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Bluetooth incompatibility issues


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Honda recently released the newest revision of the Goldwing.

Unlike previous models, there is no means of using a wired headset. In fact, the bike does not even have a rider to passenger intercom. All communications rely on Bluetooth. Sounds like Honda made a good move to modern technology, right? Well it seems that not all Bluetooth motorcycle headsets play well with the new Goldwing "infotainment" system.

This has kind of been my experience with several other Bluetooth devices. In fact, I can count on one hand the number of bluetooth devices that have performed as expected.

I just do not understand how a standard like BT can have been out as long as it has and not just work!

I ride a 2010 Goldwing and have tried 3 different Bluetooth solutions and have had very limited success with any of them whereas my corroded headsets have always worked flawlessly, so I will stick with them and quit dumping cash into that black blue hole.

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My military defense company was required to move to "COTS" (Commercial Off the Shelf) sourcing by congress.


This meant that we had to utilize commercial hardware in some programs.  Military hardware is designed to meet hard and firm requirements established by the SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) standards or it cannot be used in Military applications.  There is no simple way to change these standards over a short time, since it impacts the actual functionality of all military systems utilizing this standard.   All major representatives of the military industrial base must come together to agree to these changes.  Backwards compatibility is required.


Commercial hardware meets standards published, but has no obligations to meet these standards literally.  This results in equipment that we utilized in a military program for a year, that suddenly failed to function in the system that utilized it.  Military systems can be programs that last for years, while commercial programs last for months.  You cannot count on commercial standards to stay fixed for any length of time, since each manufacturer is working hard to out do the other.  Therefore, their products are constantly changing in design and performance.  There is also, no backward compatibility requirements.


In our case we found that the supplier of the commercial hardware had changed the design to utilize current modified standards, which meant it was not backward compatible.  We were required to redesign the whole system to function under the new changes to the commercial standard, and found that there was no assurance that tomorrow the standard would not be again changed.


I'm not surprised at your finding that Blue Tooth is not a fixed rigid standard.  This is because the commercial standards are not really standards at all.  Just an agreement to a loose group of requirements that each manufacturer may change to suit their product at will.

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I think what makes it so annoying to me, is that other standards, like USB keep getting better and faster while maintaining backwards compatibility. I have yet to plug in a USB device and have any of my computers fail to recognize it.

On a more similar level,  802.11 WiFi has continued to evolve, and with each new revision it continues to work. Every time I have brought new hardware into my office, it is just a matter of doing the initial setup and we are up and running with every device in the wife's and my home office, proving that near 100% compatibility is really not that difficult to achieve.

 I used to think that it was mostly a problem with third party BT solutions and that OEM systems in cars and trucks would be more consistent. Not so. While the BT connection in my wife Toyota is almost flawless, the one in our old VW and Dodge truck were both unreliable. Even my simple BT headset for my phone will sometimes just forget and refuse to pair. 

I just think that as long as it has been an accepted wireless communication standard, it really should just work. 

The plus side is that I am not tempted to take calls while driving or on the bike. Its sort of a technology induced peacefulness when I drive or ride!


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  • 2 months later...

You check the manual of the bike and check what version of Bluetooth it supports and ensure you’re Bluetooth hardware supports that? My bike has no integrated system so I just use my iPhone. I bought a Sena 20s Evo and had no issues from a connectivity standpoint. I just thought the Sena speakers suck so I bought a Cardo Packtalk Bold. Again no issues with connectivity, but the speakers on that are WAY better than Sena’s.

Also not out the realm of possibility that the Goldwing Infotainment software has some flaws. Do you know if the software is upgradeable? If so have you checked to make sure you’re running the latest version?

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I actually do not own one of the new Goldwings. Mine is 2010 with wired headsets that work perfectly. I do have a third party Bluetooth adapter, that works ok with my MP3 player and allows me to control all of its functions with the bikes CD controls. IT does sometimes cut out them music briefly. Not a problem because it also has a USB port so that I can just plug my iPod or iPhone into it without any hiccups.

As far as software compatibility with the iPhone and Hondas new revisions of the Goldwing. I can't imagine that being much of an issue, especially when Honda incorporated Apple Car Play into the system. The problems I am hearing about is finding bluetooth headsets that pair reliable with the bikes audio.

I just prefer wired headsets. They just work.

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