Best Motorcycle Bluetooth headsets

5 Best Motorcycle Bluetooth Headsets – Suitable For Dirt Bikes

Motorcycle Bluetooth communicators have long been targeted towards the road and adventure riding market, with the dirt bike sector lagging behind in the use of this technology.

There are definite benefits for dirt bike riders to use Bluetooth communicators, and major manufacturers like Sena are now seeing a potential new market with their slimline Sena 10R-01 aimed at the off-road world.

With this in mind, I have researched what is available and selected what I consider to be some of the best motorcycle Bluetooth headsets which are ideal for Off-Road/Dual Sport/Adventure rider use.

Quick Summary

Here’s a quick summary of 5 of the best motorcycle Bluetooth headsets being reviewed here:

1. Sena 10R-01 Motorcycle Bluetooth Communication System – Best For Dirt Bike Riders
2. Cardo Packtalk Bold/Slim Motorcycle Bluetooth Communication System – Best Of The Best
3. Cardo Freecom 1 Plus Motorcycle 2-way Bluetooth Communication System – Best Single Rider/Rider-Passenger 
4. Sena 20S EVO Motorcycle Bluetooth Headset
5. LEXIN LX-B4FM Motorcycle Bluetooth Communication System

Safety First

There are a lot of opinions both for and against the use of motorcycle Bluetooth Communicators.

If you have your favorite music blasting in your ears or are distracted by a phone call or group chatter, you may not be able to react quick enough to a car pulling out in front of you, or a tricky obstacle to negotiate on the trail you’re riding.

It really comes down to your own personal choice. For some riders, the whole point of riding is that solitude, to get away from all the distractions of the world, and be at one with your bike.

For others, the ability to be doing what you love, and be in contact with your riding buddies is adding to your riding pleasure.

Since we’re totally connected every minute of the day now with our smartphones, its only natural that the technology has evolved to enable us to be connected while riding our motorcycles, whether on or off-road.

What Can You Do With Bluetooth Communication System?

  • Talk with other riders in your group. This is a big advantage in being able to warn of any upcoming problems, advise following riders of which route to take when they reach a fork in the trail, or road intersection. Or just make conversation when cruising along.
  • Make and receive phone calls while riding if you choose to. Some riders a totally against this for safety reasons, but you always have the choice to stop riding and pull over if you’re concerned.
  • Stream music from your phone to your helmet speakers
  • Receive directions from your phone GPS
  • Talk to your pillion passenger and stream your music to their speakers
  • Use for rider training on a motocross track. Receive immediate instructions in real-time from the trainer either following on another bike or trackside, rather than waiting till the rider comes off the track.

How To Choose A Motorcycle Bluetooth Headset

There’s a wide range of Motorcycle Bluetooth Headsets available today. Narrowing it down to what is best for you can be time-consuming and confusing.

To help you make an informed decision, here are some features to look out for:

Top 3 Things To Consider:

1. Range/Connectivity: This varies greatly between brands and models. Obviously you want to look for the longest range possible, but this is dependant on the terrain you are riding in and obstacles like trees or buildings. What is claimed by the manufacturer isn’t always the case, as you are not always in optimal reception conditions.

Another factor to consider is the way the Bluetooth links with other riders in your group. There is the traditional Bluetooth system and the new ‘Mesh Cloud Technology’ as used in the Cardo Packtalk.

With the traditional Bluetooth system, riders are connected by a Bluetooth chain. If one rider leaves, the whole chain is broken. A rider rejoining would have to request access from the person they were paired to, meaning all riders would have to stop to reconnect.

With the ‘mesh’ system all this happens automatically. When riders come into range with other members of their group they are automatically joined to the group. When riders leave the range of other members they automatically leave the group. This allows much greater flexibility in connecting with other riders.

2. Sound Quality: This is another important factor to consider. The best headsets have HD speakers to produce a quality immersive sound. With all the devices connected, like the music from your phone, FM radio, GPS directions and talking with your riding buddies, good quality sound is essential.

A wind noise cancellation feature is important, especially if you are riding with an open face helmet and boom microphone.

The fitting of the speakers into your helmet is another factor to think about. While some helmets feature cutouts in the EPS liner for speaker fitting, most do not, and the thickness of the actual speaker may be an issue. Generally, the thinner speaker is the way to go.

3. Battery Life: This is important especially if you plan on riding all day, as in the case of adventure riders.

A 13 hour talk time is pretty common in a lot of Bluetooth headsets these days, with about an 8 – 10 day standby time. Obviously the more devices you have operating, the shorter the life, but even if you ride for 8 hours in a single day, the 13 hour talk time will be more than sufficient.

