Product Review: Sena R1 EVO Helmet


Most famous for the communications equipment designed for motorcycle riders, a few years ago Sena jumped into the bicycle market with the X1. It featured their Mesh technology, which allows riders to be up to 900 feet apart in open terrain, and up to four riders could piggyback onto the system to allow 900 feet between each rider. This is using USB, a standard that is usually good for only 33 feet, but somehow Sena uses their special magic to make it up to 90 times more range!

The new R1 EVO takes that already impressive performance to the next level. Mesh 2.0 keeps the 900 meter range, but lets you add virtually an unlimited number of riders. Where the Mesh 1.0 had to keep a certain order to relay the signal, the Mesh 2.0 does not. Pairing helmets is also far easier, with just one press of a button on the helmet. Take, for example, four riders in open terrain: they can talk to each other up to .68 miles away (with the right spacing between each rider). 

There are nine channels, so if you’re leading a group or groups, you can talk to them individually.

“The sound quality is surprisingly good and works well, even when at almost a whisper when you’re in a headwind.” 


Thanks to Bluetooth 4.1, the helmet can connect to your smartphone, allowing you to make phone calls, hear GPS navigation, listen to music and even connect to Sena’s Cycling app to add things like FM radio (with up to 10 presets). You can even use voice control in the helmet. It has a microphone built in above your forehead and speakers above your ears. 

The sound quality is surprisingly good and works well even when at almost a whisper when you’re in a headwind. The fact that the speakers are over your ears means that you can still clearly hear everything around you. It’s also compatible with many fitness apps.


The R1 EVO also adds an LED taillight that offers a couple of modes. It can cut into a little of the battery’s intercom talk time, dropping it from 10 hours to as few as seven on a full charge via micro-USB. It takes two hours to fully charge the helmet, but a 20-minute charge can get 3 hours of intercom time according to Sena. We had one on a ride that only had been charged for 20 minutes. At 2.5 hours, it warned of low battery, but we rode
for another hour and it was still working fine.

The helmet itself is made of EPS with a polycarbonate shell, and is available in matte black or white and comes in three sizes—small, medium and large. The Sena lids use the same round fit model for all their helmets, so if you have a round head, it will fit like a glove. If your head is oval, it’ll be a bit loose on the sides. There’s a dial adjuster in the back to make it snug, and the nylon chinstrap is soft and easy to adjust. Total weight is 405 grams (medium). 


The new helmet with a visor is really nice. Sound quality is as good as the previous models, but the new system is easier to connect. If you ride with friends, the R1 EVO is an outstanding way to communicate without yelling, as well as a great way to teach beginner riders the rules and talk them through tricky areas (e.g. technical mountain biking sections). It’s certainly also a good way to keep in touch while riding; if you take a break but need to take a phone call, you don’t have to stop your ride to do it. The helmets aren’t cheap, but the technology really helps make riding more fun, and best of all, safe.

Price: $159

Weight: 405 grams (medium)

Sizes: S, M, L

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