Stay connected By the staff of Dirt Wheels
There are many avenues we travel down on our paths while exploring the great outdoors. Experiencing these journeys is best on your favorite off-road machine. Some of us prefer to hear rumbling engines and wind passing around our helmet, while others want tunes and technology to help enhance their experience. We are supporters of staying connected to your fellow riders and the people who want to make sure you are safe, and Sena offers communication systems that do just that. We picked up a few sets of their 30K motorcycle bluetooth system with Mesh intercom for recent adventures into the vastness of the Southern Californian geography.
The Sena 30K is one of the top-tier comm systems in the expansive Sena lineup, topped only by the Wi-Fi version, which wasn’t released when we got our units. The 30K offers so much functionality and connectivity that it is difficult to understand at times. We resorted to keeping the quick-start guide on hand with a saved PDF of the instruction manual on our phones until we had things managed. Fortunately, you can download their app for either Apple or Android phones that simplifies changing settings. Sena allows you to update the units through their website as well.
Let’s dive in, shall we? The Sena 30K has Mesh and Bluetooth intercom capabilities. You can bridge up to 16 riders together, have a two-way setup with higher-quality audio, and connect Bluetooth devices like your phone, GPS, MP3 player and other aftermarket comm systems. It has the ability to have open connectivity where riders in range with the same setting will automatically connect to you, or you can maintain a private grouping where only allowed systems can connect.
If you connect your phone, the 30K will allow you to answer calls, play music, utilize your phone’s voice command and even read text messages to you. Sena offers a handlebar-mounted remote system to use certain functions, like voice control, without taking your hand off the bar.
The system allows audio multitasking, audio sharing, voice control of the Sena and even more. You can adjust vocal sensitivity as well so your tunes won’t get turned off or dimmed when another rider speaks to you. That takes care of the software side of things.
The 30K has multiple button options to choose from, including an antenna that pops up to show the intercom connection button. The back has a phone-answering button, while all other options can be changed with the spin-able volume and control dial that takes up most of the Sena’s surface.
If you order a set of 30Ks, you get each unit and multiple styles of mounting hardware to fit most any helmet you choose. In the box came different microphones, mounting options for them, in-helmet speakers and all the connected wires required to install the system.
We installed a set on a pair of Slim helmets that were tricky to mount to. Sena includes spacers and many different options to where we could get both helmets wired up with ease. If you need to charge the 30K, the mount has a push-button release system so you can take the Sena off your helmet and plug it into the included charging cable. It took us about an hour with each helmet to get the systems wired up and mounted properly.
Our favorite aspect of using and adjusting the Sena 30K is its usability with gloves on. The spin wheel is easy to reach, as are the other buttons. We do suggest you use caution with the antenna when it is popped up. We have utilized similarly designed comm systems in the past where the antenna is easy to break, but we had no issue with this one.
Pairing and creating groups is a bit tricky at first until you get the hang of it, but once units are paired, they can be turned on and off while rejoining the group once fired up again. The batteries last a long time during a full day of riding and can be recharged over a few hours.
The speakers are clear and have depth while playing your favorite tunes. Using voice control is nice, but we mainly stuck to using the buttons. The Sena remote has a button on it that lets you access your cellular phone’s voice command if you have it set up that way, along with volume-control buttons. It easily clips onto most handlebars.
We did have some issues with the VOX settings when we first used the 30Ks. The microphones are sensitive enough to pick up engine noise, breathing and most any other sound during your ride. The quick-start guide didn’t tell us how to change it, so we downloaded the full manual and took care of the issue. It was annoying when our tunes would cut out constantly over a buddy’s breathing, but once the VOX was adjusted on both sets, it wasn’t a problem!
You can pick up a dual pack of 30Ks for $579 or a single unit for $329 from Sena’s site: www.sena.com. Check out their vast lineup in case you don’t need everything the 30K has to offer! They have systems with cameras on them, bicycle-usable systems and much more.