Ideal two-ways for 2010 Cross-Country Cycling Trip?


I hope that the title grabbed your attention, because it is true. I and a group of three other guys are planning on making a trek across the US on bike in the summer of 2010 to raise money for a local charity as well as it’s affiliated national organization. We plan on flying out to Seattle, WA and biking all the way up to Portland, ME.

As we have been planning our trip (I know…we’re starting extra early, but that’s what it’ll take to pull something to this size off), we’ve started to try and think of every possible thing that we will need to do or take with us on the trip. I was thinking the other day, “Ok, so from past experience I know it’s hard to hear each other talk while riding on bikes…probably due to the wind, so would there be a way to fix this so we could easily communicate with one another?” I came to the conclusion that gee whilickers, I think that two-way radios are the best route to go considering cell phones would not have service in several areas.

So, I began scouring the vast internet for reviews, and to my surprise there are not many on two-way radios! Well, it is SUCH a relief to have found this site! I have read several forum postings, but thought I would try my hand at posting a new thread, just to see what recommendations people bring in.

Ok, so here’s what I was thinking. I’d like to get radios that are:

-Not too expensive (no more than $100 for a pair)
-Waterproof (we’d be riding through rain many times)
-Compatible with waterproof/ weatherproof throat-mics (you may suggest some brands if you know of any, or I was thinking Firefox Technologies)
-Have a good/ excellent range for their class
-Send/ receive clear and understandable transmissions
-Receive NOAA weather advisories (this is a must!)
-Can be powered by AAs (because we’d be riding backroads for several days until we’d stop at a Walmart or something for supplies)
-Have a fairly-loud speaker
-Can easily understand the other persons
-Get’s the best or really good battery life. (w/ both AA’s and rechargeables)
-Did I mention compatible w/ some type of weatherproof throat mics? :wink:

So, mainly, knowing the above information, what would you recommend the most?

Reading a lot of the postings at this forum, I’ve come to the conclusion that the best route to go is either a Midland GXT-800-VP4 or the Motorola T9500XLR? Is this what you would have recommended? Would you recommend these over the Cobra PR 270-2 VP 14-Mile Radio? Does Cobra make good two-ways?

Also, I can’t seem to find the Midland GXT-800-VP4 online to purchase anymore (if we decide that’s the best solution). Why? It says ‘discontinued’ when I go to your site. Is it because the new Midland GXT900VP4 is coming out? What are your current thoughts on this model?

If anyone could please, Please, PLEASE help or give suggestions, I’d GREATLY appreciate it. Replies are open to anyone! Thank you so much! I look forward to coming to a decision and also learning more about two-ways in the process.


Try for the Midland GXT 800, if this site doesn’t carry it any longer.

Assuming you can wait until it is released in August, I believe the Midland GXT900VP4 is going to be the best choice for you. I’m making this recommendation primarily because it is going to be more rain/weather resistant than other models in this price range.

The waterproof throat mic’s is the only requirement that you list that I’m not 100% certain about. Midland doesn’t make throat mic’s and we do not carry aftermarket throat mic’s for Midland radios at this time, but I’m pretty sure some are available. It just might take a little searching.

Also, with the GXT900 being a future model, I haven’t had a chance to personally test it and there are no real reviews available yet. I’m assuming that Midland only improved on the (now discontinued) GXT800VP4. It sounds as if you’re not in a huge hurry, so you might want to wait a couple of weeks after the GXT900 starts shipping for a review to pop up here.

I think you can visit and see the quansheng radio which is perfect for cycling. The name is TG-5A. eNJOY THAT RADIO AS IT IS A VERY GOOD ONE WITH A GOOD MODULATION.

Another question to whomever it may concern…

Could you tell me what input the Midland GXT-800-VP4 had used for the mic input? For example, is it a two-prong, one-prong, etc. Any other specs about the devices input for mics would be helpful as well. Reason why I’m curious, is because I’m assuming that the new GXT-900 model that will be coming out in August will more than likely use the same type of input.


What range do you need to cover? When you say cross country cycling trip, do you mean that you will need to talk to someone 20 miles away, or is everyone going to be fairly close, say less than 2 miles? Need to know more before I can advise you.

