I just wrote a detailed post on ADV answering a question about bike-2-bike setups. I figured I post it here as well for future referrance
As we started doing more extended trips my wife required that we have some sort of way to talk to each other while riding. Since we each have our own bikes radios seemed like a better idea that soup cans and string.
After asking the same questions that started this thread I came up with this solution, but it wasn't exactly cheap. The constant piece of advice it got from fellow riders and anyone I knew that was into HAM was to invest in quality equipment from the start cause you will end up with it anyway.
With that in mind I found a pair of used Kenwood TK3101 radios on ebay for $125. The are programmable and have a 2watt transmitter. I figured a generation old technology should still work for what we want to do, and I didn't want to spend $300 for each radio. The seller programmed the handsets to FRS/GMRS bands.
I was able to find battery eliminators for these radios that were affordable ($20 a radio) and it's a much better solution than having to worry about battery life and charging.
The radios live in our tank bags and I installed bulk head connectors so we can unplug the bag and take it with us if needed.
After a couple test rides we discovered the real world range of our tank bag set up sucked we had about 150ft range. So I wondered down to a HAM radio shop I knew about in North Seattle. After talking with the very knowledgeable, but cranky older gentelman that ran the shop he came up with a antenna solution that has worked very well. He sold me 2 Workman KS-1 antennas and 2 BNC-SMA adapters. I wanted something that would increase our range, but still be small enough to not be a hassle to live with.
(I can't post a pic of the wife's bike torn apart waiting for a shock rebuild)
I found a place on each bike to mount the antenna then made a little mount out of some 2" angle iron I had laying around. So far the magnetic bases have held very well in all sorts of terrain. That was the best $50 I'd spend on this project. Our range improved to about 2 real world miles. When we're out on forest service roads either one of us had to suck dust, but we can still communicate when needed.
All totaled adding the com system cost about a grand. Here's a quick break down:
For 1 bike
Bulk head connectors $10
Battery eliminators $20
Starcom Advance $260 with ADV discount at bikeeffects.com
Misc starcom cables $125
Misc generic cables $15
I did find a few ways to cut some costs cause I'm a cheap bastard, but no I don't ride a KLR. Since we still wanted some usable tank bag space we mounted the starcom units under the seat on both bikes. This required extension cables for the radio, headset and PTT switch. The starcom unit uses PS/2 connectors for the headsets and radio cables and S-video connector for the PTT switch. I was able to source these extension cables from www.pchcables.com
for a few dollars a piece instead of the $18 a cable from starcom. I was able to get all the extension cables I need from PCH for under $30 This saved me about a hundred bucks between the 2 bikes.