Other factors like ease of setup and installation, operation while riding (with gloves on), waterproofing (or just water-resistant), durability, firmware updating are all things to consider.

A voice-activated function available on some units now can also make operation a whole lot easier.

1. Sena 10R-01 Motorcycle Bluetooth Communication System

Sena 10R Bluetooth Headset

The Sena 10R is the ideal choice for dirt bike riders because of its slim and lightweight profile. It is the most low-profile of any of the externally mounted Bluetooth communication devices. It replaces the SMH10R.

The battery pack is a separate module and fits to the back of the helmet to reduce wind resistance and bulk, and is easily removed for charging. The battery is replaceable, meaning that you can buy an extra one and keep it charged.

With the 10R, you can call handsfree on your Bluetooth mobile phone, listen to stereo music or voice instructions on your GPS navigation, and have intercom conversations with up to four other riders.

Audio levels get a boost in noisy environments while the ‘Advanced Noise Control’ cuts down on background noise for both incoming and outgoing audio.

The Bluetooth music playback control features play, pause, track forward and back functions, and each audio source has its own adjustable volume level. Getting started setup is easy with easy-to-follow voice prompts.

If your riding buddies are using different Bluetooth brands it’s not a problem because the 10R’s Universal Intercom firmware makes it compatible with all other Bluetooth communication systems on the market, and it’s upgradeable for the life of the headset.

The 10R can be linked to the Sena Headset App (for Android or iPhone). This allows you to configure device settings, set groups of intercom friends, and access the interactive quick start guide from your phone. You can also pair with up to two mobile phones for hands-free calling.

The Bluetooth handlebar remote puts the controls where you can easily see and use them with a gloved hand.

Features:

  • Lightweight and ultra-slim when attached to your helmet
  • Talk time: up to 10 hours, 8 days standby time
  • Four-Way Intercom. Talk to four others individually or all together
  • Bluetooth 4.1 (latest 4th generation Bluetooth)
  • Universal Intercom – talks with other brands
  • Audio Multitasking – have an intercom conversation while listening to music, FM radio or receiving GPS directions
  • Noise Cancellation: ‘Advanced Noise Control’ cuts down on background noise during conversations
  • Individual volume control for each audio source
  • Voice Prompt setup and Audio Booster
  • Intercom to 900m/980 yards/0.5 miles supports up to 4 riders in open terrain
  • Music Sharing – share your music with one other rider during conversations
  • Built-in FM Radio: 76-108MHz 10 preset station memory with auto scan
  • Lithium Polymer battery – charging time: 3 hours. Charge and operate at the same time
  • Firmware is upgradeable for the life of the headset – meaning the tech will never become obsolete
  • Water-resistant for use in inclement weather
  • Includes Bluetooth Handlebar Remote

Sena 10 Series Differences

  • The Sena 10U is designed to fit inside specific helmets (Arai, Schuberth C3/Pro and Shoei) for a factory look installation that is barely visible.
    The 10U is best controlled by the handlebar and wrist remotes
  • The Sena 10R is very similar to the 10U but has slightly less range due to the 10U’s dedicated antenna, and also has slightly less battery life than the 10U. The 10R will fit almost any helmet and has the removable battery pack.
    The 10R is best controlled by the remote or the 10R buttons.
  • The Sena 10S replaces the popular Sena SMH10, Sena’s original intercom.
    The 10S has a redesigned ‘Jog Dial’ but the remote will also work.

The handlebar and wrist remote works with any of the new Sena 10 series (but not the SMH10 series), so you can control the 10R, 10U and 10S.

Pros:

  • Low-profile design
  • Relatively easy to install
  • Quick power-on and pairing

Cons:

  • Speaker sound distorts at higher volumes
  • Range limited to 0.5 miles. An Antenna like used in the 10U would be good for an increased range.
  • Water Resistant – not waterproof

2. Cardo Packtalk Bold/Slim Motorcycle Bluetooth Communication System

Packtalk Bold
Cardo Packtalk Bold

The Packtalk Bold and Packtalk Slim are identical in terms of technology and features. The difference is in the range and size of the head unit.

The Bold is the bigger unit which has a built-in battery and range of 1 mile/1.6km. The Slim has a separate battery which is clipped to the rear of the helmet, allowing the control unit on the side of your helmet to be a lower profile. Its range is slightly less at 0.8 miles/1.6km.

It is really a matter of personal preference, but for dirt bike riders, the slimmer profile is certainly an advantage, although some riders may prefer to not have the separate battery pack.

cardo packtalk slim headset
Cardo Packtalk Slim

One of the best features of the Packtalk is Dynamic Mesh Communications (DMC). Cardo was the first company to introduce mesh cloud technology.

