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Can't Find a Decent Helmet Radio!

Nov 26, 2007
20
2
3
Logan, Utah
I ride with a group of three mountain snowmobilers. For the last 20 years we have used Collett radios. Now they are out of business we are looking for replacements. Thus far we have not found anything acceptable. Here is what we use it for:
  • To warn each other of danger. “Rock!” “Don’t follow me.” “Avalanche!”
  • To let each other know when we are in trouble or what we are doing. “I’m stuck” “Wait a minute I’m putting my scratchers down” “I’m right behind you.”
  • To find each other when we get separated in steep mountain terrain. “I went around. I’ll meet you at the top.” “Which way did you go?”
Here is what we need:
  • In-helmet speakers. We can’t be futzing around taking our helmets off to talk to each other.
  • Convenient and fast way to activate the transmitter. We don’t want to hear each other’s engines, or each other coughing or muttering to ourselves, but when we need to talk we need to do so quickly and easily. The best is VOX, so we can keep both hands on the handlebars. But VOX has to have an infinitely variable squelch so it can be dialed to exactly the spot where the engine does not activate it, but our voices (speaking very loudly) will activate it. Second best is a push to talk button, but it has to be a very easy to find button with gloves on.
  • At least a mile range in the open, and at least ½ mile in the trees and mountains, preferably more. The more the better. 3 miles would be great. We have been saved much grief in the last 20 years by being able to talk to each other when we are lost or separated. (If we understand correctly, this means it needs to be a "real" radio, not Bluetooth based.)
  • Rugged construction. We can’t be constantly replacing microphone booms that snap off from the unit when the helmet is put on or set down. Or dealing with units that fall off the helmet when brushed by a tree branch. Simplicity and lack of knobs that stick out and get hit by tree branches or other things is important.
Here is what we want but could live without if we have to:
  • Rechargeable internal lithium battery
  • All in one, on or in the helmet. No cord running from the helmet to the body or to the sled.
  • Noise cancellation to minimize engine noise when broadcasting.
Here is what we don’t care about, AT ALL:
  • Bluetooth. We like to hear our engines, not music. We don’t need to answer our phones. (We snowmobile to TO GET AWAY FROM our phones!) Besides, we are out of cell range 90% of the time. We just want a radio that works. Nothing else.
The Collett met all of the above criteria except the internal lithium battery and no cords (it had an external nicad battery with a cord). We are very sad that they went out of business.

After researching, we decided on the Chatterbox X2-Slim P. It had all the features we wanted. Or so we thought. After wasting more than $1,000 on three of them, we learned:
  • The VOX is useless because the squelch does not have enough range, so engine noise is always triggering it.
  • The external handlebar push to talk unit is a piece of trash. One of them would not even pair correctly and the other two do not work at all in cold weather.
  • The push to talk button on the radio unit is too small and hard to find with gloves.
  • The quality is horrible. Two of the three boom mics broke off in the first three rides. Twice we have almost lost radios because the clip that holds them on to the mount is weak.
  • The design is ridiculous. The great big knob gets bumped and twisted by anything. Just turning our heads to look behind us, our clothing will spin the knob and turn the volume up or down, or it will push the knob and change the channel. Walking in deep snow or shoveling will constantly set it off.
  • The volume is too loud in the headphones when speaking, no matter how far down we turn the volume for receiving.
  • Unreliable. We have had multiple instances where one of the units will stop receiving even though it transmits okay. Even when we are 5 feet away from each other.
Does anybody know of a sturdy, strong, reliable, waterproof helmet radio that broadcasts farther than line of sight and is easy to use? We can't find one.
 

summ8rmk

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Feb 16, 2008
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Chatter box x1 slim has worked great for me.
Have had them for 6+ yrs. I quit using them when i bought a new helmet and didn't want to buy new speakers....
The only problem i had was they fall off the clip so, i ran a piece of velcro around the unit

Sent it
 
Last edited:

kanedog

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Even a cop/security guard single earpiece would be good for listening
 

Hawkster

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Apr 22, 2010
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We have another brand and what I've seen so far is that they are getting more difficult . This software bunk is endless wifi upgrades that change functions and makes it difficult for customer service to trouble shoot . Distance is basically line of sight no matter what they say . The manufactures did not intend these for disappearing over a hill and threw the trees to grandmas house .

We've been running head sets for at least ten/fifteen years and the older simpler ones at least consistently worked , I feel your pain .
Good Luck :)
 
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