TESTED: SENA 10C EVO
BY: CHAD DE ALVA
How many times have you found yourself on a ride, wishing that you could tell your riding buddies something? Maybe they just missed a turn, or you just spotted a cool feature that you need to go play on, or even something as simple as just wanting to BS while you’re grinding miles out on the slab. Being able to communicate easily while you’re riding is a wonderful thing. For the last five years, several of my riding buddies and I have been using SENA 20S communication devices on all kinds of dual-sport, enduro and ADV rides, so when the chance came up to get to check out the new 10C EVO, I was eager to see what SENA’s latest and greatest could do.
The 10C EVO is unique to the world of motorcycle communication devices in that it pairs a fully-featured 4K camera with SENA’s robust Bluetooth communication systems. With the 10C EVO, you can record video in 4K resolution at 30FPS, take photos, record time-lapses, and even capture voice-over audio to make your videos that much more meaningful. The camera writes to a micro SD card that installs into the bottom of the unit, and card sizes up to 128GB are supported. Camera mode is controlled using the physical buttons on the unit, and camera functionality can be turned on or off as needed. This means that the 10C EVO isn’t hamstrung to having a short battery life like many action cameras. As long as you turn the camera off when you’re not using it, the 10C can go all day long on a single charge, even in colder temperatures.
If you’ve ever had to stop while riding to double-check if your action camera beeped to let you know that it was in fact recording, you’ll appreciate that the 10C EVO provides audio feedback for everything the camera is doing. Turn the camera on, and the unit will say “camera on” to let you know it’s on. Start or stop recording a video, and the 10C EVO provides an easily understandable voice response to let you know what the camera is doing. These notifications are played through the unit’s audio output, and it feels much more 2020 than simply listening for a sequence of beeps. Likewise, you’ll never have to ask your buddy to watch for a blinking red light to check if your camera is recording. SENA has developed a standalone camera app, which provides a user experience much like any other action camera, in that you can adjust all of the camera settings, check your framing, and review your footage saved to the camera’s micro SD card.
Speaking of audio, one of the things I really appreciated about the SENA 20S was that you could plug in your own earbuds. This enabled the user to use high-quality earbuds that not only provided great sound but also provided hearing protection while riding. With the 10C EVO, however, SENA has decided to only include their helmet-mounted speakers, which in our testing provided poor audio quality whether we were trying to listen to music or carry on a conversation (intercom or phone call) at any speed. Thankfully, there’s an accessory part that allows you to run earbuds (Part 10C-A0101), and I would strongly recommend that you add one to your cart with your 10C EVO. I just wish SENA had included this part with the 10C EVO kit, as once you use earbuds, you’ll wonder why the external speakers are even a thing. Protect your hearing, folks. There’s no cure for tinnitus.
On the Bluetooth communication side of things, the 10C EVO is exactly what you would expect from a modern Bluetooth device. Everything from playing music to interfacing with your device’s assistant works as expected. SENA has been making Bluetooth communication systems for years, and their interfaces are easy to understand. The jog dial and other physical buttons on the unit are quick to get the hang of. I’m also glad to see that there’s no flip-up antenna on the 10C, so there’s no risk of breaking the antenna off like there is on the 20S. By the end of my first ride, doing what I wanted with the 10C EVO was automatic. SENA has also improved the process of starting intercoms, and the process of linking up your buddies for a ride is as easy as a few button presses and watching for the correct light sequences. As with the camera controls, the 10C EVO will tell you what it’s up to with more voice notifications, which is quite helpful as the manual isn’t the best. Make sure you open the manuals on your device while you’re setting things up at home. For some reason, SENA makes you download the manuals to your device instead of caching them in the app, which means you can’t open a manual off-grid if you haven’t downloaded it previously.
Installing the 10C EVO on your helmet is very straightforward, and SENA provides a complete selection of mounts that allowed me to easily mount the 10C to every helmet I own. With a little bit of time spent selecting the best mount for a given application and routing wires through the helmet, I had a clean setup that also enabled me to point the 10C’s camera where I wanted for the optimal shot while riding. If you’re going to be running your 10C EVO on multiple helmets, SENA sells extra mounting kits so that you can easily swap the unit between mounts on different helmets.
There’s an old saying, “the best camera is the one that you have with you,” and SENA’s 10C EVO is a solid piece of kit in that it adds an action camera to a very capable Bluetooth communication system. Making calls, listening to music, talking to your riding buddies, and more can all be done with the 10C EVO. Even if you never turn the camera on, the 10C EVO will still prove useful, yet having a camera that’s so easy to turn on and use while riding, can be a pretty clutch feature for quickly capturing the adventure. SENA’s 10C EVO isn’t without its quirks, but on the whole, it works well and provides so much functionality that you’ll find yourself bringing it along on all of your rides. www.sena.com