I think it’s safe to say that we’re more connected today than ever before. From the smartphones in our hands to the smart TVs in our living rooms and everything in between, we never seem to be far away from connected devices.
Sometimes we’re trying to connect to the internet, sometimes we’re trying to connect with people, and sometimes it’s a combination of both. We always seem to be searching for new ways to communicate with others, especially when conditions aren’t ideal for verbal conversation. One such example would be trying to communicate with your friends while riding motorcycles or powersports together.
Related: How Apps Are Enhancing the Powersports Experience
What Are Comm Units?
They go by many names: communication systems, comm units, Bluetooth, headsets and more. No matter what technology is housed inside of them, they all aid in rider-to-rider communication without the need for complicated hand signals.
Comm units come in different shapes, sizes and price points, and there’s probably one out there to fit every type of rider. In my experience, most riders who have never used a comm unit before don’t realize what they’re missing out on.
It’s happened to the best of us. We’re out for a long day of riding with friends, when someone has to stop for fuel or to use the restroom. Now that person is forced to try and use “sign language” to tell the other riders in the group that he or she needs to make a stop, which isn’t exactly easy while riding. That’s just one way that a comm unit can come in handy.
Customer FAQs & How to Answer Them
When it comes to selling comm units, being prepared for customer questions, concerns or objections can be a real advantage. Here are some of the questions you may hear from your customers and what we would say to answer them.
Why Would I Need a Comm System?
One word: convenience. In fact, they could almost be considered a luxury item. Comm units give you the ability to connect with other riders or your phone at all times, and this offers a number of advantages for everyday riding. Most systems will connect to your phone, allowing you to make hands-free calls, stream music and even offer turn-by-turn directions! Those of us who ride with communication systems can’t imagine riding without them.
Will It Fit in my Helmet?
Yes. Comm units are completely universal, and they should fit 99.9% of helmets on the market. Comm units may come with peel-and-stick application pads or a clamp that secures the unit to the side of the helmet. The bottom line is that you can confidently say the unit will fit into their helmet. However, the only area which might be a concern would be the speakers. Some helmets feature cutouts (or recessed pockets) that give the rider a place to mount speakers where they won’t press against their ears. But if their helmet doesn’t have these pockets, there is a chance that the speakers could become uncomfortable while riding.
What if I Don’t Wear a Helmet?
First off, we always recommend wearing a helmet, and you should encourage your customers to wear one as well. However, there are headsets designed to be worn without a helmet. These “helmetless” headsets usually boast moderate intercom range and features, but they also come in at a pretty reasonable price point. More advanced models will offer features such as premium speakers and advanced noise control technology for reduced engine and wind noise.
What’s the Difference Between Bluetooth and Mesh Comm Units? Which Is Better?
Bluetooth-only comm units typically come in at a lower price point, and they offer a terrific “bang for your buck.” Bluetooth is used to connect all of the comm units together when using the intercom function, but Bluetooth range is rather limited. On the other hand, mesh units create a stronger connection between riders, and larger groups can offer a dynamic, shared connection which significantly improves the range for all connected riders in the group. Furthermore, riders can drop in and out of range without breaking the connection between the whole group. Compatibility should be your primary concern whenever shopping for a comm unit. If your friends have mesh-only comm units, that’s what you should purchase.
What’s the Maximum Range?
This varies greatly from one comm unit to the next, so you should always reference the manufacturer’s specification. Bluetooth only systems can offer 500 to 900 yards (0.25 to 0.5 miles) of range in open terrain, whereas more advanced mesh systems may be capable of a mile or more, depending on the model and the size of the group.
If I Buy a Mesh-Only Comm Unit, Does That Mean I Can’t Connect it to my Phone?
This is a common misconception. A mesh-only comm unit will, in fact, connect to your phone via Bluetooth. It simply will not connect to other comm units using Bluetooth. This is another reason why it’s so important to consider how compatible a comm unit will be with other systems. If your customer rides with a group of people who already have comm units, it may be best to buy a matching unit for maximum compatibility and ease of connection.
My Own Experience
I’ve said it before, but I’m a big believer in communication systems. As a matter of fact, I think that my comm unit might just be the best piece of gear that I’ve ever bought. My wife and I both have them installed in our motorcycle helmets, and it was a total game changer. Not only does it allow us the ability to talk via the intercom, but we can also stream the same music and turn-by-turn navigation to both helmets, even though we’re on separate motorcycles.
And like I mentioned earlier, these comm units aren’t just for motorcycles. When we went snowmobiling in the Michigan Upper Peninsula last winter, I brought our comm units along with us and temporarily installed them into the helmets we were using that week. A few inexpensive peel-and-stick panels meant we were ready to talk in real-time!
Keep this in mind when you’re talking to your off-road customers: Comm units can be a good fit for them as well! Whether they’re blasting through the sand dunes or tearing up wooded trails, chances are they won’t be out there alone. Although comms units still aren’t as popular with off-road groups as they are with motorcycle riders, they can provide that same, important, hands-free connection.
Now, if I was a novice rider, would a comm unit be my first purchase? Probably not, but I will tell you that I wish I’d bought one sooner. I simply can’t imagine riding without it now. My question to you is this: How much money are you leaving on the table by not talking about comm units with your customers?