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While most products on the market are overpriced, sometimes they can feel like the opposite.
If you’ve been on MotoFour for even a little bit, you probably know about how much we love intercoms. Bluetooth communication systems are widely revered not just by us, but by motorcycle riders in general.
And that’s because few additions to your motor arsenal help make long rides and commute as convenient as intercoms.
Riding hundreds of miles across the country but worried you may spend an hour or two in the wrong direction by taking a wrong turn?
Just sync your audio system with GMaps and you’re good to go.
Been traversing the same highway with the same views for hours on end?
No problem. Pullover for 2 minutes and load something up on Spotify.
You can also text and answer calls hands-free, coordinate rides in groups, speak to the pillion rider as if they were sitting right next to you, and send instructions to your mobile phone via voice command, among other things.
The problem, however, is that while manufacturers like Sena and Cardo offer communication systems that are top of the line, they can be beyond budget for a lot of you college students and young professionals.
But you don’t have to buy a Ferrari before you get your driver’s license.
A lot of readers loved our review on the UClear AMP Go that we did two weeks back- which was no surprise. While it doesn’t come armed with the cream-of-the-top specs that the EVO and FC 4+ provide, it covers all the basics for half the price.
And it covers them well.
If you were looking for something like the AMP Go- more good news.
Because we found another motorcycle helmet intercom on the marketplace that’s in the same league.
The Lexin BlueTooth LX-B4FM
Hands-free calling, noise-cancellation, FM radio, the option for conferencing conversations with up to 4 people (for a range of 1.2 miles), and you also get to listen to music with decent sound quality.
The LX-B4FM joins the AMP GO in the list of Bluetooth intercoms that everyone can afford but also perform well above what their price points typically entail.
If you want to dip your toe in the water (or just don’t have the dough) before you buy expensive motorcycle equipment, the Lexin LX-B4FM is one of the best investments you can make as a motorcycle rider.
We’ve brushed on how important it is to wear gloves before, in the list we compiled on the best motorcycle gloves for women.
Motorcycle gloves help protect the heel on your palm- the landing zone- from getting horrible abrasions that can put you out of business for weeks (I’ve seen it happen to a friend- trust me when I say it does not look pretty). Which makes it even more important to have when you go on long commutes, in case you get into a crash in a place where there aren’t a lot of people around.
But sometimes, handling stuff that does not include the handlebars while you ride can be annoying with gloves.
The LX-B4FM helps circumvent this by including large buttons on the intercom unit. You’ll have no problem using the controls with your gloves on.
Long Distance Range
We’ve talked about this multiple times before, but having a medium for a conference helps massively if you’re planning a group ride.
One of you upfront spots a gas station on Google Maps a couple of miles away and wants to tell the rest of the group to change course? Did a couple of you part from the group by taking the wrong road at the intersection? Situations like these arise in group rides all the time.
For its price quote, the LX-B4FM allows group conferences for a whopping 1.2 miles between 4 riders.
Now, we’re on the fence about this.
We understand that if when you ride for long stretches with no one else in sight for hours on end, that it can get boring. Some of my favorite moments on the road can be attributed to AC/DC.
However, you should never listen to music at the expense of missing out on important cues from the road. When in doubt, always err on the side of caution. Wait a while before things get safe.
That being said, noise-cancellation provided by the LX-B4FM is incredible. Even at highway speeds, you’ll barely hear engine or wind noise. When you play it’s just you, the music, and the road.
CSR Bluetooth Chip
The LX-B4FM contains the CSR Bluetooth chip, which is partly the reason for its lowered cost. CSR tech also comes with other benefits, however:
- A battery life that lasts up to 10 hours.
- You can pair the Bluetooth headset to communicate with other Bluetooth intercoms regardless of the brand.
- You can hook almost any relevant device up via BlueTooth- smartphone, GPS et al.
- Waterproof material
In addition to everything listed above, it also comes with the following:
FM Radio Tuner: So long as you’re tuning in from an area that has a signal, you can enjoy listening to your favorite radio stations.
Decent sound quality because of the A2DP profile: The Lexin intercom incorporates an Advanced Audio Distribution Profile- a BlueTooth profile that allows for the wireless transfer of high-quality audio signals.
Bluetooth connection can be faulty at times
One of the drawbacks of the Lexin LX-B4FM is that it uses one of the earliest versions of BlueTooth- BlueTooth 3.0.
While BlueTooth 3.0 is not bad in and of itself, it does require a tad more patience to deal with if you’re used to versions 4.0 and above.
Again, this doesn’t happen all the time, but expect the untimely happening of the following:
- Both units of the headset not pairing to your device
- Both units of the headset pairing to different devices
- Connection restarting abruptly.
Occasional manufacturing defaults
Keep in mind that the Lexin intercom is relatively new, and for all the specs it offers for its price point, a flawless product is an unrealistic expectation.
While the sound quality comes with an A2DP profile, sometimes it can falter (due to the aforementioned BT 3.0 version). Some headsets have been reported to have poor wiring arrangements as well.
So why should I buy an intercom?
If you’ve ridden in California, you probably know that it’s biker’s paradise.
Lane-splitting laws that aren’t a pain. Nice cops (mostly).
And of course, the weather. With the Windows XP wallpaper-esque hill views.
Last month, I did the CA-36 because I was feeling like crap (relationship troubles, not worth getting into). I listened to a four-hour playlist called “Get Lost” and I fell in love with it (Except for parts with The Chemical Brothers. What kind of sociopath adds those songs to such an amazing playlist?).
And I had some much needed time to myself purely because of the intercom I had on me.
Now, I had my reasons for buying an intercom. And so do you. And so does everyone else.
While there are many objective reasons to get an intercom– ultimately, it comes down to the reasons that matter to you. All manufacturers can do is improve their products according to the metrics and parameters listed in the article.
Whether they suit you or not depends on the following factors:
The kind of company you expect to keep the most while riding– Basically, how many people are a part of your commute/trips.
Are you going to ride alone? With someone else on the pillion seat? Or is it going to be in a group?
How populated the area where you ride is going to be: Are most of the miles on the odometer of your motorcycle going to be logged from a city where there are a lot of other people and vehicles? Or is it going to be in a sparsely populated region like an open country?
Weather: Do you live in a place prone to monsoon? Or is it up north where it snows a lot? Are your skies clear and sunny?
Battery: How long do you estimate your commute to take? Battery life for most intercoms lasts anywhere from 4 hours to 12+ hours.
The number of connections allowed: This is more relevant if you always plan your long-drive (>100 miles) trips in groups, which most of you do. Different intercoms allow anywhere from 2 to 16 riders to sync at the same time.
Sound Quality: Is noise-cancellation included? How good is the sound system?
Rent prices are going up. Student debt is practically a given if you want a degree. Healthcare bills are scary, even with insurance. And our wages are not keeping up with these costs.
On top of which we have to deal with the boomers telling us that it’s because we’re not working hard enough.
All of these factors contribute to a lack of disposable income for the vast majority of us. Which is why budget products like these are so important.
The Lexin LX-B4FM is a promising addition to an ever-increasing list of investments that you can make without having to go into further debt. And its noise-canceling, CSR chipped, long-range conferencing among many other benefits, make it a damn fine investment at that.