If you are anything like me, a typical conversation while riding our electric bikes with others consists of the following: ‘What?’ Huh?!! ‘I can’t hear you!!’ ‘NEVER MIND!!!!’ What begins as an enjoyable shared activity quickly dissolves into shouting, hand gestures, and silence. That’s what makes the Sena R1 EVO a game-changer and why we were so excited to review it. Whether you want to casually chat with one riding partner or a whole group, this helmet allows you to communicate with ease with built-in audio. No shouting or hand gestures required! If you prefer a video review of the Sena R1 Evo helmets scroll down to the bottom of this post.
Sena R1 Evo Audio Features
A Mesh Intercom™ system offers clear communication between helmets. The intercom has a range of 1/2 mile which is perfect for when we go mountain biking and one person likes to take the ride a little slower.
The Advanced Noise Control™ even blocks the wind noise. We were astounded by the clarity of sound while talking at a normal level. While racing down the trails, the audio sounds as clear as if we were talking while stationary. Extremely impressive! There are 9 talking channels to select, which is convenient if you are riding in a large group and want to switch between conversations.
You can also listen to FM radio or your own music using Bluetooth to connect to your phone. Bluetooth also allows you to make calls and hear your GPS instructions. I also like that the built-in speakers do not cover your ears. You can still hear what is happening around you to keep you safe. Note that you are not able to listen to music and use Mesh Intercom™ at the same time.
Sena R1 Evo Voice Commands
The Sena R1 EVO offers a ‘Hello Sena’ feature (similar to the ‘hey Siri’ feature from Apple) to perform voice commands. We found this feature rather buggy and irksome since triggering the command will temporarily not let you hear anything coming from your helmet. It would trigger occasionally when we weren’t trying to use it. We are hoping they improve this feature in a future system update.
The Sena Cycling App
There are three buttons located on the side to control the helmet technology. While all of the controls are at your fingertips, it’s hard to remember what button performs which function. Connecting to the App has proven to be a much better way to control the device. As a plus, the app is simple to use with large buttons.
I would recommend getting a phone mount for your bike (view our recommended mounts) so you have easy access to your app controls. The Sena cycling app allows you to group up with other Sena users, create FM radio station favorites, rear light control, and more.
The Seno R1 EVO only comes in two colors: matte black and matte white. Style-wise, the shell design feels familiar. I wouldn’t call it a sleek look compared to some of the more modern helmets we have reviewed. The communication feature easily makes up for the standard helmet look. But remember, this helmet was designed for road bikers in mind. It just so happens that many people love to communicate using Sena helmets while riding electric bikes. My wife and I both thought the included visor improved the look of the helmet. The built-in rear light is an excellent feature and the reflective straps are a nice touch.
Rechargeable Battery Power
A rechargeable lithium polymer battery is the power source for the Seno R1 EVO. Depending on the rear LED light usage, the intercom should last 7-10 hours. A full charge takes about two hours and a ‘fast charge’ of 20 minutes will give you about three hours of intercom use. The helmet comes with a micro USB charging cable.
Sena R1 Software Updates
The same USB cable can also be used to connect to your computer to update the software. Unfortunately, when I updated the software, the helmet seemed to become more buggy. I ended up rolling back the update and will hold off on updates for a while until I am certain they have the kinks worked out. Plus, the helmet works as advertised right from the box. I will be sure to update this article once I know the issue has been resolved.
Sena R1 EVO vs. Sena R1
The Sena R1 EVO is a bit of a spendy helmet at $159, but well worth it if you will use its audio features and have a riding partner with the helmet too. If you are looking for a cheaper version, check out its cousin, the Sena R1, for $129. I have heard only good things about the Sena R1.
The notable differences that the Sena R1 lacks are:
- No rear light
- Can only connect to 4 helmets
- Visor not included
- Uses Bluetooth for communication instead of Mesh
The New Sena M1 and M1 Evo
While we used the Sena R1 EVO for mountain biking, Sena just released a mountain biking specific version called the Sena M1 EVO ($159) and the Sena M1 ($139). I personally prefer the look of the M1 helmets but you can decide which design you prefer. The Sena M1 also comes in a third color option, matte gray.
While Sena offered us the opportunity to review the Sena R1 EVO, I could see purchasing another in the future to have on hand for group rides. With only minor cons (software update issues, and sometimes faulty voice command), I adore the Sena R1 EVO. Rides are much more fun when you can hear your partner(s) speaking and don’t have to continually shout ‘What!??’. It is one of my favorite accessories for our electric bikes.
Please let us know if you have any questions in the comments. If you decide to purchase, please consider using the affiliate links in this article which helps support reviews like this.