Just starting...comm systems, this is complicated!! - BMW Luxury Touring Community
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post #1 of 8 Old Feb 20th, 2009, 11:20 am Thread Starter
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Unhappy Just starting...comm systems, this is complicated!!

The title says it all. I'm just beginning to look at comm system for my 2002 LT. I have a stock OEM sound system with the optional BMW multi-cd changer...which incidentally will soon be replaced with an iPod interface (the ISBM71) as indicated here. I'm doing this because I just don't use the cd changer, and I don't like messing with (changing and carrying) cd's.

In terms of a comm system, the choices, options, details etc. are enough to make a fellers head spin. I've read more threads than I can count on this topic, so I figured starting one more wouldn't hurt...as perhaps there are others in the same boat as I.

As one who usually researches everything to death before committing, I will generally go with whatever product has the best opinions, reviews, and support. However, in the comm system arena, the opinions seem to vary almost as much as opininions about which oil is best! In short, there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of consistency...not even amongst the BMW LTr's. I recognize that much of this is determined by personal preference and desired options, so maybe I'm just looking for some coaching and/or validations of my observations and opinions.


Many of the folks that I ride with, have CB's. In my humble opinion, a CB seems like a better way to go versus FM-UHF (FRS/GMRS) radios. Not only does a CB allow you to listen and talk to your riding partners, but it also allows you to listen/talk to others too, and get local/traffic information. I understand that from a radio performance and privacy perspective, that the FM-UHF option is probably superior, but it seems from a practical standpioint, CB might be a better choice. Am I wrong in thinking this? Are there CB type comm systems that would allow for a future addition of a FM-UHF radio?

Wireless (bluetooth) versus wired

While I do have some devices that are Bluetooth capable, I'm not convinced that this is the way to go...at least for me. I happen to be one of those people that will NOT use a mobile phone while driving. Now, don't get me wrong here...I'm not getting up on a soap box about the issue. I just don't have any desire to make or take telephone calls while cycling. If I feel compelled to disrupt the Zen-like harmony that cycling offers me, to make or take a telephone call, I'm happy to pull over. I'm also not too keen on having to rely on re-chargeable batteries in my helmet. I'd probably either forget to bring my charger along on my trip...or forget to plug the helmets in altogether. It is for these reasons that I'm leaning toward the good old fashioned wired set up. Am I wrong here?..Is cordless/blue-tooth the best thing since sliced bread? If so, I'm all ears.


I'm basically looking for a system whereby I can;
  • Talk to my SO (driver to pillion) communication, without yelling over my shoulder.
  • Listen to my cycle's music system
  • Has a coulpe of auxilliary inputs (for my Garmin SP2610, and room to grow)
  • Talk to others in my riding group.

  • The Baehr system looks to be a fairly quick plug-n-play solution...but the price seems rediculous. I'm not against paying for quality, but is this system really worth almot $2000 when you factor in the cost of the helmet mics, etc. Any opinions?
  • I would like a system that is concealed somwhat. I don't mind seeing a couple of cords, or a PTT button. I just prefer NOT to have some large device clamped to my handlebars (like a J&M system), exposed to the elements, and inviting a thief to tamper with it.
  • My wife and I use flip-front helmets, so would be looking for helmet mic/speaker setup that is compatible.
Sorry to be so long winded. Having said all that...I'm all ears boys and girls. You replies and opinions are greatly appreciated, so thanks in advance.


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Last edited by Toolman; Feb 20th, 2009 at 11:23 am. Reason: added link
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post #2 of 8 Old Feb 20th, 2009, 1:05 pm
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Re: Just starting...comm systems, this is complicated!!

Your choices in no particular order:

1) See if you can find a J&M Intercom (BMW CommSystem originally made for 2002-2004 BMW K1200LT)

2) Autocom Pro M1 or newest version

3) Baehr ZBI-K1200LT

4) J&M Intercom (handlebar mount)

I believe these are the top of the line intercoms. You get what you pay for.

Best integration is number 1. Clean and factory look.

Ease of install is number 3. Takes 10 minutes to hook up the unit. You'll spend more time later routing cables/cords to where you want to plug into accessories.

Number 3 comes complete with headsets/mics. Retails $1,484.00 Blame the price on the exchange rate. It used to be $1,199.95 one and one half year ago. Not sure about number 2.

As far as CB all four can handle that. You will need to buy specific cables.

You can get boom mics for flip up helmets with all four.

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post #3 of 8 Old Feb 20th, 2009, 6:58 pm
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Re: Just starting...comm systems, this is complicated!!

I did one riding season with a Nady, one season with an Intraride, two seasons with a Baehr. My third season is going to be with the Baehr. Wife and I really like it.

