Sena 10U Review – Bluetooth Headset for Shoei & Schuberth Helmets
Sena is clearly a leader in innovation for Bluetooth (BT) headsets and electronic accessories for motorcyclists. The company continually releases new devices that constantly improve motorcycle Bluetooth technology.
Over the past year Sena has released the 20S BT Communication System, which can link with their Prism camera; the 10C BT Communication System with built-in camera; the Handlebar Remote which is compatible with the 20S, 10U and 10C models; the Bluetooth Mic and Intercom which links with the Prism or the GoPro cameras; the 3S BT headset; an intercom for scooters; and more.
Of particular interest to me is the new Sena 10U, an internally installed BT headset now only available for the Shoei GT-Air and NeoTec helmets as well as the Schuberth C3 and C3 Pro. The Sena website mentions “Arai full-face helmets and more to come” but the three I listed are all that are available at this time.
Sena 10U Review – Features and Clarity
The 10U has most popular features in BT headsets today, including operation of your smartphone and its music, bike-to-bike intercom and FM radio. Sena claims new, advanced noise control and a more reliable wireless protocol, all wrapped in Bluetooth 4.1. I don’t know where they stashed the electronics that make it all work, but I suspect they’re built into the headphones. The Sena Headset App (for iOS and Android) “allows you to configure device settings, set groups of intercom friends, and access a Quick Guide. The 10U also offers the ability to pair with up to two mobile phones for convenient hands-free calling.”
Through my smartphone, the unit will make and take phone calls as well as read aloud and reply to emails and text messages. Haters can refrain from the usual comments about how having a BT headset will ruin the sanctity of their ride. I get that and, in truth, I rarely use these features, but during a recent ride to meet up with friends I heard the familiar ding sound of an incoming text. One button press and I had the phone read me the message and ask if I wanted to reply. It saved me from having to stop to see if this was a change of plans. For me, about 95 percent of normal usage is playing music from my library.
On the subject of music and clarity, this unit, as with all the latest Sena headsets, provides music quality at least on par if not better than the competition. They are not nearly reference quality and there is always some degree of wind noise, yet the Sena 10U puts out plenty of quality sound, and if I make or take a call my caller can’t tell I’m using this device.
Sena 10U Review – Installation (Shoei GT-Air)
Installation was easy and straightforward with the Shoei GT-Air. Simply pop out the cheek and ear pads and follow the instructions. On this model the earphones have tabs to match the two existing slots around the ears and there is no need for adhesives or hook-and-loop fasteners.
The antenna slides between inner and outer helmet shells, the battery tabs and microphone/on-off switch do the same and their respective mounting tabs align perfectly with existing connectors so when you snap the pieces back into place you are done.
Everything is pre-wired and the Sena Handlebar Remote control is already paired with the unit. It took me 15 minutes to install taking my time and making sure I got it right, with no tools, and I could do it again in five minutes. I didn’t try this on the NeoTec helmet but the manual describes the installation as the same as the GT-Air.
All one can see now are the twin rubberized switches that mount with the microphone and rest inconspicuously on the ledge by your left cheek, inside the shield. They are used to turn the unit on and off and adjust the volume, which one can also do using the included Handlebar Remote. All other functions are accomplished with the remote. The battery for the unit, which contains the indicator LED and charging port, is molded to match the bottom, rear edge of the helmet and looks OEM.
Charge them up and the headset is good for as long as you can ride in one day, or more, and the remote is said to keep a charge for weeks. Another nice feature tells you how much charge remains in your headset. Upon turning it on you will see one to four yellow blinks (four blinks means fully charged) of the light on the battery pack (near the charging port) before the blue light goes on telling you all is ready. The system will verbally announce that you are connected to your phone, another rider and/or the remote.
From the remote you may select phone, music (your playlist or Internet radio if you have a good connection and the bandwidth), intercom or FM radio with presets and a scan function. These features are about standard on most BT units but the fact that it is all hidden in the helmet, without a helmet wart, is really nice. One can even pair the Sena 10U with another Sena unit using the Handlebar Remote without removing one’s helmet.
Sena 10U Review – Installation (Schuberth C3 Pro)
Installation of the Sena 10U on a Schuberth C3 Pro was not much harder. In this case I had to remove the neck roll by pulling out a pin from the groove on one side. From there I unsnapped the cheek pads and was able to make the installation without totally removing the cheek pads and their attendant anti-roll off straps.
In this case I was required to put a hook-and-loop swatch in both ear locations because Schuberth does not have the slots as on the Shoei. One tip is to place the speakers all the way forward in the helmet’s ear indentation, which is larger than the speakers to allow for varied positioning. Most riders will want them forward over their ears. Try it and decide for yourself.
The battery – on the Schuberth model – will end up between the lower rear edge of the shell and the neck roll and can only be seen when you remove the helmet. This was a bit complicated from the illustrations in the manual and Sena has a video of the installation below.
Now matter which model you choose, visit www.sena.com, go to the page for that model and download the full user’s manual, which is not included with the hardware. Installation instructions are much easier to understand in this manual. While you are at it download the firmware update program and make sure you have the latest version. You can set your FM radio presets here or through your phone app.
Sena 10U Review – Closing Notes
I enjoy using the 10U in both helmets. The microphone is mounted to the side on a cleverly designed tab and avoids the need for a flexible, and bothersome, boom as in some other models. The functionality is about equal to many other units, the sound is excellent, and there is just something special, in my mind, to having it all built-in.
The Sena 10U Bluetooth headset retails for $299; for additional information, visit Sena.