One of the key advantages of Bluetooth systems is their ability to provide easy communication among groups of riders. When you're cruising down the highway, hand signals and shouted words can only get you so far. The right Bluetooth system allows for crystal-clear communication at the push of a button—or with simple voice-activation—helping you coordinate with your riding companions, share traffic updates, or just chat about the beautiful scenery you're riding right by.
Riding a motorcycle often involves a level of planning and navigation that can be a bit more complex than just turning on your car's GPS. With a Bluetooth system, riders can have turn-by-turn directions piped directly into their headphones, headset, or helmet, all while keeping their hands securely on the handlebars and their eyes on the road ahead. It's all about enhancing the rider's experience and giving them the freedom to explore—without the worry of getting lost.
While the rumble of a Harley-Davidson® engine is music to our ears, some riders enjoy having a soundtrack to accompany their journey. Bluetooth systems can wirelessly stream music from a smartphone or other device directly to your system’s speakers, providing a personal concert as you ride. But it's not just music, of course: Bluetooth lets you listen to podcasts, audiobooks, or your favorite radio station, turning your ride into a truly personalized experience.
With hands-free operation for phone calls and navigation, there's less need to take your hands off the handlebars or eyes off the road. Furthermore, Bluetooth systems can help you communicate with fellow riders about potential hazards or changes in weather or road conditions.
While all Bluetooth communications systems and audio options all strive to deliver those benefits outlined above, they come in all shapes and sizes. And not all of these options are created equally. Learn more about the different systems out there here so you can choose the best fit for you.
Earbuds are a simple and portable solution for riders seeking basic audio and communications functionality. While earbuds options vary from the low-cost and entry-level to high-end and audiophile-friendly, there are a number of options out there that offer the right combination of audio quality and noise isolation for better concentration on the road.
However, opting for a pair of Bluetooth earbuds not specifically designed for motorcycle riding may not be the most comfortable option for long rides and can be a hassle to use with certain helmets. Likewise, it’s important to investigate the functionality of earbuds’ built-in microphones. When using a full-face or modular motorcycle helmet, basic earbud microphones may struggle to pick up your voice and convey your message to fellow riders clearly.
Earplug-style and over-ear headphones offer improved sound quality and can be more comfortable than earbuds for some riders. Noise-canceling options also help mute wind and road noise, offering important protection for riders’ ears during rides. When exploring these options, though, be aware that over-ear styles that are not integrated within helmets may not offer the level of noise-canceling you need to hear detailed audio. Moreover, their microphones may struggle with the same issues as earbuds, and they can be challenging to fit under a helmet.
Bluetooth® headsets, especially those designed with motorcycling in mind, represent a significant step up in terms of functionality. Top Bluetooth headsets enable clear rider-to-rider communication, typically at greater distances, can connect to your phone for calls, music, and navigation, and are designed to fit seamlessly within your helmet.
The trade-off, of course, is these specialized options can sometimes be more expensive and require additional setup time to integrate with your helmet. Nevertheless, a Bluetooth headset makes an excellent option for riders looking to enjoy crystal-clear audio or comms on the road. Plus, some options—including the Harley-Davidson® Audio 50S Bluetooth Headset—even offer an earbud port for riders who prefer the feel of buds to the headset’s integrated speakers.
For a fully integrated solution, Bluetooth motorcycle helmets are top-notch. These usually modular helmets come fully equipped for your audio and communications needs, with Bluetooth systems built directly into them. With no need to worry about setup or compatibility with your protective headgear of choice, you can make an all-in-one purchase and ensure that you stay protected while enjoying a seamless, hands-free experience.
Once again, since you’re making a step up in functionality—and buying a helmet at the same time—this upgrade typically comes with a greater price tag. However, many riders find that the investment in both enhanced safety and advanced sound is well worth the price of entry.