Riding and going on motorcycle road trips has become something I’m really interested in. But the problem is that even when you ride with friends it can be quite difficult to communicate with each other on the road.
That’s why I wanted to pick up something called a motorcycle communicator. So obviously I went online to see what my options were and I found this. It’s a motorcycle communicator from a company called Freedconn, and it allows for two-way duplex communication as well as Bluetooth connectivity.
But really? One entire pair of communicators for less than RM350? For context, something like a Cardo Packtalk can be over RM1,200 for a single unit. How can two things that do the same thing have this big of a price gap? Well, let’s find out.
The box itself is quite basic, and as is tradition on this show, it comes with a couple of dents and tears, but it’s definitely not the worst we’ve seen. When you pop the lid, you’re greeted with the communicators. They were smaller than I expected, but the glossy bits were protected with some tape…kind of.
There’s some paperwork with fire graphics on them, and a whole pack of individually packaged cables. Here you’ll get every single cable and connector you need, including a clip mount and velcro patches, two mics, speakers plus some tools and charging cables.
Installation though, required a little bit of trial and error. Obviously, since these were “universal” nothing ever really fits properly. At first I thought I’d be able to fit the mount directly into my helmet’s communicator compartment since the size looked about right, but while it fit, the lid wouldn’t close so that was immediately ruled out.
So, I had to use the clip mount which took a little bit of wiggling but eventually I got it to sit snugly between the shell and the foam. That way, when I tucked my comfort liner in, everything was nicely hidden and quite secure. The communicator module itself clips right on and from the looks of things, it’s not going anywhere which is great.
The next puzzle I had to tackle was the speakers. These came with a bunch of cables and a connector that you can connect the microphone to. By default it’s connected to the soft wired mic that’s ideal for full-faced helmets, but if you have an open faced helmet there’s a boom mic included too.
Now, my helmet has a removable comfort liner which made access to the inside of the lid very easy. On top of that, there are also little indentations in the safety foam that are designed for communicator speakers. Even then, it took quite a lot of fiddling and adjusting to get the cables routed and make sure nothing was loose or getting tangled in the helmet. Eventually though, I got it.
I’ve used the Freedconn T-COM VB quite extensively as part of my daily commute and even on a two day one thousand KM roadtrip around the heart of the peninsular of Malaysia and I’ve got a couple of thoughts to share.
My main goals for this product was to have a Duplex communicator that was easy to use, affordable, and had bluetooth connectivity, and if those are your goals then the Freedconn will fit the bill.
For starters, the control scheme on the communicator is really easy to pick up and use on the bike. There’s a wheel that lets you adjust volume, a big button at the centre of the wheel to answer calls and switch audio modes, a small button in front for power and intercom connectivity and I can control everything even with a gloved hand.
Because of that, using it as a Bluetooth headset to connect to your phone works quite well. I’ve had a couple of phone calls while on the bike with this system and have had no complaints. There’s some wind noise that will seep through, but for the most part I haven’t heard anyone complain about excessive wind noise whether in Intercom or Bluetooth mode.
There are a couple of issues, obviously. This is by no means a flawless replacement. For starters, the audio quality is quite abysmal. If you’re looking for great high fidelity audio for music listening or podcasts or whatever, then this isn’t the device for you. Audio is thin and focuses way more on the mids and highs with almost no bass whatsoever.
You also apparently can’t listen to music and have intercom on at the same time. So if you want to have Bluetooth music playing, you’ll have to bump out of your intercom, but luckily that’s literally a press of the front button, and bumping back in takes just a couple of seconds.
I think my biggest issue with listening has to be the volume when you’re on the road. When we were blasting down the highway at…completely normal highway speeds it was quite difficult to hear what the other rider was saying or your music when the wind starts whipping around your helmet.
I of course had earplugs in but I think most people should ride with earplugs anyway so I would have definitely appreciated more volume. But if you’re just going around town at low speeds, you can hear each other just fine so it was still usable when we needed to make complex navigation.
The next pain point for me was comfort. Even though my helmet came with little indents for the speakers to sit in, they still pressed up against my ear and if you’re going on long rides, you really start to feel the aching. I’ve tried adjusting it a couple of different times but I haven’t found a position that’s super comfortable.
I’d consider maybe thinning the padding a little bit more around the indents so they sit a tiny bit deeper, but haven’t gotten around to really doing that on my helmet yet. Then again, I’ve got big ears and a big head so if you don’t have those maybe this won’t be an issue.
However, the thing I was probably most impressed with with this communicator was just how incredible the battery life was. Hanif and I were on the road for two days, riding all day from sun up to sun down and I never had to charge the communicator once—and we were connected the whole time.
I was also surprised by the range that was achieved. Yes, on the Shopee listing it says 800m, and we never got close to that, but we were comfortably doing about 400m with little to no issue with connectivity. That said, your mileage will vary depending on where you are because it is a little susceptible to interference. Riding in a busy town for example cut our range down to about 200m but that was still plenty for me.
At the end of the day, I’m surprisingly happy with my purchase. It does everything I want it to do and even more because there are a couple of features I didn’t even get to test. Stuff like Bluetooth music sharing, and pairing a third device. It even has a friggin’ radio for some reason.
Considering the cost—and especially if you’re splitting it with a friend—it’s kind of hard to argue with what you get.
The only concern I have with it is how this device will hold up over time. It’s not exactly the best built product out there, and Hanif’s communicator button has already fallen off, but of the two mine is still in good condition. And I’ve ridden through rain storms, dropped it, and been quite the ape with it for about a month now.
But that’s something only time will tell. In the meantime, what do you think of the product?