Initial impressions of J&M BT-03 Wireless headset for use on new 2018 Honda Goldwing

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  • Initial impressions of J&M BT-03 Wireless headset for use on new 2018 Honda Goldwing

    Hey all. I thought I would offer my initial impressions of the J&M BT-03 headset which I just purchased and will be using on my new 2018 DCT GW Tour. But first, a little background....

    I am completely new to the wireless scene and the new GW has prompted me to "cut the cord". Being clueless, I naturally did some research...and quickly got overwhelmed...Sena, Scala, J&M....20s, 20sEVO, 30K.....argh!!! What I learned though after wading through all the features (and reviews where available), is that it really depends on HOW you intend to use your headset. My motorcycle posse uses CB radios, so I will be getting that with the new bike. The significance of that of course is that I do not intend to use the headset for bike to bike comms. So...where for example, the Sena 30K touts a 'self healing' mesh network of up to 16 bikes...while interesting, is of no significance to me. Bottom line is that I couldn't care less about bike to bike comms with my wiresless headset. But I was seriously leaning towards a Sena 20S until I dug a little deeper...

    First off, I make no commission from John at J&M! In researching the Sena 20S I was summarily disappointed in their customer service. I called them trying to ascertain whether they would be at the NYC IMS show in early Dec. Was told "oh that's a marketing question." "ummm ok, can you send me to marketing?" "umm no, they only have an email"...I finally get in touch with their marketing people and am told "oh thats a sales question". Then get told that they (Sena) won't be at the show but an "authorized vendor" will. "Who?" I ask (wanting to be able to call them to set up a purchase at the show potentially). "Oh we have no idea". Argh! Fast forward to the NYC IMS show where I personally meet John Lazzeroni (the "J" in J&M). He was manning his booth with one other guy and my buddy and I had a long chat with him. We had just come from the Fit Ear booth where my buddy and I had just purchased brand new (expensive) ear buds and were disappointed to learn that the J&M BT headset did not have a port to plug in earbuds....BUT WAIT...

    John says "Well, I can do that...wouldn't be hard...just have to...(and then he drifted off into a self technical chat LOL)".

    Bottom line is that I sent my Schuberth C3 Pro helmet to his shop in Arizona and he installed the BT-03 unit with the pigtail to receive the earbuds. John's 1) Willingness to go the extra mile to accomodate a customer by customizing his unit for our needs; 2) Personal expertise in being able to do this; and 3) Promise that if this feature were integrated into the existing BT-03 headset (or BT-04 etc) at a later date, that he would remove our existing units and replace it with the new updated unit at no cost...sold my buddy and I on the BT-03. Further, we were able to "test drive" the unit with Johns several demo helmets. And the sound quality was excellent. Albeit, not riding, which I haven't done yet and will report back on later.

    So I just received the helmet back and here are my initial impressions:
    1) Unit is rugged, compact and straight forward. There are only four (ruggedized/rubber) buttons - The intercom, Volume Up, Volume Down, and the "multifunction" button (which is labeled BT-03).

    2) Initial pairing (after reading the brief instructions) was simple. To turn on unit, press and hold both the intercom and BT-03 buttons simultaneously until the BT-03 button flashes (you will hear a voice output telling you the unit is on). To Pair (which I only did to my Iphone so far), simply make sure your phone's bluetooth is on, then press and hold the BT-03 button til it flashes. In less than two minutes out of the box, I had the unit on and paired with my phone. Using Siri, I voice commanded a phone call to my buddy (i.e. "Hey Roger") and we were talking with excellent clarity from the unit (I had the helmet on). I haven't done this, but I'm pretty sure I could have pressed the intercom button momentarily to wake up the phone if I hadn't used Siri.

    3) The sound quality was really good. As stated, I haven't ridden with it yet, and haven't paired it to my (as yet non existent) 2018 GW. But the music (pandora from my iphone) and the phone call were both excellent.

    To show you that I did do an unbiased assessment on the Sena and J&M units here are some Pros and Cons.

    Pros for Sena:
    - I like the ambient button that allows you to hear "the outside world" with your helmet on and ear buds in (such as at a gas station). I imagine this feature would be very convenient at said gas station talking to buddies or a toll booth, etc.
    - The Sena unit is ready to accept earbuds out of the box.
    - The sena unit can pair more headsets (i.e. your riding posse) than the J&M (which allows for pairing with up to 3 other headsets). If your group is all "wireless" this may be a significant Pro for you.

    Cons for Sena:
    - Customer Service was really pretty awful. It seemed like the place was being run by a bunch of kids with no parental supervision! Right hand not knowing what the left hand was doing for example.
    - Poor Performance in Rain - there are reviews of these units having connectivity issues in inclement weather (i.e. the unit shuts down to protect itself in the rain). There are those who have indicated they have not had this problem. But there are others who adamantly pan the units performance in the rain and complain about Sena's indifference in their response to these complaints.
    - Design - for ME, I don't care for the design of the Sena units. They seem too complicated to me - with jog dials, flip up antennas (which allow for water intrusion) and a potentially frustrating problem if you aren't careful with removing and replacing the unit (which snaps into a clamp permanently mounted to the helmet). If you aren't completely aligned you can damage the mating between connector pins, and then you're in trouble.

    Pros for J&M BT-03
    - Customer Service! I now actually have met John Lazzeroni personally. He personally did the install on my helmet (as it was a custom job with the aforementioned earbud pigtail). His desire to make us happy (as some of his initial 2018 GW "launch customers") was evident. He offered (and did) a custom solution for us, and then offered to update the unit at a later time for no charge if additional features were incorporated. Now that is really something!
    - Cost - to be fair I had a pre-existing J&M Elite Series corded headset that John was able to re-use the speakers and microphone on, but this custom job including return shipping was $199. That was with a 25% IMS discount. But that is (slightly?) cheaper than a comparable Sena unit (which would not allow for re-use of components).
    - Design - I really like the design of this unit. It is compact, simple, and (remains to be seen but confident of it being) waterproof. Simple is always better than complicated in my opinion. Four simple rubber buttons. No jogdials, flip up antennas or 'wrong way' flaps that cover charging ports and allow another point of water entry. This unit IS a permanent install which I kind of like, but you may not. That means, at the end of the riding day, you need to bring your helmet inside to charge. Since I do this anyway, I like the design. No mating/connection/bent pins to worry about.

    Cons for J&M
    - Honestly, so far, for me, none really. The cost is pretty good. I like the design. Do I wish it had an "ambient" feature? Yes. Have I ridden with it to test the sound quality at highway speeds? No. Will I report back when I have? Yes.

    I have attached an image showing the unit installed on my helmet. I didn't quite capture the pigtail where the earbuds plug in, but you can kinda see it.

    Attached Files

  • #2
    Excellent write-up!
    2008 Red GW1800 -- NRA Life Member - American Legion PUFL, American Legion Riders
    USMC 21 YRS/9 MO and when dead, a dead Marine.
    US Four Corner Ride
    2014 Mid-States Ride
    2015 NC to UT/NV Ride

    50th State ridden on 19 Aug, 2016 DS #1584

    Comment: (For off-topic replies)

    • #3
      I met with my Honda dealer's sales rep who attended the bike demo in Austin this week and he stated that the Honda reps recommended the Sena bluetooth system over the J&M. Has anyone else heard this?

      Comment: (For off-topic replies)

      • #4
        You left out the most important PRO for J&M. They are sponsors on this forum!
        Save $1000 a year in labor by doing your own maintenance!

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