Ham radios come in various types and classifications. These devices enable you to communicate across cities or globally without using a smartphone or the internet. As you may already know, not every ham radio is the same.
If you are seeking a device that you can use while riding a motorcycle, your options are pretty limited. But happily, the research has been done for you. Below is a list of the 5 best ham radios for motorcycles.
Top 5 Ham Radios for Motorcycle
|1||Yaesu FTM-400D/XDR||Best Overall|
|2||BTECH Mobile UV-50X3||Best Range|
|3||TYT TH-8600||Best Waterproof|
|4||KenWood TM-V71A||Best Weather Information|
|5||TYT TH-9800D||Easy to Install|
The Best Ham Radio for Motorcycle: Yaesu FTM-400D/XDR
The Yaesu FTM-400D is a feature-loaded radio within a small package. The device is compact enough to be installed on any type of motorcycle.
So, whether you have a scooter, cruiser, sportbike, or a full dresser, this mobile radio can fit easily on your vehicle. The FTM-400D features a detachable control head.
With this feature, you can detach the radio’s head and mount it at the front section of your vehicle such as the fairing or handlebars. You can then mount the body anywhere out of sight.
The best method to power a full-on mobile ham radio is by linking it directly to your vehicle’s battery. Thankfully, it is very easy to achieve that with this Yaesu ham radio.
Included in the package is a fused wiring harness that enables you to wire the device directly to your bike’s battery. The Yaesu FTM-400D also scores high points concerning audio.
The radio is loud, vibrant, and clear. This feature is especially loved by motorcycle ham radio operators. Most previous buyers report that they are able to hear everything in crystal-clear detail even while coasting down the interstate.
This unit does not feature integrated Bluetooth. However, you can attach a bluetooth adapter so you can enjoy the perks of a Bluetooth headset and microphone.
If you mount the FTM-400D on your bike, it will obviously be exposed to rain and water splashes.
Sadly, this radio is not waterproof but its compact construction means you can easily cover it with a waterproof material to prevent water ingress. If your vehicle has a waterproof storage space, this would be a great place to mount this unit.
The radio has a max power output of 50 watts. Several previous purchasers report that they have been able to transmit over 60 miles with this transceiver.
To enhance the transmission range, you will need to purchase and install a dependable antenna such as the CA-2X4SRB mobile antenna by Comet.
Another fascinating feature of this Yaesu radio is its enhanced GPS receiver that employs state-of-the-art GPS technology. With this feature, you can enjoy quicker and more precise satellite searching functionality.
The Yaesu FTM-400D/XDR also features APRS functionality. APRS is an acronym for Automated Packet Reporting System.
The benefit of APRS is that it transmits digitally and in real-time, as well as in a wide variety of formats. You can send weather alerts, GPS position reports, short text messages, as well as other info using the APRS functionality.
A programming cable is also included in the kit. You will need this cable to program the channels as well as install software updates.
Most previous buyers also say the installation was simple. The kit includes all required fuses, wiring, double-sided tape, plus brackets for a hassle-free installation.
- Weight: 2.64 pounds
- Max output power: 50 watts
- Dimensions: 5.5 x 4.9 x 1.6 inches
- Frequency range: 144/430 megahertz Dual band transceiver
- APRS functionality
- GPS receiver
- Twin receive
- Analog plus c4FM digital fusion facility
- Optional camera speaker/mic available
- Optional Bluetooth available
- 12 volts DC power cable
- Mounting bracket
- Face separation kit
- Big beautiful display
- High-quality sound
- GPS functionality
- APRS functionality
- Excellent range
- Programmable on-screen buttons
- Highly durable
- Complicated user manual
- Somewhat pricey
How to Use Yaesu FTM-400D Ham Radio?
The Yaesu FTM-400D is a complex device. A user manual is included in the kit. A few users report that they did not get the whole story from the user manual and had to turn to youtube for installation help.
However, make sure you read this manual thoroughly. It contains loads of important information that will guide you through the several features and capabilities of this radio.
Remember that this device is not waterproof. Being an electronic device, it will get damaged if water seeps into the electronic circuitry. For this reason, you should consider installing a waterproof box on your bike and then mount this unit inside the box.
