Sena Coms vs. (?)

Discussion in 'Equipment' started by Adventurer., May 26, 2020.

  1. Adventurer.

    Adventurer. Enjoy the Ride

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    Look’n into Bluetooth/wireless voice Coms for my HJC CL-17 full face helmet, for 3-4 person, long distance group ride coming up soon.

    Looks like Sena SMH-10 supports up to four riders, unlike Sena SMH-5, which apparently max out at two.

    I’ve never used moto Coms in my entire riding experience.

    Any recommendations, from those who do?
    #1
  2. Daboo

    Daboo Been here awhile

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    The first thing to consider, is what will everyone else be using. To my understanding, there are two ways all BT headsets pair together. One is as an intercom with the same brand. In other words, Sena to Sena or Cardo to Cardo, or whatever. The other way they pair, is to a BT device like a smartphone or GPS. Functionality is less with the second method.

    The other thing to keep in mind is you need to know how to pair your headset...and how to pair the others too. More than once, I've been with other riders who had the same brand as I do, but they weren't familiar with how to make it work. I ended up looking up the directions for their model headset to guide them through it.

    Also, plan on this taking some time. If you wait till the absolute last minute, you'll feel pressured as everyone is wanting to leave and get riding. Meet for breakfast and bring your helmets into the ...I was going to say restaurant...takeout line then, and while you're eating, figure it out.

    On the other hand, if you get the headsets paired, it has some great advantages...and disadvantages. With one friend, we talk almost constantly. It's like we're sitting in a car together and just catching up with what was going on with the other person's life the entire time. My other friend I ride with, we don't talk nearly as much. They never ride with me at the same time. But I could see where you'd get someone who was very talkative, really irritating someone else in a group intercom. In both cases, the BT connection is nice in that if the lead rider sees a road hazard, he can warn the other.

    I've also been with two other riders who also had the same brand. (Sena in all these cases.) Before this, I thought everyone could simply pair up and all would be well. Hmmm...it didn't quite work that way. Rider #1 was paired to Rider #2. I (Rider #3) was paired with Rider #2. Rider #2 wanted to listen to her music, so would drop off...and #1 and I couldn't connect.

    So those are the general thoughts I have on doing this. If you get it working, it'll be great. Especially on a long trip. I went with another guy up to Banff and Jasper National Parks. He could easily have afforded a BT headset, but didn't want one. It was a pain to try communicating with him over those ten days. Did he want to take a break? Pull over for a picture? And when we got to a place with traffic and got separated, it was a pain to worry about getting together again.

    So those are some general thoughts about my experience.

    On a specific recommendation, if you don't have an "action" camera, think about the Sena 10C Pro. It combines the BT headset with a pretty decent camera. I don't run it as a video camera much any more. I have a Halocam M1 as a "dash" camera. But when I get to a portion of the road where the scenery might be great, I'll turn on the camera. I've gotten some very nice pictures where it wasn't convenient to pull over.

    Chris
    #2
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  3. GMCNC100

    GMCNC100 Adventurer

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    Chris is spot on. The comms units are great - when they are working as advertised. The point about having enough time for everyone to get “paired” cannot be overemphasized. It never goes that smoothly - inevitably somebody hasn’t updated to the latest software, others just took theirs out of the box, etc. And that’s with everyone using the same brand. Adding time pressure just makes it worse.

    The first time my little group all got uclears, we met the night before our long weekend ride to have a beer and figure all the comms out, and the routes (shared the gpx files on the Garmins).

    Doing cross brand pairing (sena to uclear to cardo) is something of a nightmare.

    But, it’s great when it works. No hand signals! In my small group (3-4), we usually start out fairly chatty as we catch up on things, then it’s pretty quiet except for warnings, fuel or food stops, etc.
    #3
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  4. draco_1967

    draco_1967 Spoon!

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    Go with a mesh connection, either the Cardo Packtalk or the Sena 50s. I prefer Cardo simply because I got tired of Sena not working (20s), but it sounds like they got their crap together finally with the 50s. Bluetooth connection will frustrate you to no end, even with like units.
    #4
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  5. Travman

    Travman Long timer Supporter

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    Got to agree with draco. I’ve been using BT com units of varying brands for over 12 years. It will hurt the wallet but save you long hours of headaches. As a group, buy either the Cardo Packtalk Bold or the Sena 50s and connect via mesh. I currently favor the Cardo as well but either will work.
    #5
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  6. Rolfer1

    Rolfer1 n00b

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    Our group all has Sena 10/20. When they work it’s great. They usually don’t work all day. Someone or half the group gets disconnected incessantly. Two of us ride faster and lose the other two after about a minute and a half. We push buttons until we can talk to someone again.

    We are also on the hunt for new coms. As others have said the Sena 50 looks like maybe they figured it out. We have been discussing FRS radios with headsets and PTT buttons on the bars. we are going to check the range next weekend. Apparently the gold wing crowd favors those.

