Archive by Author
Jun 16, 2017

New tandem headset system

Recently my very ancient review on the Tandem Club of America website brought me in touch with a blind tandemist from the Amsterdam area. Richard was hell-bent on finding a great solution as he has many “pilots” who don’t hear well. After exploring the Wiwi from Korea which looked promising but they were impossible to communicate with and had no refunds and another system that was $1000+ designed for surgeons, we settled on giving the Arbiter a try. They’re designed for, and widely used by, referees and sold in the USA with a brief return policy. They’re not inexpensive, about $500 for a pair with headsets (use the $25 coupon code you get when you subscribe). We decided given that our old Simultalk from Eartec was needing repair and they’re not making it anymore and we were tired of the wires of our very old Tandem-Com (note they do offer a wireless system but it’s using Eartec’s Simultalk) that it was worth trying the Arbiter since we’d have a narrow 3-day return window.

We rode about 55 miles yesterday with our new Arbiter system. Here’s a summary of the pros and cons. Bottom line, we’re keeping it.

Pros:

  • small & light weight
  • well-made and sturdy construction
  • excellent headset, can easily switch ears as needed
  • no interference experienced between us or with others around us
  • charged quickly in wall
  • wind did not seem to be an issue
  • Full Duplex Communication System (No Push-To-Talk required)
  • Waterproof (IP65)
  • lasted way longer than any other device we’ve tried which is a HUGE plus for us (advertised as 10+ Hours of battery Life)
  • Charged in about 2 hours (advertised as a charging Time: 3 Hours)
  • We could talk when pretty far apart (2 floors in our building still worked without line-of-site, and when it finally didn’t work and I returned to range it reconnected automatically) advertised up to 800-meter line-of-sight range
  • 1 Year Warranty

Cons:

  • the antennae and headsets plug protrude from opposite ends of the device. Not a huge problem but slightly awkward for putting in a jersey pocket
  • the headset cord is short….just long enough to go under the arm to the back pocket. Would be too short to use these headsets in a wired device as stoker couldn’t stand if connected to captain by wires. They are reportedly working on making it longer and it’s not an issue now.
  • sound quality was not as high fidelity as I’d like. Several times Spencer sounded garbled enough that I had to have him repeat. This was close to a deal-breaker for me but since Spencer’s hearing is not that great he didn’t notice. And I like so much about it we both think it’ll be OK. Their rep suggested we re-pair when away from any other blue-tooth to see if that helped. They were surprised as they’re known for good sound quality.
  • Bluetooth pairing has to occur and took a while to figure out. Then turning it on each time is a multi-step process which we’re still learning but not a big deal. The documentation for this is not great. But once you have it you never need it again.
  • You have to reestablish the necessary volume setting each time since it’s a +/- system and not a dial that can be left at the setting.

I’ll report back after we ride STP with it next month. That’s back-to-back centuries. We’ll need to charge overnight but theoretically they should hold up each day without issue.

May 8, 2017

Tandem Headset Review

This article originally appeared in the printed Doubletalk Magazine in 2012 and then migrated to the Tandem Club’s website. We’ve been riding tandem since 1999. My Captain has a hereditary hearing loss so having some assisted listening device has been essential to our happiness riding together. In case you’ve never run into a tandem headset, […]

Aug 7, 2016

Community is more than the building

It’s been a long six years and a particularly long last six months but we’ve finally arrived. Persistence pays off! We moved into CHUC (Capitol Hill Urban Cohousing) on June 14, 2016. Backstory Spencer and I have long been interested in community and in cohousing. We explored it with our friends Larry & Karin in […]

Aug 6, 2016

Community mosaic completed

Last March, 2015 we posted about Sheila winning an AARP Essay Contest and that we were splitting the proceeds between our Banff-Jasper bike tour and creating a mosaic for our community’s entry. The completed mosaic went up a few weeks ago and is all we hoped it to be. It makes a stunning impression as […]

Aug 24, 2015

Day 8 – Jasper

Monday, August 24: 35 miles / 934 ft. elevation gain / TOTALS: gain: 20,428′ / miles: 355.5 We left first today to have time to tear down the bike in Jasper in time for our 1:45 bus ride out. And since it was mostly down, we really rocked. Again, it was very cold. But we […]

Aug 23, 2015

Day 7 – Columbia Icefield

Sunday, August 23: 61 miles/ 3,362 ft. elevation gain / Cumulative gain 19,404′ We left this morning at the scheduled start time of 8:30. Somehow it had gotten pushed back to 9 without our knowledge. What the heck, we’ll just get in some early morning miles. It was freezing cold again especially since the first […]

Aug 22, 2015

Day 6 – Glaciers and Lakes

Saturday, August 22: 51 miles/ 2,692 ft. elevation gain / Cumulative gain 16,072′ It was still bitterly cold in the morning when we woke at Lake Louise (top) so Rich decided they’d shuttle us all up to Lake Moraine (bottom) for a look-about. That also would allow us to start riding when it was warmer. […]

Aug 21, 2015

Day 5 – Banff to Lake Louise

Friday, August 21: 1.6 miles / 10 ft. elevation gain / Cumulative gain 13,380 The rain that started yesterday came and went all night long. At our 8 AM tour meeting, we were told that the ride was a “go” and we should be ready to leave at 9. It wasn’t raining at the moment […]

Aug 20, 2015

Day 4 – Highwood Pass / Banff

Thursday, August 20: 57 miles / 3,533 ft. elevation gain / Cumulative gain 13,370 This was to be our most unpleasant day of the trip so far. Unmet expectations were the root cause.It was too far to ride from Waterton to Banff, about 231 miles. The plan was to shuttle us to the designated start at the bottom […]

Aug 19, 2015

Day 3 – Glacier to Waterton Lakes

Wednesday, August 19: 49 miles / 3,359 ft. elevation gain / Cumulative gain 10,017′ This morning we discovered we hadn’t read the tour offering very carefully and in fact breakfasts are not being provided. Oops. Another unmet expectation. These were going to crop up all week. There must be a lesson here. But we enjoyed bowls […]