This is a major technical advance over a standard Bluetooth communication system in that it allows groups to self-form and self-heal.

What this means is that when riders come into range with other members of their group they automatically join the group. When riders leave the range of other members they automatically leave the group. Multiple small groups of riders can function independently and then blend into one large group as they come into range.

The mesh network will work up to 5 miles over the whole mesh and up to 1 mile/1.6km between each rider. Up to 15 riders can connect in the same group.

Setup only takes a few seconds, and grouping 15 riders is as simple as grouping 2. The Packtalk also offers Bluetooth so that you can connect to any Bluetooth headset.

With the conventional Bluetooth system, riders are connected by a Bluetooth chain. One loose link and the whole chain is broken. A rider rejoining would have to request access from the person they were paired to, meaning all riders would have to stop to reconnect. With the ‘mesh’ system all this happens automatically.

The only downside is that all riders must be using the Cardo Packtalk, as the mesh technology is not a universal system yet.

Bluetooth only riders can join a Packtalk group by piggybacking off of one of the Packtalk riders, but if they drop out of range they will not be able to rejoin automatically.

Another important feature of the Packtalk is the ‘Natural Voice Operation’ system. In the same way that Siri and Alexa are used on our smartphones, a simple “Hey Cardo” gives you control of all of the operational and entertainment features without having to remove your hand from the bike or your eyes from the road.

Cardo has partnered with sound design firm JBL, and with their help have been able to maximize the audio clarity and give riders the ability to configure their sound. Powerful high-definition speakers and specially-tuned audio processor deliver an enhanced sound experience.

A nice feature of the installation is that the speakers are connected by a standard 1/8-inch plug identical to those used in headphones, so if you would rather ride with earphones, the Packtalk will allow it.

The Cardo Packtalk range is FULLY WATERPROOF which means you can ride in the wettest weather in total confidence. For adventure riders, tourers and off-road riders this is a must-have.

Cardo offers a 2-year warranty on all of its communication sets.

Features:

  • Dynamic Mesh Communications (DMC) – Ensures you’re always connected
  • Sound By JBL: 2019 models only. The Cardo-JBL partnership delivers the ultimate listening experience
  • Natural Voice operation – Just say “Hey Cardo” and your Packtalk will do the rest
  • Universal Connectivity – connect to any Bluetooth headset from major brands
  • Connect up to 15 Riders – Range between riders up to 1 mile/1600m in perfect conditions, up to 1000m in real-life conditions
  • Aerodynamic design – The Packtalk Slim is only 6.5mm thick
  • Automatic Volume – automatically adjusts sound volume based on outside ambient noise
  • Technology Proof – Merge any Bluetooth intercom with your mesh group
  • Smart Audio Mixing – Sophisticated algorithms ensure your audio sources – FM radio, music, mobile calls, and intercom work together in parallel
  • Audio sharing – share your playlist or FM radio with your passenger
  • Waterproof – To IP67 means you never have to worry about the weather
  • Phone – Answer and make calls on your mobile device with finger touch or voice control
  • FM Radio – With an automatic selection of the strongest signal
  • 13 hours talk time
  • Charge While you ride – Just plug into your 12V charger or battery pack and keep riding
  • One control App – Have full control through one simple and intuitive app
  • Call To Intercom – Merge any incoming call into the intercom conversation
  • Private Chat – Choose just one member for a private chat

Pros:

  • Dynamic Mesh Communication
  • Voice-activated function
  • Complete installation guide included in the package
  • Good battery life
  • Totally waterproof

Cons:

  • Maximum volume level may not be loud enough for some at highway speeds
  • Control wheel may be a challenge with gloved hands for some

3. Cardo Freecom 1 Plus Motorcycle 2-way Bluetooth Communication System

cardo freecom 1 headset

 

The Cardo Freecom 1 Plus is an inexpensive option for the single rider who simply wants to connect to GPS, make and receive phone calls, listen to music, or when combined with a second Freecom 1 Plus, communicate with a pillion passenger.

It doesn’t have the range of Cardo’s higher-end models because it is designed for two people on one bike. It has a useful range up to about 10m.

The previous model Freecom 1 was music and phone only, the new Freecom 1 Plus now has the intercom capability for the pillion (that was previously found on the Freecom 2) and is sold as a single or dual pack. Its slim aerodynamic design is only 16mm top to bottom.

Like the other Cardo Freecom and Packtalk series, it is fully waterproof to IP67, so you never have to worry about riding in wet weather. Most competing brands are only water-resistant.

