£303.99 (twin-pack until 31 December) | www.nevis.uk.com| 01425 478936 | Tested by John Milbank
For sheer ease of use, the Interphone F5MC is incredible. Turn it on and you’re greeted with “Battery high, Interphone ready. Intercom. Connected to phone”. Yes, it talks to you.
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The amount of verbal feedback the unit gives you can be changed in the settings very easily… Click the top button for “Setup”, then follow the prompts as the polite lady talks you through each option. I’d forgotten to pair my TomTom Rider with the Interphone on the way to a meeting, yet was easily able to do it all on the move, without taking my eyes off the road – it really is that simple.
I appreciate this ease of use, especially when I’m testing many different brands. Most users only need to recall what one intercom’s bleeps mean, but even so, I can’t praise the F5MC’s interface enough.
Each unit comes complete with a pair of speakers, a standard full-face lid mic, and a boom mic for open-face or flip-front lids. An adhesive mount and clamp-type bracket are also in the box. I’m using a ‘Pro Sound’ audio kit, designed specifically for my Schuberth flip-front lid (a Shoei one is also available) – the speakers fit exactly into the helmet’s lining, with a specially-designed boom mic. You could use the standard kit, but the Pro Sound does offer larger, louder drivers.
Pairing with any device is simple, and I find being able to listen to music streamed from my phone via Bluetooth certainly breaks up the boring motorway miles that some rides require. Music can also be shared with another rider, and I can easily answer phone calls, though voice-dialling will of course depend on your phone – my Android Galaxy S4 won’t voice dial when it’s locked, but will let me call the last number. My wife’s iPhone works better, but let’s not get into an Android vs iOS argument!
The built-in FM radio is a neat addition, and while reception can occasionally be a little hit-and-miss thanks to the lack of a large aerial, this is an RDS unit, so it looks for the station, rather than a frequency. This means long journeys are less of a pain to stay connected, and the Interphone brilliantly tells you what station you’re listening to… “94.5, BBC R4”.
The clarity is, as you’d expect, very good. At 70mph, with the C3’s visor open or closed, speech is clear and easy to understand. Flip the lid open fully, and clarity drops – speed really needs to be reduced to 60mph and below for clear discussions, though this isn’t how most UK riders will be using an intercom anyway. When a rider-to-pillion, or rider-to-rider chat is first initiated, there can occasionally be some background sound, though this disappears very quickly as the noise-cancelling sorts itself out. The connection can then be maintained throughout the ride, or easily turned on and off with a touch of the centre button.
A rider-to-rider range of up to 1300m is claimed, though this will depend on the terrain and other traffic – at Cadwell Park, Carli and I found that we really needed line-of-sight for a good connection at the hilly track.
The adhesive mounting bracket isn’t small, but I never ride without an Intercom fitted now. My only grumble is that the charging socket is proprietary, so you must take the Interphone USB charging cable with you on long adventures, but having said that, the port doubles up as an auxiliary input for wired audio devices. A talk time of up to 12 hours is claimed, but if you’re listening to music at full volume, you can expect about five hours before the battery’s flat.
A single unit’s RRP is £219.99, or pair is £379, but buy before the end of 2014 and prices are reduced by 20%.