Join Date: May 2009
Location: Iowa City, IA, USA
Chatterbox GMRS X1 BT or Autocom L-IW?
I'm looking to buy two GMRS radio bike-to-bike comm systems with intercom for my '09 R1200RTs that my SO and I ride. I've narrowed my search down to the Chatterbox GMRS X1 BT or the new Autocom L-IW Independence Wireless w/ Bluetooth system with Kenwood TK-3302-U16P GMRS radios. I'm having a difficult time choosing between the two options. The pros for the Chatterbox system are price and compact design, while the pros for the Autocom system are highest quality of design and construction. The cons for Chatterbox are the 2-watt radio power and the number of negative reviews I've read about the VOX system and other sound qualities. The big con for the combination Autocom-Kenwood system is the total cost at $1,400 or more for a dual setup versus $680 for two Chatterbox systems.
I'm leaning towards the Chatterbox system for the cost and compactness factors. I have experience with the Chatterbox XBi2 bluetooth intercom systems, and they work fine at very short distance (500 meter max. with absolutely clear line of sight between units). The sound is clear between bikes and the duplex intercom system is very nice. And, my Garmin Zumo 550 connects flawlessly and gives me very clear GPS voice instructions and cell phone communications at highway speeds. But, put a car between the two bikes at an intersection, and the bluetooth intercom is useless even thought the units are less than 30 feet apart. So, I'd expect a similar level of sound quality from the GMRS system with increased range and better performance through sight obstructions at close distances. Also, my take on some of the negative reviews I've read of the Chatterbox systems VOX and sound quality is that they are written by bare bikers wearing open-face helmets or full-face helmets with less than secure seals between the face shield and the helmet who expect acoustic miracles. My RT with its CalSci windshield is very quiet at all speeds, so I think many of the complaints would not apply to my setup.
From reading, it seems the effective range of the GMRS radios, whether 2-watt or 4-watt is about the same 1.5 to 2 miles, 3-5 miles under really optimal conditions. The Autocom system requires a physical lashup of the GMRS radio of choice with the base unit, and the methods of attaching the two items to the body is less handy than the Chatterbox setup. (I'd probably end up securing the Autocom-Kenwood system under the seat and powering it from the bike---another plus for the Autocom, but requiring a extended cord connection from the headset to the comm system.)
So, given the above, I'd like to hear from folks who have experience with either or both systems or who otherwise have 2-cents-worth to give on bike-to-bike comm systems in general or other options.
Iowa City, IA
2009 R1200RT - Titan Silver (His)
2009 R1200RT - Sapphire Black - Lowered Suspension (Hers)
2005 K1200LT (Sold)
1969 R69S/2 (My first bike. Long gone but not forgotten.)