By Alan Tecchio
As an MSF RiderCoach I have worked with plenty of “returning riders” who took time off from their machines to raise a family. While I do not plan to take time off now that I have kids, I do recognize that my riding changed after my children were born. Suddenly I was less likely to ride in inclement or really cold weather and had become a more defensive and cautious rider.
When my daughter Annabella was finally able to flat-foot her feet on the passenger pegs, I knew what was coming next–heartfelt pleas to go for a ride together. Riding with a new passenger can be tough as it is, but when that person is a youngster, it can present even more challenges. For instance, new passengers have to be told how to look through turns and how to lean with the bike when the rider initiates lean in a corner. With young passengers making sure they are always holding on tight (in my case to a Buddy-Belt) is important as well. I also make it a point to ride with my Givi trunk to ensure she cannot fall backward.
You can go over some of these items pre-ride, hoping that it is remembered by the passenger or better yet… you can make sure you have a good communication system and use it to converse during your ride. I went with the Scala Rider system that was custom made for Schuberth helmets–The Schuberth Rider Communication System. The fact that it is integrated into the helmet’s collar assists in ease-of-use and once you and your passenger get comfortable with where the buttons are located, you are good to go (even with gloves on!)
With myself donning my trusty C3 Schuberth flip-up helmet and my daughter wearing a C3W (a flip-up specifically designed for women) we prepared for our journey by talking through the intercom system to make sure our volume levels were good. After doing my pre-ride check on our gear and on the motorcycle, we departed.
Once we were enroute, the benefits of the SRC system became immediately clear. If you’ve ever ridden with a passenger, you know that if you want to convey any thoughts to them, you can point at stuff and hope they understand your meaning or you might turn your head toward them to say something that they may or may not be able to hear (not a recommended technique under any circumstances.) With the SRC though, there are no such issues. You can keep your eyes scanning ahead, around and in your mirrors, all the while carrying on a conversation. Although the buttons are easy to navigate, you won’t need them unless you are switching channels to put your iPod on or some other wired or bluetooth device. Conversing is all actuated by your voice.
“So, what is being conveyed during these moto-conversations?” you ask? Well, things like, “Are you comfortable back there?” or “Are you scared?” or “Are we going too fast?” were asked. Of course from time to time I would make sure she was holding on tightly and I could coach her in real time how to look through a corner, in advance of actually going into the corner. What an absolute pleasure and from a safety standpoint, a huge relief! We would end up laughing together at things and of course I would point out all the stuff around us that as a road user (let alone a motorcyclist), you should be looking for.
When I asked Annabella for some feedback of her own regarding the SRC, she said, “It’s great to talk with you while we’re riding because if I want to tell you about something I am seeing, I can just say it! I don’t have to wait until we come to a stop.” Out of the mouth of babes…
In speaking with a friend who has just started to take his own daughter out on his bike without a comm system, I learned that he did not think it was a problem to ride and talk just by turning his head toward her a bit. My response was, “So you have to take your eyes off the road in front of you even if it is just for a few seconds to do that, right?” He replied yes, which led me to remind him that it only takes a second for traffic conditions to dramatically change. If you are not looking where you are going even for a split second, that could potentially become a very dangerous scenario in a very short amount of time. He had to agree and accepted my offer to borrow my Schuberth C3’s to try them out with his daughter. I’ll bet that after he sees firsthand the level of safety using a state-of-the-art helmet communication system like the SRC’s provides, he will be buying a set of C3’s himself! If you ride with a young passenger, you should absolutely consider doing the same.
Even if you do not ride with a child in the pillion position, if you ride with other riders, being able to converse, sing together, etc… transforms your whole riding experience and definitely takes it to a completely new level. On a recent 2,000 plus mile moto-odyssey I and three riding buddies were able to easily let each other know when we needed gas, were hungry or just needed to take a break thanks to our SRC systems. When we were tired of hearing each others’ voices, that press of a button on the integrated helmet collar switched the comm off and allowed for our iPods to be piped into our helmet speakers. Another big plus– Phone calls are prioritized so we could take calls without having to have our whole group stop which would have wasted precious ride time.
So from a safety standpoint, the SRC setup within the Schuberth C3 helmet is simply amazing and with inexperienced riders, it is in my opinion, absolutely crucial. From a regular user standpoint, it makes riding a motorcycle way more fun and allows for conversations to occur that would normally have to wait until you were stopped somewhere. And let’s be real here-who remembers every single detail of a ride once they have come to a stop? To be able to point out a great mountain range or even better–a distracted driver who cannot maintain lane position, enhances any ride on a motorcycle. Hell, it could even save your life! It has on occasion, already done that for me so I am definitely sold. You will be too if you choose to make this serious investment in your head and general well being.
But enough with the sales pitch. The point of this story is that the experience the Schuberth C3 and C3W helmets with SRC systems in place was a phenomenal bonding activity for myself and my daughter. When you see how fast kids grow up these days, it makes you realize you have to cherish every moment. Times like these are worth more than gold.
Click here for a video of Alan and his daughter riding with their Schuberth Rider Communication Systems.