PRODUCT EVALUATION: RUGGED RADIOS BLUETOOTH HEADSET
Stay connected By Cain Smead
The number of options available to add audio to your machine are endless. From big, multi-speaker, in-car systems to Bluetooth sound bars, there is a lot to consider. Since I jump from vehicle to vehicle so often, the expense and time it takes to install a true audio system doesn’t make sense, yet a personal audio system does.
Rugged Radios’ Connect BT2 Bluetooth headset offers a variety of functions valuable to me, and at $99.99, the price is right, too. The system is basically a tiny, 1- by 3-inch Bluetooth receiver that attaches to the side of any helmet, and is then connected to a wired microphone and a pair of speakers. I also used the add-on Moto kit ($135), which allowed me to connect to a small handheld VHF or GMRS radio. Both pieces are sold as a package as well, but not at a discounted price.
I installed the package onto a super-lightweight Solid S46 helmet at $149.99. Like with most helmets, all you have to do is remove the cheek pads and head liner in the helmet, drape and tape the wires across the shell, and stick the speakers in place. They attach with the sticky back, hook-and-loop system and also come with a soft riser in case you need to get the speakers closer to your ear. The microphone and receiver get attached with a hook-and-loop pad. There are no tools or drilling required.
Wearing any helmet is a great way to block the constant engine and wind noise you get when driving any side-by-side. Having music or a podcast of your choice in your ears is even better. The sound coming through the Connect BT2 was excellent. We wouldn’t say it’s as good as a set of high-end Bose headphones, but it’s way better than cheap headphones or a set of good AirPod-style headphones.
Bluetooth operation from your phone is simple. Once paired, you can listen to anything your phone has stored in it or is streaming at the moment. Yes, you could listen to a Rugged Radios live-stream on Instagram while you drive your SxS down the trail if you want. Answering calls is as simple as tapping the larger power button quickly. Or, to reject the phone call, press and hold that same button for a full second.
To communicate using the VHF or GMRS radio, a quick tap on that main power button will pause anything coming from your phone and let you talk or solely listen to radio traffic. To make a call on the radio, you have to hold the push-to-talk button that we have installed on our USWE hydration pack. You can place that button on your steering wheel or another spot in the vehicle that is within easy reach.
For group rides, this 5-watt handheld setup is great for the money, and we have to recommend it over any other system. Sure, the VHF range is not as far as a 50- or 110-watt dash-mounted system, but it does the job, and again, for jumping from car to car, it works for us. If you jump from car to car or perhaps ride a motorcycle or ATV, as well as your SxS, this system will work perfectly for you. Whether your goal is to stay in constant communication with those in your group or at home, or just listen to good audio stored on your phone, Rugged Radios’ $100 Connect BT2 is well worth the small investment.
RUGGED RADIOS CONNECT BT2
RATING: 5 stars
CONTACT: (888) 541-7223