How To Determine the Helmet/Headset Combo That’s Right for You

How To Determine the Helmet/Headset Combo That’s Right for You

With so many helmets and headsets to choose from, the process of picking out the perfect pairing of the two can be downright exhausting. Do I start with the helmet I want to purchase or do I begin with the type of headset? What if I already own a helmet, am I then limited when it comes to headset options? Bluetooth or corded? Boom mic or button? Will there be additional parts I’ll need to buy for the headset to work flawlessly with my bike and helmet? See what I mean. Daunting. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!

In this article, we’ll address all these question and more as we share what we believe to be a clear, easy, and painless way to discover and purchase the right setup for you, using a fictional rider as an example through each step of the process.

Side Note: For the purpose of this blog post we’re assuming the rider owns a Goldwing with a built-in audio system. If you have another bike, you’re options and choices will be a bit different. But don’t worry. If this is the case, please do not hesitate to give us a call and we’ll get you dialed in with the perfect setup that best fits your needs.

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Step One – Helmet Type

When a customer calls inquiring about their headset options, the first thing we ask them is what kind or type of helmet the headset will end up in. The answer will refine and focus the options right from the start. For example, maybe the rider doesn’t plan on wearing a helmet at all. If that’s the case, their choices will be limited to helmet-less headsets such as IMC’s HSG140P. If you have a full face helmet your options will be a full face or universal unit. Planning to purchase a modular helmet? Then you’ll want to get the universal or modular style headset.

Obviously, there are a lot of different types of headsets out there and some will fit specific types of helmets (Full Face, Open Face, Modular) or specific helmet models (Nolan, Vega, Arai, Shark models), while others are considered universal and can fit in most any type of open face, full face, or modular helmet. But keep in mind that, in order to fit universally, these types of headsets might compromise on key features – like speaker size – that are important to you. More on that in Step Three below.

Side Note: It can be challenging to select a helmet/headset combo without trying on the helmet first. We get that. That’s why we offer, should you prefer, to send you the purchased helmet first to try on and make sure it fits right.  If it does, send it back and we’ll install the headset then ship the combo back to you. If the helmet doesn’t fit to your liking, send it back and we’ll give you a refund. You don’t even have to pay for return shipping. How convenient is that?

So what about you? What type of helmet do you have or intend to have?

No helmet

Shorty/Half-Helmet: Vega XTA, HJC CS-2N, Cyber U-72

Open Face: GMax GM32, HJC IS-33, LS2 OF569

Full Face: HJC IS-Max 2, Stealth Insight, Scorpion EXO 1200

Modular: Shark Evoline 3, Schuberth C3, Fly Street Tourist

Model Specific: Nolan N44/N40/N104, Arai, Vega Summit, Shark

Rider’s Verdict: Full Face

Step Two – Corded or Bluetooth Headset

There’s a lot that can be said about the difference between these two types and a myriad of reasons why a rider would swear by one over the other. Suffice it to say that the choice really comes down to rider preference more than anything else. The vast majority of WingStuff’s customers choose corded so that’s what we’ll stick with. For more on this, check out our Corded v. Bluetooth Headset blogpost.

Rider Verdict: Corded

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Step Three – What Do you Need From Your Headset?

The next questions you want to ask yourself are, “What will I need my headset to do for me?” and, “How much am I willing to spend?” In other words, what’s most important to you? Will the headset mainly be used for talking to your co-rider, using a CB to communicate with other riders, listening to your favorite tunes, or all of the above? Some sets excel at providing clear rider/passenger communication while others focus on creating great sound for music with larger speakers.

Along with your performance needs you will want to balance it out with your pocketbook. You may want the best, most expensive unit but don’t want to spend a lot of coin to get it. Are you looking to save money with a low-cost option or is the quality your main priority? As with many things in life, not all headsets are created equal. By and large, the more it costs, the better it’s going to perform. If you’re looking for a simple set to talk back and forth with your passenger, you will probably want an economically savvy headset like an IMC or J&M HS CD9279 UN HO Universal Performance Headset w/HO AeroMike. Perhaps you want an intermediate unit that does a pretty good job at all of the above but doesn’t break the bank. In that case, we’d recommend something like the J&M 279 Deluxe Performance Series Headsets. If, on the other hand, you’re looking for a high end set with clearer, fuller sound then you’ll want the J&M 787 Elite Series Headsets.

Side Note: J&M corded headsets require an additional “lower cord” to connect the unit to your Goldwing. The Elite Series headsets require an 8-pin “Z-style” lower cord and the Performance Series headsets require the 8-pin “P-Style” lower cord. What does this mean for you? Say you have a Performance Series set in your helmet, but you want to upgrade to the new Elite Series. In that case, you won’t be able to use your current lower cord (P-Style) and will need to purchase the Z-Style cord which is compatible with the Elite Series. If you want to get a new headset and stay in the same series (Performance to Performance or Elite to Elite) and your lower cord is still in good condition then you’re good to go.

