense of direction and no phone on me, panic quickly set in but our Bluetooth units have a 2 mile range, so I was able to quickly tell him where I’d be waiting for him before we got disconnected. Yet once again I was stoked to have one in my helmet.
Being unreachable seems kind of cool, until there is some sort of emergency. If you have a family, chances are at some point something will require your immediate attention. If it can wait, then that phone call will be very quick, a simple “Hey I’m on the bike, I gotta call you back”. However if your kid fell at school and needs to be taken to the Emergency Room, you’ll be really glad you picked up that call and can immediately sprint into action. You won’t hear that phone call if your phone is just laying in your pocket but with a Bluetooth you’ll hear the call come in and can find out what’s going on without having to pull over.
Aside from the reasons above, I also just love being able to listen to music as I ride. I find it extremely soothing and it definitely enhances my riding experience. There are a ton of great Bluetooth options out there, with some that are extremely inexpensive, like the Sena 3S. We found Sena to make some of the best quality units that are the most consistent. When picking a helmet Bluetooth, be smart with your choices. Your helmet should be the #1 priority, the Bluetooth is secondary. So don’t buy a low quality helmet just to be able to afford the Bluetooth as well. And if you find a $150 helmet that already comes with a built in Bluetooth, stay away. Think about how good of a quality can that helmet really be while incorporating that type of technology all for an excessively low price. Be smart!
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