I was on a long ride out West and had gone days just with ear plugs listening to nothing but the desert air. Then I used my S-Plugs to listen to my music on my iPhone and finally I used my Bose Noise Canceling Ear buds. All three left me wanting something else. (I've reviewed the S-Plugs and the Bose on earlier posts.) After a couple of thousand miles I can honestly say that just using the ear plugs is okay, but eventually you'll get tired of listening to nothing at all. The S-Plugs are good, but don't block much of ambient noises, and the Bose ear buds are just a bit too bulky to wear under a snug fitting helmet. That's not to mention the fact that they are scary quiet, almost too quiet for safety purposes imho.
So as we pulled into A&S BMW in Sacramento, California I noticed on one of their displays the Sena SMH10R "Low Profile Motorcycle Bluetooth Headset & Intercom" box and grabbed it to just read, not buy. One of the trusty clerks noticed that I was looking at it and gladly offered to open the box and show me what it looked like. I must admit that I was impressed with the size which is much more sleek and slimmer than the previous models. I had thought of getting the Schubert helmet with the communications system built into the collar, but that would set me back about $900 so I decided to buy the Sena unit.
The install is very simple and I did it myself while I waited on the other guys to finish their business. There are three main components to the system: (1) speakers, (2) Control Unit, and (3) battery pack. The two speakers are fairly flat and take almost no space in the helmet. They're secured by some very good velcro strips and can be moved should you like to reposition them. They also come with some spacers should you desire to get the speakers closer to your ears. The microphone boom is easy to install and it comes with an alternate 'mic' which is great for a full faced helmet (non-flip-up). I like how sleek it looks and may try to use it on my flip-up helmet. The Control Unit fits on the outside of the helmet approximately where the left ear is. The battery pack can be placed in many different positions, but I placed my on the rear of my helmet about two inches above the bottom. All of these components are connected by cables which have plugs unique so that it's impossible to plug the wrong cable into the wrong socket (dummy proof).
As far as performance I would rate it as very good. Once I figured out how to use it and how to move between features it was a snap to use. The sound quality of the speakers was very good. I wore my ear plugs and still could hear the music without any problem. Without the ear plugs the volume was too high and I had to lower it. Of course, wearing the ear plugs is a personal preference.
I'm not too sure how long the battery runs, but I believe it's about eight hours. I ran down the battery twice, but that proved to be no problem since the box contains a USB port charger that plugs into the control unit and charges the system as you ride.
As you can see by the picture the unit is capable of many things. It has 3.0 Bluetooth and it can do four-way bike-to-bike conference intercom conference; Phone and Intercom Call; and GPS connection. I used it to listen to music and to make/receive phone calls. I was on a conference call at a high rate of speed and I didn't have any problems hearing or speaking during the call. I once connected with my BMW Nav V GPS unit to hear turn-by-turn directions, but opted to listen to uninterrupted music instead.
The control unit is sleek and it took me some time to get used to where the "+" and "-" buttons are and the central button. At first they seem too close together, but after some time in the saddle it came fairly easy to know which was which.
I've just put a couple of thousand miles with the Sena unit installed so I can't give you a long term use opinion, but for the time I've had this unit it has been a pleasant surprise. I'm glad I finally got it.
I probably placed the battery too high on the rear of my helmet, but I wanted to keep it off those ridges and have it snuggly on the helmet. The battery will slide off the base, with an upward motion.
This is the neat flexible mic that is used for full face helmets (non-flip-up), but I am going to use it on my Shoei anyway and will report on how it works.