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Rugged Radios

No more shouting and hand signals.

by Martin Hackworth

Photos: Martin Hackworth

Rugged Radios

Rugged Radios
     My thirteen year-old son, JR, just stepped up to his first big bike, a CRF250X. Now that he’s graduated to more difficult terrain and higher speeds I’m more anxious than ever to be able to communicate with him while we are riding with more than just hand signals.

     Enter motorcycle-specific bike-to-bike communication kits. Over a decade ago on the very first Tour of Idaho we attempted to use the then relatively new PTT motorcycle radio kits to communicate with each other. The kits were not up to the challenge. Half of the radios didn’t work after just the first day. We cobbled enough parts together to continue but none of the kits survived the trip completely intact. I swore off radio kits at that time as too expensive and too fragile to be of any use to trail riders.

     Fast forward a decade and the state of the art seems to have caught up. Rugged Radios supplies a vast array of kits for the entire OHV community. I recently ordered two of the RH5R kits directly from Rugged Radio’s website and my son and I have spent the last few months riding with them.

     When we first received the radios the motorcycle harness (a cable that connects the helmet intercom to the PTT button) was defective in one of the kits. This necessitated a week-long delay since Rugged would not send the replacement harness until they’d gotten the old one back for inspection. After receiving the replacement harness, which worked perfectly, we installed the microphones and earphones in our helmets, velcroed the PTT switches to our handlebars, clipped the radios to our KLIM Krew Packs and we were off.

     After three months we’ve determined these radios to be a very good value for the money. We’ve found the range to be good in places like the Mojave where line of sight is extensive and not too bad in the woods and mountains. In general if you are within a few hundred yards of each other communication is crisp and clear. Beyond that range some breakup begins to occur. At one point out in the Mojave we were separated by a distance of well over a mile and could still hear each other pretty clearly over the static.
     So far all of the connecting cables have held up well. Even though this particular model of radio is not waterproof it has worked just fine in the rain. Our only complaint is that it is difficult to find a channel without unwelcome interference (which tends to be very loud inside your helmet) except in the most remote places.

     In terms of bang for the buck, it’s hard to go wrong with this particular kit. Recommended.

Rugged Radios
Rugged Radios
Rugged Radios RH5R 2-Way UHF/VHF 5-Watt Radio Kit

Price: $255.60 on sale at Rugged Radios website

The Good: Hand signals are so easily misinterpreted (or not).
The Rad: Great for riding with kids or in groups.
The Gnarly: Unwanted interference will occasionally make you jump off your bike.

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