To ensure your radio lasts you a long time, follow these maintenance and care tips:
- Only use accessories that are designed to work with the Yaesu FTM-400D
- Do not subject your device to excessive shock or physical abuse
- Do not expose your device to corrosives, mineral spirits, cleaners or solvents
- Do not expose this transceiver to direct sunlight for extended periods
- When you need to clean the radio, make sure it is turned off
- If the radio gets wet, dry it immediately using a clean microfiber cloth
User Reviews and Feedback on Yaesu FTM-400D Ham Radio
Fans of the Yaesu FTM-400D have had several positive things to say regarding the products. Below are a few of their remarks:
- The product’s GPS functionality has won the admiration of most users. Many users say it helps them find their way when on unknown grounds
- Many previous buyers rate the product very high for its ease of use
- Several reviewers report that mounting this product on their motorcycles was a hassle-free process
- Most previous purchasers are happy with the product’s audio quality. These users report that they could understand clearly all messages being relayed even at highway speeds
- Many previous purchasers are happy that the device features an optional Bluetooth functionality
There have also been some negative user remarks about the features of the Yaesu FTM-400D.
- Several users note that this Yaesu radio is pricey. Nevertheless, these users also note that the product offers great value for the dollar.
- Many reviewers are not happy that users are allowed to use only about 15 characters when naming a memory channel
What Makes Yaesu FTM-400D/XDR the Best Ham Radio for Motorcycle?
The Yaesu FTM-400D/XDR is compact enough to be fitted on any type of motorcycle. It is highly durable and can survive the nonstop pounding/vibrations that your vehicle will encounter on the road.
The radio can get local NOAA stations within the area you are riding in so you can be aware of the present plus upcoming weather conditions. It has a superb audio quality so you can communicate more clearly while riding.
The device has GPS capabilities to ensure you never get lost during your outing. It can transmit long range up to 60 miles and you can easily connect the device to your vehicle’s battery. These features and more make the FTM-400D the best Ham radio for motorcycles.
4 More Top Rated Ham Radios for Motorcycle
1. TYT TH-8600
The TYT TH-8600 comes with notable features that make it an outstanding ham radio for motorcycle. The device’s max output power is 25 watts and the transmission frequency range is in the neighborhood of 144 – 148 MHz (VHF/UHF).
This high-frequency transmission range means you can communicate with government agencies or emergency services even when you are in remote locations.
Another reason the TYT TH-8600 is a superb ham radio for motorcycles is its compact construction. Though a motorcycle is beneficial for getting around, this vehicle type has limited storage.
If you opt for a large-sized mobile transceiver, your bike may not be able to accommodate it due to space constraints. This is why a compact radio like the TYT TH-8600 works great for motorcycles.
Users have also scored this radio high concerning durability. Several users have described it as stable, solid, and robust.
Having a durable ham radio on your motorcycle is beneficial as it will be better able to withstand the stresses and vibrations of the vehicle.
Most previous buyers agree that the TYT TH-8600 is reasonably priced. The kit contains the radio itself, microphone, USB programming cable, screws & mounting brackets, user manual, plus a 12 volts DC power cord.
You can easily connect the unit to your bike’s battery using the DC power cord. The USB programming cable is included to allow for easy computer programming with software.
The transceiver features 200 channels. This means you have greater options regarding versatility and privacy. You will need to purchase a reliable antenna, mount for the antenna as well as a coaxial cable for superior performance.
Another fantastic benefit offered by the TYT TH-8600 is its excellent waterproof and dust-proof rating. The radio has a 67 IP rating, which means you do not have to worry about the device getting damaged if it gets into contact with water.
This is a key benefit for ham radio users who are also motorcycle riders. When riding in the rain, your device will get in contact with water except if it is installed within a waterproof holder.
- Waterproof & dust-proof mobile radio
- Compact design
- Long-range transmission capability
- Offers 200 channels for a secure and private communication
- Not chirp compatible
- A few users report that programming this radio is a somewhat difficult process
2. BTECH Mobile UV-50X3
The BTECH mobile UV-50X3 is perhaps the most adaptable two-way radio on the market. It has a somewhat unique construction, thus you have to be a little inventive when mounting it on your bike.
You will require an operating voltage source of 13.8 volts to power the radio. Your motorcycle battery should be capable of meeting this requirement.
The UV-50X3 features selectable power output, which includes 50 Watts (High), 20 watts (mid), and 5 watts (low). With the 50 watts of power, you can broadcast up to 60 miles range.
To boost range, you will have to install and dependable antenna on your motorcycle. The manufacturers recommend the Nagoya UT-72 antenna but check to see that this antenna can be mounted on your bike.
