Test : Sena SMH5-FM duo – Bluetooth bike headset

Christmas 2016 brought me, among other joys, a Bluetooth intercom helmet for the bike, in addition to Angel Eyes! I wanted the opportunity to communicate with both my passenger and the rest of the world without leaving my trusty steed. I was a little tired of waiting for the red lights to talk to my son or having to put myself dangerously on the side to see the messages when I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket.

My choice was therefore on the Sena Bluetooth Headset and Intercom for Scooters/Motorcycles with Universal Microphone Kit (Dual Pack) - $186.70 (see more on Sena website) in duo mode, which allows to equip 2 helmets completely. At about the same price but, I haven’t tried it, I have also found at Amazon:

For only one person, the Univ version, cheaper, could be a reasonnable choice : $91.38 @ Amazon


The order

Regarding the order, my choice fell on the french Amazon site. Here are the link for the product in your local Amazon store. Nothing to say about the delivery, the quality of the package, the speed of delivery. Moreover, in addition to the pack SMH5-FM duo, I ordered a kit audio alone to equip also a 3rd helmet: that of my wife ($39.95 @ Amazon)

SMH5-FM_MINI_SLIDER2

The mounting

Each kit Sena consists of two elements: the intercom itself, mobile, and the fixed part to leave in the helmet: the base of attachment, the microphone and headphones. The duo kit allows to equip 2 helmets integrally, with the same elements. We find ourselves in the configuration of choice: driver / driver or driver / passenger. As I told you, it is possible to easily equip another helmet by limiting itself to the fixed part (the least expensive) if you have 2 regular passengers not having the same helmet, which is my case.

Mounting is easy, especially with modern headsets which, in theory, include a dedicated ear slot for the headphones. The rest is a game of patience to tape the microphone and cleanly pass the cables in the liners so that they are invisible and protected from any tearing when removing or donning the helmet.

Finally the base that receives the intercom is fixed on the left side of the helmet (it is the hand of the clutch, usually free) by a kind of clamp tightened by 2 screws to Allen base. The key is not supplied and we are tempted to force a little tightening but, it is not necessary. In use, with the low air demand of the intercom, it does not stumble absolutely.

In use

Even if it is easy, the use will certainly ask you to repeat a little gestures, helmet on the head, alone (it’s a tip) in your kitchen. The big button of the jog controls mainly the listening, the coupling between intercoms, the sound volume and the advance between the titles of songs or the radio channels. The yellow button gives access to the phone or activates the radio. I recommend to learn quietly, without driving, the different features.

The connection with the phone works perfectly well. With my iPhone, Siri is at the rendez-vous without worry. And once learned well, the functions are intuitive. You can easily switch between FM, the passenger and the phone’s hands-free functions.

I have not tried the coupling with a GPS standalone but with iphone apps (Plans, Waze) is great and even without return screen, we get to be guided ….. and warned 🙂 . And then … we’re not alone anymore:

“Hey Siri, could you read my last message ?” …Simply heaven…

The intercom is easy to remove: we tilt the small clip that protects the cable plug, we disconnect and pulling relatively strong (it’s tight …) the intercom is disconnected. To attach it, it is easy to clip, just like the cable. Rest to tilt the clip and it’s ready!

The connection to the computer (envenmacOS) makes it easy to update the firmware and set options including a list of preset radios.

SMH5-FM_MAIN_UNIT

Pump up the volume

So, if we talk about the watts of the bike and the Akrapovic is roaring, no surprise: you will increase the volume of listening. On the other hand, your interlocutor will not realize it. Note, however, that my helmet is equipped with a wind shield on the chin.

If we talk about watts of music or listening … there ….. it’s not great. Do not dream, it’s not a 5.1 audio kit. The headphones spit what they can, it’s poor bass and spit if you go too hard. On the other hand, when the wind whips the helmet (I have a roadster bike), do not ambition to turn it into an auditorium …

My Opinion

Instantly, this sent device has gone from unknown to indispensable. As couple or alone, we do not go without it. The audio has, we must admit, perfectible listening. But, many are my friends who, speaking on a phone call, did not realize that I was fast on my Z800, head in the wind.

The scan of the fm band is to be avoided. It works well, but, nothing is worth the setting via the computer, USB cable plugged for much easier.

I did not try motorcycles riding on different bikes. I doubt that a distance of more than 100m works perfectly, but, it is an opinion without experience.

I still have not had to recharge it since I got it. While it is winter and I drive little but none of the two intercoms still claiming juice despite our few outputs.

Finally, with a price bringing it more or less than 100 € per helmets, the duo option is interesting. The joint purchase between 2 bikers is also possible because they are exactly the same 2 elements. There is not a driver, a passenger. They are the same. That’s to think about it.

In short: no regrets, it does exactly what it is supposed to do and it does it well!

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