Posts Tagged With: intercom

How Our Motorcycle Got Named “The Magic Carpet”

Boats get names.  Fighter pilots name their airplanes.  Babies get names.  Pets get names.  But I never really thought about naming a motorcycle.  But once we bought our BMW K1200LT I noticed on some of the BMW message boards that the motorcycles had names.  When we had out Suzuki C50T Boulevard we merely just referred to it as the “The motorcycle” or “The Boulevard”.  That seemed simple enough.  But BMW riders were naming their motorcycles and I’m sure they’re not the only ones who do it.  We were trying to come up with names.  “The Big Green Machine” was out, but “The Big German Lady” was a possibility.  It was harder than you think to come up with a name.  Did we want to come up with a name and then translate it into German?

Then one early one brisk morning we were headed up the road to meet some friends to go riding.  We had the stereo, yes a radio station, playing in that nice BMW intercom.  It was a classic rock station that we were listening to.  Then Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride” began playing.  My head was moving with the music (luck for Donna I wasn’t singing) and we decided right then that we’d name our BMW K1200LT “The Magic Carpet”.  For some reason it just fit and has been that way ever since.

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Can You Hear Me Now?

Well since Christmas I’ve been riding with earplugs.  I guess I want to preserve the hearing I have left along with reducing the effects of my tinnitus.  Actually, I’ve been using two different kinds of re-usable plugs, Etymotic ER20 and E.A.R. Do It Yourself Custom Molded Ear Plug.  I’m now thinking that I like the Etymotic plugs better.  They really muffle wind noise around the helmet and do just as they advertise and let “gas station” conversation be heard.  They are comfortable (at least for me) to wear.  I found no real need to raise the volume on my in-helmet intercom and the helmet doesn’t affect them.  I do like the E.A.R. plugs too and my problem may simply be the way I made them.  You need to knead two compounds together, then mold them into your ear and let it set up for about 10 minutes.  I think I may have kneaded until it started to harden too much before placing it in my ear.  The second ear went much smoother than the first one did.  Because they are custom molded they are really comfortable.  They also actually do supply more material than you’d need.  The optional screw-in neck cord is a big plus too.  Wind noise around the helmet seems louder with the E.A.R. plugs though and more bothersome.  Off motorcycle conversation is muffled quite a bit and I did need to raise the volume of the intercom too.

I’m keeping both sets handy but will probably use the Etymotic ones the most.  I did get the E.A.R. plugs at Earplug Superstore (I happened to use their links for both plugs as they sell both) and got the Etymotics from Aerostich.

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We Don’t Have Date Night, We Have Date Rides

Yep, you read that right we have “Date Rides” and today was one of them.

It had been a while since Donna was on the back of the Magic Carpet.  In fact she may not have ridden yet this year.  This past Wednesday we woke to a dusting of snow on deck and rooftop here in northern Georgia.  Further north in the state they had snow on the ground again.  Fast forward to today, Friday.  The forecast was for temperatures just above 60 degrees and for a cloudless blue sky.  Over morning coffee we decided it was time for a “Date Ride”.

We headed north from the house going through Canton and Jasper while headed for a different than normal route, going through Talking Rock, Georgia this time.  In Talking Rock we took GA HWY 136 over Burnt Mountain were there was still some snow along the side of the road at the higher elevations.  There was also a good bit of the gravel that GDOT had so generously spread on the road, especially in the curves on the mountain.  There was enough that you could see it in the center of the lanes so we didn’t take the curves as “spirited” as we would’ve like to blow out some cobwebs.  The plan was to head up through Dahlonega then up over Blood Mountain and have lunch in Blairsville before heading for home.  Now here’s the advantage to a “Date Ride” with just the two of us.  We changed our plans along the way while riding.  We decided on lunch at Turner’s Corner Café in Cleveland and then heading for home.