Included in the kit are UV-50X3, 10 – inch DC cable, DTMF microphone, front panel, suction cup, bracket, 15-inch panel cable, user manual, and fan kit.
The front panel of the UV-50X3 is distinct from the radio’s main body. This is one of the features that make the device a fantastic ham radio for motorcycles. This feature lets you mount the radio remotely or out of sight on your bike.
The front panel can then be mounted anywhere you can easily access it while riding. You will require the included standard ethernet cable for this.
You can connect the mic either on the chassis or the panel. The unit is not waterproof thus be sure to cover it using a reliable waterproof material when riding in wet weather.
The BTECH Mobile offers 1000 memory channels plus 2 distinct separate memory banks. This allows you a great deal of flexibility concerning storing your frequently utilized channels/privacy code combinations.
Both devices’ audio is also rated highly. One speaker is fitted on the main unit while two are installed on the control head. Several previous purchasers report that the sound quality from these speakers is superb.
This transceiver features a large and simple-to-use LCD. This LCD is clear, bright, and conveys all of the usual info that you require to see at any point in time.
The screen button functions are properly labeled to ensure you do not get confused. The radio features a durable and robust chassis that is made to last.
Thus, when riding your bike on off-road tracks, you can rest easy knowing that your radio can endure the bumps and twists you will come across during your journeys.
- Versatile mounting options
- Great audio quality
- Allows long-range transmissions
- Selectable power output
- Clear and wide LCD
- Not waterproof
3. Kenwood TM-V71A
Best Weather Information
The Kenwood TM-V71A is a fairly sophisticated ham radio. It comes with some impressive attributes that make it a great ham radio for motorcycles. The product’s power output is inspiring at 50 watts.
Most reviewers report that they regularly hit repeaters 50+ miles away with this power output. When traveling with your motorcycle, you will require a radio system that transmits long range.
The Kenwood TM-V71A also has an impressive audio quality. Communicating with other radio users while riding is not so simple owing to all the noise from other vehicles and wind speed.
The voice quality of this Kenwood radio model is fantastic. Most reviewers agree that it allows for clear conversations even while riding a motorcycle.
The V71A also features a mic plus 2 speaker outlets. This means you can use a headset with this radio. Using a headset allows you to communicate hands-free whenever you need to.
It also helps ensure you focus fully on the road while riding. Headsets are available in a wide variety of functions, styles, and price points. You can easily find one that works well with this device.
This radio will give you access to weather reports in the areas you are traveling through. This is a superb benefit when you are traveling with a motorcycle.
The weather can change within minutes and regular weather reports will help you avoid rainstorms plus other extreme weather situations.
The V71A’s control head is also detachable meaning that you can mount the chassis remotely. The device offers up to 1000 memory channels so you can communicate more securely.
While the V71A comes with advanced features, most previous buyers rate it very high concerning ease of use.
The user manual that comes with the kit is highly comprehensive and easy to understand. It is recommended you read this user manual as it will help you get accustomed to the device as well as its functioning a lot quicker.
- Advanced controls
- Weather reports
- Impressive audio quality
- Easy to read the user manual
- Long-range transmissions
- Not waterproof
4. TYT TH-9800D
Easy to Install
One of the best features of this TYT mobile ham radio is its ease of installation. The front is removable so you can mount the chassis out of sight while the head is fitted at the front of your motorcycle for easy access.
The device comes with all the items that you would require to separate the head from the chassis. A 10-foot front controller separation wire is included in the package.
If you opt to install full-on mobile ham radio on your motorcycle, one issue you will have to resolve is how to power the device.
Thankfully, powering the TYT TH-9800D will not be a big issue if you choose to mount it on your bike. All you have to do is connect the device to your 12 volts motorcycle battery and you are good to go.
The product arrives with a DC power cable for easy connection to your vehicle’s battery.
The device’s 50 watts max output is loads of power. The 50 watts output power is more than enough to reach air traffic several hundred miles within simplex alone.
And, if you have a great antenna system, you can attain even more distance. Remember that the output power is selectable. For UHF, you have 35/20/10/5 watts. And for VHF, you have 50/20/10/5 watts.
The TYT TH-9800D is also an extraordinarily robust two-way radio. This is an essential feature to survive the endless pounding/vibrations that your bike will encounter on the road.
The device has been drop-tested and established to survive the impact from a height of 3 meters. Thus this radio will serve you for a very long time before it will need to be replaced.
