Speakers In My Helmet, Is this a Good Idea?

My other helmet was more than six years old, so it was time to buy a new one.  After a bit of research, I went with a FLY Tourist Helmet in Flat Black.  It’s a pretty nice especially given the modest price.  It comes with both a Clear and Smoke Tinted Face Shield as well as a detachable Chin Strap that one can use for cold morning rides to keep the chill away.  What I like most about this helmet is the speaker pockets built into the interior and the removable washable liner/cushions inside the helmet.  I mounted a Cardo Scala Rider Q2 Communication System onto the helmet without a glitch.  I can now have the ability to listen to a built in Scala Radio System or Answer Phone Calls while riding via Blue Tooth.

To be honest, I am not sure about the safety aspect of having the ability to answer my phone via a hands free device not to mention jamming to my favorite tunes.  This is brand new stuff for me so I will need to try it out.  I figure if I keep the volume down then I should be safe enough.  Whenever a rider becomes distracted it can lead to trouble but heck I listen to the radio all the time in my cage.  The problem is that when you’re wearing a helmet the sound inside camouflages the exterior noise and you may not be able to hear sounds like sirens and horns.  My other issue is will the music and ability to answer phone calls take away from the experience of the ride?  Of course safety is an important element of the riding so I will keep you informed on my thoughts on the matter.



About twotiretirade

Keeping the faith of fanatics who feel fired up for anything motorcycles. It’s all about the journey and the philosophy of riding on two wheels. Let’s bring alive the truly unique culture of motorcycling and never let the ride leave the fibers of our being. View all posts by twotiretirade

31 responses to “Speakers In My Helmet, Is this a Good Idea?

  • Fiercely Yours

    Wow, I didn’t even know they had helmets like that… looks really cool though.

    • twotiretirade

      The helmet was on the low end of the price spectrum as well and came with two face shields which is rare and a mouth/chin guard to wear in cold weather. Now as long as it does not crack open like an egg shell then I should be ok.

  • George Cramer

    My ’01 Ultra has always given me the option of listening with the speakers or a built in head set. I’m not sure about the safety issue, I did go down listening to ABBA while riding and skiing. Maybe it’s ABBA.
    The big question is whether or not the experience of the ride suffers. I think it does. I do long rides several times a year. Whenever I turn on the radio or tape player (Remember it’s an ’01) I ask myself if I’ll miss something. Without failure, I turn the sounds off.

    • twotiretirade

      When ever I want to blame a Musical Group for something that goes wrong my fall back is always ABBA, I like your style. I think you have a good point about the Experience Of the Ride suffering. It will be interesting to see how my mind responds to listening to music when riding. Normally when I ride, I have the ability to ponder the wonders of the world in a peaceful state. Will this reflective time be disrupted is the question. I must admit after being on the road for 8 hours, I will be happy to just veg out and listen to music b/c I get board with my own random thoughts on long rides.

  • cocomias

    dude, I don’t know about that whole speaker thing! I have to hear what’s going on around me, I have to hear my bike too. I’ve tried earbuds on a long trip once and ripped them out after about 5 minutes. Hopefully the speakers will work out for you, maybe you’ll love them…who knows : )

    • twotiretirade

      It sounds like some people like it and other people hate it. I doubt that the helmet speaker noise will create any disturbances for me only because I have gone through life totally oblivious to what is going on around me. So there may not be a big difference with the crazy noise distraction compared to my normal life. Either way, I am excited to try them out and even more excited to try the phone. The funny thing is I thing I am more excited by the technology more then that actual application of the technology. Maybe at age 40 I have finally found my inner Geek or maybe I have been a Geek all along and just decided to not live in Geek Denial…Most likely the latter.

  • slowenglish

    Hi. Interesting topic. I ride regularly with my Interphone F5 headset FM radio on and it seems not to adversely affect my ability to be aware of my surroundings. I also have a GPS, so having the ability to get instructions through the headset is actually a real safety factor I think, especially in traffic. Yesterday I went for a 300km ride out into country Victoria and it was great to be able to follow the GPS to get home without having to stop for maps etc. Keep up the good work on the blog. Cheers. Rob

    • twotiretirade

      I am looking for a GPS to use that will link up via Blue Tooth with my Scala Rider but those motorcycle GPS Units are pretty expensive. I tested to see if I could listen to my GPS on my smart phone through the Helmet but it only picks up phone calls from the smart phone not the GPS Voice Directions from the same phone. That was pretty disappointing. I think that having the Radio is a nice option b/c you can most likely get some good weather alerts as well as listen to some good music.

      I like the thought of having a GPS for long rides b/c you can have fun and get yourself lost but then dont have to worry about finding your way home which can be a burden.
      Do you recommend any certain GPS?

      • slowenglish

        I have an iPhone 3Gs and I had no problems Bluetooth linking it for either music, my iPhone installed Tom Tom GPS app, or for phone calls. The Interphone F5 prioritises and lets me hear the GPS directions even when I am playing music. However, the iPhone GPS is no good for riding for me because I want to see the display while riding, and also, critically, the software doesn’t support adequate trip planning (with multiple via points etc). So I reckoned I needed a dedicated motorcycle GPS. My friend has a Garmin 550 and he has had a pretty good experience with it, although his comms is hardwired to the helmet. I prefer the freedom of a bluetooth connection. Also, the Garmin is very expensive here in Australia (around $650). So instead, I bought a Strike Motorcycle GPS (about $350). I must admit I’ve had some problems getting it working correctly with my Interphone F5 comms but I have now have it set up correctly. And, I can do detailed trip planning using Google Maps on my desktop, which I can then import directly into my Strike GPS. And, it goes the other way too. Great for later reviewing a ride you just took. So far so good, but my assessment and configuration of my Strike/Interphone/iPhone combo is still not completed. All good fun and the journey continues. Cheers, Rob

  • Austin

    At least you’re wearing a helmet. Too many people in Maine are on motorcycles without helmets. That’s scary…

    • twotiretirade

      I used to ride without a helmet but now feel kind of naked without one. Its a personal choice but now that I am getting old I feel safer with one on my head. Plus it keeps the sun from burning my bald scalp. Just one more reason to wear a helmet, it keeps those suffering from male pattern baldness from getting sun fried.

