I started using the Sena SMH10 in my modular helmet several years ago, and have added a Sena 20S to my open face touring helmet also. I have added them to my wife’s helmet and to friend’s lids for rides when they had no bluetooth comms. They are fantastic - rocking out to your favorite band or listening to a podcast when you’re riding solo is refreshing. A quick call or text to the wife when the ride runs long to let her know you are still alive. Chatting with other riders in your group is even better. Road condition alerts from the leader to the rest of the group really ups the overall safety of the ride but the banter and chit-chat, that can be the most important and entertaining reason to by a bluetooth communicator!
As much as I used them, I could never get them to work on my half helmets to my satisfaction. Too clunky of a setup; too noisy; poor voice quality & volume unless using earbuds which just brings its own set of issues.
Enter the new Sena Cavalry Bluetooth Half Helmet. Yeah, now we’re talkin’, no pun intended.
Paraphrasing Henry Ford, you can get this thing in any color you want, as long as it’s black! But you do have a choice of blacks. The Cavalry comes in 2 models, gloss or matte black, clearly aimed at the Cruiser market. I ordered the matte black model which comes with a matching black visor, ear pads, ear plates, a USB power & data cable, a thick cloth helmet pouch & a nice quick start booklet with removeable cards. The initial charge took about 3 hours, recharges since then seem to be about an hour. The charging port is rather close to the edge and can be a little hard to align with big fingers, or a larger cable than the one provided. Since there is nothing to install it was ready to go once charged. I already had the Sena app on my iPhone 7 so I only needed to pair the helmet with the phone and the Cavalry shows up in the app too, easy.
The helmet fits my round-oval melon better than the Bell Shorty Flame helmet which had been my go-to half helmet. Sits a little lower too, feeling like my head is IN it rather than the helmet is ON my head, very comfortable for me. The Visor works very well also, better than the Bell, which moves around and rattles a bit in the wind. The angles of the visor and the fact it sits a bit lower allow me to just tip my head a bit when facing the sun and it cuts the glare. The strap does fit a bit more forward than any of my other half helmets which was something I had to adjust to, my beard tangles in it, but I do not think it affects safety or comfort. The helmet sits tight and does not move around in the wind as some do. Passing Tractor trailers would move one of my helmets around horribly but the Cavalry sits still.
It was still cool in the mornings when I received the Cavalry and the temps were in the 40s on the morning commute to work. The provided ear pads which slip onto the straps and tuck between the outer shell and the liner work well to protect the ears from the cold wind as well as helping direct the sound from the speakers to your ears. As temps rise, that protection becomes a negative as it begins to get hot and uncomfortable in the 80s. I removed them after temps warmed into summer as I’m hot natured and wanted more air flow.
The other negative of the earpads as well as the hard ear plates is that they won’t stay put when you sit the helmet down. Every time you take off the helmet you place it right side up to protect the finish and the earpads/plates are forced out of place. Which means every time you go to put it on, you must re-insert the earpads/plates back into place. As useful as they are, they become an issue for me. Surely there is a way to redesign them to maintain the functionality while allowing them to fold inward when you place the helmet down.
Matte finish helmets in general are rather easily damaged compared to a harder glossy finish, the Cavalry is no exception. You need to be a little careful how you handle it and always place it right side up or it will become scratched in short order. Some folks like that look, me not so much. A very nice protective bag is provided with the helmet, so with a little effort the Cavalry should be easy to keep looking good. I have covered the helmet with a water soaked rag to soften any - we’ll call it “ride residue”, and so far, everything has wiped off easily after a few minutes without damaging the finish. Just a couple stone chips which happen regardless of the helmet.
Press the Plus (+) and SENA buttons together for a second and it boots up and the red light on the right flashes to indicate the battery status, 4 times is fully charged. Holding the same buttons for 3 seconds will give an audible battery check such as “battery level is high”, a pretty cool feature.
I have about 3,000 miles on the Cavalry so far and I have found it to be every bit as good as the stand-alone units mounted to my other helmets. I ride mostly solo but on occasion my wife rides pillion. We have a Sena 20S on her helmet and it worked as expected. Better really, as we were both surprised by the noise cancelling of the Cavalry. We both figured there would be a good bit of noise from the exposed mic on the Cavalry but to our surprise it really is rather quiet.
Phone calls are equally quiet and I even had a couple calls where they could hear the rumble of my Vulcan Voyager in the background but no real wind noise. Didn’t have to increase the speaker volume or speak at an elevated level at all. I’m guessing it is some sort of voodoo, but who cares, it works! The sound quality of the speakers is really noticeable at first coming from the 20S. A fuller sound with greater volume than I was expecting, I really like the sound of this helmet.
I have not had a real-world chance to connect 4 units together on a ride but I have done so statically in the garage and once all units were fully patched to their latest respective firmware, all were noise free and stable. I also have not tested the water resistance as I generally don’t ride in the rain in a half helmet. The few showers I have encountered we no challenge though.
I have used the FM radio feature a couple times and it works well. Using the app, you can set your favorite stations and cycle through them via the button once riding. Radio signals in my area aren’t all that great but all stations I receive in the cage are available with the Cavalry and the local NPR station is better actually, all things considered.
My favorite part of the Sena Bluetooth line is the ability to access the voice functions of my iPhone. Press the Sena button for about 3 seconds and the Siri menu is launched which allows you to play music, call, text etc. just using your voice without pulling over in traffic. I love this functionality and use it all the time. Expecting an important call, no problem, keep on riding. Your significant other texts wanting to know you’re safe, reply immediately and she’s happy, keep on riding. So functional it’s worth the entry price for any rider.
Overall, I’m very impressed with the comfort, function and build quality of the Sena Cavalry. It is as nice as I had hoped and priced fairly in the market. It’s a great two-fer! The quality communication ability combined with a very well-made helmet should be a home run and I commend them for bringing it to market. If they would resolve the ear pad/plate issue and maybe add a drop-down sunshield it would be about perfect! The Cavalry is now my go-to favorite half helmet; now I have 3 others including the Bell just gathering dust.
I highly recommend anyone interested in a very nice half helmet and wants the most functional communications system out there to give the Sena Cavalry a shot, you will not be disappointed.