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Sena SRL3 review | Shoei intercom system tested

Consumer Editor of Bennetts BikeSocial



Sena SRL3 review Shoei intercom_02


Date reviewed: 18 March 2024 | Tested by: John Milbank | Price: £339 |


The Sena SRL3 on review here is basically a Sena 50S, but designed specifically for the Shoei GT-Air 3 and Neotec 3 as these lids have shell shapes that make it tricky, if not impossible to attach your own comms to. I’ve been using this Mesh and Bluetooth intercom for several months in the Neotec 3 to find out if the £339 asking price is worth it…

NOTE: most dealers will offer a substantial discount if an intercom is bought at the same time as a helmet.


  • Excellent intercom range

  • Mesh intercom is very easy to use

  • Sleek integration

  • Awkward buttons

  • Voice control not the best for me

  • Relatively low battery life


Fitting the Sena SRL3

Being an integrated system means fitting the Sena SRL3 to either the Shoei Neotec 3 or GT-Air 3 is relatively simple, the components all snapping into place and the cables generally being obvious in their routing.

A small, wired microphone is supplied to attach to the full-face GT-Air, while the Neotec uses a boom mic (also supplied), which just pokes out of the right-hand cheek pad – a great improvement over the long arms that used to get in the way when putting on the lid.

If you’re buying the intercom at the same time as the lid you could ask the dealer fit it for you, but getting everything in place shouldn’t prove too daunting, the trickiest part being putting the lining back in, which is an important step to learn anyway for cleaning.


As is the case now with tech, only a brief quick-start guide is supplied. For the full Sena SRL3 instructions you’ll have to download them, or read them in the app


Sena SRL3 Connections

Quality intercoms have got fairly simple and reliable to connect now. Pairing with your phone is automatically enabled when the SRL3 is first turned on, then using the Sena Motorcycles app for iOS or Android allows you to tweak any settings you might want.

Thanks in part to the Bluetooth 5.0 chip, once set up the pairing with your phone is almost instant when turning on the Sena, so music streaming, calls etc are immediately available.

This is a Mesh intercom, but unlike some entry-level Mesh devices (like the Sena Spider), it’s also a fully-specified Bluetooth intercom. Here are the key differences:




Maximum in group



Riders can change order



Maximum claimed range across group


5 miles


Bluetooth intercoms are fine for rider to pillion or rider to one other rider, but in groups they can be annoying, requiring a more complex pairing procedure and demanding that the riders don’t change their order on the road. For instance, rider 3 can’t overtake rider 2 in a group of four or the comms will break down.

With Mesh, each unit acts as its own relay, and it doesn’t matter what order the riders are in. Equally, if the group gets split up it doesn’t matter. Let’s say riders 1, 2 and 3 end up well away from riders 4, 5 and 6 – they’ll still be able to talk among themselves as two separate groups, and when connection is re-established the whole group can chat again.

Sena arguably has one of the best Mesh systems as it’s open and unlimited by default, so just turn on your intercom and pairing is automatic with anyone else using a compatible device. In ‘Open Mesh’ the number of riders is virtually unlimited, but you will end up talking to anyone who comes within range that’s using the same system. However, the SRL3 also offers nine other channels – which can each support up to 24 riders – if you want to reduce the chances of anyone else joining by mistake.

It's worth noting that only six microphones can be active at any one time, so while everyone can listen in on the conversation, only six can be speaking. If anyone else tries to join in, the group will hear a constant beeping to encourage mics to be disabled by pressing and holding the ComLink button on the right of the helmet. If the mics are shutting themselves down correctly through voice activation this shouldn’t matter, but in some lids wind noise might keep them active.

Note that the two market leaders – Cardo and Sena – do not have a universal Mesh system. Pairing the two via Bluetooth has been made pretty simple (thanks it would appear to work by Cardo), and it is possible to create a Mesh link between Cardo and Sena now, though I’ve not been able to thoroughly test it yet. You can find out more in the video below.


Pairing Sena and Cardo

Cardo explains how to link its intercoms with Sena’s



The Sena SRL3 adds three buttons to the left of the helmet and one to the right. These are rather small and particularly tricky to use with thick gloves on. Space is of course limited, and it’s great how small the device is, but it does make changing volume, music tracks or even switching the music on and off a bit harder than it should be. Still, it’s nowhere near as bad as the terrible Ruroc Shockwave.