Tip: Need a lower cord? Make sure to include its cost when researching and budgeting the overall pricing of your new helmet/headset.

The answer to the above questions will help you determine what kind of headset you require. We know that, typically, most riders want a headset for all of the above so, for the purpose of this illustration and based on our riding experience, we’re going to assume you fall into that category as well. This means you’d want a Universal unit. Just keep in mind that choosing a headset that does a good job at everything overall means the individual aspects – music, CB, etc. – probably aren’t as good. Think of it as Jack of All Trades, Master of None.

So what about you? What type of headset are you looking for?

Economically Savvy                                                   Open-Faced Helmets

Intermediate                            AND FOR                   Modular Helmets

High End                                                                    Full Faced Helmets

Universal

Rider Verdict: Universal High-End Headset

Step Four – Installation

Now that you’ve figured out the right headset for the type of helmet you have (or intend to have), it’s time to determine the most appropriate method for installation. Your options are to do it yourself, following the manufacturer’s instructions, or have it professionally installed. The simplest way to determine this is to ask, “Am I comfortable installing this myself?” If not, let a professional handle it. Keep in mind, the overall experience with your headset/helmet combo is highly dependent on the placement of the unit and you want to be sure it’s done right the first time. Of course, there are many riders out there who will install their own headsets per the manufacturer’s instructions, know what they’re doing, and love the end result.  That said, if you aren’t sure please do not hesitate to give us a call. We have certified professional installation technicians here on-site that will be more than happy to take care of it for you. Plus it doesn’t hurt that WingStuff.com offers an Install Guarantee for the life of the helmet*. No headache. No worries. Just good ol’ fashioned customer service. Sounds good, right?

Side Note: Some helmets are more acoustically favorable than others. What this means is that you might install the same headset into two different helmets and get two totally different sounds because of the design of the helmets. Personal preference and the shape of the rider’s head will also affect perceived sound quality.

So what about you? Would you install it yourself or have it professionally installed?

Rider Verdict: Professionally Installed by WingStuff

In our experience, we’ve found that the educated consumer is much more likely to achieve the desired result when it comes to purchasing a helmet/headset combination. Do the research, talk to your friends, read product reviews on WingStuff.com and consult a professional like WingStuff with any questions you might have. We’re more than happy to help!

Tip: Before purchasing your helmet and/or headset, make sure to first do some research (Just like you are right now!) A great resource are Goldwing forums such as GLRiders.com. Typically, signing up is easy and you can get tons of great information from fellow riders or ask your own questions and receive helpful answers.

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*Helmet and Headset replacement are not a part of Install Guarantee. Please refer to manufacturer’s warranty information for further details.

Corded v. Bluetooth Headsets: Which One Is Right for You?

Corded v. Bluetooth Headsets: Which One Is Right for You?

Back in the day, riders “communicated” by using awkward looking hand signals, smacking the back of the rider’s helmet, and screaming at each other, competing against highway speed winds for one another’s attention. Remember that? Good riddance.

Nowadays we have high-tech headsets designed to make communication while riding easier and safer than ever. No more shouting. No more rider abuse. Instead it’s chatting with your co-rider, effortlessly talking with other riders and listening to your favorite music all at a push of a button. My how the times have changed.

So you’re in the market for a new headset and you’re not 100% sure which type you should get: Corded or Bluetooth. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!

Before you slide out your credit card and make the purchase, keep in mind that riders have different preferences, different expectations and a variation of perceived needs when it comes to many aspects of their motorcycle. It’s no different when it comes to buying a headset. There’s a lot that can be said about Corded and Bluetooth Headsets and a myriad of reasons why a rider would swear by one over the other. In this article, we will look at the pros and cons of each in order to help you choose the option that best suits your needs.

Most of this great information was provided by J&M Corp. See their video at the end of this article with a full comparison.

Side Note: Are you looking for a helmet/headset combo and not sure where to start? Check out our blog post: How To Determine the Helmet/Headset Combo That’s Right for You

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Corded Headsets

This type of headset has been around since that beginning and, for some, that is reason enough to stick with the corded option. Many riders feel comfortable and know what to expect with this setup. They’re reluctant to try out an expensive Bluetooth unit, only to be thwarted by it’s unfamiliarity. In a way, it’s like choosing between that restaurant you ALWAYS go to or shaking things up and trying the Thai for the first time at the place that just opened up. Think of it as the “Go-With-What-You-Know” mentality.

