Sena 30K Bluetooth Communication System | Gear Review

Sena 30K
The 30K comes with everything you need to install it in your helmet, including three microphone options.

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.

4 COMMENTS

  1. No editorial position on claim of 5-mile range and your experience of 1-mile + range?
    You don’t review audio multitasking performance which has been panned in other reviews.
    You might as well sign this review Sena Marketing Dept.

  2. David, other than the shorter-than-promised range, which was reported, we had no issues with audio multitasking in Mesh mode. Our testing was conducted with just 30Ks because Mesh only works with 30Ks.

    The 30K does not have audio multitasking capability in Bluetooth intercom mode. Is that the subject of the panning you mention? If so, I’m with you. Since this review was published I’ve found that to be a major flaw. Because the universe of 30K users is so small, linking to other riders bike-to-bike usually means using the Bluetooth intercom–with no audio multitasking for the 30K user. Short of a large group of riders with a particular need for the Mesh’s group creating and self-healing features, I think Sena’s 20S (or newer 20S Evo) is a better option. Cheaper, too.

    I spoke with a Sena staffer about the 30K’s lack of audio multitasking in Bluetooth intercom mode months ago and was told it being looked at. I have raised the same topic multiple times with a Sena customer service agent and each time have been told my concern has been “escalated.” I’m not holding my breath.

  3. A total and complete hit and miss for Sena on this model. I tried to connect with FreeWire on my Honda Goldwing and the 30K failed miserably. I bought the 20s EVO and it has no issues. The 30K would only receive the data from the FreeWire and would not transmit via the CB radio.

    I spent four days communicating with Sena techs and all swore the 30K was the best thing since sliced bread. I updated the firmware, re-set to factory standards, connected in all possible ways and it still FAILED. The 30K can only do one thing at a time. It can either connect to the phone, or pair to one other 30K, or play music. It cannot do more than one task.

    Unfortunately, I did not listen to the old-timers of my bike club and I thought they were too old to be up to date on the new technology. Fortunately, I bought the 30K from Amazon and was able to return the dual pack. I bought the 20s EVO instead and had no issues.

    Please, please, please, take it from a person who was burned by the hype. The 30K is a mistake. Do not buy!

  4. This from Sena on 9/19/2018:
    “Just an update, our software engineers are currently working on a new firmware update for the Sena 30K for Audio Multitasking feature when in Bluetooth Intercom. ETA for its release is the end of October this year.”

    No word what else the firmware update may entail. As of today I’d still recommend the 20S or 20S Evo over 30K, but I will apply the firmware update when available and report my experience.

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