I am an ordinary guy who enjoys riding motorcycles. I love riding all makes and models. I love short rides, long rides, and multi-day road trips. I post reviews about motorcycle gear, motorcycles, roads, restaurants, sights, gadgets and more. The Interesting Facts and Trivia page has a new bit of history added each week. Be safe and enjoy the ride, Oz.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

You are coming through loud and clear: a Sena review

The Yamaha Venture I had for four months (until a lady decided to run a red light and hit me) came stock with CB/stereo.  With the help from friends my Yamaha FJR was fitted with a J&M communication/CB system.  Both worked well, but I wasn't sure I got my monies worth from the J&M.  Not because it wasn't great - it was a high quality unit.  I just did not need the communication with other riders (during the ride) as much as I thought I would.

I resisted the temptation to add anything to the Honda VFR and chose to listen to my music using earbuds and my cell phone.  It did not take long to discover I was unable to hear the music very well when riding at a "spirited" pace.  Quality moldable earbuds helped; however, cell phones can only crank out a limited volume. Limited volume gets drowned out during moments of "spirited" riding.

After research and visiting with fellow riders who own various communications/stereo systems I decided to purchase the Sena 20S.  A friend and I purchase a dual set at the International Motorcycle Show in Dallas in January.  He needed another Sena for his wife and we both wanted to save money. After some bargaining we purchased a pair for $400 total (taxes covered by the vendor).
Photo of 20s with antenna - photo from Sena.com
The Sena 20S mounts to the helmet easily and is low profile so it fits snugly on side of the helmet.  Weighing only 2.11 oz I don't even notice it when the helmet is on.
Profile view of 20S
The 20S small size does not upset the way the helmet feels.
The unit is 3.7 inches long, 1.9 inches tall and only 1.0 inches wide.  The size and weight minimizes any unbalancing of the helmet (I did not notice any) and there is no noticeable wind resistance.
When the main module is removed there is very little left on the helmet.
The Sena 20S comes with a claimed 13 hours of talk time, a bike to bike range of 1.2 miles in open terrain and an FM radio is built in the system. I have not tried the bike to bike communication yet, but my friend has and says the unit works great and the sound quality is crisp and clear.

I have answered and made phone calls with the unit and have been impressed.  The sound is clear and those on the other end of the phone conversation could not tell I was out riding.  The noise cancellation system works very effectively.  One friend observed that my voice was clearer than when I am talking through the Bluetooth system in my 2010 Ford F150.
Sena 20S
The unit comes with all you need including speakers for the helmet and three different microphones (options for full, 3/4 and 1/2 helmets) plus additional supplies to custom fit your unit (complete list).

Pairing the unit was easy and quick.  The operation of the unit is straightforward. The jog dial and buttons are easy to use even when wearing gloves.  I recommend spending some time on the couch wearing the helmet learning the functions and operations of the unit.

The system comes with an earbud jack.  I use high quality earbuds with the unit if I am going to be riding at "spirited" paces.  The earbuds reduce the wind noise as well as brings the music and communications straight to the ear.

Two features I like include the ability to charge the unit while using it.  If the bike has an auxiliary power port I can use the car charger while riding and using the unit.  This will be beneficial on long trips.  The Ambient Mode button is a nice feature allowing me to hear what is happening outside the helmet.  When I pull side to side with another biker I can use the Ambient Mode to hear what he or she is saying to me.  It will come in handy.
Photo from Sena website
There are other features I still need to try i.e. voice commands and speed dialing. This small unit is packed with quality and features.  I am really impressed with the Sena 20S and without reservation recommend the unit to anyone looking for a communication system.

My Moto Oz business partner is impressed and is buying a unit so we can communicate when I am leading our Moto Oz Beat The Heat Tours (Summer 2016 we are heading to Breckenridge, Colorado).

I also purchased the Sena Prism camera which can pair with the 20S and can be controlled with the 20S unit.  I will post review of the Prism later after more usage, but the preliminary impressions are very positive.


  1. I know Sena products pair well with smart phones, do they pair as easily with a dedicated GPS?

    1. I have been told the unit will pair with GPS, but I have not tried it yet.

  2. Nice review, being able to field calls (at least enough to screen them and tell them I'll call them back in a few after I find a spot to safely stop) would be nice. I wonder if I could use this to also retrieve received texts and emails. Must look into this. Thanks.