The Sena 5S is a two-way intercom Bluetooth motorcycle headset built for entry-level riders and comes with an impressive list of features;
- Hear your buddy from nearly half a mile away
- Individual volume controls for unique audio sources
- Bluetooth 5.0 audio quality—pristine
What’s in the box?
Right out of the box you’ll find two speakers, two types of microphones, a headset clip, several velcro adhesives, and your 5S headset.
Since the 5S is built only for two-rider communication, Sena has a dual kit savings package where you can buy two 5S headsets, the saving varies but it generally works out to be a better deal.
When it comes to the quality and value you get for the price, the 5S can easily feel overpriced to beginner bikers. But compared to Sena’s other products, which are high-quality in their own right, the 5S is one of their budget options.
After researching, going through reviews, and testing it ourselves—we can’t help but recommend it.
Installing the 5S into your helmet can be a hit and miss depending on your helmet. It’s not impossible, just messy.
Putting it on
Starting with the two wired speakers, you’ll have to pop out the padding of your helmet to get these bad boys stuck snuggly in place.
Thankfully Sena has provided velcro for the speakers, in case your helmet doesn’t already have a dedicated slot for it.
They’ve also included some pads that you can put underneath the speakers. This is so you can move the headset closer to your ear, in case the socket of your helmet is too far away.
Once you’ve decided which side you want to put the Sena 5S as well as your microphone on, simply loosen the headset clip and attach it to the side of your helmet.
Pro-tip: Don’t tighten the clip yet, as we’ll want to adjust this, later on, to fit snuggly with your microphone. If you find the clip too tight to adjust, you can loosen it with the Allen wrench that comes in your package.
As far as the microphones go, Sena lets you choose between two types of mics.
One that attaches to your helmet through velcro and one that sticks out, kind of like a call center agent.
The velcro microphone works great for full-face helmets, but if you’re using an open face or modular helmet, then the call center microphone is the way to go.
All in all, the Sena 5S isn’t heavy at all and fits snuggly within your helmet. You won’t even notice you have about 3 feet of wiring passing through your helmet with how well it fits.
That said, the wires can be a little too long and you’ll usually end up with six to eight inches of extra wire that you have to fit snuggly behind your padding.
If you can get behind that, the Sena 5S is compatible with virtually all types of helmets out there. Sena adding in the choice between two microphones was a great choice for diversity.
The 5S comes with a standard clip mount that you attach to the side of your helmet. The clip’s tightness adjusts with a screw and Sena thoughtfully packed in an Allen wrench for your convenience.
The Sena 5S takes intuitive controls to the next level. If you’re not busy reading up a manual, then you’re getting direct feedback on your actions through the LED display.
We’ve all tried using a Bluetooth headset and feeling lost. The 5S LED display showing you everything that’s happening to your headset is a priceless feature that’s widely underrated.
Unfortunately, that’s where all the intuitiveness stops.
The Sena app is a huge hit and miss. There are various complaints and reviews about how Sena is slow to push out updates, sometimes even discontinuing software support for older versions outright. While our experience with the 5S app went smoothly, we can’t ignore the dozens of complaints in good faith.
The fact that Sena uses separate applications depending on the model of their headset is also a red flag. That means that either different teams handle different apps or that one team is managing several apps at once.
Using and pairing the 5S is thankfully a breeze.
In fact, using it is so seamless that some riders don’t even bother with the app. You can just connect the headset via Bluetooth, both to your phone and to your other rider.
The controls for it are fairly intuitive and the 5S offers Google and Siri support. There’s a dedicated button at the back of the 5S that you have to press to activate voice commands.
When it comes to backwards compatibility, the Sena 5S can pair to different Sena models and other types of Bluetooth devices through the use of Universal Intercom.
So, your friend with an older Sena model or your buddies with a different branded earpiece altogether can still reach you through the 5S.
As for GPS and directions, the 5S works flawlessly with navigation apps like Waze and Google, just like a regular headset.
The beauty in the 5S and other motorcycle headsets at this price range is their audio quality and range—we’ll talk about the range in a second. The 5S sports Bluetooth 5.0, which is the fastest Bluetooth connection possible at the moment.
With Bluetooth 5.0, you’re pretty much listening to your friends talk without a hiccup.
The Sena 5S doesn’t run into any distortion and cracking, so you can have full-on conversations as if your mate was right next to you.
However, several reviews have marked that the audio struggles at higher speeds, around 40 mph and above. While you can always increase your volume easily with the volume knob at the side, you should always be careful about your ears.
Tinnitus is common with motorcyclists who listen to loud music or don’t have ear protection while cruising through the road.
A pro tip you can try is testing out a couple of earplugs as you drive. The earplugs protect your ears and mellow out the high-pitch, struggling audio from your 5S speakers.
The best part about it is that you hear the speakers much clearer since you’re more aware of the sound that’s moving through your head via vibrations.
The Sena 5S will keep you connected as far as you can see.
The advertised working distance of the 5S is 700 meters or 0.4 miles in open terrain. This will lessen depending on the foliage and buildings that you drive around, though, so keep that in mind. In our experience, we’ve never had a problem with audio cutting out or the range being too short.
Just keep in mind that the 5S only supports up to two riders, so it’s not the best for group rides.
If your ass can handle half a day’s worth of riding without stiffening out, you can ride and talk up to 7 hours on the 5S without having to charge.
Granted, if you have a comfortable seat and a blubber butt, you can always charge it while on the road. A full charge only takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes, so charging on a break or lunch in between your rides can easily last you the whole day.
The 5S is advertised as water-resistant to inclement weather.
That usually means it can stand severe and harsh rains, so getting drenched is shouldn’t be a problem.
Now we aren’t sure if the water resistance only applies to the 5S, or to the microphone and speakers as well. While you can rest assured that your speakers are safely tucked in and dry, your microphone might not have the same benefit.
Listen to the radio, music, or your mom over the phone.
The 5S can connect to the FM radio or your phone from some tunes. There’s support for multiple audio sources, so much that the 5S has individual volume control for each source. The 5S also comes in four different profiles, Headset, Hands-Free, Advanced Audio Distribution, and Audio Video Remote Control.
It also comes with advanced noise control, and you have the option of having your voice play over your own speakers to help you hear yourself speak.
The 5S is a great earpiece for riders who are traveling in pairs. If you and your buddy frequently ride together, then the distance, audio quality, and intuitive controls of the Sena 5S are a must-try.
Just keep note that ride traveling in groups of three and more will want to give this a hard pass. It’s just built for two riders.
If you can get behind that, then the 0.4-mile range, 7-hour battery life, and Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity speak for themselves. We definitely recommend it. You can even save yourself some money by buying the dual-pack version for two!