So with the Annual Across Ireland run being this coming weekend and following the lessons of our recent road-trip around Ireland I was under orders to procure and install an intercom system for our long periods on the road. So were to begin?
Well, I started by crawling through pages of reviews/comments/opinions of various kit. I was looking at Bluetooth headsets, but they seemed a bit obvious stuck onto the side of a helmet like a large beetle! Also the manufacturers always referred to their units being 'shower-proof', which does not really suit my needs. So a more traditional option was sort out and every review seemed to point in the same direction, that being, Autocom.
So after downloading a few brochures I decided to go with the "Autocom Kit 200 Active-Duo". This seemed the best fit for my needs. Calling into a local dealer I soon had the kit back home in my garage. Now I also bought 'Part 1546', which gave the option of letting the Autocom to just draw its requirements direct from the battery, mainly designed for 'complicated' electrical systems. In the end I did not need it so will be soon returned to the dealer.
Taking the parts out to see what was what and going through the installation instructions both had me thinking this is cool but seems slightly daunting. In the end once I ran through the procedure and test fitted everything a few times it all went very well and rather smoothly. Just like any upgrade to your motorcycle, think through what you are going to do and test fit everything as much as possible while making sure you have everything you need. I had to put the operation on hold for a day to get a refill for my gas fueled soldering pen.
The choices for were to locate the Autocom on the Buell are numerous, other owners have mounted their Autocoms just behind the tail light, under the air box or simply (like me) under the seat. I choose this location since this is my first intercom and figured that I will be making plenty of tweaks. Keeping in mind that without too much effort I can locate to another position in the future. So with everything planned out I decided to draw the power from the rear accessory socket, which involved cutting the live wire leading into it and soldering in the Autocom live.
Getting to the back of the accessory socket required the removal of 4 nuts, carefully pulling it all out, then finally cutting and soldering in the Autocom. I took my time and over about 4 hours the whole project was complete, cleaned up & coffee made. I kept changing my mind about the routing of the wires but finally settled. The optional Buell airbox cover came in very handy as the Autocom cable is routed under it and tucked into the mesh pouch when not in use. The pillions wire I keep under the seat when not in use. As you can see in the photos below the position of the wires are easy to reach.
Fitting the headsets into the helmets were a little bit awkward requiring much trial & error to get just right. This was slow and I elected to do one helmet per night, mainly to learn from my mistakes! I was lucky that on the Autocom website there was an installation guide for my partners Schuberth C2 (though I still fitted my helmet first). Fitting to my Nolan 103 was fairly straight forward but again I just took my time and slowly worked through it.
So I have been using the kit for over a week now and I can say it was worth every cent! It is such a laugh being able to chat to each other, while I also have the advantage of an extra set of eyes. It is slightly weird having this voice coming from nowhere as with the Buell Ulysses XB12XT I hardly notice when my partner is on the back. Another treat is having some music playing away in the background. I choose not to use the phone function as I believe it to be a distraction.
The only downside has been that the wind noise on the motorway makes hearing the music very difficult and talking becomes shouting into the intercom. I have tried moving the various bits but I can not get the quality better. This does go against the majority of user reviews so I will keep trying. Though if I do not use my ear plugs then everything is much better but not wearing earplugs on the motorway is just not an option for us. Yet around town I have no complaints as everything is loud and clear. The main culprit is wind noise and with us both using flip-up helmets there is only so much we can do to cut it out.
The final test will come this weekend when we take part in the Annual Across Ireland, moving in convoy at varying speeds over a couple of hours. This is exactly what we wanted the kit for and hopefully we will get a few more long trips in before the weather turns.
Keep the rubber side down.