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Thread: Chatterbox FRS X2 Radio report

  1. #1

    Chatterbox FRS X2 Radio report

    On my recent motorcycle trip My two sons and I used Chatterbox FRS X2 radios to communicate while on the ride. I already had two from previous trips and ordered a third when all sons indicated they very much wanted them.

    (Aside. The third arrived the day before we left. I mounted it on a helmet to 'test' it and it seemed to transmit fine but would not receive. While both of my previous ones worked fine 'out of the box', a friend went thru two of them before getting one that worked so I figured my luck had run out and I'd gotten a lemon. As a last gasp effort I decided to review the manual despite being an 'experienced user'.... you would have thought that an experienced pilot with 35+ years of using aviation radios would have known to turn the volume up... DOH!)

    A little pushing and 'fiddling' was required to get the speakers and mic mounted in our helmets, but we accomplished that feat on three different kinds of helmets without to much adoo. A concern I have with such devices (particularly for new or novice riders) is that they would distract from the focus on riding. To get familiarised we reviewed the controls (volume, vox sensitivity, channel select, PTT [push to talk]), donned our helmets and walked around the yard 'communicating' (my neighbors already think I'm crazy from when I practiced with my hunting bow from the roof of the house to get used to shooting from an elevation...). A check and a 'go' so far.

    On D-day we departed and the handiness of the radios was immediately evident. Our previous practice paid off with a mimimum of fiddliness and "Red 2" notified me, "Red Lead",(youngest son, whose favorite color is red, decided that since all three of our bikes were red, we were "Red Squadron") that a stop at Radio Shack was called for. A couple of other previously unannounced "stops" were radio'd in and we finally got on the road. (My boys really got into the Red Squadron stuff coming up with names for other kinds and groups of motorcycles, cars, minivans, winnebagos mostly along the Star Wars theme which were not necessarily complimentary... I was kinda glad the folks on Harleys and Goldwings weren't up our channel... )

    The VOX feature has a fairly narrow setting that will activate the microphone with fairly 'forcefull' speech but not operate from wind noise. We found that at 55-60 mph this "sweet spot" is fairly easy to find, but at Interstate speeds using the PTT was the better bet. We did not find this much of a handicap. Having the microphone positioned directly in front of and touching your lips was also important.

    Since we would be camping quite often on the trip I was concerned about running the batteries out and had attempted to order extra batteries. The salesperson I talked to at Value-Accesories advised that batteries were on back order and suggested instead that I wire 12 volt dc charger onto a bike. We did that on two bikes, hooking the radios up at lunch breaks and when we camped and never ran out juice.

    The radios proved very usefull on the trip. They were great for the 'I'm hungries/tireds'; but more important it let me warn the rest about road hazards before they came up on them. The range was sufficient even in the mountains and I felt we got at least two miles. And when I moved behind my youngest on the ride, it allowed me to 'coach' him on errors he was making while he was making them and then give him instant feedback to his corrections.

    Durability. We mounted the radios onto our helmets and while I had concerns about the weight/drag of them there it turned out to be a non-issue. The manual tells you the units are not water proof but we rode thru a couple of pretty good showers with no issues.

    I have heard concern about the weight on your helmet in the event of a crash. Well we went to the trouble of testing out this event for you. When Seth crashed his helmet hit the pavement on the side the radio was mounted on. What happened was the mount broke off clean. The radio unit itself was lying in the road after the accident and I gathered it in as I was cleaning up debris. As I saw it lying there my mind registered a small "sh*t!, brand new radio toasted..." but then I noticed the 'window' still had all it's indications lit. Long story short, I put another mount on Seth's helmet and it worked fine.

    A note about compatibility. When I went to order another radio I considered the Chatterbox Multisport to save a few bucks. The salesman at Value-Accessories recommende against it because while in theory the radios are com-compatible, in use he said there were sometimes issues. I wasn't sure he wasn't just getting me to buy the more expensive radio but I followed his advise. While on the road we ran into a small group with two FRS X2s and one Multisport and they reported that the X2 could communicate fine but the Multisport sounded like it was slightly off channel coming in garbled and broken....
    “An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is an adventure wrongly considered.”
    ― G.K. Chesterton

  2. #2
    Contributor 8000 Posts! LDYAPXR's Avatar
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    I love my FRS-X2's! We have had them for over 3 years with no problem. Riley has one now on his helmet for when he rides with Bill too. Still sorry to hear about Red Lead's crash.
    Darlene The Goddess

  3. #3
    Contributor 10,000 Posts! Cindy's Avatar
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    Don't even ask me about our experience with all of the ones we had. Let me put it this way, they always let us down.

    I'm glad you had success with yours and I hope it holds.
    2007 BMW F650GS
    2006 Vespa LX150
    2003 BMW R1200C Montana *sold*


    Over 100,000 miles since 8/02

    ************************************

    Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.
    -Helen Keller

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