May 01, 2013
Michael Korzeniowski: If you are looking for a helmet-to-helmet communications system, take a serious look at the Interphone F5 form Cellular Italia S.p.A.
The Interphone F5 performs rider-to-passenger, rider-to-rider and multi-user conference wireless communications. It uses Bluetooth 3.0 technology. The system can allow up to six riders to tie in voice communications with up to 0.80 miles between each rider (under perfect conditions). Although technically the number of users isn't limited, due to time lag and the inability to manage several communicators, a maximum of six users is recommended.
The Interphone F5 Two Biker Universal Helmet Kit comes with two Bluetooth modules, two stereo earphone and boom microphone rigs, and two stereo earphone and wired microphone rigs. Two different types of mounting brackets are included: a permanent adhesive-backed bracket and a mounting bracket with screws that allows transferring the system to another helmet. One AC charger with a dual cable is included, which allows charging the two Bluetooth modules at the same time. A USB cable is included as well, so not only can you can plug it into a regular wall outlet, you can use your laptop or USB-equipped portable power supply.
The feature set is long and impressive. It includes high-fidelity audio, built-in FM radio with pre-set ability, multiple language choices, Bluetooth connectivity to smart phones or GPS systems, a 2.5 mm jack, voice command menu capability, text-to-speech announcements, voice answer and dial, music remote control, auto music mute for incoming calls, auto volume adjust and mobile phone ring warning.
The modules have CEI IP67-approved dust-proofing and water resistance, and the battery power durations are specified at 700 hours of standby time, and 11 hours of talk time. I have never run out of power during a test period of nine months and charging after each week of use, predominantly listening to music on my cell phone. It is a testament to the module and battery engineering to have such a low power load yet high duration.
In my initial test of the system, I installed one Bluetooth module on a flip-up helmet and used one of the two removable brackets and one of the boom microphone and earphone rigs. The speaker fitment was simple. The earphone speakers are adhesive backed and were easily applied in the best position for me. The cable routes between the EPS foam and the removable liner and is unobtrusive. My wife’s open-face helmet was assigned the same boom microphone set-up.
The Bluetooth modules slide and lock into the brackets with a secure snap and the modules use a water-resistant connection to the microphone/speaker system for a robust, weather-resistant system. The kit comes with a tube of silicone grease for a water-resistant electrical connection.
The modules charge quickly in about two hours, and the Bluetooth pairing is simple. Before you know it, you are riding down the road listening to the music of your choice, audio directions from your GPS, and conversing with your passenger or fellow rider.
The default volume setting appears to be set for use with earplugs. If you don’t ride wearing earplugs, you may find the volume to be a bit loud. Once set, volume adjusts automatically with ambient noise or wind noise. The quality of sound reproduction is exceptional in frequency response and clarity.
My overall experience with the Interphone F5 was highly positive due to every aspect of installation being concise and the operation being relatively easy for a first-time user. It looks great and is unobtrusive. Whether riding with a passenger, other riders or solo, you may find the Interphone F5 an interesting and addicting addition to your riding experience.
Just remember: Don’t think out loud because the VOX microphone transmits every time you speak.