Bike to Bike Communication Systems Part 1

J&M CB Radio from Cycle Accessory Store

I currently do not have a communication device on my motorcycle but believe that bike to bike communication is way under valued. It is my belief that in the near future bike to bike communication using compact wireless helmet mounted bluetooth technology will become the norm and we will wonder how he got along without it. Something as simple as pulling over because you got some dust in your eye could be easily communicated to your buddy or group. Instead we usually tough it out and do the best we can until the irritation goes away, unless of course you ride by yourself. In that case you do whatever you please whenever you please.

I once went on an ice cream ride with my HOG Chapter where a member from another chapter joined us. He rode without putting any eyewear on. This is illegal and dangerous. I couldn’t tell if this was the way he liked to ride or not. I kept telling myself that it was not my problem, that if he wanted to pull over and put his eyewear on, then it was up to him. There were plenty of opportunities for him to do so but because he was new to the group he didn’t speak up. If I had a CB I could have called up to the lead Road Captain on his Ultra Classic and notified him of the situation to get his oppinion. After we got to the ice cream stop it became known that it was a mistake and he should have let us know he needed to pull over. If we could all communicate I think the experience of riding with a friend or a group of friends would be a hundred times safer and ten times more fun.

Here is a post on Motorcycle Philosophy about the impact of having to take a rest stop while riding with people who don’t take rest stops. Click here to check it out and think how different it would be if these riders could communicate.

Even though I think newer technologies will become the norm, the CB Radio will be more common for quite awhile among cruisers since most touring bikes are already outfitted with them. The sportbike crowd might adapt to FRS Radio and new technologies sooner because they are all on a level playing field. For those of us in the Harley crowd, many of our friends are already outfitted with CB on their Ultra Classics. My wife has done alot of research on the Internet and has only found one handlebar mounted CB Radio specifically for motorcycle use. It is the J&M model and can be ordered as a complete system from www.CycleAccessoryStore.com in North Carolina. Diana ordered a $600 J&M CB Radio system from them for my 2008 Christmas present but; I stupidly exchanged it for two Chatterbox FRS units. The Chatterbox system was half the price of the J&M and was supposed to be voice activiated. I thought that the hands free VOX system would be better than PTT (Push to Talk). Although the FRS radios wouldn’t allow us to communicate with our friends on CB I thought it was more important that Diana and I be able to communicate. The Chatterbox units we received didn’t work well at all and I returned them directly to Chatterbox for a full refund under warranty assuming this is not the way they are supposed to function (defective). I didn’t believe that replacements would work much better. I was tempted to buy the bluetooth Scala Rider system from www.CycleAccesoryStore.com (they have great customer service). At the moment this system is limited to communication between two bikes only. It is the most compact lightweight unit I have seen. It is a little egg shaped device you clip on your helmet. “Look Ma, No wires!”

It is winter time again and I find myself surfing the Net for an affordable compact CB capable of being rigged up to a motorcycle. The J&M is considered the top of the line but it is expensive, unattractive and might not be compatable with my split view mirrors. I came across the Midland 75-822 which appears to be the second most most compact CB radio on the market. It is a complete 40 channel CB radio system in a small handheld unit. It will accept a variety of accessory headsets. The Cobra 75 WX ST is smaller but I do not know if you can attach an accesory headset to it.

Midland CB 75-822 

The Midland 75-822 can be used as a portable (like a walkie talkie) or changes to a mobile unit. It has a belt clip, two battery attachments, a detachable antenna and the mobile attachment. The normal battery attachment holds 6 standard AA batteries. The rechargeable battery attachment holds 8 NiCad rechargeable AA batteries and comes with a plug to charge them up. It also comes with a short flexable detachable walkie talkie size antenna. The mobile attachment has connections for a base mount antenna and cigarette lighter plug. The idea is you can us this CB as a mobile unit in your car, jeep or truck and then take it with you as a portable outside the vehicle. Imagine using it to go on a camping trip. You can use it in the vehicle and then stay in touch with other users and listen to NOAA weather reports from your tent. You can use my 12 Volt Power Port to connect the cigarette lighter plug to your battery tender quick connect on a motorcycle. That means you just gotta figure out how to mount the base antenna and where to keep the radio. You might just want to clip it on your belt. It would be really cool if the little antenna worked well and you didn’t need the base antenna… but I doubt it. We’ll find out when it gets a little warmer. You can find this radio on eBay and Amazon.com for less than $90.

A company called www.HiTechWireless.com sells a motorcycle headset that is compatable with the Midland 75-822. It is called RiderComm and is made by RocketScience. You need to order it with the S1 connector. It is currently on sale for $89.95 and includes the headset with boom microphone, weatherproof PTT button and connecting cables. They told me the only customer complaint they hear is the length of the cables isn’t as long as some people would like and there are no extensions available. I bought the unit from HiTech Wireless and it arrived the next day via Federal Express. I was impressed considering there was no shipping or handling charge.

I bought the Midland CB with a Cobra 300 watt magnetic base antenna from Amazon for $101.72 with Free Super Saver Shipping and received the merchandise in about three days. Click here for more details on the Midland 75-822 CB radio at my Amazon store.

Now I am off to surf the Net for a magnetic tank bag to stash the radio in. “Hang Loose!”