  • D. Ford

    I tried the speakers in the helmet while on the motorcycle. I found it to be too distracting for me. When I ride with the speakers in front of me in the fairing, I don’t seem to have any problems. But when the music was right next to my ears in the helmet, I didn’t feel comfortable at all. I think it was because the music was so close to my ears I wasn’t able to hear the outside noises as well. Even when I kept the volume low.

    I’ve never tried the blue tooth on the motorcycle, but when I’m in my truck and use it, I also find I’m not paying as much attention to the road as I should. So I don’t use it very often. This is just my 2 cents worth.

    Ride safe.

    • twotiretirade

      That is solid feedback and I was thinking that those speakers just may wreak havoc on my ears as well. Only time will tell but I will keep an open mind till I use them which will be soon enough. I guess I could think of some exterior speakers on my bike, that may be an alternative route. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Lil Miss Bump

    Hi – I’ve been riding with custom made earplugs for seven years and these are linked to my satnav and my music. I have never had a problem being able to hear traffic at the same time – probably as i don;t have it blaring out, it;s more of a nice accompanyment instead of listening to the engine which, when i am tired can actually sooth me off to lala land whereas tunes keep me more focused. I have never linked it to my phone mainly because i don’t want to be contactable by anyone when on my wheels! I will say that i (and my friends) have noticed that my riding will vary a little depending on the tracks too – which is why i use pre-set playlists dependent on where i am going. e.g. slow ballards for town work and a bit of rock for sweeping through the twisties 🙂

  • scroungelady

    I’ll be interested to learn of your experience. Something else to consider is the mental aspect of noise, whether due to wind or your speakers. Listening to noise over 85 decibels is mentally and physically tiring. So it might be OK for short periods but I wouldn’t recommend being plugged in for a day in the saddle.

  • Darrel Kirby

    I have a helmet intercom so I can talk to the wife whilst we’re riding, but we keep chatter to a minimum – just relevant stuff about directions, etc. We agree we don’t want mundane conversation spoiling the ride. Thus far my thoughts have been the same about music, but maybe on a really long ride I may be tempted.
    On the side issue of ear buds, I hated them initially, but now can’t ride without them – everything sounds so loud. Engine/ road/ wind noise can caused tinnitus and I can do without that.

  • Suspicious Chihuahua

    I have a set of Sena SMH10 units in my helmets, and even though the music quality leaves a lot to be desired, I love’m. It’s nice to be able to communicate with my wife without having to yell, tap, etc., and the phone call quality is…er…off the hook.

    • twotiretirade

      Maybe I can convince my wife to ride with me again by selling the fact that we can chat while we ride. Well maybe that wont be the best argument, I have a rather large mouth and the silence of the ride is what she most likely loved most about it.

      • Darrel Kirby

        Get her riding her own bike, that’s what we do – Ialso have the Sena and it works over quite a good range as long as you have line of sight. You don’t want to much chatting interrupting your ride though!

  • Starmag

    I’ve been riding for years with a pair of $2.50 Coba headphones velcroed into many different helmets hooked up to a sony mp3 player velcro-straped to the clutch master. Easy pause and FF without having to look at a screen. I’ve never had a problem hearing sirens and such and it not only doesn’t detract from my rides, I like it so much I never ride without it anymore. Phone calls may be too distracting though. Velcro attachment means I can take it bike to bike. I’ve used it for multiple long tours and both my wife and I wouldn’t be without it on another. You can always pause it to take a break.

  • mauraforrest

    I didn’t know it was even possible to have speakers built into a helmet. You learn something new every day….

  • ThatDanGuy

    When I listen to music or podcasts in my helmet headset, I find that the volume is much lower than if I listen on the bike’s built in speakers. I can still hear traffic noise, and I know what my bike sounds and feels like. I like to think that any loss of outside noise is balanced by the safety of wearing a helmet. Ride on. Rock on.

    • twotiretirade

      I like that theory….Given the fact that you have your helmet on has to be a huge safety bonus. I think the issue is not that one cant hear with speakers in thier helment. Its that the music is to distracting and may cause safety issues. I just checked on line and found that there are no hearing tests to get your normal drivers license, meaning that the ability to hear is not an issue to get your license. With that said it is mentioned that those who can not hear tend to make the loss of hearing through their other senses that our heightened.

      I guess I am thinking that as long as you can maintain focus with the helmet speakers going then you should be ok.

  • Experimental Ghost

    I’ve been riding for 25 years and it wasn’t until recently that I bought an intercom for the bike. Like you I wondered about the distraction, but I made a conscious decision NOT to wire the phone into the system.

    My reasoning for this is that if there is something so important that someone needs to contact me, then they will leave a message or send me a text. I will get back to them when “I’m” ready.

    As for music and chit chat, I don’t see this a distraction ( I do it in the cage all the time) but I do miss the solitude sometimes (when riding two-up).

    After all riding the best way to clear your head and unwind isn’t it?

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