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Old 08-10-2014, 04:02 PM   #1
apleschu
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Rider to rider communication

In the last 35 to 40 years on bikes one thing has again and again surfaced and has always shown to be extremely important.

COMMUNICATION

Back many years ago I used to ride with people I knew and had contact every day, and so one handling was enough and very clear and everybody knew what it meant, and while that may still hold true there are additional requirements we have today. Especially as we ride more with people we do not ride with on a daily basis or even with someone we just met for a group ride. How do you communicate?

I remember back in the 70's we strapped CB radios to our bikes and some folks still do that. CB has just a few major drawbacks: The antenna is unwieldy long, the effective range is rather short since the noise level is very high (which is incidentally the reason the government opened the band for everyone, because you can't do anything on that band that really makes sense. But it was the best we had and it worked.

Since the mid 90's though there are new radio services available, much better suited for what we (riders) need and especially with much better communication/sound quality:

The three most prominent in the order of increasing usefulness:

-) FRS 14 Channels, 462MHz, but only 0.5W antenna power, and most importantly FCC rules state that the antenna must be fixed, so you cannot use external antennas. Radios are cheap and plentiful $15-$50 distance: few hundred yards to 1 mile

-) MURS 5 Channels, 150 MHz. 2W antenna power, removable antennas are OK. The problem with MURS is that it is still used by many businesses and therefore the noise level can be quite high, and also antennas are about 1ft in length. Very few radio's are available for MURS and those that are are usually quite expensive. distance: 4-5 miles (with external, vehicle mounted antenna)

-) GMRS 16 Channels, 462 and 467 MHz, max power to the antenna is 50W (NOW we are talking) although is all reality most potable radios have about 4W to 5W antenna power. And that is enough to be able to communicate with each other for about .5 miles in heavily wooded area and 5-6 miles with vehicle mounted antennas (as high as possible because that is what limits the communication distance)

So, many folks I know and of course myself have GMRS radios on our bikes and fully integrated into our communication systems. We are usually just having the radio on, and if somebody want to talk to us they can. We are on GMRS channel 3 (462.600MHz, PL tone 67Hz)

If you are interested in getting a radio on your bike, feel free to ask questions and/or PM me. I'd be happy to help you get this set up. Having spent many $$$ and having fallen into I believe almost all traps in the past I can help you save some $$ and get a decent setup that will work just the way it is supposed to.

Of course GMRS can also be mounted in cars so that we can talk to our friends on the bikes. Again, if you have a question or want to get a radio or think about it, do yourself a favor and talk to me, otherwise you're going to spend more money than you'd have to or have a setup that is not going to work as it should.
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Old 08-13-2014, 04:40 AM   #2
staysa01
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Any specific brands/models you recommend? This is an area I've wanted to explore but haven't the faintest idea where to start.
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Old 08-13-2014, 06:24 AM   #3
apleschu
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I can recommend a whole range of products and procedures to set that up. But it really depends what your intended use is. If you could describe your situation, bike, intended use, like permanent or occasional, and everything I'd be happy to suggest a solution.
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Old 08-13-2014, 07:44 AM   #4
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I don't wanna talk to anyone but my bike while riding!
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Old 08-13-2014, 08:23 AM   #5
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I used to run chatterbox radios on my helmet and a lot of us had them. It was real handy when we rode in bigger groups in the TSBA back in the day.
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Old 08-13-2014, 09:41 AM   #6
Jae
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A lot of people here are running Sena bluetooth modules. I know the bluetooth range isn't great, but why would you need to talk to someone you're not riding with? Not to mention how few motorcycles are actually going to have these other systems.

I have yet to try it out for bike-to-bike communication, but I don't see why that wouldn't be sufficient. I've had CB on my Ventures and never even bothered to try it out, don't see the point on a bike.
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Old 08-13-2014, 12:11 PM   #7
apleschu
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae View Post
A lot of people here are running Sena bluetooth modules. I know the bluetooth range isn't great, but why would you need to talk to someone you're not riding with? Not to mention how few motorcycles are actually going to have these other systems.

I have yet to try it out for bike-to-bike communication, but I don't see why that wouldn't be sufficient. I've had CB on my Ventures and never even bothered to try it out, don't see the point on a bike.
My wife and I have tried about everything under the sun to have reliable communication, music, and GPS on our bikes. So far only one one solution works reliably for more than a few yards.

All the bluetooth systems have the problem of EXTREMELY short range and in fact a truck between you and your riding partner can already be enough to stop you from communicating. If you can live with that limitation, a bluetooth system is your ticket, especially if the number of people you want to talk to is limited.

For *US*, that was just not enough. I want to reliably communicate for at least 2 miles and maybe more. Why that far? Very simple. Sometimes it just happens that due to traffic you get separated from your riding partner(s), be it by a traffic light, by a turn off one forgets to take, ... whatever. In both cases one can easily see that even two miles at 80mph on the freeway isn't all that much, and the 5 miles I was talking about is a much better choice.

Basically everything with less than 2W RF on the antenna is pretty much worthless when conditions become only slightly adverse. And even the 5W of modern UHF radios, will be severely limited in heavily pine wooded areas to about 3/4 of a mile.

My offer again: If someone really wants to install a communication system on their bikes/cars which will allow then to talk for miles get in touch with me and I will help you put together a system that fits YOUR needs, not what other armchair communication specialists believe will fit everybody.
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Old 08-13-2014, 01:05 PM   #8
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Just remember that GMRS requires you to pay for a license from the fcc. I thinks it's $85 for the entire family and you have to use your call sign.
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Old 08-14-2014, 06:00 AM   #9
apleschu
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andre3k View Post
Just remember that GMRS requires you to pay for a license from the fcc. I thinks it's $85 for the entire family and you have to use your call sign.

You are correct in the fact that if you follow the letter of the law you need a license. Covers everyone in your family. There is no need to use your call sign though. You can and should know it in case you are being asked, but there is no need that I remember in part15 to regularly use your call sign, as for example ham radio operators have to.

And since there is no test, just the license fee I can live with that. That's just like your drivers license, except your drivers license does not cover your whole family and there is a test.
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