During the ride, Donna said she was formulating an article in her head about the floorboards that she likes.  I like the ear plugs so much that I recently got some E.A.R. Do It Yourself Custom Molded Ear Plugs.  The jury is still out on the custom plugs.  I had to raise the volume on the intercom to hear it and the GPS (and they were muffled) so they’re definitely quieter.  But there seemed to be more wind noise.  The other Etymotic plugs I had gotten are designed to block sound but let conversation be heard.  I’ll have to try them both on a ride one day to compare them better.

It was a really great day for a “Date Ride”.

Until next time, Ride Safe.

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Some January “Throttle Therapy”

Today’s temperature hovered around 70 degrees here in north Georgia which is pretty unusual. You see, contrary to popular belief, we do have winter here and in the area we rode in today, snow is not unusual.

I missed out on a ride yesterday with my Blue Knights Chapter but Donna and I made up for it today.  It was cloudy and overcast but quite a pleasant day.  Temperatures were in the upper 60’s when we left very late in the morning and even peaked at 72 on the way home.  We had no particular route planned, but figured we’d head up to Turner’s Corner Café for lunch and then go from there.  But even our lunch destination wasn’t set in stone as it was just us riding today.  We headed on up through Dawsonville and Dahlonega, passing Rider’s Hill along the way.  Rider’s Hill looked to have a parking lot full of motorcycles today.  After passing Rider’s Hill a large group of sport bikes came towards us and they looked pretty good, riding in a very tight, staggered formation.  We did stop at Turner’s Corner Café for a nice leisurely lunch.  From our table inside we could see the stop sign for Georgia HWY 9 and US Highway 129.  We watched solo riders and groups of motorcycles pull up and make the left turn heading up Blood Mountain.  One group was a trio of women, all on BMW motorcycles; two R1200GS models and an R1200R Roadster.  I noticed the motorcycles and then that they were all women!  If you continue on US 129 from there on into North Carolina, the highway eventually becomes the infamous “Tail Of The Dragon”.  After lunch we headed down to Cleveland to Dahlonenga and from Dahlonega headed for home the same way we had come up.  In winter you can see a lot of things along the road that aren’t visible the rest of the year, being covered by kudzu or other foliage.  I made a note to myself to come along this route again soon to take some pictures of those roadside anomalies.  It was really good to get out for some “throttle therapy” and exercise both us and the Magic Carpet.

I also got to use 2 of my Christmas presents on today’s ride too!

One was my pair of Sliders Kevlar Cargo Motorcycle Pants.  The pants are khaki colored cargo pants, looking pretty much like any pair of pants.  But, underneath in certain areas they are lined with Kevlar for abrasion resistance and have CE approved armor in the knees.  Donna said they looked pretty good, not looking like my bulky Tourmaster pants or other pants I’ve looked at.  I’ve got to say that were very comfortable both on and off the bike too.  The armor did seem to move to the inside of my knees when riding though.  These would not be pants you’d want to wear in the rain though unless you had rain gear to put over them.  For rain or just outright stopping wind though, the Tourmaster’s or something similar is still the way to go though.

The other item was my ETYMOYIC earplugs.  I’ve been debating on earplugs for quite some time now, especially to help out with some of the wind noise around my helmet.  When we switched to the new helmets, they helped dramatically with the noise but wind around the helmet was still there, even behind a fairing and a windshield.  They work great!  Just as they advertised, they reduced the noise but because of there design, still allowed for normal conversation and intercom use.  I did raise the volume on the Scala Rider Teamset Pro to hear Donna better (as expected).  Wind noise was still there, but muffled and not as bothersome when at highway speeds.  I found that I heard more of the K1200LT’s engine along with environmental sounds around me.  I didn’t think that they could make that much of a difference.

Until next time, Ride Safe!

Lunch at Turner’s Corner Café. Notice the “Bikers Welcome” sign on the post?

Categories: Accessories, General | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The New Helmets Are Here! The New Helmets Are Here!

