Home » This Device Turns Your Motorcycle Helmet Into A Walkie Talkie And It Could Save You In A Crash

This Device Turns Your Motorcycle Helmet Into A Walkie Talkie And It Could Save You In A Crash

Cardo Safety Intercom Ts
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Riding a motorcycle is already one of the greatest ways to improve your daily drive, but there is a way to make it even better. See that boring helmet in your garage? You can slap a device on it that effectively turns it into a walkie talkie so you can chat with all of your buddies in a group ride. There are a lot of these communicator devices out there, but one wants to stand out in the pack. I got to try out the latest from Cardo with its Packtalk Pro, and it’s trying to do something being experimented elsewhere in tech.

Detecting crashes has become a pretty big deal in the tech industry. If you have an iPhone 14 or later in your pocket, Apple says it’s able to “detect severe car crashes.” Apple then lists out vehicle types ranging from sedans to pickup trucks. Apple says nothing of motorcycles. That’s where the Cardo Packtalk Pro is supposed to come in. Crashes your phone or wearable may fail to detect should not escape the Packtalk Pro, which might be a lifesaver for a motorcyclist. Cardo Systems has been making communications hardware and software for two decades, but crash detection is a new feature and the highlight of this new device.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

[Full Disclosure: Cardo Systems invited me out to Southern California to experience a motorcycle plus the Packtalk Pro. My travel, lodging, food, and some of my fuel were all covered. My contacts at The Brand Amp also provided an Indian Super Chief to ride to/from the event.]

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Mercedes Streeter

I’ve long been a solo rider. I don’t have many local friends who ride, and when I do get into a group ride, we’re still sort of riding on our own ride, unable to chat with each other. Helmet communications gadgets have been on the market for a very long time, but my motorcycling mates and I never really saw the point. I see it now – adding Cardo’s wedge of technology to the side of my helmet, and speakers and a microphone inside of it, has changed my riding game.

Cardo Systems was the brainchild of Dr. Abraham Glezerman. Back in the early 2000s, Bluetooth tech was really taking off in the cellphone space, and the Scala earpiece allowed for easy hands-free calling with technology that suppressed wind from ruining your calls. As Cardo says today, one day Dr. Glezerman was riding his motorcycle when an idea struck. What if he took the Bluetooth earpiece, made it waterproof, and slapped it on a helmet? He could then take calls and listen to music in his helmet. Cardo Systems was founded in 2003 and the company’s first Bluetooth headset, the Scala Rider, went on sale in 2004. This year, the company marks two decades of selling communicator devices.

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Mercedes Streeter

While the Packtalk Pro is marketed toward motorcycle riders, a Cardo Systems communications device can be slapped onto practically any helmet. You can use these to chat with your buds during a side-by-side ride, hitting the slopes on skis, or hitting the trails on a mountain bike. If you wear a helmet for the activity, you can slap a Cardo on it. There’s even an independent headset system that works without a helmet.

Once Cardo Systems captured the motorcycle audience, it stopped making phone accessories entirely. Cardo then went all-in on making motorcycle communications better. Cardo followed up the world’s first Bluetooth motorcycle headset with the first motorcycle headset with rider-to-rider communication. In 2007, the Q2 connected two riders up to 0.45 miles apart. The G4 pumped that number up to a mile in 2009.

What about group rides? For that, the company began work on mesh networks, reaching production in 2015 with the original Packtalk. This technology is similar to how your connected devices at home talk to each other and Cardo sees a ton of advantages. Mesh networks are great because devices can attach and detach themselves from the network without interrupting the other devices. Additionally, a mesh network can be set up once and your device can pair and un-pair automatically without any effort on your behalf. Finally, Cardo loves mesh networks because they have up to a mile of range in ideal conditions and can host 15 riders at once.

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Packtalk Bold – Mercedes Streeter

To be clear, Cardo Systems isn’t the only company out there with a mesh network. Comm systems by Sena Technologies also feature mesh technology. While Cardo is limited to 15 riders for now, Sena’s mesh network has a default setting that allows you to talk to basically infinite people nearby like a high-tech CB radio. Of course, the downside of that is that things get confusing if you’re suddenly hearing a 50-bike group ride all at once.

Cardo also isn’t the only game in town. In addition to Sena, the helmet communications space is chock-full of budget options like Lexin, Fodsports, and countless communicators found on sites like Amazon. The Fodsports FX 10C even claims to use mesh technology with up to ten rider channels. That device is $161 while Cardo wants $400 for the current Packtalk Edge or $459 for the latest cutting-edge Packtalk Pro. Is paying extra worth it? Read on.

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More Than Just Chatting

Cardo Aptpro X Mn 5836
Moneeb Nain

At its heart, the Packtalk Pro is more of what made the original Packtalk a winning product. You get a mesh network with up to 15 riders. I got to test this out in a group ride stretching over 100 miles outside of Temecula, California. We carved mountain curves, stormed down rural roads, and the group didn’t even always stick together.

The group chat was something else. Voice clarity was awesome. How awesome? Cardo’s voice system makes your phone sound pathetic and online game chats cannot compare. I won’t say it’s as if the person is talking there next to you, but the clarity is good enough that you can easily tell each person apart. The good chat quality is backed up by 45mm JBL speakers. These were once a separate upgrade, but now they come in the box.

Prior to the Cardo system, I was running a dirt cheap JZAQ Bluetooth headset for calls and music. It didn’t have rider communication functions, but it did play my tunes and make phone calls. Look at his janky thing:

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Mercedes Streeter

The call quality was awful and the microphone was almost useless. At least the music sounded decent enough, or so I thought. The JBL speakers of the Packtalk Pro blow those cheap speakers out of the water with impressive clarity and thumping bass. The tunes come in crisp enough that I can tell when my phone’s Bluetooth output gets iffy.

