Bluetooth communication systems combine audio from your phone, GPS and music player with bike-to-bike intercom. Sena developed Mesh Intercom, a new technology included with Sena’s 30K Motorcycle Bluetooth Communication System with Mesh Intercom, to improve bike-to-bike connections for groups.
For public conversations, Sena’s 30K lets you instantly connect with nearby 30K users without pairing headsets. Simply raise the antenna, push the button and a practically unlimited number of 30K users can converse in an open network.
For private conversations, Mesh Intercom lets you create a closed network of 30K headsets, enabling participants to join, leave and rejoin the private group without affecting the connection between each headset. Just hold that same button for five seconds to create a Mesh and invite up to 15 nearby 30K users to join. When they tap their button to join, they’re automatically switched to Private Mode and pulled into the Mesh.
Mesh Intercom beats Bluetooth Intercom by uniting the group head-to-tail in a self-healing network. Ever set up a multi-rider Bluetooth group connection and had to stop and reconnect because someone fell out of range? With Mesh Intercom, if a rider goes out of range, the rest of the group remains in communication. The system actively searches and reconnects the rider automatically when they come back within range.
Besides Mesh, the 30K has capabilities similar to Sena’s latest 20S Evo and uses the same headset. There’s Bluetooth 4.1 connectivity to pair with your phone, music player and GPS, plus universal Bluetooth Intercom to connect with riders who don’t have Mesh. Audio Multitasking lets you have an intercom conversation while simultaneously listening to music or GPS instructions; it’s always on and configurable with Mesh Intercom, though unavailable with Bluetooth Intercom. (A future firmware upgrade might address that.)
Our testing involved four 30K users and focused on Mesh Intercom capabilities. Setting up a Mesh was indeed simple, once everyone started from Public Mode (helps to read the manual). Underway, we stayed connected head-to-tail, even on winding roads, so long as each rider had clear line-of-sight to the next rider ahead. Often, we stayed connected even when the next rider was around a corner. Testers purposely rode out of range and back within range, and the Mesh reconnected them automatically. This worked seamlessly, and all four testers liked it.
Sena claims Mesh range of up to 1.2 miles between 30K users and up to 5 miles for a group head-to-tail. That must assume ideal conditions, like a flat landscape without trees, buildings or large vehicles. In New England’s hilly countryside, our range (confirmed via Google Maps) was approximately one-half mile between riders with clear line-of-sight, and more than a mile head-to-tail. Bike-to-bike range should improve in open terrain, and having more 30K users (up to 16 can join a Mesh) should extend range head-to-tail.
Sound quality was good for helmet speakers. As with other comm systems I’ve tested, installing a 30K required removing and replacing helmet padding to run wires for the speakers and microphone…tedious, perhaps, but not difficult. Each 30K we tested retained sufficient charge to operate as intended throughout the day. Sena’s new Quick Charge capability can provide three hours of Mesh talk time after 20 minutes of charging, and 30K’s can be charged, while in use, from a power bank.
Sena’s Utility App for the 30K helped manage the device’s many features and settings using my phone. Having the current User Guide downloaded to my phone proved a helpful reference.
Bottom line? It’s simple connecting a group of riders using Mesh Intercom, and the self-healing network helps the group stay connected.
For more information, see your dealer or visit sena.com.