Staying in Touch on Your Motorbike Ride

Date Posted:30 May 2013 

The days of yelling at your pillion passenger over the roar of the wind and the scream of your engine are well and truly gone. Nowadays, staying in touch on a motorbike ride is about chatting casually via intercom without even having to raise your voice.

Bluetooth helmet

The Bluetooth helmet has revolutionised motorbike communications. Bluetooth technology allows mobile device users to access their devices wirelessly and this same technology has been adapted for motorbike riders, with Bluetooth headsets now built into helmets to allow the wearer to communicate, listen to music and make phone calls hands-free while riding their bike.

A voice-activated (VOX) headset will even allow you to dial a phone number simply by speaking a pre-programmed name (e.g. “Call Bill!”) into the microphone. You can also receive incoming calls while you are listening to music, because the music will mute automatically while you take the call and then return to the previous volume when the call ends.

Communication with pillion passengers can also be voice-activated and depending on the range of the headset (can be from a hundred metres to nearly a kilometre), a rider can communicate with one person or a group of other riders, providing they have similar headsets that are ‘paired’ with the rider’s own.

GPS system

A road map is about as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike, so the invention of the motorcycle GPS system was a real breakthrough for navigation purposes. Waterproof, shock-resistant and vibration-resistant, these units are built tough for two wheels and they can be coupled with a Bluetooth headset to deliver voice navigation commands directly to the rider’s ear.

You can use a motorcycle GPS system to plan your entire trip, pinpointing locations and calculating distances between petrol stations, food and accommodation stops. It will tell you how far you have to go, how long it will take to get there and even the best way to go to avoid traffic and delays.

Staying in touch

While communication tools like Bluetooth headsets and motorcycle GPS systems continue to grow in popularity, there is a school of thought that argues that too much technology, whether on a car or a motorbike, can cause a driver to become dangerously distracted. Indeed, several studies have shown that awareness of one’s surroundings tends to drop markedly when talking on the phone while driving.

However, it could also be argued that a Bluetooth headset is keeping a rider more in touch with his environment than ever before. The GPS is telling him exactly where he needs to go, thus removing the need for last-minute lane changes and dangerous manoeuvres.

It could also be argued that the potential is there for headsets to incorporate even more navigational and safety technology in the future. One day, a Bluetooth helmet could be ‘seeing’ obstacles ahead for the rider and even taking evasive action on his behalf. 

In the meantime however, just as texting while driving is an accident waiting to happen, so misuse of communication tools on a bike can be equally hazardous. As with anything potentially dangerous, it comes down to the common sense of the user and how responsibly they behave.