Mating Ritual: AFX FX-140 Helmet & SENA SMH10 Motorcycle Headset Review

After a short jaunt with Red and ShrewsieQ, who were both outfitted with SENA SMH5's, I made the decision to purchase the SENA SMH10.  As lovely has the Seca II sounds roaring down the road at 80mph, there were times when I needed a distraction from all the calming solitude.  

The overall consensus from the reviews I read where the that SENA SMH10's speakers were powerful enough to provide clear audio at highways speeds and the SMH10 sync's well with an iPhone via bluetooth. So I gave it shot.

Mark McCullough: Gear Review &emdash; 20130403-215914
AFX FX140 Helmet with SENA SMH10

My needs
1) With my often short window of available ride time, I needed a way of communicating to my wife.
2) I needed a way of communicating my intentions to other riders rather than my previous method,
which looked like I was the guy trapped a gorilla costume from the movie Trading Places.
3) I have dreams of being able to blog on the road. (More to come)

Mating the AFX FX140 with the SENA SMH10
Opening up the box revealed the minimally packaged SENA SMH10 bluetooth module and boom mic base attachment. The box included a thick manual, clamp style mounting hardware, optional sticky mounting hardware, sticky backed velcro for the speakers, usb charging cable, and a DC charging cable.

Mark McCullough: Gear Review &emdash; 20130403-220255
SENA SMH10 Bluetooth Module and Base

Mark McCullough: Gear Review &emdash; 20130403-220343
Charging and Mounting Accessories
The mating ritual began by mounting the base to the helmet. Due to the SENA SMH10 being able to only mount on the left side of the helmet, this gave me the most grief when trying to mount the unit onto the AFX FX140.

Mark McCullough: Gear Review &emdash; 20130403-223218
SENA SMH10 Mounted to AFX FX140 Helmet
The visor slider on the FX140 is located in the sweet spot for the SMH10. Due to the slider's position and the visor mechanism inside the helmet shell, I had to mount the SMH10 farther back than I would like. This mounting location positioned the fixed boom mic on the SMH10 slightly off to the left of my mouth where I would rather it be directly in front.

SMH10 Performance
Before I synced the SMH10 to my phone, I gave it a full charge and updated the firmware via usb.
Though the boom mic was slightly out of place I decided to give the unit a test ride. 

Test 1 consisted of me walking around the house playing with the various features of the unit while getting used to the controls. The unit is very easy to turn on, even with heavy gloved hands. A multi function rocker serves as a button and volume control. Just behind the the rocker on the backside of the unit is a button to active various phone features.

Paring my iPhone with the SENA SMH10, and presumably any other bluetooth device, was a breeze and not unlike any other bluetooth device on the market today. Once the phone and SMH10 had been paired I was able to activate various features such as voice dialing, listening to music and recording audio to my Audio Memos application where I plan to record audio logs.

Testing the mic, I called various friends whose response where positive about the sound quality.

The sound quality is a bit tinny but loud, very loud. I where foam ear plugs under my helmet and I have no issues hearing the SMH10.

On to the road test. Starting up some low volume tunes. I headed out of neighborhood and made my first on road call. Pressing the phone button on the back of the SMH10 activates iPhone's voice calling feature. The SMH10 successfully made the call however, my music continued to play through the speakers. This issue was taken care of after I restarted my iPhone. 

At 60mph I was able to have two successful phone calls. Each person I talked with said that the audio was clear and they were amazed I was speaking to them while riding a motorcycle.

I've put a view rides the SMH10 now and I only have good things to say. The system is easy to use, pairs great with my iPhone, and has excellent battery life. Over the next few weeks I'll test the unit with Audio Memo's  to see if I can generated some decent audio recordings on the road.

On my last ride, while listening to The Pace Podcast, my music was automatically paused for an incoming call. Traveling at about 45 mph, I answered my phone via voice activation. My accountant was on the other end asking "is this a good time to talk." I answered, "its perfect."


red said...

Speaker placement is key! I had to modify my Caberg helmet to get my set over my ears.

red said...

My boss called me yesterday when I was riding on I65.

He didn't know I was on the bike, just thought my car window was open.

Joe said...

Thanks for the tips. I already have the SMH10 and just purchased the same helmet. Does the clamp from the sena interfere at all with the flip up of the helmet?

red said...

McMark didn't have any issues with his SMH10 and my wife has the same AFX Helmet (in Great Pumpkin Orange) and uses the SMH-5.

If I remember correctly, she did have to put the base back a bit farther than than it was on her solid helmet.

Blogger said...

You might be qualified to receive a Apple iPhone 7.