Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: New Orleans, LA
I would probably stick with Motorola since they are kind of the standard. Two way FRS (Family Radio Service) radios come in 3 types .
14 channel with no sub-channels (usually 38 sub-channels or privacy codes per channel). With these you both set your radios on the same channel, say, 8 or whatever. Nominal 2-mile range. I have seen Motorola's most basic model for 10 bucks on a special promotional sale at a local electronics store. That was unusual, but you can almost always pick them up for $15-20. With these you may be on the same channel as someone else in the area, and you only have 14 to choose from.
14 channel with 38 privacy codes per channel. With these you both have to set the same channel and sub-channel, say 8/24. Nominal 2-mile range. With these you have thousands of possible combinations so you don't have to worry about possibly sharing a channel. These cost a little more. $30-50
(Usually) 15 channels with 38 privacy codes, the first 8 channels are usually FRS (nominal 2-mile range) and the upper 7 are GMRS (nominal 5-mile range) The GMRS channels require an FCC license to use. Not that you can't use them without it, you just aren't supposed to. The license is just a matter of applying and sending in about $25. A local electronics store had the Motorola 6400 for $50 after rebate, regularly $75.
All of the brands offer hands free operation, but not necessarily every model does so you have to make sure. Another caveat - if you want to use an earphone/mic combo of some kind, which is really convenient for riding, only the ones that are like a headset, loop over the head with boom mike, offer hands-free, ie voice activated, operation. The earbud/in-line microphone type are all PTT, press to talk. I checked. At least Motorola, Kenwood, and Cobra when I was looking to buy. I really wanted the latter type with VOX but couldn't find one. Kenwood advertises that they are the choice of many pro teams. You sometimes see the pros holding their lapel when talking because they have to push a little button on the mic. I'm sure if there were hands free available they would all be using them. I have a pair of Cobras that seem to work well though I haven't had occasion to use them on a ride.
Hope this helps.
If it ain't broke, mess with it anyway!