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
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:
- 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.
- 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.
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:
- 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.
- 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!