One slightly irritating feature of the SRL3 is that, when listing to the radio, if you tap the volume up or down button too quickly, the Sena recognises it as the command to search up or down for the next radio station. Skipping preset stations, or skipping music streamed from your phone requires a long press of the volume up or down.

You can control the SRL3 using the Sena Motorcycles app on your phone if you have it mounted to the bars, though of course if you’re also using that for navigation it could be tricky.



The SRL 3 also uses voice control, with the commands listed below though I have to say that I don’t have great success with this – maybe it’s my accent but I don’t find it as reliable as I’d like, though it does appear to be improving with firmware updates.

Check Battery

“Hey Sena, check battery”

Volume up

“Hey Sena, volume up”

Volume down

“Hey Sena, volume down”

Phone pairing

“Hey Sena, phone pairing”

Bluetooth Intercom pairing

“Hey Sena, pairing intercom”

Start or end Bluetooth intercom

“Hey Sena, intercom [one, two, three]

Turn on Mesh intercom

“Hey Sena, Mesh on”

Turn off Mesh intercom

“Hey Sena, Mesh off”

Mesh grouping

“Hey Sena, Mesh grouping”

Switch to group mesh

“Hey Sena, group Mesh”

Switch to open Mesh

“Hey Sena, open Mesh”

End Bluetooth and Mesh intercom

“Hey Sena, end intercom”

Play streamed music

“Hey Sena, play music”

Pause streamed music

“Hey Sena, Stop music”

Turn on radio

“Hey Sena, FM radio on”

Turn off radio

“Hey Sena, FM radio off”

Next track / radio station

“Hey Sena, next”

Previous track / radio station

“Hey Sena, previous”

Answer phone call


Ignore phone call



Volume and clarity

When I first tried the Sena SRL3 I was disappointed with the volume of the music, but once I’d updated the firmware things were much improved.

The SRL3 uses Harman Kardon speakers for improved quality over the standard or even HD speakers, but they’re not absolute the best I’ve heard. Of course, riding at 70mph with earplugs in and various noises generated by the wind hitting your bike’s screen and fairing is never going to give you the best HiFi performance, but when listening in a quiet room, the difference between this and the Sena-made, Harman Kardon-equipped Nexx X.COM 3 is just noticeable – music sounds a little less refined in the SRL3, with a slightly more muddled bass and crashy treble.

Given that they’re basically the same units this is surprising, though it might be down to the helmet itself, and in use the differences are less noticeable. Interestingly, on both units under the current firmware, music is rendered noticably better at all but the final, maximum volume stage.

The quality of voice communication though, between this and a Sena 50S was excellent during testing – a combination of good electronics, a Harmon Kardon microphone and good noise control on the Neotec 3 meaning conversations tend to be easy even at motorway speeds.


I test all intercoms on the same straight, flat stretch of road. My wife stands at one end with an intercom of the same model (or at least the same brand and a higher spec), then I ride off while she continues to speak. I then note when the signal cuts out, and when it reconnects.


Sena SRL3 intercom range

In my testing on a cloudy day, intercom range was excellent (note that low cloud can improve performance), both Mesh and Bluetooth between the two devices reaching around 1.4km, or just under a mile over a straight road. Reconnection was automatic and at pretty much the same distance.

While riding away from my wife, the Bluetooth comms got noisy if I turned my head, but otherwise performed very well. Mesh was outstanding, giving very clear comms even when I was well out of sight of Helen.

Mesh can allow much greater distances between the first and last rider in a larger group than Bluetooth, though the range between each rider is typically less than between just two when maintaining a larger array. This is hard to test, though the results below show the performance of three Sena units in a rural location.

Ultimately, the Sena SRL3 has a great range, just keep in mind that results will vary and intercoms never reach their claimed maximum in real-world conditions because…

  • Weather makes a big difference

  • Traffic, buildings and geography all get in the way

  • Turning your head can lose a signal at distance

  • Carbon fibre helmets can have a seriously detrimental effect


This is a test of group mesh performance, which is carried out on a more typical rural road



As radios on intercoms go, SRL3 isn’t bad, but it should come as no surprise that it’s not as good as the radio in your car, which has a lot more space for a decent-sized aerial.