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post #4 of 8 Old Feb 20th, 2009, 9:37 pm
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Re: Just starting...comm systems, this is complicated!!

Toolman; I feel for you. I too went through this with the RT, and am now going through it with my new LT.

Here is what I know.

- Its going to be over a grand; Cables, unit, other toys, electirical, etc..it adds up.

- I decided not to go with Bluetooth, as bluetooth stereo isn't ready for primetime yet.

- You'll want a gps with bells and whistles; Bluetooth / your XM radio, GPS, Phone all goes that way; Thats one port on the box (mono aux out and stereo aux in)

- You'll want your radar going into a port; Most likely mono out

- You'll want an AUX 2.5 mm pin out to push the sound to your speakers on the BMER; This is usually an option on the cable to the helmet, so you can use your own headset speakers. Instead, use this cable directly plugged into the BMW radio AUX in 2.5mm reciever; This way choose to route the sound to your speakers, or your helmet.

- You'll want 2.5MM stereo in; for your IPOD if you decide to push ipod sound to your headset as a backup (I know; your ipod will go outside speakers (i've got the same plug) Its just there for a backup device; maybe a cassette player? .

- As for the CB or 2way; problem; I'm working that now.
I have a single 2.5mm pin with ppt for the 2way radio; I'm trying to find out if that cable will work with CB's. If so, I'm set; if not, I need another CB cable that I'll run. You see, run the cables all at once, then plug what you need when u need it;

PS I went with Autocom; Works for me.


Last edited by davidpweis; Feb 20th, 2009 at 9:43 pm.
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post #5 of 8 Old Feb 20th, 2009, 10:45 pm
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Re: Just starting...comm systems, this is complicated!!


Dunno if you´ve checked the German AKE-system.
Wired or Bluetooth, they got it all.
Pricey? Yes. Working? Yes.

Before you decide, take a good look at their products.

Here you have the US dealers:

Cohesive Technology
David J. Falkenstein
323 Park Avenue
Keene, NH 03431-1555
+1-603 283 7624
[email protected]

Spoiled Biker
2321 Settlers Trail
Saint Cloud, FL 34772 +1-877 246 7187
[email protected]

Mike Hartsell
11049 Feathergrass Lane
Raleigh, NC 27613 +1 919 880 0758
[email protected]

And the AKE site:

I use the Bluetooth Headset 101.
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post #6 of 8 Old Feb 21st, 2009, 9:12 am
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Re: Just starting...comm systems, this is complicated!!

I'm only going to weigh in the on the CB & FRS/GMRS issue. I got a Midland handheld CB with my first bike purchase. I could always hear the truckers, and I mean truckers only, on the CB. I got tired of listening to continual cursing that seems so prevalent in that area of employment. As far as them hearing me with only the rubber duck antenna on the radio is totally laughable. For about $150 you can add the LT CB antenna into the mix, but you better make sure you get it grounded and tuned right for anyone to be able to hear you. Go to any rally and nobody carries their little CD for communications. Oh yeah, communications with everything working correctly is about 1 mile line of site. And since the communication technique is AM, unless you squelch things down pretty tight, it is noisy.

The folks that I ride with that want to have communications all have FRS/GMRS radios on their bikes. FM makes the communications quiet between transmissions. The signal distance between radios is longer than a mile and depending on elevations it can be over several miles. Plus alot of the folks at a rally, motorcycle show, or family events have purchased the FRS radios to stay in touch. It's how a bunch of us stay in touch with each other at CCR. Makes it easy to find your group if you separated.

This ought to start a fire storm on which is better, but you were asking for opinions. For me, its FRS/GRMS-FM radios.

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post #7 of 8 Old Feb 21st, 2009, 9:56 am
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Re: Just starting...comm systems, this is complicated!!

The Baehr should meet all of your needs and is a snap to install.

Even a all thumbs mechanical dope like me got it done in under 10 minutes. It is a plug and play set up.

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post #8 of 8 Old Feb 22nd, 2009, 3:25 pm
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Re: Just starting...comm systems, this is complicated!!

Before you decide on anything I recommend asking the following:
  1. Do I have to be "all-in"? Can I buy just what I need now and expand later?
  2. Do I have a relationship with the vendor? Will they stand behind their products?
  3. Does the person I deal with understand my needs? Is he/she one of us?
  4. Does it work as advertised?
  5. If Bluetooth is what you want then:
    1. Is the quality of sound as good?
    2. Can I swap batteries on the road?
I can only speak for AKE, but these are the questions that got me where I am now.

In the interest of full disclosure: I am the US AKE rep.

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