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Bike to bike communication systems

Now that we have the first RideAround.Net trip confirmed it is time to start looking at finding a more reliable way to communicate whilst out on the bikes.  Initial trials with hand signals and wild gesturing led to mixed responses with some very strange looks from other motorists being the least of the issues! Time for some gadgets – it may be more Long Way Round than Mondo Enduro but needs must.

After a bit of Googling and a visit to some local bike shops we settled on the Autocom Pro Duo kits and Kenwood TK-3201 radios.  As Autocom are shortly refreshing their range of comms systems we managed to get a pretty good deal on the Autocom Super Pro AVI kits from here.

Shortly after all of the kits turned up we descended upon RideAround HQ to start the installation.  First up on the installation front – installing the microphones in our crash helmets.  According to the installation manual (which in typical fashion we turned to after half an hour of randomly trying to work out how the cables should be run) this should be a simple 10 minute installation. We eventually managed to get all the cables routed and the earpieces in the right place after a bit of trial and error.

Next challenge was wiring the control unit and radios on the bikes.  This was relatively straightforward to do with just a 12v connection directly to the battery with an inline fuse and rocker switch to enable us to turn the units off when they are not being used to save the battery.  The Kenwood TK-3201 radios were straightforward to connect up thanks to the power interface lead which connects the radio to the comms system meaning no seperate power feed was needed for the radios which makes installation easier.  A few cable ties, a bit of velcro and a dab of soldering and the comms units and radios were all wired without too many problems.

Once everything was fitted it was time to go for a quick test ride to see how the systems performed whilst riding.  Well it would have been if someone had not drained their battery by leaving the system on all afternoon…  Unfortunately the lack of a battery charger or jump leads meant that the only way to get the bike up and running was to push start the bike – a push start which provided the RideAround HQ neighbours with endless entertainment!

The comms systems worked perfectly and speech was clear and audible with very few tweaks required to any of the settings.  The range of the radios was pretty good considering we had mounted them horizontally under the seats of the bikes.  For longer trips we may have to look at moving the radios out from this location though to provide better range.  We did find that if the systems were left switched on then they can drain the battery fairly quickly so if you are fitting one of these units then installing an isolator so that you can switch the systems off is a useful thing to do – although if you forget to switch the units off then you still end up with a flat battery as at least two of us will testify to since fitting them!  The other alternative is to wire the power to the units into a 12v feed that is operated by the ignition which is someting that some of us will be doing soon.  They are not the cheapest bike to bike communication systems around but they do work well. Once we have had a chance to test them out more thoroughly then I will post a follow up review.

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About The Author

Leigh Brookes

Leigh was the last of the group to join the motorcycling fraternity. Rarely the first to leap but not one to be left behind, Leigh has taken the plunge and got himself fully licenced up. He is not what you might think of as a typical biker but you can imagine him pottering through the lanes on a sunny summers day on a 1970s triumph with a tin pot helmet, goggles and a white scarf flying behind him.