Ultimately, in an age where we can easily stream radio from our phones over a data connection this isn’t a disaster, but I wouldn’t buy an intercom primarily for the FM radio. Still, despite sometimes dropping out as the RDS retunes, and the volume being a bit low for Radio 4 (showing my age), it’s nice to have, if not a main selling point.



Sena SRL3 waterproofing

Unlike the Sena 50S on which its electronics are based, the SRL3 is able to withstand use in prolonged, heavy rain. With no connections in the path of the water, and no dials or controls to allow moisture to creep in, the only way the SRL3 will suffer while fitted to the lid is if it all ends up immersed in water. And if you’re wearing it, you probably have bigger things to worry about.



Sena SRL3 battery life

In my testing, streaming music at full volume via Bluetooth with the device next to it, the Sena SRL3 lasted about eight and a quarter hours (which is in line with the claimed life). This isn’t great compared to the 27 hours of the Sena Spider (the longest I’ve ever tested), and it’s a little down on the almost 10 hours of the 50S, so worth noting if you intend to tour.

Unfortunately, the Sena SRL3 cannot be charged while in use, so while it wouldn’t be an ideal setup, you can’t attach a cable and power bank to it while you ride. A full charge takes around two and a half hours.


Updating over the air requires this WiFi charging adaptor to be used


Ease of updating

The SRL3 is basically a Sena 50S, and with that comes the same, rather clunky updating system. Whereas Cardo devices have for a long time been updateable over the air via your smartphone app, this requires a supplied WiFi charging cable, which itself needs pairing to your home network, and should then update after charging.

Unfortunately, despite rebooting, the adaptor wouldn’t run an update (maybe it’s user error), so I had to resort to the computer-based Sena Device Manager, which supports Mac and PC but does mean having to plug your intercom in to update it.


Three alternatives to the Sena SRL3

If you want a dedicated intercom for your Shoei GT-Air 3 or Neotec 3, then your only choice is the Sena SRL 3. However, it is possible to fit your own intercom with a bit of fiddling, so here are three others to consider.

  • Sena Spider | RRP £209. The Spider is a Mesh-only device, which means it’ll pair with your phone via Bluetooth, but any communication with other riders or a pillion will require them to have a Sena Mesh unit. Read the full review of the Sena Spider ST1 here.

  • Cardo Packtalk Edge | RRP £356. The flagship from Cardo, this Mesh and Bluetooth comms has excellent audio quality and a very effective voice control system. Read the full review of the Cardo Packtalk Edge here.

  • Cardo Spirit HD | RRP £139. If all you really want is a reliable intercom for talking to your pillion, listening to music, hearing navigation instructions and maybe taking calls, the Bluetooth-only Spirit HD is a great device. It’s not got the rider-to-rider range of more premium systems but it’s still very capable. Read the full review of the Cardo Spirit HD here.

These are just three of many alternatives – you can find all the motorcycle intercoms we’ve tested here and be sure to regularly check for the discounts available through Bikesocial membership.


The mics and speakers are Harmon Kardon, though the firmware could perhaps improve the quality of music audio


Buying tip: Save on your Sena intercom without a discount code or voucher

As you probably know, VAT isn’t chargeable on motorcycle helmets in the UK, but that also means that, in many cases, if you buy the OE intercom at the same time, you don’t pay the VAT on that either.

At the time of writing, several dealers are offering 16.66% off most other intercoms when purchased with a helmet, which takes the price of the Sena SRL3 RRP down to £282.73. And you don’t need to use any discount codes or vouchers.


Sena SRL3 review: Verdict

The Sena SRL3 is a premium-priced intercom system with all the features of the top-end kit, but it’s let down by awkward controls, and voice control that doesn't – for me at least – perform as well as I'd hope.

If you want an intercom that fits into your Shoei Neotec 3 or GT-Air 3 perfectly, then this is the one, but it’s a shame to have to say that it could have been just that bit better. Intercom and phone conversations can be excellent with it though, and it’s got brilliant range on Mesh and Bluetooth.

The Sena SRL3 isn’t bad by any stretch, but as a flagship product on a flagship helmet, I’d have liked to have seen just a bit more polish.


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