Last week our new helmets arrived.  We ordered 2 GMAX GM54 modular helmets in pearl white from Competition Accessories in Rock Hill, SC.  Since last week, we’ve used the helmets for over 500 miles already and have managed to use them in heat, cool and even rain.  A modular helmet looks like a standard full face helmet but the “chin bar” portion can raise to make it an open face helmet so that you can talk to people while stopped or drink something.  The helmets also have an internal sun shield which was one of our requirements when helmet shopping.  So far we can say that they are excellent helmets but we hope to never need them for their true intended purpose.  We installed our Scala Rider Teamset Pro intercom to the helmets in a matter of minutes.

Chris’ Pros On The Helmet

  • The helmet is noticeably heavier than our old open face helmets.  But take into account that there is more to helmet, that makes sense.  But the helmet does not feel heavier when worn and hasn’t caused any neck soreness.
  • For some reason I can move my head from left to right much easier.
  • With vents open the ventilation is very good but not noisy.
  • The CoolMax liner does just what it’s supposed to do, wick sweat away.
  • I love the internal sun shield!  It great to put it down when needed and retract it when not needed.
  • While the helmet does not seem a lot quieter than the open face helmet with a face shield the noise is different.  It more of wind noise and not a roar.  The old roar could bug my ears sometimes while the quieter wind noise does not.
  • The intercom is much crisper and easier to hear.  That’s probably because the mic is now in the helmet along with the helmet being quieter.
  • You can raise and lower the clear shield easily.
  • You can raise the chin bar easily.
  • The red LED light on the rear is a nice safety feature.
  • Peripheral and up & down vision is very good.
  • The entire internal padding system is removable for washing.
  • The pins and latch for the flip-up chin bar are metal.
  • The vents are easy to open and close.

Chris’ Cons On The Helmet

  • Sometimes it can be difficult to lower and lock the chin bar.  But that could be me getting used to it.
  • Both times while riding in the rain I got a solitude streak of water on the inside of the face shield when it was closed.  It wasn’t constant, it just went down once and didn’t return.
  • When the vents are open I get a whistle when turning my head extremely left or right as if looking over my shoulder.  It does not whistle with the vents closed and the windshield position can affect the whistle.  Donna does not get the whistle.
  • After 5 or 6 hours of wearing it I get a “hot spot” on the top of my head.  I can alleviate it though by moving the helmet slightly forward or back on my head or even raising the chin bar for a few minutes (yes I know, I shouldn’t do that).

Donna’s comments are below the video.  In the video the LED light appears to flash in the steady “on” mode.  This is not the case when looking at it with your eyes.

Donna’s Pros On The Helmet

  • Donna’s positive comments are nearly identical to mine so there’s no use in repeating them.
  • Donna says the helmet is quieter than the old open face helmet with a face shield.

Donna’s Cons On The Helmet

  • Donna gets the same trickle of water if it’s raining.
  • Donna says she can have difficulty opening the chin bar along with opening and closing the vents.  She does though attribute it to learning how to use the helmet and says it’s getting easier.

Remember, we are wearing these helmets on a motorcycle with a full, frame mounted fairing and an adjustable windshield.

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A Day With The Scala Rider And A Review

In June we bought a Scala Rider Teamset Pro Bluetooth intercom and only had the opportunity to use it once before the bike was down with the need to replace the rear tire.

We purchased the Scala Rider Teamset Pro which is a wireless bluetooth rider to passenger intercom set.  This unit is for communication between the rider and passenger only and will not communicate with other motorcycles.  It will pair with itself along with a separate cell phone for rider and passenger.  You can conference the rider or passenger into your conversation using the intercom but I would hope that most of us don’t talk on the phone and ride.  You can also pair a bluetooth GPS unit, and MP3 player.  There are also wired connections for Mp3 players.  I was told a warning about the wireless MP3 that is in your phone in that the intercom will see it as an incoming call and override any intercom conversation.  I haven’t had the opportunity to use a GPS unit with it yet but hope to soon.  My cellphone paired with it with no problem and while in the house and yard I was able to make and receive phone calls but riding around I couldn’t get it to make a call for some reason.  I’m not concerned enough to find out why I can’t make phone calls as it’s not that important to me.  UPDATE: I figured out that I was pushing the wrong button on the headset!

