Given that my navigation without the aid of some electrical doohickey is, at best, ropey, I decided to purchase myself a Bluetooth unit for my helmet, with the primary intent of being able to hear the voice prompts from Google Maps while my phone is stuffed safely inside my jacket. I honestly don’t have much interest in making voice calls, but the ability to receive bluetooth audio from my phone for the purposes of navigation, and possibly the occasional piece of low background music while riding to and from the office is of great appeal to me. While we’re at it, we might as well add rider/pillion communication and bike-to-bike communication.
After a bit of online researching I settled on the Sena 20s. It certainly seems to be one of the most advanced units out there, featuring Bluetooth 4 for both the connection between the intercom and the phone, and do other Intercom units. So all in all, it ticks all the boxes! Let’s find out if it is as good in real life as it is on paper.
Installing the unit onto my Shoei GT-Air Inertia TC-5 was relatively simple, but by no means quick.
The unit itself is in two major components. The Bluetooth unit itself, and the helmet clamp which contains the microphone and speakers. include a multitude of Microphone options, although Sena recommend the Boom Mic over the other two options included in the box. Also included is a shorter boom mic and a stick-on mic with cable. To change the mic from the boom mic, you unscrew the two screws that hold the clamp closed onto the helmet, and remove the microphone which connects with a 2.5mm jack. Once you install the Microphone you wish to use, simply attach the clamp to your helmet and you’re good to go, although I recommend keeping it slightly loose while you figure out the best position on your helmet so it is easy to access, places the mic in the best position, and doesn’t interfere with anything in/on your helmet, or your shoulder.
Installing the speakers is the most complicated piece of this process. If you have a helmet with a removable head lining, I would recommend slipping the right speaker under this so the cable runs over the top of your head. The cable doubles as the FM Antenna, so this ‘should’ provide better reception. Alternatively you could run the cable around the weather seal around the edge of the helmet.
Some helmets include cutouts for the speakers, and the ones in my helmet were perfectly sized for these specific speakers. In fact Sena show my particular brand and model of helmet in their installation tutorial video. Included in the pack are a number of 3M Velcro sticky pads for you to attach the speakers inside. Soft foam covers can sit over the speakers to prevent anything rubbing against your ears. For my particular helmet, the cutouts for the speakers can be replaced to hold the speakers into the helmet, negating the need for the Velcro pads, however I found the padding on the cutouts a little too thick, meaning the cutouts didn’t stay in too well, and it increased pressure on my ears making it uncomfortable.
Quality wise, it is absolutely brilliant! It is plenty loud, and can even hear the Radio / Sat Nav / Music while bombing along a dual carriageway at 65mph. Those who wear ear plugs won’t struggle to hear the output from this device.