The Freecom 1 Plus is the perfect solution for the rider who rides solo or with the occasional passenger but still wants to be connected to make and receive calls, use a GPS and enjoy music streamed from the phone or the built-in FM radio. It even comes pre-paired if purchased in the Dual Pack.

It shares most of the features of the higher-end models in the Freecom Plus lineup (refer Cardo Comparison Chart above) including immersive sound through thin 40mm speakers with an advanced processor, Audio Sharing, Automatic volume, and is totally waterproof.

Cardo offers a 2-year warranty on all of its communication sets.

The New Cardo Freecom Plus Line

Cardo has recently released the new Freecom Plus line, which is sleeker and more ergonomic than it has been in the past. The new lineup includes the Freecom 1+, Freecom 2+, and the Freecom 4+.

The Freecom 4+ is a four-way rider-to-rider comm system (1-4 riders)
The Freecom 2+ is a two-way rider-to-rider comm system (1-2 riders)
The Freecom 1+ is for the single rider or rider/passenger setup.

Features:

  • Aerodynamic design – The Packtalk Slim is only 16mm thick
  • Intercom communication between rider and passenger
  • Automatic Volume – automatically adjusts sound volume based on outside ambient noise
  • Immersive Sound – Thin 40mm speakers and an advanced processor
  • Audio sharing – share your playlist or FM radio with your passenger
  • Universal Connectivity – connect to any Bluetooth headset from major brands
  • Waterproof – To IP67 means you never have to worry about the weather
  • Phone – Answer and make calls on your mobile device with finger touch or voice control
  • FM Radio – With an automatic selection of the strongest signal
  • 13 hours talk time
  • Hybrid style microphone
  • Charge While you ride – Just plug into your 12V charger or battery pack and keep riding
  • One control App – Have full control through one simple and intuitive app
  • Call To Intercom – Merge any incoming call into the intercom conversation

Pros:

  • Complete installation guide included in the package
  • Good Battery life
  • Totally waterproof

Cons:

  • Firmware update must be done by connecting to a computer

4. Sena 20S EVO Motorcycle Bluetooth Headset

Sena 20S EVO Bluetooth Headset

The Sena 20S EVO is an updated version of Sena’s original top-selling 20S, with improved functionality and stability.

The 20S EVO still includes all of the top-of-the-line features of the original 20S. The new version features a new fixed type shark fin antenna, as opposed to the original flip-up type antenna.

The new antenna design improves on the intercom stability, resulting in a stronger signal and greater audio quality. The range is still the same as the 20S.

The other visible change is to the charging door, which opens top-down on the 20S. On the EVO version, it opens bottom up, making it more efficient for waterproofing.

You’re still getting 13 hours talk time, 10 days Stand-by time. Sena claims a range of up to 2 km/1.2 miles in open terrain while allowing you to stay in touch with up to 8 riders with the ‘Group Intercom’ feature.

Sena’s ‘Advanced Noise Control’ ensures that the ambient noise around you doesn’t interfere with incoming or outgoing audio. Bluetooth 4.1 technology gives you high-quality stereo audio quality.

The Sena 20S ‘Audio Multitasking’ allows you to hold a conversation while simultaneously listening to music, FM radio or GPS. Audio features don’t interrupt each other but simply overlay for smooth listening.

You can link the 20S EVO with the Sena Headset App (iPhone and Android) to configure device settings and access the quick start guide.

You can also connect to the Sena RideConnected App, allowing you to intercom with an almost limitless amount of riders over an infinite range when connected to a mobile network.

Features:

  • Bluetooth 4.1 (latest 4th generation Bluetooth)
  • Integrated shark fin antenna
  • Talk time: 13 hours, Stand-by time: 10 days
  • Industry-first dual Bluetooth module communication system
  • Audio Multitasking allows you to have a conversation while listening to music, FM radio or smartphone GPS directions
  • Advanced wind noise cancellation
  • Versatile bike-to-bike conference intercom
  • Intercom working distance up to 2 km (1.2 miles) in open terrain
  • Universal intercom – talk over the intercom with other brand headsets
  • Built-in FM radio tuner with a station scan and save function
  • All-in-one helmet clamp kit
  • HD quality voice allows for communication with up to eight companions
  • Intuitive voice prompts and commands
  • Motion sensor feature allows the pairing of Bluetooth devices with a simple shake of the units
  • Includes both boom-style and wired microphones
  • Water-resistant for use in inclement weather
  • Optional Remote control support
  • Firmware upgradeable
  • Two-year warranty

Pros:

  • Easy installation, setup, and pairing
  • Fast power-on and connection
  • Good battery life
  • Controls easy to work with gloves

Cons:

  • Volumes between devices can be inconsistent
  • Intercom range is less than 1.2 miles claimed

5. LEXIN LX-B4FM Motorcycle Bluetooth Communication System

Lexin LX-B4FM Bluetooth Headset

The LEXIN LX-B4FM is an affordable headset which uses Bluetooth 3.0 to connect hands-free to up to 4 riders up to a range of 1 mile/1.6km.

