Bike to bike radios..
By Pat Baner, SCSR
A note from the Road Captain: Pat sent me this...and while I believe it was intended to be to my attention, I felt it was thought through well enough to warrant putting it out there for anyone looking for a bike to bike radio solution on a cruiser. I hope Pat doesn't mind me making it public. :)
A bike radio can add a lot in terms of fun and safety to group riding.
Having the ride leader be able to tell the sweeper to "take a lane" or say "Watch out! Theres sand/rocks/water or whatever in the center of the lane", adds an element of safety not possible any other way. Being in contact with the others in your group also makes for a lot of fun. There are several ways to get a radio setup.
The easiest, of course is to take it to any of the shops that specialize in this sort of thing, and just say "do it". There are a lot of qualified places thatll do it but be prepared to lay out a substantial amount of money. A full featured setup can cost $1.000 to $1.500.
Another way is to find a shop thatll sell you the J&M rig. They work fine and are portable but are a little bulky and the whole setup will run around $750-$800.
There are a couple of other outfits that sell setups but none work as well as the J&M and they still run over $500.
I have, what I think is an answer.
If your interest is bike to bike communication in a riding group, I can show you how to do it for a little over $100.
Target sells the Cobra HH45WX, 40 channel, hand held CB radio for $99. It comes with a removable battery pack and a belt clip. Buy a plug-in ear piece from Radio Shack for $1, stick it in your ear (under your helmet), clip the radio where you can reach it and you re on the air.
Youd be surprised at how well it works. The only problem is, you have to hold the radio near your mouth and press the "push-to-talk" switch on it, when you want to talk to someone. Total cost (incl. batteries and tax) $110-115.
Same radio, but this time go to Radio Shack and get the "Remote speaker/mike".
It costs $20 and plugs into the radio with a curly cord.. So you clip the radio on your belt, Clip the speaker/mike on your lapel and your ready to go. You still have to reach up and hold the mike to your mouth but its small and near to your mouth. The sound comes out of the mike and isnt as clear as it is with the ear piece but its still pretty good
Total cost (incl. Radio, batteries, remote mike and tax) $130-135.
Setup #2 ½
Same as setup #2 but also get the ear piece. The mike has a plug for the ear piece, so it just plugs in. Total cost, Add a buck and a half to above.
The next two setups work great but they cost more and take some tinkering.
Get the above radio and also get the J&M helmet setup. J&M makes setups for both open and closed face helmets. The setups include two speakers and a mike. The setup for the open face uses a boom mike that clips on the side of the helmet. The setup for the closed face includes a mike that mounts on the helmet face bar. Both setups include two speakers that Velcro inside the helmet. These setups will run between $120 and $150.
(this is JUST for the helmet setup!) They terminate with a curly wire that is about 3 long. This is where the tinkering starts. It sounds complicated but it isnt.
The wire end is a MALE 5 pin DIN connector. So you need to get a female connector, (get one that comes with wire already on it), a plug for the mike, a plug for the speakers and a push to talk switch. Total cost for this stuff is $10-15 and Radio Shack has it all. Find the mike wire and wire in the push to talk switch, Hook the speaker and mike plugs to the end of the connector wires and plug them into the radio. With this setup youll hear and transmit almost as well as the $1000 setups. Total cost incl. radio $250-275.
Setup #4 (the hot setup)
Same as above BUT, make a bracket and mount the radio on the bike. Mount it up by the handle bars, where you can see it. Wire in a 12 volt connection to the bike. Remove the battery pack and plug the wire into the radio (there is a place for it). Mount the push to talk switch where you can reach it without taking your hands off the bars. Mount the extension wire that you made up, (under the tank is the best place) .
When you get on the bike just plug in the wire from your helmet and youre ready.
These setup work surprisingly well. They dont have a lot of range because the radio
comes with a little 9" antenna. For a lot more range spend an extra $25 and mount a remote ¼ wave antenna somewhere on the bike.
Ive used my rig for 3 years and it works just fine. The range with the little antenna is about ½ mile, which is fine for group riding.
A nice "extra" is, when my wife and I go someplace like a Fair, or if we go hiking, we each stick on the battery pack and clip our radios to our belts. That way we can find each other if we get separated.
If you need some advice or help with any of this, dont hesitate to email me. Ill even help you with the mounting bracket if you need it. Pat Baner SCRR, Southern California Road Riders.
P.S. If youre riding alone and have setup 3 or 4 you can mount a small AM-FM radio on the bracket or clip it on your belt. The ear phone plug will plug right into it and youll hear the radio through your helmet.