It was a winter’s day and I was heading down the Hume Highway. The music softened and the phone started ringing.
“Hello, can I help you?”
“Is that Chris?”
“Yes it’s me.”
“It’s Phil here, how’s it going?”
“I’m currently riding down the Hume highway. Hey, what does it sound like?” “Yeah, it’s not bad, a little bit of wind noise….”
So you can talk on the on a mobile phone while riding your motorcycle.
I have two points of view on using mobile phones while riding a motorcycle.
Only if I have to and if it can be done safely.
Using the iPhone telephone application should only be limited to receiving calls. Trying to make a telephone call on an iPhone while Motorcycling is a dangerous activity. Don’t go there and don’t forget you can put a phone on voicemail and not answer it at all. This method is a viable and the preferred option.
I want to talk about how to receive telephone calls while motorcycling using an iPhone.
Before we find out how to receive calls we need to look at a couple of important matters.
- The laws of the road
- Getting the voice communications to and from the helmet
The laws of the road
Most motoring laws in countries advise that you can only receive and make calls on a mobile phone if you have a hands free kit installed in a car.
If not Mr. Police Officer will pull you over, impress on you your idiocy and hand you a fine for the motivational talk. It’s really dumb to talk on a mobile phone and drive at the same time unless you have a hands free kit. Why, because it’s stupid and dangerous to yourself and others, Watch this!
|[youtube width=”250″ height=”170″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQg5pYJSMjA[/youtube]||[youtube width=”250″ height=”170″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aPlnNaHGZY8[/youtube]|
So what about using a mobile phone on a motorcycle? The same rules apply.
Where I come from in the Australian Capital Territory in Australia the law states…
It is an offence to use a hand held mobile telephone while driving a vehicle. If your vehicle is not fitted with a hands free connection, you cannot legally use the telephone while driving or while waiting at an intersection. You must move your vehicle to a safe location, stop and turn off the vehicle before answering or making a call. P23 ACT Road Rules Handbook
What the law says and what people do are sometimes directly opposed.
Note! Recently in Cambodia I saw several people holding a mobile phone to the ear and talking, masterly done on a Honda dream at 50 km/h. Check out this video for some funky riding and texting.
|[youtube width=”250″ height=”170″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EmpX4jCpbDI[/youtube]|
Getting voice signals to and from the iPhone to the helmet
There are essentially 3 ways to do it and they all require using a hands free facility. There are two primary types of communications for helmet hands free options.
- Wire to the helmet
- Bluetooth Wireless to the helmet
Option One – earphone headsets worn in a helmet
Earphone headsets usually come with the purchase of an iPhone, the white coloured cable with two ear phones, microphone and answer switch. Alternatively there are a number of after market options that can also be used. See the advertisements at the bottom of the page.
This option only works effectively with a full-face helmet, unless of course, on an open-face helmet, the microphone is mounted on a stalk that is positioned in front of the riders mouth.
To make this option work effectively I used a headset that has the following:
- Plenty of length of cable between the earpiece and the microphone. This is needed, as it allowed me to attach the microphone in the front area of the helmet near where my mouth is located for effective voice pick-up.
- A phone call activation switch. These are usually attached around the microphone or further down the cable
- The microphone is attached to the helmet using Velcro.
Also, I needed to be able to press the microphone button with my left hand to accept the call.
How I mounted a microphone in my helmet
- I bought some Velcro from the hardware store, male and female that is backed with adhesive.
- I mounted one piece of Velcro (female) to the inside helmet, around the area where your mouth is located.
- I took the Microphone and mounted the (male) Velcro to the microphone so that the Velcro backs to the rear side of the microphone, this is so it will attach to the female Velcro.
- I tested that the microphone fits into the helmet and attaches to the Velcro mounted in the mouth area of the helmet.
Testing (not riding)
Before you ride off into the wild blue yonder, make sure you do a series of tests to see if you are comfortable with receiving telephone calls. To do this have the motorcycle parked and the engine turned off.
Here’s the test the you would conduct
- Fit compatible earphone headset to your ears
- Put on your full-face helmet and tighten the helmet strap as you normally would for riding
- Now attach the microphone to the inside of the helmet to the Velcro
- Connect to the phone
- Have a caller ring you on the phone; answer the call using the hands-free function talk and make sure the communications are clear and work
- Press the hands-free microphone button to end the call, normally on the road let them hang up and the call should end.
It’s important to make sure that everything is comfortable and the call could be taken easily.
First riding test
Before conducting your test run through this procedure with the test caller who will make the calls to you
- Pick a test road that is isolated with little or no traffic and has mobile phone reception. Go to the test road to conduct the rest of these tests.
- Park on a safe area on the side of the area
- Go through the static riding test without doing point 6.
- While parked on the side of the road and talking to the person making the call, turn on the motorcycle and ride off. Keep talking to them and ensure you can communicate with them. While performing the test ride, get them to hang-up.
- Continue riding and have your test caller call you back. Test operations such as answering the call by pressing the answer button.
- Now go through the test again riding at a slow speed to check to see that you can access the switch while riding safely, and that you can communicate to the person making the call.
If this test goes well organise the second riding test.
Second riding test
Before conducting the second test ride:
- Pick a ride time and area (this could be a highway with 20 kms of open road) to conduct the test. Go to the test area to conduct the rest of these tests
- Have the test caller phone you at an agreed time
- While riding have your test caller phone you
- Test operations such as answering the call by pressing the answer button and talking to the test caller
- Have the caller hang up and call you again
- Run through the tests again.
Open face helmets
The only solution I am aware that works for this purpose is the solution made by Parrot. It has a hand switch that’s mounted on the handle bar with a headset that seems to mount to an open-face helmet.
I have not tested or know anything more than research on the website about this product.
Option 2 Bluetooth Headsets
Firstly, Bluetooth is a wireless transmission protocol that allows communication between devices at a maximum of 5000 yards. It is used on things such as mobile phones, keyboards, and computer mice.
There are several Bluetooth helmet sets available on the market that come with intercom sets that allow you to communicate with a pillion rider or another rider.
Option 3 Integrated Communication sets
These are the perfect solution for the all integrated motorcycle communications packages, they are an intercom system, a platform that connect to two way radios, and Bluetooth devices. These may be able to be used with the iPhone. I have had no experience with these devices. Further investigation can be found at:
How to receive calls using the iPhone while riding
Disclaimer: Answering telephone calls on hands-free unit is a high risk activity fraught with danger. I don’t recommend it to others.
However, I am not personally impartial to answering the phone while riding if the following criteria is observed:
- I use a mounted earphone and microphone in the helmet so it’s hands-free
- I only use it to receive calls
- There is an easily accessible switch to answer the call
- I have tested that the equipment all works while the motorcycle is parked and stationary
- I have fully tested it in a riding environment
- I pull over to the side of the road to continue the conversation in a safe environment (off-road car park, truck stop, etc)
I speak from experience of being an ex-truck driver and bus/coach driver. Driving and talking on two way radio equipment is a distracting from the main purpose of driving. Use it as a last resort. If it was considered dangerous in that environment, how much more dangerous is in a motorcycle riding environment.
I hope this gives you some ideas of what’s involved in using the iPhone will riding.
- It is a high-risk activity using a mobile phone while riding, it is not recommended, the preferred approach is put your iPhone on airplane mode so you can’t receive calls.
- If you do need to do it, only receive calls.
- Only do it using a hands-free facility