    Be prepared to be frustrated and know your not an idiot. I’d love to see a Sena engineer make his 10/20/30/50 work flawlessly over a long weekend.
    #6
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  7. Reidy008

    Reidy008 I,m in if we go fast

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    Go Cardo all the way.. They are the leaders in this area.
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  8. Old Nuke

    Old Nuke Flatlander

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    I use a SENA 20S Evo. My co-riders all have SENA 20S or 10U units. All of us also use the SENA Mesh+ units, with the latest mesh 2.0 software, paired to our headsets to communicate.They connect instantly with no pairing headaches and work flawlessly. If you want to keep your SENA, this is the way to go. Forget the SENA 50's and save some dollars with the Mesh+ units.
    If Cardo is your choice, so be it.
    #8
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  9. LuceCannon

    LuceCannon Adventurer

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    I just upgraded from Sena 20S to 50S. What an improvement in reliable communication. All we had to do was engage the Mesh and we were all talking. In and out of range created no reconnect issues. One of the group had an updated 30K rather than 50S. Still seem less communication. I highly recommend the Mesh 2.0 Sena.
    #9
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  10. chrisjk

    chrisjk Been here awhile

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    My buddies mostly have Sena 10S or 10SMH. Is there any point in my updating to a 50S?
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  11. LuceCannon

    LuceCannon Adventurer

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    If connecting with non-mesh Sena buddies, there is no benefit to having a Mesh Sena (30K or 50S/R). I'm not sure what you have now, but the only benefit to going with a Mesh unit is to communicate with other Mesh equipped riders.
    #11
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  12. chrisjk

    chrisjk Been here awhile

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    Thanks. I should have mentioned I have a 10S at present. I'll wait until the other guys are ready to upgrade.
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  13. Adventurer.

    Adventurer. Enjoy the Ride

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    Sounds like:

    Cardo Packtalk mesh works well with Cardo mesh (Bold or Slim).

    Sena Mesh 2.0 (30K, Momentum Evo, 50K) work well with Sena Mesh.

    Neither work all that great with other brands, if at all and if so, only via Bluetooth.

    Even with every upgrade/tweak/YouTube video followed, some still encounter frustration, especially if communicating with two or more people, particularly with the Sena’s, (so far, response-wise).

    What’s funny, is I’ve just learned the particular group of 3-4 I’m planning an IBA SS1000 Ride with, soon...apparently uses CB Radios, which I wasn’t expecting, lol.

    Regardless, still hoping to pull the trigger on something for two up, otherwise and very hopefully groups. Have begun polling friends to see what they use too, for compatibility reasons.

    Had always assumed Sena’s and Cardo’s etc. could communicate with one another well, based upon the commonality of Bluetooth nowadays across seemingly all electronic devices and my experience with mixed Walkie Talkies in my childhood, haha.

    Thanks for all the input. Very helpful. Sounds like mesh is pretty sweet, preference comes into play and apparently only Cardo boast water resistance.

    Now I’m staring to wonder if anyone (who has deep pockets) keeps one helmet set up for Sena and another set up for Cardo, depending on who they’re riding with that day.

    Hopefully both companies figure out how to play nice with one another, soon.
    #13
  14. LuceCannon

    LuceCannon Adventurer

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    Any Sena can communicate with any Cardo using Universal Pairing. Works just as well as standard bluetooth pairing between any 2 Senas or any 2 Cardos. I know because I've done it. The only issue is reconnecting after drop-off. Someone generally has to take action (such as push jog dial on Sena) to get them to re-engage. Once a Cardo and Sena are connected using Universal Pairing, the Cardo Mesh group and the Sena Mesh group can communicate together through the Universally Paired units. I agree that it would be best if Cardo Mesh and Sena Mesh were identical and worked as equivalents. I'll have to trust Adventurer that they don't. The Cardo user of our riding group upgraded to Sena 30K, so now we all operate on Mesh. Soooo much better.
    #14
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  15. GMCNC100

    GMCNC100 Adventurer

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    If sena and cardo allowed their units to work on any mesh system, then they’d be forced to compete on value, features, reliability, and user friendliness.

    God forbid they have to do that when “locking” their system is so much easier
    #15
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  16. marco polo

    marco polo Long timer

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    I, and several other of my riding buddies, just moved from older Sena Bluetooth intercoms to the Sena 50S. We also seriously considered switching to Cardo PacTalk Bold, but in the end, stayed with what we knew (Sena) and what others we know were using. I'd say that, if it were me, and had never had a MC comms system, I would: 1) buy the same brand that my riding friends were going to be using (Cardo, or Sena), and 2) buy the newer technology, which is Mesh, rather than the older Bluetooth. As someone else mentioned, Cardo mesh does not talk to Sena mesh. Both Cardo and Sena mesh intercoms (Cardo PacTalk Bold and Sena 50 Series) also have the more "traditional" Bluetooth, just so they're backwards compatible. Yes, a mesh intercom can also communicate with an older Bluetooth intercom, but if you have a group of friends who are all operating on mesh, and there's one guy with just Bluetooth, that forces one of the mesh-equipped riders to run both mesh and Bluetooth at the same time, which really sucks battery juice. Even if all are using mesh, that sucks more juice out of the battery than would older Bluetooth units. I have a portable battery pack, with appropriate cable, to charge my 50S at rest stops, if needed (just 20 mins adds 3.5 hours mesh talk time, says Sena). I can also charge the 50S while I'm using it, so I have a small plug that fits the power outlets on my bike, and it has USB and USB-C outlets (one for the 50S, the other for my iPhone).
    #16