UCLEAR HBC 100 Motorcycle Test
The technology behind motorcycle-helmet communicators continues to improve every year, with more and more companies enhancing their offerings.
Though technology continue to get slicker, many still lack audible clearness, and the boom microphones can get quite annoying, especially during long-distance touring.
But UCLEAR is out to change both the former and the latter with its HBC 100 Helmet Communicator. And after my very first ride with the HBC 100, the company out of Eagle, Idaho, has made some significant leaps regarding helmet-communicator technology.
The secret? Military technology.
For clearness, the UCLEAR HBC 100 brings the patented Advanced Digital Signal Processing (ADSP) technology into the world of motorcycle communication. Technical details aside, the ADSP manages to suppress surrounding noises while providing speech clarity.
And these tech-savvy audible sounds are crystal clear on the receiving end of either a phone call via Bluetooth, passenger, or fellow rider pairing a UCLEAR HBC 100.
But don’t think certain conditions apply; the technology works in a wide assortment of noisy environments, regardless if the units are used with full-face, modular, three-quarter or half helmets.
A single HBC 100 unit simply contains two earpieces that act as speakers and boomless mics, and an easy-to-use three-button (a large answer button, one small up and one small down button) receiving unit that quickly attaches to most helmets (ear pad accessories are sold for attachment to certain half helmets).
Installation takes under five minutes, though I already had Velcro patches in my full-face Arai RX-Q, the Velcro in place from using other helmet communication devices. As for the modular Shoei Neotec, the earpieces stick to the interior of the helmet – no Velcro needed.
Synching the HBC 100 via Bluetooth is also simple; just hold in the smaller up and down buttons, and follow the directions on the phone.
The first test arrived using the pieces for phone (Droid X) and GPS while on a four-day journey via a V-Strom DL1000. I donned the Shoei Neotec, and received a call within 10 minutes on a local noisy interstate around 75 mph. The voice on the other end was clear with the visor down.
I heard every word the caller said, and when asked about background noise, the caller said it sounded as if I was driving in the car with the windows down. Wanting to experiment more, I stood up, pointing my head in the wind. I kept the conversation going with the visor open and the helmet flipped up.
The caller could hear me, though a bit more noise was in the background. And I was surprised that the volume self adjusted, turning louder as the surrounding environment (wind) noises became louder, me hearing everything. The same audio clarity arrived when I used the HBC 100 for GPS directions, the sound crystal clear.
The next logical step was more speed for more noise, of course.
This experiment arrived on a Ducati 1198 wrapped with Termignoni Exhaust on a closed course with a full face. At speeds over 150 mph, I was still able to hear the voice on the other end, though the voice a bit spotty. But who seriously needs to carry on a full-pledged conversation with someone at racing speeds?
And just as the HBC 100 worked well with the modular and full face, the clarity was there when using a three-quarter of half helmet. I typically don’t don half helmets, but was shocked at the clarity of the voice on the receiving end. But hopefully your motorcycle has a windshield; I was behind a Heritage Softail Classic sporting a windshield, and the other end was able to hear me speaking at speeds up to 65 mph. Above that, and the voice got distant. Without a windshield, audible was good to speeds around 45 mph, though once again the voice became distant when going faster.
Besides clarity with various helmets at speed, another strong point to the HBC 100 is that it picks up the exact ring tones your phone offers. This is an optimal feature considering sometimes you just don’t want to answer the phone while riding; I have different ring tones for different associates and friends, and this feature allows me to chose who’s on the receiving end.
The units also offer voice dialing, but the quality is contingent on your phone’s ability. For example, my Droid’s voice dialing was horrible, so it’s horribleness translated directly through the HBC 100. As for the iPhone 4S, things worked much smoother, but I still wouldn’t rely on exact accuracy.
And as one would assume, this clarity transfers over to rider-to-rider or rider-to-passenger talk when using the HBC 100 as an intercom. As for rider-to-rider distance, all was well within a quarter-mile radius.
That brings us to battery life. With military technology, you’d expect long battery life. And this was true; I was getting 10 hours out of them when using them mainly as wireless communication devices with my phone and GPS unit. They units are waterproof, which I proved after riding for five hours in soaking showers. I’m sure the long-term durability also is there considering the military technology built within.
The HBC 100 by far is the best communication device I’ve ever used while riding a motorcycle. The unit offers much appeal to those riders seeking clarity while traveling, and one wanting to ride without annoying mic and its foamy casing piercing the lips.
Following is rundown of the UNCLEAR HBC 100 features:
- Make mobile phone calls
- Listen and wirelessly control your music
- Voice Command call pickup
- Helmet to helmet intercom
- Auto loudness adjustment
- Patented Digital Signal Processing (DSP) technology
- Unique wind filtering technique effective up to 238KM/h
- Concealed microphones, does not require boom microphones
- Rugged weather resistant design
- Powerful speakers ensure clarity under noisy conditions
- Hassle free installation
- MSRP: $179.95
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