I have been looking to get a quality full-face helmet communication system for a while now. Sadly I was let down due to the high prices and limited features of some brand name devices. Some of the more popular Bluetooth helmet audio systems from Sena and Cardo can cost many hundreds of dollars.
For me, I was just wanting to listen to some music and maybe take a call while out riding. I ride a Yamaha MT07 with a full-face helmet. Some helmet manufacturers make proprietary systems for their helmets so you can get stuck using their expensive Bluetooth speakers.
For example, LS2 Helmets has cutouts and spaces for the Linken Ride Pal Communication System. While it is nice and hidden it is a bit pricey and not feature-rich.
So after talking to many motorbike riders and searching online forums I finally came across the BT-S3 communicator that ticks most of my boxes.
BT-S3 Motorcycle Helmet Audio System Review
This little device is changing the goalposts on how we communicate and listen to music while out riding. It was an impressive unit and it is one of the loudest helmet speakers that I have ever heard.
This BT-S3 Bluetooth headset replaces the famous Thokwok BT-S2 which is used by many happy riders. There is a design change to make the buttons more user-friendly from version 2, and you get the updated USB-C for faster charge rates.
After installation, I found that the base was slightly quiet. To fix this issue I positioned the speakers closer to my ears. I also turned up the base more in my audio application on the phone. I now ride with the sound at around 50% and it is crisp and loud. It is not high-end sound quality but for under one hundred dollars, it rocks.
The main unit is stuck to the outside of your helmet on the left side. This is done via a little clip or you can use the included 3M double-sided tape. I like to use the tape for a cleaner look. Just be sure to clean the area well before using the double-sided tape.
Now speaker placement is super important to get the best sound from the Fodsports BT-S3 communicator. The closer you can get them to your ears the better. In fact, you just about want them touching your ears.
Sometimes helmets will have little reset cut-outs formed into the foam lining. If they are too deep your speakers will be too far from your ears and will sound quiet or tinny with no base.
This is not the case with the BT-03 in both an LS2 and a Shoei helmet that I have. I used the included sticky strips to mount the left and right speakers into the helmet. Some hot glue holds in the wires nicely. You could also use electrical tape.
The BT-S3 also comes in two different configurations. These are a hard microphone and a soft mic. For full-face helmets, it is best to go for the soft mic system. It will be a cleaner install.
How to Install Helmet Bluetooth Headset
To install these Bluetooth helmet headphones should only take you around 15 minutes. Most modern helmets these days have removable liners. So you should have no problems removing the sponge pads.
Temporary locate where the ear speakers will go and tack them in with some blue tack. Try on the helmet and see how it fits as well as sound quality.
Once this motorcycle helmet sound system is in the correct position you can stick them down with the provided velcro tape or double-sided tape. Some helmets have speaker soft pockets. This makes installation easy as you just slide the speaker into the pocket.
Fix in the microphone and hide the wires inside the helmet padding. Sticky tape works well for a clean installation. The more I think about it you should tape down all of the wires to stop them from moving around and failing.
I chose to mound the control unit to the left side of the helmet. This makes it easy to use your left hand to change volume, answer calls and turn on the intercom.
Now is a good time to charge up the internal battery and go for a ride. If you find that the sound is a bit quiet then push the speakers closer to your ears. It really is that simple.
The video below shows how to install a BT-S2 into a full-face helmet.
Real World Use
I use a full-face helmet with a Motorolla Moto G7 Android mobile phone. Connection to Bluetooth was straight forward and it paired up easy.
I can play my favorite playlist with voice commands via Hey Google. Having a hands free audio system to receive calls is a cool feature. This helmet sound system will auto-connect after a few seconds of receiving a call. I’m not sure if voice commands work with an iPhone as I don’t have one to test.
Noise is not a problem even at over 100km an hour on the motorcycle. The Bt-S3 has noise cancellation technology so the person on the other end of the call won’t even know you are riding a motorcycle. I recommend purchasing the soft mic option as it has a smaller microphone.
The battery is good enough to play music for at least 3 hours. This is about the limit of my riding ability. I do put it on charge after every ride. The battery is a 450mAh lithium-ion so it will last a long time.
The buttons are large and rubber-coated so it is waterproof. They work well with my Dryrider gloves.
This motorcycle helmet sound system will pair up to 3 devices but you can only talk to one other rider at a time. The selection of another rider is just a press of the power button on the side. The full BT-S3 user manual PDF be found here.
- Wireless headset for Bluetooth enabled cell phone calls at a range of up to 10 meters from your phone.
- Bike-to-bike intercom for the rider, passenger, or two separate bikes up to 800-1000 meters depending on terrain.
- Pp to 10 hours talk time when connected to a smartphone. Pp to 8 hours talk time when using the intercom feature. Up to 300 hours on standby.
- Call out, call answer, call reject, call hang up.
- Receive a cell phone call automatically.
- Support audio transfer.
- Support the last number redialing.
- FM Radio audio.
- Enjoy music through A2DP or connect to a Bluetooth GPS for voice guidance.
- Control cell phone music through AVRCP : forward, backward, play, pause.
- Automatic switching among Bluetooth cell phone, intercom, stereo music.
- DSP echo noise cancellation and noise suppression technology, crystal clear voice quality is guaranteed in a high-speed environment
- BT-03 is water-proof and sun-proof. While the design is durable and tough.
- Audio cable option to connect MP3, GPS, Walkie-talkies, and many more
- Android and Apple iPhone compatibility.
- Able to connect to some Sena communication devices using the universal protocol.
- Bluetooth Version: 3.0+EDR
- Frequency: 2.4GHz
- Supports: A2DP and AVRCP
- Profiles: Bluetooth Headset and Hands-free Profiles with Automatic Detection
- Operating Range: Up to 10m for cellphones
- Battery Type: 450mAh Rechargeable Lithium Polymer
- Stand by: Up to 300hrs
- Talk Time: Phone up to 10hours Intercom up to 8 hours
- Charging Time: Around 3hours
- Power Adaptor: DC5V 500mA USB
- Micro USB-C charge port
- Fits all kinds of helmets: Full/half/open face
How to pair 2 BT-S3 intercoms together.
Make sure both Bluetooth BTS3 devices are off. Then press and hold the power button/intercom button together on both units. Keep holding until they flash blue and red. This may take around 6 seconds.
Short press the power button on one of the units and it will begin to search for the other Bluetooth audio system and pair up automatically.
In my opinion, this is one of the best motorcycle Bluetooth headset for music and voice calls. Value for money, it can’t be beaten. Its price may be cheap but the features are high end.
I just wish the walkie talkie broadcast was to all riders just not the one you have selected. But it is just a press of the button to select different riders so it is not a big deal.
You can also use it while out skiing or snowboarding. Either connect it to your ski helmet or use it in your beanie. If using the helmet audio system in a beanie you will have to use fabric tape to secure the wires.
Put the money you save into other riding gear or upgrades for your motorcycle. Now you have to decide if you want one just for music and phone calls or do you want to buy one for a fellow rider or pillion passenger.
Be safe and maybe I will see you out on the road one day.