This unit is voice activated as most intercoms are but it is also dependent on ambient noise to operate.  If you try it out in a quiet room it won’t work.  Ride the bike or go outside where there’s traffic and it will work.  The intercom also changes volume based upon noise.  In other words, the faster you go the louder your intercom will be and then readjust as you slow down.  There are also volume buttons to fine tune it to your liking.  The intercom mounts attach to each helmet and the intercom is removable from the mount.  The speakers mount in your helmet with provided velcro or in your helmet’s speaker pockets if it has them.

Scala Rider Teamset Pro

We rode for about 4 hours today and intentionally left the units on while we stopped for lunch and had no problem with power and the units are rated for twice that long anyway.  All in all I was very satisfied with them.  Conversation between Donna and I was clear and understandable.  Mic placement however was more critical with the Scala Rider than it was with the wired headsets used with the BMW intercom.  When the unit doesn’t detect speaking for about a minute it automatically goes back into standby mode.  When the driver initiates a conversation, you know the VOX is activated by a tone in the speakers, but the passenger does not hear the tone.  When the VOX goes into standby the driver will get a higher pitched series of beeps to let you know of standby mode and again the passenger does not hear it.  If the passenger initiates the conversation the passenger and not the driver hears the beeps and tones.  You can manually put initiate VOX or go to standby by pressing a button on the unit mounted on each helmet.  It was nice not having connected from you to the motorcycle.  We also liked the feature that at a gas stop Donna could walk around and we could converse while still wearing helmets as long as she stayed with bluetooth range.  With the Scala Rider Teamset Pro you don’t hear your own voice in the helmet speakers like we did with the BMW intercom.  Because of that, you may tend to speak a bit louder than needed.  Donna kept telling me to just speak in a normal voice and it sounded much better.  We use the unit on 3/4 helmets with flip up face shields.

No cords
Good, clear communications
Self adjusting volume
Easy setup and installation
Clear communication at speed

Mic placement is critical
Wind noise can activate intercom (this can be troublesome on a loud motorcycle or one without a windshield or fairing)
You must bring your charger with you when you travel

I would definitely recommend this product to a friend looking for an intercom.

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First Ride With Bluetooth

We’re going to a motorcycle event tomorrow afternoon so we took advantage of trying out the new intercom while riding to get gas.  It works and is different alright.  As expected it really didn’t work while walking around getting ready to go.  But once it detected noise it let the intercom work.  We noticed that the faster we went, up to about 55 mph this trip the better it worked.  Donna told me it sounded like I was talking too loud and to talk in a normal speaking voice and she said it was much better.  Just to try it out I paired my cell phone with it.  At the house I was able to make a call but on the road it wouldn’t work but that might’ve been operator error.  Once home I was able to make calls again.  Next Saturday we’ll be on the motorcycle for a couple of hours so we’ll really get to try it out and review it then.

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Time For A New Intercom

Well it’s time for a new intercom in the K1200LT.  Over time there’s been a pinched wire or two that’s caused a loose connection or a short.  I have to jiggle my headset plug or position it just right where it connects to the motorcycle to get both speakers to work.  At times I get a “crackling” in my speakers.  I’ve actually tracked down the short for me and positioning the air intake winglets can affect the performance.  I can get a new part but it also means stripping down the front end of the bike to replace.  On the other hand, Donna goes through a lower headset cord a year just from wear and tear at the flex point on the cord where it plugs into the motorcycle.  The cords are only about $23 but you get tired of buying them!

So I’ve been shopping around and yesterday we bought a Cardo Scala Rider TeamSet Pro.  It’s a wireless BlueTooth system between the rider and the passenger.  It’s got the ability to add a cell phone to each headset (not sure if we’ll do that), a BlueTooth enable or wired MP3 player and a BlueTooth enabled GPS for audio directions.  Last night I installed the headsets in the helmets and charged both the units.  Hopefully later today we’ll take them for a test run.  The instructions actually advise against testing them inside in a quiet environment because the system is dependent on ambient noise to operate.  Once we have a decent ride with them I’ll post a review of the system.

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