Tested By: Eric Ellis & Jordan Mastagni
The kit came with two mounts for the controller; a detachable mount and permanent mount th
We all know one of the joys of riding a motorcycle is the ability to slip away from everything and be alone with your thoughts. But sometimes business and personal issues get in the way and need to be tended to while on the road. Nothing is worse than having to postpone seat time because you’re waiting on a phone call. It’s times like these that the Sena Technologies SMH5 Bluetooth Headset and Intercom system can come in handy. Available in either a single ($129) or dual ($249) headset and intercom kit, the SMH5 features Bluetooth 3.0 to work with smart phones, mp3 players, and GPS devices. The kit comes with everything necessary to install on a full-face helmet (half helmet options also available). Even if taking phone calls while on the bike doesn’t appeal to you, the SMH5 may still be of interest as it allows you to listen to music via your Bluetooth-enabled smart phone or mp3 player, receive GPS directions, and communicate with a passenger or up to three other members in your riding group through its two-way intercom.
The SMH5 Dual kit I picked up came with two: headset main units, microphones, helmet speakers, USB charging cables, as well as Velcro pads for mounting the microphone and speakers. The kit came with two mounts for the controller, one was a detachable mount and the other has a sticky back that is permanently attached to the side of the helmet. I liked the detachable mount because it allows you to completely remove the SMH5 kit from your helmet without having the unsightly mount stuck the to the side of your helmet. Installing the system was rather easy; it was just a matter of removing the liner around the ears so that the speaker wires could be routed behind the liner/padding.
The controller has only two buttons, the jog dial and ride phone button. The controller mo
There are only two buttons on the SMH5 controller, the red phone button and the jog dial. Having only two buttons makes it easy to operate but it does take a while to get used to and remember the button sequences to activate various options (a mix between tapping or holding down on the phone button and/or the jog dial). There are voice prompts with some actions so they do help to let you know what’s going on. The kit paired easily with my iPhone via the Bluetooth connectivity. Once connected, I was able listen to music on my phone, then as a phone call came in, the music would cut out and my phone would ring. I could then either tap the jog dial or say “hello” to answer the phone. The jog dial seemed to work better as I sometimes had to yell in order for the phone to pick up. Conversing during a phone call was easy and people said they could hear me pretty clearly. If I had trouble hearing someone I could turn the volume up via the jog dial. I also liked the fact that I was able to make phone calls with voice prompts; however, it was a little frustrating at times trying to make sure I was calling the right person, but it’s hard to say if that was an issue with my phone or the SMH5.
Typically in the past when riding in a group, I’ve had to communicate using hand signals. With the SMH5 I was able to communicate via intercom with up to three other SMH5 users or those that had Sena’s SMH10. The SMH10 is the upgrade version of the 5 and allows a greater intercom distance of 980 yards as compared to 430 yards. The 10 also allows for four-way conference intercom whereas the 5 only allows intercom with one person at a time.
My only real issue with the kit was the headphones/mic. It’d be nice if the speakers/mic were wireless so they’d be easier to install/remove from a full-face helmet. The system’s firmware is upgradeable, so anytime Sena comes out with new firmware you can download it and upgrade to the latest firmware. The SMH5 worked pretty good, I could hear and be heard and once I got accustomed to it, it was pretty easy to use. With eight hours of talk time and seven hours of standby time, it served its purpose for most of my long distance rides. EE