The Interphone F5XT Bluetooth Kit works out towards the top end of the headset market, running against the Scala G series and the Sena SMH10. I’ve just installed it and here’s my impressions and review.
Compared to its competition the F5XT has a chunky form factor and positive control buttons on the side. It’s size is actually a plus point, allowing easy handling with gloves on and simple clipping on to the helmet mount.
The inner speakers and boom microphone are fairly standard for motorcycle headsets. They have an inner jack to allow the choice between a fixed boom mike (for open face or flip front helmets) or a slim uncovered mike (for full face helmets). The cabling connection to the headset is robust and seems weatherproof. There’s also a handy looking tube of silicone grease to smear on the join for added reassurance. Good marketing psychology there.
The F5XT functions are exactly what you would expect from a developed manufacturer. Here’s the Interphone website specification list:
- Intercom with others using Bluetooth headsets® in the INTERPHONE F product range
- Cellular (also using gps bluetooth®)
- Satnav, gps bluetooth®
- Stereo music with a2dp profile and avrcp control
- Via cable with 3.5 mm jack devices
- New recharging system via 2.5 mm jack
In real life the important features for me are the high quality bluetooth technology (3.0, allowing a solid connection to my mobile phone for music and functions), and the industry unique remote handlebar control (much safer and more intuitive than taking your hand off the bars and prodding the side of your helmet around).
The control is secured on to the handlebar by three pronged screws (a special non standard fitting tool is included in the kit) to prevent anyone removing it when parked up. The real issue is positioning it so that it doesn’t obstruct the clutch lever and allows the left thumb to access the joystick easily.
The kit works well and sound quality is high. The positioning of the speakers is important; closer to the ear ‘oles is much the best position. Battery life is good and it’ll handle the greater majority of day rides easily. The handlebar remote allows me to adjust the volume and turn the RDS FM radio on/off. It takes a while to cycle through some of the spoken menus which can be a drag, however, I see this as a necessary evil to maximise safety. By listening to the menu and the spoken word options I’m not looking down at the handlebar/instrument area and I am concentrating on the road instead. Another real world limitation (eclipsed by the Interphone F5’MC’ series is the bluetooth connection intercom function only extends to other Interphone sets in the Intercom ‘F’ range. So either organise your riding mates to buy into Interphone or use the kit as a rider – pillion set up or just a solo connection. Pairing the kit with other devices and the remote control is very simple and the connection strength is very good. The range is also good from mobile to headset – I’m still exploring this but it looks like it’ll be good enough to allow me to walk off the bike in a petrol station forecourt to the kiosk, pay and retain the connection.
I’m happy with the choice. There are only a three clear market leaders in motorcycle bluetooth tech (Sena and Scala being the other two) and the F5XT has everything I need as a routine solo rider with a focus on safety and equipment durability.