Ok, I cannot envision us using the radios more than 2-3 miles apart since the six of us will be riding close to each other on bikes at all times. So, just to be safe in terms of distance gaps (ie. if one biker scouts ahead), I would say no more than 2 miles apart.

Thank you!


With 2-3 miles, you may be better off with VHF radios. If you are going to use them within the USA, you can have the MURS frequencies programmed in them. They are no-license required frequencies. You could probably get away with UHF radios as well, but you will get a slight amount more range from VHF than you would with the UHF, and the UHF will penetrate the trees better. It’s a toss up. FRS radios will no doubt not work for you at those greater distances. I would recommend any commercial radio, Yaesu/Vertex, Kenwood, Icom, Motorola etc. You will save a bundle if you went with Black Box Radio. They are cheaper and will work well for you. I have been selling/renting them for just over a year now and never have any complaints. You can also get a really nice ear/mic piece just like the Secret Service guys wear. Very comfortable to wear and you can run it up your shirt and clip the PTT (Push to Talk) button on your shirt somewhere. If you get that radio, make sure you get the Nylon Case with D-Ring belt clip. You will not be disappointed. I use that combination whenever I ride my bike, and I ride often. I have some Ham Radio Frequencies programmed in my radio for some chatting while I ride. Whichever radio you buy, make sure you stay away from the stubby antennas. You will want a standard, antenna that gives you a little bit more gain. A good antenna is worth a lot more than more power. You will get a full 4W output of power in the Black Box Radios. Some of the other brands its is possible to get 5W on, however the extra watt won’t make a whole lot of difference.

To give you some idea of what kind of range I get with mine, I use UHF, with the stubby antenna (less range) and when I communicate from about 1.5-2.0 miles from my home, to someone inside my home again with the stubby antenna, we can communicate well. We are just before the fringe area with all those variables. Lots of homes and trees between us. That same setup, but using the standard antenna that came with the radios, makes that same signal be 100% perfect rather than 80% with some hiss in there.

Hope this helps you out. Should you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.


Thanks so much for all of your help! Although your answer was very descriptive and insightful, it still leaves me asking the question…what radio(s) do I need to look further into for our upcoming cycling trip? I am not a very decisive person, so this does not help the matter. I would much rather read reviews, product write-ups, give me three choices to pick from, or just have someone tell me exactly what radio to get. haha.

I liked what you said about the different VHF and UHF frequencies. These ‘commercial’ radios sound pretty powerful and rugged, however, I’m not sure of cost. Could you maybe pick a few cheap, but nice models that would work well for us, and post a reply with price estimates? You can private message me also if you do not care to post your black box price estimates for public view. Also, you said you had some that have been used once, twice, that you’d be willing to sell? What would you sell these for?

So, that’s really my only concern with the more ‘commercial’ radios that operate on VHF or UHF frequencies…price. This future trek will be very costly to the riders. Although we are planning to find sponsorships and receive donations, our focus and aim is to forward these all to the organization that we will be riding charity for. We don’t want to tell the organization that if they sponsor us, their money is going to the charity, then turn around and use their money for jerseys, radio equipment, food, etc. That’s why I’m concerned with price. Because our goal is to save up enough ourselves to pay for ‘our’ own costs, I’m looking at some low-cost solutions on some of the equipment that we’ll need to take on the trip.

…and thus is why I had been questioning about maybe a more ‘cheaper’ solution. Really, all of us riders will be 5-10 feet from each other. We’ll ride as a group. I was only looking into some cheaper handhelds so we could all talk to each other, since it’s hard to hear each other talk normally when riding, partially due to wind and other environmental factors. You know, get a set of throat mics w/ PTT buttons so it doesn’t pick up as much wind as an ‘over-the-ear’ mic. Connect these to whatever talkies we get. Then we can stay in communication with each other and easily hear one another.

I’m just not sure if a commercial radio is the route to go, price being the only deciding factor. For example, I can get a package of 2 radios for around 50, while I might only be able to get one commercial for the same price. Again, thanks for all of your help, and if you can provide me with any more information, price estimates, etc. I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you!


