Hold onto your headsets we’re going to talk about off road 2 way radios and which setups are best for ATV, dirt bike and UTV riders. We are going to specifically highlight a brand called Rugged Radios, a company dedicated to building communications hardware and accessories for off-road use.
This is a brand used by professional off-road race teams and their equipment delivers superior performance. That being said, their hardware is a little pricey, but it’s going to work in extreme conditions consistently. There’s no sense saving $100-$200 with cheaper hardware to end up not being able to hear anyone when you get out on the trail. We’ll also provide some cheaper alternative 2 way radio brands that can be substituted to work with the Rugged Radio hardware to keep costs down within a smaller budget.
Dirt Bike & Enduro Bike Setup
Here is an illustration of what the setup looks like. This is Rugged Radio’s MC-HX370V VHF single rider package. If you and a buddy are looking to purchase at the same time they offer the MC-C-PAK-2W which will save you some money. If you already have a radio get the MC-BASIC setup which includes most of the hardware you need to hook to your radio (jumper not included, make sure you add it).
Notice it comes with a nice handlebar mounted push to talk, “PTT”, button. Since the PTT is mounted to the handlebars this means you’ll have to disconnect it every time you get off the bike. A way to combat this is to mount the button on you somehow. This tactic makes it a little harder to make a transmission during technical maneuvers but it does allow you to continue transmissions while you’re away from the bike. It’s something to think about if you’re known to wreck a lot.
On a sport quad most likely you’re riding by yourself and you’ll use a setup just like the one described above for dirt bikes. If you’re riding double on a regular utility or a two up model there’s two options here.
One, both riders can have their own radios and you’d have the same hardware as if you were riding single.
Two, you could use an intercom, which is what most people riding in pairs will do. You still need one radio to use with an intercom if you’re in a riding party and the other riders have radios. Intercoms have limited capabilities on trails that are heavily wooded with hills, so it’s not recommended to just rely on intercoms when trying to communicate to other vehicles. On-road motorcycles can rely on intercoms because there’s limited obstructions to the signals…not the case off-road. If you don’t need to communicate to other riders and you only want to talk to your passenger, then just an intercom will do.
In most cases mounting a dash mount style intercom on a quad can be cumbersome and the best option is to use a portable intercom. The Rugged Ridge RRP150 is open mic intercom that runs off a 9V battery and can easily be attached to your belt next to a radio if a radio is also being used.
So, you have your radio (if applicable) connected to the intercom, then your in-helmet headsets plug into the intercom and if you have a radio a PTT (push to talk) button will need to be mounted on the handlebars.
Most likely in this situation you’re going to be connected to your significant other, so remember to keep all colorful thoughts of them in your head, even if you mumble their going to hear it…don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Side X Side Setup
UTV riders have the most options available because the cockpit allows radios and intercoms to be mounted on the dashboard. Plus, not all UTV riders wear helmets, it’s the simple truth, therefore the choice of standard headsets opposed to in helmet headsets becomes an option. The main factor that will determine what hardware is used will be the budget.
Again, if both driver and copilot already own radios then all that’s needed is a headset and jacks/cables; this will allow you to be able to communicate with each other and other drivers in a riding party.
If you only need to communicate to your copilot then you can use an intercom with traditional headsets or in-helmet headsets. You will then need to decide on a budget for an intercom. Rugged Ridges RRP150 open mic, portable intercom would be entry level. The next step up would be the open mic, dash mounted, 12V RRP350 intercom that comes with an option to upgrade with a DSP (digital speech processor) to enhance sound quality by blocking out background noise.
If you also need to be able to communicate to other party members along with your passenger then a radio, intercom, headsets and PTT will need to be installed.
Remember, if you’re riding with your significant other, keep all those colorful thoughts you don’t want them to hear in your head, even if you mumble their going to hear it…don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Radio Kits By UTV Model
Alternative Less Expensive 2 Way Radios (remember to get the right jumper)