Sena 20S
Riding your motorcycle is a lot more fun when you're in a group, being able to talk to eachother is adds an extra experience to your ride. Yelling is an option but there are more comfortable ways to communicate thanks to several brands of bluetooth communications kits. I recently bought the Sena 20S and will share my first hand experience.

Specs & Features

  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • Audio Multitasking
  • 2.0km intercom range
  • Universal (cross-brand) intercom
  • Voice command
  • Advanced Noise Control
  • Group intercom
  • FM radio
  • Remote compatible (not included)

Box content & installation

The Sena 20S comes as quite the complete package, almost everything you need is in the box when you buy it. When buying a standard kit, you’ll get the following equipment:

  • Sena 20S Headset Main Unit
  • Universal Clamp for fixation on helmet
  • Glued mounting adapter
  • Boom microphone
  • Wired boom microphone + holder
  • Wired microphone
  • USB charging & data cable
  • Audio cable (2.5mm to 3.5mm)
  • Cigarette charger
  • Microphone sponges
  • An assortment of rubber pads, speaker pads & fasteners
  • Small Allen wrench

Installation is explained in the manual and there are loads of videos on the interweb detailing how you can install it to your own helmet. I personally installed it on my Schubert C3 Pro without much hassle thanks to the Sena video and another video specific for my helmet. Once the base unit is installed the rest is pretty easy. Installation was done in about 30 min, including looking up the videos and unmounting the regular boom mic to change it with the wired boom microphone (personal preference).

Here below some pictures of how it looks on my helmet.

Sena 20S usage

Connecting devices

Connecting devices such as a mobile phone, a GPS device or a intercom system isn’t very hard (just don’t forget to read the manual ;-)). You can use NFC to connect certain devices but this will depend on whether or not your smartphone is equiped with an NFC-module. If not pairing can be done just like a regular bluetooth connection and once established the Sena 20S will automatically reconnect when it sees the device.

Sound quality

When you’ve installed the speakers in your helmet you can enjoy music and conversations without having to deal with earphones and trying to keep them in place while putting on your helmet. There’s also no need for wires but if needed you still can connect a mp3-player or similar device to the AUX-port of the Sena 20S. Sound quality is good especially at lower volumes, at high volume the music or sound can become distorted. However, Sena has thought of the audiophiles whom have better or other speaker/headphones available: there is a headphone jack/port available so you can connect your own speakerset to the device. This way you can enjoy the ease of use of the Sena 20S and combine it with the sound quality you want/like.

Microphone Quality

Sena SR10 with Motorola TLKR T80

Sena SR10 with Motorola TLKR T80

I’ve tested the microphone on several occasions: on a Triumph Tiger Explorer with high wind shield and on a Kawasaki ER6N naked bike without any

wind protection. On both bikes I rode with my chin up (thus having the most wind interference). Both people with whom i was talking (one on the phone one via Motorola TLKR T80 Extreme Walkie Talkie set) had no issues understanding me and were able to interpret everything correctly. There was some wind noise but it was just a nuisance.

I have not yet had the opportunity to test the device with another Sena communication product (besides the SR10 which i used to connect to the walkie talkie). I will update this section when i’ve had the chance.

Battery Life

The battery life is quite good! I was able to listen to music for about 6 to 7 hours while on my way to and from work and 20 minutes of telephone conversations without recharging. I have not yet had it die on me when in use, but I must admit that I have recharged it for safety reasons. I wouldn’t want it to die on me in the middle of a class now would I :-). It was also able to survive use during 4 hours of motorcycle classes without issues and held up during rainy and windy circumstances.

User Interface

The only issues/gripe i have with the 20S I have is that the UI is complicated. As Sena has done a great job cramming a lot of features in the product, switching between a mode and setting it up isn’t easy. I’d even go as far as to say that it’s almost impossible to get it working correctly and fluently without consulting the manual several times. I’m sure that the more you use it the better and faster everything will go but out of the box it’s hard to cope with.

It becomes especially apparent when trying to change certain things, setting presets and stuff like that that without the use of the manual and even the app you’ll be lost. I even had some small issues with the app not correctly syncing to the device having it forgetting my presets. However I’m glad that the smartphone app exists and it has had a positive effect on my usage of the product.

Conclusion

The Sena 20S is a great product with a lot of features, great build quality and a great mic system. It’s everything you want and need on a bike (when it concerns communications at least) and perhaps even a tad too much. It’s great for listening to music, calling the misses your running late (‘cos the weather is nice and you’re doing a detour for fun) or calling the gang to go for a ride.

However the Sena 20S has a few down sides as well, first off: the price. The 20S isn’t cheap but if you will be using a lot of it’s features it is worth the price. If you just want to use one or 2 common features there will be cheaper products. Secondly, the audio quality of the speaker can be improved, Sena has partially covered that by providing a headphone jack but better default speakers would please the general public a lot more than having to adapt a setup this expensive. Lastly the UI is difficult, however this is due to having a lot of features, it still is hard to master and may deter some people of trying out new features or even using the device like it’s meant to be.

All in all the Sena 20S is a great product with a few caveats, if you intend to use its features like it’s supposed to you’ll need some time to study how it works but other than that I don’t see much issues (on the contrary!).