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Designed For The Lone Wolf: Interphone U-Com 6R

Photo credit: ZA Bikers

To buy, or not to buy? This is the question many of us motorcyclists have faced at one point or another. This time we ask ourselves, should we invest in a motorcycle intercom system? The question is to some extent objective, but let’s face it, it’s largely a game of opinions, safety and convenience. Over the years the bad connotations of intercom systems have been left to dry and now they are no longer seen as motorcycle ‘e-bling’.

I haven’t always given the intercom system a green flag, only after breaking out of my motorcycle ‘purist’ shell have I given it some thought and I’m glad I did. The thing is, not all motorcyclists love riding because of adrenaline-based activities, some aren’t even bothered as to how a motorcycle might make them feel, my point is our dopamine-enriched motorcycling lives are split into so many interesting facets and even then some people commute on a motorcycle just to save money.

Photo credit: ZA Bikers

One thing is for sure, riding with an intercom system replaces the need to use the whole motorcycle sign language book and then some. While an intercom might not enrich the purist or the enthusiast’s means of enjoying 2-wheels, it allows so many riders to have a safer, more convenient, peaceful ride and it also allows them to connect with fellow travellers and loved ones whilst on route.

With the recent upgrade to my long-term and feature-heavy Shark Skwal i3, I thought it was time to join the “Com System Riding Association”. With so many options, it is easy to get overwhelmed and buy the wrong intercom system. There are three questions one should ask themselves before swiping their card; How many people do you typically ride with? What range will suit your group or following distance? Do you or do you not want a hands-free system?

Photo credit: ZA Bikers

Answering these questions myself, I then had a look at Langston Motorsport’s Interphone U-Com range. Interphone has a brilliant range to suit the needs of all types of riders, with their top-of-the-range U-COM 8R, middle-of-the-range U-COM 7R and entry-level U-COM 6R. I’m the kind of rider that prefers to ride solo or with one other rider who is capable of travelling at my pace, otherwise, my only other riding partner for the long haul sits pillion.

My criteria for an intercom: A decent range of at least 1 km, needs to connect to only one other rider or passenger and simple to use old-school controls (no hands-free).

Photo credit: ZA Bikers

This welcomed the U-COM 6R from Interphone and with it, three ticked boxes. Although “entre level” it’s no entre level intercom in its styling, functionality or design. The ‘6R’ is slightly chubbier than the 7R and 8R but has the same layout and design as the 7R. The 7R has the upper hand in connecting with four other riders compared to just one on the 6R. Otherwise, they are very similar and connect via traditional Bluetooth (daisy chain) and are both running 32 mm HD speakers. All three units are rated IP67 which means they are waterproof and dustproof—this was tested many times in the last few rainy months.

The 8R takes things to the next level with hands-free voice operation, connecting up to 25 riders, bigger 40 mm HD speakers and increasing its range to 1.6 km vs the 1 km on both the 6R and 7R. The 8R also uses the mesh system instead of the daisy chain link which means if one rider disappears there’s no need to stop to reconnect the system. The best way to visually explain it is to picture the daisy chain working in series and the mesh working in a web of connections, connecting individually to each rider which allows the system to reconnect automatically.

Photo credit: ZA Bikers

I have been riding with the 6R for the last few months and I must say I have gotten used to all the function buttons without any real struggle (even with gloves and without looking). You’ve got your volume buttons on either side of the com, your phone call button, rider connect button and the on/off button all located nicely spread apart in the centre of the unit. If you do struggle you can connect to your motorcycles TFT or you can make changes on your phone via the Interphone Unite app. Interphone gives you plenty of options for adjustment, but I’m more than happy with the traditional method.

Photo credit: ZA Bikers

Fitting the com unit is pretty straightforward, you’ve got a clip mount and an adhesive mount. On mine, I went for the clip mount as it fits easily on the Shark. For the interior of the helmet, you’ve got the 32 mm HD speakers that get placed behind the cheek pads and two options of microphones are available depending on whether you ride with an open or closed face. It’s a 20-minute job if all goes well.

Photo credit: ZA Bikers

In use on varying motorcycle types, I noticed that the 6R works exceptionally well on touring and adventure bikes, but even on my naked and sports bike, the speakers are clear up to 110 km/h. For someone like me who hates traffic and is not fond of the daily commute, having some music or a podcast playing in the background just relaxes the soul.

Photo credit: ZA Bikers

A nice feature on the interphone is that your music will automatically pause once a call comes in or when Google Maps has her say. The intercom still allows riders their freedom, but without missing out on the small things. If you are just using the 6R in its intercom mode you should have 15 hours of battery life before the battery is drained and a good 8 to 10 hours of music, podcasts, calls and intercom action before the battery dies. On the back of the com, you will see a waterproof covered Type C charge port for the 6R.

Photo credit: ZA Bikers

At the end of the day for just R4,000 at your nearest dealer, I think the Interphone U-Com 6R is a great investment for the lone wolf. If you are looking to unlock a few more goodies the 7R in my opinion gives you the best bang for your buck, but if you ride in mass on the weekends and want to connect to other devices like a Senna system the 8R is the way to go.

Bjorn Moreira
Bjorn Moreira
My name is Bjorn Moreira (Senior Editor at ZA Lifestyle) and I always long for the next adventure. Why yes this may be a problem, but I’m what you call a #LIFEAHOLIC which I have been since my very first breath. My passion leads me to enjoy capturing memories on camera, riding motorcycles, cycling and spending as much time as possible in the great outdoors.
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