Sena is a leading name in motorcycle comms, and their new Spider ST1 Mesh offers some outstanding features.
The ST1 is an entry-level intercom that misses out on some of the extra features of the more expensive models, such as Bluetooth Intercom, voice control, and FM radio.
But do you really need these features, or is Sena’s Mesh intercom system sufficient for your needs? We answer this question and more below.
Mesh Intercom Technology
Sena brings their Mesh 2.0 technology to more riders with the affordable Spider ST1 headset. It features both Mesh Intercom and Bluetooth device connections and is perfect for solo and group riding.
What’s in the box?
The Spider ST1 is available in single and dual packs, with the twin pack generally offered at a reduced price compared to buying two single packs.
Along with the one or two actual Spider ST1 units, you’ll also find everything you need to fit the unit to your helmet and get started, including:
- Helmet mounting kit for quick and secure attachment and removal
- A pair of HD quality speakers
- Boom mic for open-face helmets
- Two boom mic foam noise-reducing covers
- Low profile wired mic for the inside of full-face helmets
- 3M Velcro pads for securing the speakers inside your helmet
- Speaker spacers to bring the speakers closer to your ears if required
- USB-C power and data cable
- Easy to use instructions on fitting the Spider and how to use it
Installing and mounting
Installing the Spider ST1 into your helmet is straightforward using the supplied items in the kit. Still, it may take a little fiddling to get the perfect position.
Sena provides several Velcro pads in the box to help with speaker and mic positioning. The cables are very thin, making them easy to tuck behind the cheek pads and helmet padding.
Open-face helmets are the easiest, but the Sena can be attached in just a few minutes, even with a full-face helmet.
- To fit the main unit. You have two options here. Use the pre-prepared 3M sticky pad to glue the mounting to the side of your helmet, or use the clip-on mounting. The unit then clips to the mounting pad.
- Fit your headphones using the supplied Velcro pads, plus the speaker boosters if required to move them closer to your ears. Most modern helmets have dedicated cut-outs for the speakers.
- Choose whichever mic fits your helmet best, and use the Velcro pads to mount it in line with your mouth. You have to use the boom mic with an open-face helmet, but it’s easy to position.
Once everything is attached to the helmet, the control unit clips on and off. Once in place, you don’t notice the control unit. It weighs just over two pounds, and the sleek, thin design doesn’t catch the wind while riding.
Mesh 2.0 Intercom
Sena introduced the Spider ST1 to bring the Mesh 2.0 Intercom system to a cheaper product offering.
The Mesh 2.0 system simplifies connection to other Mesh enabled intercoms in your vicinity. Just push the Mesh Intercom button once, and you will hear, “Mesh intercom on, Open Mesh, Channel 1”.
With the Mesh Intercom enabled, you will automatically connect with any other MESH systems nearby. This is the Open Mesh, and according to Sena, the number of connections is unlimited.
Obviously, with 10 or 20 riders all connected and wanting to talk, it would soon descend into chaos, so Sena has limited the number of active talking connections to six simultaneously. Even six could be hard work!
To make the Mesh system more user-friendly, Sena has provided nine separate channels, which you can use to make a Group Mesh. Each Group Mesh allows up to 24 riders to connect, and you can only join a Group Mesh if you are invited.
One of the significant advantages of the Mesh Intercom is an increase in the connection range. Sena claims the range is up to 1.2 miles (2 Km) with no obstructions between two riders. In reality, it’s a little less than this but adequate for two riders.
With the Mesh Intercom, adding another rider to the Mesh extends that range by another claimed 1.2 miles. This is because units within the mesh act as relays, connecting to other Mesh-enabled devices up to 1.2 miles in front or behind.
The maximum claimed range of a Mesh group is up to 5 miles (8 Km) when at least six riders are connected.
In reality, don’t expect to achieve these distances on your intercom. Okay, between two riders on a straight, flat road, you might get up to 1.2 miles, but the range quickly reduces as soon as you throw in some twists or inclines.
For Mesh-connected groups spread out over several miles, achieving a connection over 5 miles is unrealistic.
However, Mesh-enabled units will reconnect quickly and seamlessly once you are back in range, improving connectivity and your intercom experience.
Standard Bluetooth pairing connects your Spider ST1 to other devices, but it’s not used for the intercom. You’ll have no issue if you’ve ever paired your smartphone to another Bluetooth device.
Pairing is rapid and allows you to connect to multiple devices, such as your smartphone or dedicated GPS.
Sena now offers its HD speakers with most new models, previously only found on the Sena 50 Series.
This is a big step forward in sound quality and volume over the standard speaker. With them correctly mounted in your helmet, you won’t have an issue.
Of course, sound quality also depends greatly on the helmet and wind noise. Still, the Sena Spider ST1 also includes their Advanced Noise Control system and an Audio Equalizer to adjust the bass, mid and treble volumes.
Wearing ear protection will also help with sound quality by cutting out a lot of wind noise.
The Sena Spider has minimal voice control. The only voice control option is to answer a telephone call by saying hello or blowing into the mic when a call comes in. However, even this option is disabled when connected to the intercom.
If voice control interests you, you’ll need to check out the more expensive models in the Sena range, such as the 50S.
I’ve been a Sena user for years, using a 10S system with my wife, and the battery life has always been impressive. The Spider ST1 is no different. Even with a few phone calls, streaming music, and connecting to the Mesh, the battery should allow a full day’s riding.
Charging the battery usually takes around an hour, but with just a 20-minute charge, the Spider will give you several hours of use.
This is an interesting point, as Sena doesn’t claim that their unit is waterproof or matches the waterproof IP rating. Sena has never given an IP waterproof rating for any of its products.
Despite using my Sena 10S in torrential rain, it has never failed, so it is strange why they do not add the rating to their products.
Even without the IP rating, you will not have an issue with your Sena Spider ST1 in whatever conditions you choose to ride.
Missing FM radio feature
It’s a shame that Sena decided not to include the radio feature on the Spider range. You can set up the radio on your smartphone and listen to it that way, but a simple tuner and station preset on the Spider would have been a nice touch.
Sena Motorcycle App
Adjusting the settings on the Sena has always been an easy task. Using their app and the Spider is no different. The app allows you to easily set the preferred options for your device through a computer screen.
Sena offers a full two-year warranty, with ongoing support directly through the company website, forums, and social media.
Extra Points To Be Aware Of
By not including Bluetooth intercom on the Spider ST1, Sena has removed backward compatibility to its older models that do not have the Mesh Intercom system. This means you cannot connect the Spider to other manufacturers’ intercom systems, such as Cardo.
Suppose you intend to use your intercom with friends that have other systems. In that case, you’ll need to buy one of Sena’s other systems, which includes Bluetooth connectivity.
On the flip side of this limitation, Sena does offer a +Mesh device, which can be added to any Sena non-Mesh intercom to make it Mesh-compatible. This means anyone with older Sena systems can still join a Mesh without buying a new intercom.
Sena’s Spider ST1 is an entry-level system designed to allow access to their Mesh Intercom system without buying a top-end product such as the 50S. Without a doubt, that is the best feature of the Spider ST1.
For most people, the Spider will be perfectly adequate. If you don’t want all the fancy features on the more expensive models, then the Spider is a great choice.