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of owning a Corded Headset below:

Pros

  • Easy to use – Just plug it in and ride.
  • Weather Resistant.
  • No unsightly black boxes on the outside of the helmet.
  • Highest Sound Quality available.
  • No batteries needed.
  • Repair parts are generally easy to come by.

Cons

  • Existing motorcycle audio system required
  • The Cord – It can get in the way or scuff your bike’s paint, it can wear out over time requiring to purchase a replacement, riders can forget to plug it in each time, or some riders don’t like the fact that they are connected to the bike itself.
  • Additional integration products required to link in cell phones and GPS devices.
  • Supplemental lower cords may be required at extra cost.

Bluetooth Headsets

These units arrived on the scene more recently and many riders prefer them because of their easy-to-use integration with cell phone and GPS units and helmet-to-helmet communications while riding most any motorcycle, without needing a built-in audio system. Of course, the biggest advantage: No annoying cords to get in the way. That said, there are more than a few drawbacks to owning a Bluetooth setup that you should be aware of.

Let’s look at the pros and cons of owning a Bluetooth Headset below:

Pros

  • No cord to deal with.
  • Can be used with most any type of motorcycle regardless of whether or not it has a built in audio system.
  • Simple GPS & Cell Phone integration.
  • Multiple riders can communicate without the need of a CB, although the number is limited.

Cons

  • Need to remember to keep battery charged and pack your charger. Otherwise, you’re out of luck.
  • Sound quality at highway speeds tend to be significantly reduced especially when listening to stereo music.
  • Need to manually toggle between features, requiring you to move a hand from the handlebars.
  • Bluetooth Control Unit – Some riders consider the large control mounted on the helmet to be unsightly. Additionally, it can create added wind buffeting at higher speeds.
  • Cannot be used to transmit over the Goldwing’s CB radio.
  • Batteries typically have to be replaced every 1 to 3 years in order to be able to complete a day’s ride on a single charge (10-15 hours or about 6 hours in use).
  • Repair and parts are generally limited.

So there you have it. There are really good aspects to both and some drawbacks as well. In our experience, the choice really comes down to rider preference more than anything else. If you’ve never owned a Bluetooth headset, maybe it’s time that you branch out and try something new. Who knows, maybe you’ll love it. On the other hand, you might be completely satisfied with the corded headset you already own and have no reason change it up. That’s perfectly fine as well. What’s most important is that you are happy with your setup. If not, give us a call and we’ll be glad to help you out!

Favorite Motorcycle Memory – Part 3

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We forget many things in life, but for those of us who ride, there are certain memories with our bikes that will stay with us forever. So what about you? What’s one of your favorite motorcycle memories?

Below is a sampling of favorite motorcycle memories from riders like you. Take a minute to read their stories and you’ll probably find yourself thinking, “Something like that happened to me too!” If you feel so inclined, leave the community one of your most fond riding memories in the comment section below. Who knows, it just might be featured in our next Motorcycle Memory blog.

Michael from California:

“Started riding at 13. That’s me on my Hodaka at 15. At 63, I ride a 450X off-road, an a 2008 GL1800 on-road (below)”

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Dan from Oregon:

“My first bike was a brand new ’64 Honda 250 Hawk I’d saved for 2 years to buy at the age of 14. My stepdad grudgingly drove the old Chevy 1-ton farm pickup into town and we hauled the Hawk back home from the dealer. I unloaded it by myself (no small feat) and immediately had to park it as there were chores to be done the rest of the day. Along near dusk we got back to the house and I straddled the motorcycle, bumped the starter button, and listened to that zero-time engine purr like a kitten. I’m sure I had an ear to ear grin but nobody noticed, or cared one way or the other.

I babied the bike up the driveway and onto the gravel road, heading tentatively up the canyon for a brief first-ride at about 15 mph. About 1/4 mile from the house a white tail doe ran across the road in front of me. I locked up the rear wheel and applied as much front brake as I dared in the gravel. The doe paused in the road and just as I came to a stop the front tire gently bumped her hind leg. The startled animal kicked the tire and bounded up the hillside…neither of us worse for wear. She left me with a hoof print on my tire and a story to tell about the first ride on my first motorcycle!”

goldragon1329 from PA:

“Taking my wife for our first ride together.”

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WARWGN from MS:

“The first time I went full throttle launch on my 2003 GSXR 600, it felt like a cartoon and the bike was gonna jump out from under me and take off leaving me sitting in the air looking at it. I think I was grinning for days.”

Les from TN:

“My granddaughter and I on our first MC trip together on my previous 1500…”

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What about you? What is one of your favorite motorcycle memories? We’d love to hear from you! Let us know in the comments section below and you could be featured in one of our future blogs!