On Saturday, June 11 in addition to a really fun ride, it was the official testing of our Collett Radios.
I had installed my radio last weekend, but I brought Jack's up to the trail to install there. In the morning, we sat down with all the parts and Jack and I installed the radio in about 10 minutes. The only "tool" we had...was some duct tape for the speaker wires in the helmet.
Once installation was complete, we adjusted the volume and VOX settings. We had a bit of trouble getting the speakers to work (more on that later), but after some wiggling they worked.
We initially adjusted the VOX setting to the LOWEST setting. Even at the Lowest setting, the Mic did NOT turn on accidently....even driving the ATV at 50 MPH across the gravel Loon Lake Dam! VERY VERY impressive. I would see NO PROBLEMS AT ALL on a much louder snowmobile....which makes sense, since the unit was originally designed specifically for snowmobiles. But the best thing about the VOX...is simply the ability to talk, without pushing buttons or taking your hands off the grips. Making the unit very safe to operate in any condition or situation. Need to yell car, while slamming on the brakes? Simply yell...CAR! Car! car! and the other rides will likely hear AR! Car! Car!
The controls and options are amazing. Inputs for speakers, mp3 players, cellphones and avalance beacons. Personally, I would NEVER plug my cellphone in....but hey..if you're really that addicted...it will work.
The battery...was fine. We started early in the morning...around 9:30AM and Jack and I finished (after looking for my camera) at 6PM. We did take off the battery at lunch...but essentially, it was on ALL DAY LONG...and no issues. For a weekend of riding...I would definitely recommend having 2 batteries, if you had no place to recharge.
The Mic. The mic is clearly the key to the unit. It works perfectly. We had No noise issues. Jack and I talked a few times at speed, and the noise of the bike in the speakers, was more of a problem than the clarity through the mic. At full speed, you definitely had to YELL....but the bike noise is more of a problem for the listener and his own bike, than any bike noise over the mic.
The VOX. It did take a little "pop" in your voice to get the unit to broadcast. It didn't take much getting used to...a couple times..I forgot, but once I remembered to just have volume in my voice on the first word...it was flawless. And the VOX kicked in quickly....if you said "HEY Jack.....blah...." You would hear "ey Jack.....blah" Or "TESTING" would be "esting". Really, only 1 letter was cut off....making the first word easily recognizable and really no need to repeat.
The cool part about the unit is...when you talk...you hear yourself in your own speakers. This makes is ABSOLUTELY sure on your part, that your voice went "out". A VERY helpful feature! I did forget a few times, would yell "Hello" to passing riders....and blasted myself. Now if I stop to talk...I unplug!
The only issue we had, frustrated both of us. However, I just got off the phone with Yvonne at Collett and she explained that we didn't plug the speakers in correctly. Jack and I both had issues with the plug into the unit becoming loose and not able to hear. I called Collett and Yvonne said....we didn't install the jack properly. She said it requires far more force that you think, to get the plug to install into the jack. The Rubber button part of the plug, clicks into the plastic circle hole around the jack plug itself. She press VERY firmly, and turn CLOCKWISE while presssing. She said once it's pressed in correctly...she's seen the unit get TWIRLED like a lasso or Roger Daltry's mic just from the connection of the speakers. I can verify, we did NOT press nearly hard enough. Once I did that...the problems went away...Yvonne was correct...it takes quite a bit of force to pop them in, and quite a bit to jerk them out.
Despite not knowing this about the plug....Both Jack and I were impressed with unit....we kept saying over and over...I can't believe BOTH units have defective plugs.....we were right...we had defective OPERATORS!
I would only caution....if you have 5 or 6 riders with the radio....to keep chit/chat to a minimum and save the radios for really important information...like dangerous conditions ahead...rider stopped...lost...pee break...etc. I could get a bit cluttered with everyone talking away.
Range has been the only semi-downside. When you have free line of sight, it's far...easily 1 mile. Where it gets shorter is curvey, switch back mountain roads. However, we recently went on a long 67 mile ride with 4 radios. The roads were so dusty, that we were spread apart by A LOT. But we had no problems, as we had them spaced within the 10 riders, so when a car came. The first rider would hit the 4th rider, who told the 8th rider, who would tell me. The system worked perfectly and the information was correctly received, even though I couldn't hear the 1st or 4th rider. So the range is a minor inconvenience.
How does it compare? Well we have all bought the Motorola Radio and Motocomm System last summer. They work "ok", in my opinion, but not perfect. The advantages of the Motorola system is that you probably have a bit more range. In addition, many other people have the radios. The advantage of that is, during an emergency you probably could find another person on them. The downside, is more people use them causing chatter.
The disadvantage of the Motorola system is noise! I can't tell you how many times engine and other outside influences caused the radios to make loud obnoxious noises in our ears. It was definitely annoying. We spent a lot of time trying to tweak them, but to no avail. It seemed the more radios we added...the more noise we got. If we have only 2 riders with them, it wasn't too bad. But once we got up into 4 or 5 riders, it happened all the time.
Despite it's $179 price tag....This unit GETS FIVE out of FIVE stars. Absolutely delivers EVERYTHING that it says. It has a 3 year warranty and so far in all my calls to Collett, the staff really believes in their product.
Collett has created a winner.
Collett Electronics Ltd.
90 Durand Road
Canada R2J 3T2