The Best Motorcycle CB Radios, Headsets, and Antennas
Motorcycle CB radio systems are just that: whole, complete systems, much more than just a radio. In the following, the necessary parts of a motorcycle CB radio system will be identified and described, and appropriate links will lead you to examples of products and additional information. A key element of the system is the radio itself, and there are a number of good options for that, so first here's a look at some selection criteria and helpful features to look for in a motorcycle CB.
Motorcycle CB Radios
Criteria for selecting a CB radio
Brand -- There are several popular and respected brands of CB radios for motorcycles, including Midland, Cobra, Galaxy and Uniden. CB radios for motorcycles are actually just types of handheld or mobile CB radios which have features or connections that work well with motorcycles.
Size -- This is important when you're looking for a CB for your motorcycle. You'll probably want to go with either a handheld that is adaptable as a mobile CB, or a compact mobile CB. Following this section will be some good choices for both types.
Features -- the weather and emergency channels are perhaps two of the most important features when you're on a motorcycle. Especially while you're on a trip, you'll want to keep up with current weather conditions during your ride, and be able to avoid trouble spots while on the road.
Powering the Radio -- CB radios for motorcycles can be powered by either an alkaline or rechargeable battery pack or a power cord. Some radios offer both options. An advantage of the battery-powered units is that there is really no installation, and the unit is easily removable for convenience or security. The disadvantage is the expense and bother of having to replace the batteries, so look for a unit with a Hi/Lo switch to conserve your batteries.
Handhelds: CB Radio for Motorcycle Helmets
The Midland 75-822
When you're talking about a CB radio for a motorcycle, space is of the essence and so is quality. For a good option, look at Midland's ultra-compact handheld transceiver 75-822 with mobile capability. One huge advantage is the versatility of this unit, which can morph from a handheld into a mobile radio with the included vehicle adapter (if you add an external antenna that's not included). You can move this Midland from vehicle to vehicle. You can install it on your motorcycle for the summer, your snowmobile for the winter, and when you dismount, you can take the unit with you in your pickup truck or family car.
It has some essential features for a motorcycle CB including weather and instant emergency channels. Memory channels are useful, also. There are other handy features, such as channel scanning and external speaker. One feature that would be useful - but isn't there - is a noise limiter. When you set up your motorcycle cb radio kit, you'll be equipped with good communication when you use a helmet ready headset.
The Midland 75-785
The Midland 75-785 handheld also is compact and makes a good CB radio for motorcycles. It operates on 9 AA batteries, but has the Hi/Low battery-saving switch. In addition, a 12 V cigarette lighter power cord comes in the box. This model has an automatic noise limiter (ANL) and automatic gain control. Although a flexible "rubber duck" antenna is included, for use with a motorcycle you'll usually need an external antenna.
Note: for safety, disconnect your motorcycle battery before connecting power to your CB radio if you need to.
Compact mobile radios
If you don't need the versatility that putting a handheld CB radio on your motorcycle offers, then you may opt for installing a compact mobile CB radio.
The Uniden Bearcat Pro 505XL
The Uniden Bearcat Pro 505XL CB radio is a compact mobile radio that can be adapted to motorcycles much easier than larger units. It's simple to operate and has few features, which may be a good thing for ease of use and safety on a motorcycle. This Bearcat Pro has an instant emergency channel and connections for an external/PA speaker. A drawback is that this unit lacks any weather channels, and there isn't a helmet headset specifically available for this unit. You could use a Mad1 headset if you tweak it a bit.
You may want to buy all the necessary parts to operate your motorcycle CB together, and if so look into CB radio motorcycle kits, such as this one. The CB radio and the headset are the core of the set, the only items required. Then you can choose other items and get only those that you need. Incidentally, if you choose an external antenna kit, you'll also need an SWR meter to complete your system installation by calibrating the antenna with the radio.
Helmet headsets enable CB radio for motorcycle helmets
A good CB radio headset system will help you operate your CB more safely while on your motorcycle. The Motocomm motorcycle headset fits the bill nicely for those riders with open face (3/4 style) helmets. It comes with a Push to Talk (PTT) system, and you mount the PTT waterproof control conveniently on the handlebar.
You don't need an external antenna to use with a handheld CB radio on a motorcycle because you can use the rubber duck, but the performance and range will improve dramatically if you use an external antenna.
On the other hand, you'll need an external antenna for your motorcycle CB mobile radio, and it needs to be one that doesn't need a ground plane (NGP), such as the one with the FireStik no ground plane CB antenna kit. The 5/8 wave FireStik antenna has a convenient, no tools tunable tip. The kit comes with 17' of no ground plane cable, a 3-way stainless steel mount, and warranties of 5 years on the antenna and a year on the mount and cable. The antenna even comes in black or white. It's hard to go wrong with this kit.
Another NGP antenna kit worth a look is the Everhardt. This complete system is already assembled. It includes an 18' cable pre-tuned from the factory, and a choice of mounts: 3-way mirror, side body, or window bracket mount. No muss, no fuss, this kit could get you on the air in almost no time at all. Of course, make sure to check the SWR to ensure the best performance.
If you don't get an antenna kit, you can get parts separately, such as coaxial cable and mounts. Note that the cable must be a no ground plane cable. Because a motorcycle vibrates, you should use a coax such as RG-58 A/U, RG 8-X, such as the FireStik NGP coax cable. This FireStik has 95% shielding, besting the 90% shield that is recommended for an all-weather installation. Be aware that because the coaxial cable is matched to your NGP antenna as a substitute for your ground plane, you can't shorten it. The drawback is that you'll have to store any extra cable somewhere on the motorcycle; the advantage is that it's easy to install and tune - and it will allow you to communicate while using your motorcycle when you can't do so by using a ground plane antenna. You also can get the type of mount that will work with your planned location.
After all is said and done, you may find it more convenient and easier to get a motorcycle antenna kit, as everything is professionally matched without any guesswork. Besides, when you crunch the numbers, the cost may be just about the same or perhaps a bit lower for the kit. However, if you need a special mount, you could opt to put together your own system.