The speaker, transmission, and reception audio quality are exceptional. This feature will help make your life simpler when you are trying to communicate with others while riding.
Several users have complained that the mic fitted on this radio distorts voice when it is held close to the mouth. Happily, you can avoid this problem by using an in-helmet system with a boom mic attached.
Several reviewers recommend this device for being a functional, great value for the dollar quad-band radio. You can program the radio to receive all of NOAA weather info via their WX frequencies.
You can program the device manually following the instructions in the user manual. You can also program it using CHIRP. A programming cable is included within the kit for this purpose.
- Adjustable power
- Reasonably priced quad-band radio
- Highly durable
- Excellent sound quality
- Wide range transmissions
- Some users report that programming this radio with CHIRP is a bit challenging
How to Select the Best Ham Radio for Motorcycle?
When selecting a ham radio for your bike, look out for the following unique features to get the appropriate device for your requirements.
1. Mobile Vs Handheld Ham Radio
Your motorcycle can take you very far distances. For this reason, you require a radio that will enable you to communicate across enormous distances.
This way, if you get stuck somewhere or have an emergency, you can easily reach out to other radio users or emergency services for assistance.
While many handheld ham radios will allow you to transmit long-range, mobile ham devices are arguably your best bet as they offer greater distance transmissions and functionalities.
All the radios recommended in this post are mobile ham radios that you can mount on your motorcycle. These radios will let you transmit long range and you can hit repeaters several miles away.
If you have a great antenna system, you can attain even more distance.
2. GPS functionality
The feature will come in handy if a GPS system is not fitted on your motorcycle. The GPS functionality will help ensure you do not get lost when riding within unfamiliar territory.
Also, if you are riding with a team, team members can track one another using the GPS feature.
The Yaesu FTM-400D/XDR on this list offers GPS functionality
If you opt to install a ham radio on your motorcycle, then you must be aware that it will be exposed to the elements. Sometimes you may have to ride through rainstorms or dust clouds.
Thus, you will require a dependable transceiver that can stand up well against adverse weather conditions. Otherwise, your expensive device may wind up getting damaged due to exposure to moisture or dust.
If you are seeking a waterproof ham radio for a motorcycle, you may want to check out the TYT TH-8600.
With its IP 67 rating, this device can stand up well against dust and water ingress.
4. Sound Quality
Communicating between devices while riding a motorcycle may not be such a simple undertaking.
Wind noise, as well as noise from passing vehicles, can make it hard to hear messages. Having a device with exceptional speaker quality will help ensure you can converse more clearly with others while riding.
The Yaesu FTM-400D is the winner concerning audio quality.
Most reviewers agree that the radio is loud, vibrant, and clear. And, while the transceiver does not feature an integrated bluetooth, you can connect a Bluetooth adapter so you can enjoy the benefits of a bluetooth headset plus a microphone.
5. Access to Weather Information
A transceiver that gives you access to weather information can be highly beneficial when you are traveling with your motorcycle. Such information can help you avoid driving through rainstorms or other adverse weather conditions.
The Kenwood TM-V71A is the winner regarding giving access to weather information.
The device can get local NOAA stations within the area you are riding in so you can be aware of the present plus upcoming weather conditions.
Comparison of Top 5 Ham Radios for Motorcycle
|Ham Radio||Weight||Dimension||Maximum Power||Maximum operational Distance||Waterproof|
|Yaesu FTM-400D/XDR||2.6 pounds||5.5 x 4.9 x 1.6 inches||50 watts||60 miles||No|
|BTECH Mobile UV-50X3||4 pounds||5.6 x 1.8 x 6 inches||50 watts||60 miles||No|
|TYT TH-8600||3.43 pounds||4.2 x 1.8 x 1.6 inches||25 watts||30 miles||Yes|
|KenWood TM-V71A||3.3 pounds||5.51 x 8.39 x 1.69 inches||50 watts||50 miles||No|
|TYT TH-9800D||2.65 pounds||4.49 x 2.24 x 1.3 inches||50 Watts||50 miles||No|
The transceivers recommend in this post offer impressive features that make them fantastic radios for motorcycles. If you regularly travel through wet weather, then the TYT TH-8600 may be the best option for you.
If you require a durable ham radio with fantastic sound quality and long-range transmission capability, then you may want to settle for the Yaesu FTM-400D/XDR. This device is easy to waterproof and it gives you access to weather information.