The Sportster is great for short trips and hooning little, but it isn’t quiet and on longer journeys that can be fatiguing.

You also mostly can’t hear the head unit with the engine on when you’re moving so the sat nav is only a visual aid, I put the audio system in as a gimmick as I like car audio, but it’s not practical or useful.

Decided it was time to install a practical solution in the form of an intercom. Most intercom systems I found in the UK were aimed at rallying. So I looked to the US as well where I found this system from Rugged Radios – 696 that checked the feature boxes I was after; Phone connection, music and satnav playback, headsets to keep the noise out and two communications with the passenger. I ordered it on but I didn’t get any messages back from Rugged directly when I asked about international shipping, also available on summit racing but Amazon had stock. I’m not expecting any kind of warranty with it. 

Removed the head unit, amplifier, and midbass speakers. Left the wide bands or there’d be a hole in the dashboard.

This is the centre console that housed the head unit, there’s also a 12v aux on the side.

The intercom is quite a bit smaller than a standard single din, which means there is room for a gauge next to it. I’ve had an air-fuel ratio gauge sitting in a box to install for a while, I want to make sure my 80’s engine management with the 2.8 stroker chiptune map is running optimally. 

Used some foam board to mock up a new front panel, then turned it into a new plywood panel.

Test fit and covered in new carpet.

View from the back, power is hooked up via the radio ISO harness, ordered a spare cable and plugs on eBay. It did however show in testing later that a lot of interference noise was introduced via that connection to the intercom. Changed the power for the intercom to the old 8 gauge amp wiring instead. Left the ARF gauge on the radio hardness for easy removal.

Test fit and power check.

The wide band lambda sensor is not yet in the exhaust or connected to the gauge shows a warning message, but it does power up.


The simplest way to locate the headphone jack was by zip tie to the side of the centre console, may order some proper mounts for this or maybe move them behind the seats in future.

There’s lot of room around your legs for the wire so it’s not an issue locating them here.


The headsets are nice and do an excellent job of attenuating external noise – even with the exhaust in loud mode it is not overwhelming. You connect your phone to it via Bluetooth, from that you can clearly hear sat nav instructions and music works well too. There is alternator whine currently so it probably needs some active filtering on the power. These are not high fidelity, but they’re not for critical listening. I have an enthusiast-level interest in audio so probably more critical, the upper and mid-range are fine, but the lower end is lacking a little overall not super clear. There is a newer model of this unit on the market now which is marketed as having higher fidelity.

They are very good at what they are designed for – keep you from losing your hearing, some tunes and satnav instruction and talking to your passenger while out for a drive in an otherwise very noisy environment.

I’ve not had a passenger with me to try the two-way communication yet but talking to myself with the mic in the other headset works well, even if it makes me look a little loopy while testing it.

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