Those radios have no FCC type approval. As such they are not legal for use in the USA under any circumstances. All radios must at least carry FCC part 15 approval. Then, they require type-acceptance for use on various services.

Just to add a note to this post…

FCC Approval otherwise known as type accepted is very important to have. I think it is important to let you know why you do WANT FCC type accepted radios. For one, it is illegal to use one that is not. Non FCC type accepted radios generally send off “Spurs” or transmissions that interfere with other frequencies and if you interfere with let’s say, Public Service, you will be tracked down and have your radios taken away as well as fined. If you caused a communication failure and someone lost their life due to it, you could be brought up on other charges. And yes, these have happened numerous times to people. The other reasons why you want FCC type Accepted radios is so you too can have clean transmissions. I have tried some of these radios before and most of them are slightly off frequency which further shows why you do not want them. If they are slightly off frequency then they will not sound as good, range will be reduced and if they need repair, well forget it, they are disposable. Those radios cost $11.50. Yeah, you heard right. That’s because they did not have to pay for FCC approval and make the tolerances tight enough be able to call them a real radio. The rest of the cost to bring them into the country is shipping/duties. I brought 2 into the country as professional samples so I did not have to pay duties. I was going to see about getting them type accepted and become the USA importer. They were not worth the $11.50 I paid for the pair!

You want a good inexpensive radio that IS type accepted? Black Box Radios. They cost $28.50 after FCC requirements were placed upon them, and once the import fees are paid on them, they are up there in price. That is the price paid to be legal with a radio in this country. Retail cost $249.99. The lowest advertised price you will see is $169.99. I have been selling/renting these radios for just over a year now. I live by them. They are pretty good radios. I have since dumped all my Motorola, Vertex & Kenwood radios as I had too much $$$ tied up in them without any benefit to me. If you are Public Service, you want a Motorola. You want something that was designed to take a severe beating and keep on working. You also can afford to pay the price tag for them. The average Public Service radio runs a few thousand dollars a radio depending what brand/model.

Now compare that FCC type accepted quality radio with a Motorola radio, and the Black Box radios are much cheaper and for all intensive purposes, equally as good as the Vertex, Motorola etc. I’m not saying that Vertex & Motorola aren’t good, as they are VERY good radios, however for what most consumers will used them for, the Black Box Radio is the more economical choice and still have quality communications and range.

You cannot compare any FRS radio out there with a Black Box Radio. Believe me, I have tried. FRS radios were designed to be cheap and they are. You have to spend around $40 a pair to get something halfway decent for very close range communications and I mean VERY close range. Like in an open park, where you are within eyesight away, around the block etc. A cheap solution for car to car communications where the car is within 1/4 a mile or less away. I would still opt for a good commercial radio. I gave my 6 year old last July a Black Box radio so I could keep in touch with him on a cruise ship with his older cousin. I had great coverage and never had a dead spot and my 6 year old with a little training was more than capable of using the radio. I programmed all the buttons to not do anything, you got On/Off/Volume, PTT (Push to talk), and the Channel selector where every channel was programmed the same in case he inadvertently turned the dial. Monitor button was disabled. Simplicity is a wonderful thing in a world of Humans.

Oh and on another note about FCC type acceptance, if we all used frequencies that we were authorized for, never used more power than we were supposed to or needed too, we would not have 1/2 the problems with interference that we have over the airwaves. Rules were put in place to keep everything working status quo.

Well, I said my peace.

I don’t know who your talking about when you say you ordered cables from this guy, but you certainly aren’t talking about me!

I think your post is in the wrong thread.

If you want a good set of radios, go with the Midland GXT 900VP4. This set is very nice with good range. You do not need a VHF or UHF radio. They will be a little heavy for your needs.
The GXT 900 is a waterproof radio (not submersible) that can handle a direct stream of water. You will like the ease of using these radios as apposed to anything on the market. This radio also offers many accessories to go along with it. Please paste the link below into your browser for accessories. If you have any other questions, please ask.

Thank you,
David Hassen