Sena 50R: In Depth Review
Riding with a Bluetooth communication system on a helmet can be a game-changer for any rider. Gone are the days of making weird hand signals and facial expressions to tell your friend you want to pull over for ice cream. I mean, unless that’s your thing. Keep doing you. In the Summer of 2020, Sena launched their new flagship intercom system, the 50R. Six months later, it’s still on my helmet, being heavily used with every ride and adventure I find myself on.
I’ve owned a handful of Sena devices including the popular 10C Pro and 30K communication systems. Here are a few key specs that have made the 50R my new favorite device, even as a motorcyclist that primarily rides solo.
Full Transparency: Sena sent me a 50R Dual Pack to use during my 2020 riding adventures. There was no requirement to write a review in any way. The thoughts and opinions shared below are my own, and are not influenced by Sena.
Overall Appearance & Ease of Use
Right out of the box, you’ll notice that the 50R boasts a sleek, low-profile design. In fact, it’s slimmer than previous Sena models, like the low-profile 30k. It also features a glove-friendly three-button interface. For those who have had issues with Sena’s jog dial setups in the past, you’re in for a treat. The three-button system, as well as the Mesh connection button, are all easy to use while riding.
For those who like to read directions and make the most of their Sena system, the instruction manual in the box provides easy-to-follow steps, allowing you to learn all of the buttons and functions with ease. Installation is extremely simple, and the box provides versatile mounting options so that the 50R can fit on any helmet. I like to move my Sena between my helmets, so I use the clamp kit, rather than the velcro or direct adhesive options.
It’s important to note that unlike some of Sena’s clamp kits and other product offerings, the 50R device is hardwired to its speaker wires. You won’t be able to quick-detach the unit and throw it in a bag to charge while you’re riding, nor hide your Sena device if you leave your helmet on the bike unattended. Not the end of the world, but an important thing to consider.
Using the Sena 50 Utility App
The Sena 50 Utility App makes setting up and managing your 50R device a breeze. You can choose to keep music playing while riding connected through bluetooth or Mesh 2.0, as well as customize your music settings via equalizer presets. There’s also quite a few options available to control Bluetooth and Mesh Intercom pairing, like channel settings and creating private groups.
Sena’s Mesh 2.0 is Hypeworthy
While the 50R comes equipped with Bluetooth 5.0, the company’s new Mesh 2.0 firmware is the star of the show. With Mesh connectivity, there’s zero lag in communication, even if 24 people are connected. That was not a typo. Yes, you can connect 24 people through a Group Mesh, and 25+ through Open Mesh. On the other hand, Bluetooth will only allow 2-4 riders to connect at once.
If you typically only ride with one additional person, the ease of connecting through Mesh is worth it alone. You’ll be instantly connected with your riding buddy, even if you’re 1.2 miles apart. Mesh 2.0 can also extend five miles, with a minimum of six riders in a group.
As someone that primarily rides solo, music streaming tends to be my primary usage of the Sena 50R. The upgrade to the benchmark HD Speakers are worth the upgrade alone.
The 50R comes with the highly anticipated, fully redesigned High Definition Premium speakers from Sena. These speakers provide a night and day difference from their standard speaker offerings. You’ll instantly notice increased volume, clarity, and bass, allowing music to be heard at highway speeds. Sena also provides additional padding for the speakers if they need to be pushed closer to a rider’s ears for maximum audio performance.
Whether I’m sitting at a stop light in town, talking with a friend, or just cruising down the interstate, the speaker sound is loud and clear. If you see me riding down the highway, bobbing my head and wiggling my shoulders, just know that the jams are poppin’ in my helmet. I’ll let you guess what ridiculous song I’m jamming on your own, though.
Is the 50R Waterproof?
Another great feature of the 50R is its resistance to extreme weather. While most Sena devices claim to be waterproof, I have unfortunately destroyed a couple while riding in the rain. My 50R has seen some of the heaviest rain storms I’ve ridden through in recent years, with no problems.
Charging & Battery Life of the Sena 50R
In June of 2020 I did an Iron Butt ride from Houston, TX to Denver, CO, where I used the 50R to listen to music and navigation. The battery lasted well over 12 hours, and was connected through Bluetooth to my cell phone for Spotify music streaming. I was about 40 miles from home when the 50R finally died. That’s pretty impressive for battery life on a single charge! Sena claims that talk time via bluetooth will last up to 13 hours, while Mesh communication will cut it down to only 8 hours on a charge.
A huge plus about the Sena 50R is it’s rapid-charging abilities, which has been improved by 30% from previous Sena models. In 20 minutes, you can have 6 hours of regular intercom life, or 3.5 hours with mesh. For a full battery charge, you’ll only need an hour of time.
For a further look at the most advanced intercom system Sena has released, their website can point you to all the nerdy, tech details your heart desires. The 50R can accommodate riders of all varieties, on or off-road, making it an extremely versatile intercom system. Whether you’re a first-time user or a seasoned veteran to these intercom systems, you can’t go wrong with the purchase of the 50R.