You can listen to Hi-Fi stereo music for up to 15 hours, make and receive phone calls and receive GPS navigation directions for 15 hours also. The Lithium-Ion battery recharges in 3 – 5 hours.

You can access your iPhone Siri from it, and if you have a Samsung phone you can use the S Voice command system.

The speakers provide high-volume and high-quality sound with advanced noise cancellation technology.

The B4 comes with interchangeable microphones, so you can choose between a boom mic if you have an open face or modular helmet, and a button mic for full-face helmets.

The waterproof design can handle all weather conditions, so you never have to worry when the rain sets in.

If you’re not in a position to spend a couple of hundred dollars on a Bluetooth headset, the Lexin LX-B4FM could be just the unit for you, with a lot of the features of the higher-end models at a quarter of the price.

Features:

  • Full duplex intercom communications
  • Intercom working distance up to 1.6 km (1 mile) in open terrain
  • Universal pairing compatible with most Bluetooth headsets on the market
  • DSP Wind Noise Cancellation Technology
  • Bluetooth V3.0
  • FM Radio
  • Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP)
  • Hands-Free Profile (HFP)
  • 15 hours talk time, music stream – 350 hours (14 days) of standby time
  • Fully Waterproof to IP67 for all-weather use
  • A micro USB port for charging

Pros:

  • Good Price
  • Easy setup and pairing

Cons:

  • Volume buttons a little on the small side

Final Thoughts

With such a wide range of Bluetooth communicators on the market today, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with all the different choices.

Here are what I consider to be the top choices for riders that like to get off-road:

Best For Dirt Bike Riders: Sena 10R-01 Motorcycle Bluetooth Communication System.

The slim profile and light weight make it ideal for MX riders who want to communicate with their trainer or the Dual Sport/trail riders who want to chat with their riding buddies while enjoying the ride.

Best Of The Best: Cardo Packtalk Bold/Slim Motorcycle Bluetooth Communication System.

The ‘Dynamic Mesh Communication’ feature of the Cardo Packtalk with its ‘Self-form’ and ‘Self-heal’ ability gives your group total freedom. It’s also totally waterproof, which is not available in most of the competition.

Best Single Rider/Rider Passenger: Cardo Freecom 1 Plus Motorcycle 2-way Bluetooth Communication System.

As part of the Freecom Plus series 1+, 2+ & 4+ it has all the features you could want for the single rider/rider passenger combination at an entry-level price.

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Have you used any of the Bluetooth systems in this review? Is there one that you can highly recommend?

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4 thoughts on “5 Best Motorcycle Bluetooth Headsets – Suitable For Dirt Bikes”

  1. Hello there, a really nice suggestions you have given here I must admit. My husband is a rider and sometimes gets me worries when he doesn’t pick up my calls, and then when he pics, he complain of losing tracks of the other rider. All of these makes me sad alot and I feel with this he can keep talking and riding, if its safe though. I’ll love to get the LEXIN LX-B4FM Motorcycle Bluetooth Communication System, seem really cool to me.

    Reply
    • Hi Chloe. If you want to be able to contact your husband while he’s riding, these headsets are the answer. The LEXIN has a lot of the features of the Sena and Cardo, and at a fraction of the price. Any of the headsets in this review would be a good choice, depending on your budget. Thanks for dropping in.

      Greg

      Reply
  2. This is what I call technological advancements, I read a review sometime last year January about companies that tried to make motorcycle Bluetooth headsets, their products came but it was fill of shit, poor range of connection, poor battery durability and lots more. Seeing this article really make me happy that its here at last, this will make riding more fun for me and my friends even though we’re not full time riders, lol. Battery durability is very important to consider when getting a motorcycle Bluetooth headset, and other qualities listed in this article too. I really like the Sena 10R-01 Motorcycle Bluetooth Communication System because of its light weight and battery, I’ll get one very soon and I’ll share this article to my friends and i know they’ll love it, thanks. 

    Reply
    • Hi Jones. Yes, they’ve certainly come along way in recent years. Sena and Cardo are the market leaders but face some stiff competition these days. I like the Sena 10R-01 also because of its thin profile and light weight. Glad the article was of some use to you, thanks for your thoughts.

      Greg

      Reply

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