Talking about clarity, my wife reports that phone calls come in loud and clear through the Cardo. She says if it weren’t for the fact that she knew I was on a motorcycle ride, she’d think I was in a car or something. Likewise, I heard her loud and clear despite hauling donkey down a highway.

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Mercedes Streeter

Cardo advertises a range of about a mile in perfect conditions. Mountains, traffic, and a lot of potential sources of interference make for an imperfect ride. My group experienced a range of about a half mile, which was good enough to know where the stragglers were. Another neat thing is the fact that you can take a phone call during a group ride. When you do that, you temporarily disconnect from the pack. When you hang up, you enter right back into the group.

All of this is to say that if chats, calls, and music are your priorities, the Packtalk Pro will not disappoint. I wish my phone sounded this clear when I called my parents! Cardo wraps the core product up with some neat features. You can control the device with voice commands so you never need to remove your hands from the handlebar. Cardo also decided to go with a matte black aesthetic so the device blends in with just about any helmet.

Inacorner
Moneeb Nain

Other goodies include a magnetic mount, IP67 water resistance, Bluetooth 5.2, and an FM Radio for when your phone doesn’t have a connection to the outside world. One feature I wasn’t sold on at first was the Packtalk Pro’s automatic on-and-off feature. The communicator uses its systems to detect when your helmet is picked up at the beginning of a ride and set down at the end of one. It’ll then turn itself on and off seamlessly. I thought that such a feature wouldn’t matter because how hard is it to press a power button? Well, I have to admit that it’s super nice to just pick up my helmet, hear the boot-up sound, and go on my ride.

The Headliner

A lot of what you read here could be gotten in other helmet communicator systems. For example, the $549 Sena 50C has mesh communication, Harman Kardon sound, and then something that Cardo doesn’t offer in the form of a 4K camera. That Sena device also supports a private group of 24 riders, which is more than Cardo’s current maximum of 15 riders.

Cardo Ptpro X Mn 4064
Moneeb Nain

Something that Sena won’t do is notify your loved one when you crash. The Cardo Packtalk Pro uses sensors to measure acceleration, deceleration, impacts, velocity, and G-forces. The device uses this data to detect when you’ve crashed. Cardo says it conducted comprehensive crash testing as well as trials with thousands of motorcyclists from the everyday rider to police officers, some of which have crashed their rides. The result of this testing has revealed that the Cardo Packtalk Pro’s crash detection is 95 percent effective above 35 mph and around 85 percent under 35 mph.

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Further, based on Cardo’s testing, the Packtalk Pro can detect crashes your iPhone won’t. When Cardo crash-tested its headsets, it also crash-tested iPhones at the same time. It found that the phones rarely detected motorcycle crashes. Why? Cardo believes the issue lies in how Apple programmed its crash detection. The iPhone is looking for a car crash, which results in different sounds and forces than a motorcycle crash. You aren’t going to get launched over the handlebars of a car or skid down the road after a car crash.

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Mercedes Streeter

Here’s how Cardo’s crash detection works. The device is constantly reading your ride’s telematics. When the Packtalk Pro detects a crash, it sends a minute of data, plus data after the event, to the cloud to be analyzed. If the cloud concludes that you’ve been in a crash, it sends a notification to the emergency contact you stored on the cloud. They will get notified that you may have crashed and the exact coordinates where it happened.

The cloud takes a minute to analyze data so it can determine whether you’ve crashed or just hit a massive pothole. Since you’ll keep on riding after hitting a pothole, it’ll know not to send the crash message. If the device gets confused and decides to send the alert, anyway, you can cancel it so you don’t give your significant other a heart attack.

Moneeb Nain

What’s great about this is that if you wreck on a country road, you may not have to wait forever for a local to come by and maybe discover you. Instead, your significant other can get on the horn and get someone out to you.

Cardo says the features of the Cardo Packtalk Pro pair well with its Riser app. This app gives you turn-by-turn directions, challenges, group rides, offline maps, ride statistics, and more. Riser is also a bit of a social media app and riders can chart out great riding roads for others to find. Pair Riser with a Cardo communicator and your riding experience can become a bit of a game. If you’re a Luddite like me, you can ride without Riser and still have a great time.

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Riser Nextgen
Cardo

Quirks

I’ve discovered two major quirks with the Cardo Packtalk Pro during my time. One of these doesn’t make a ton of sense to me, while Cardo is thinking of how to improve the other.

Earlier, I noted that the Cardo Packtalk Pro has voice controls. These work great, when you can remember them. The problem is that the voice commands are super specific. For example, skipping to the next song requires you to say “Hey Cardo, next track!” If you say “Hey Cardo, next song” or “Hey Cardo, skip track,” nothing happens. Likewise, if you say “Hey Cardo, pause music,” nothing happens. You have to say “Hey Cardo, music off.” It’s the same deal with other functions. The communicator will ignore you if you say “hey Cardo, answer call.”

Ideally, Cardo should program the device to listen for similar commands, not exact wording. Sometimes I have to blurt out five or so commands before getting the right one and that gets distracting. Even worse is trying to control other apps through the Cardo. I haven’t been able to get Google Assistant to work properly through the unit. The communicator also doesn’t appear to be able to answer calls from social media apps.

Cardo Ptpro X Mn 3719
Moneeb Nain

You’ve also probably realized another issue. The crash detection is dependent on a cellular data connection and on your contact paying attention. So, crash detection will not work when you’re in the true middle of nowhere. I’m the worst person at checking texts, as Stephen Walter Gossin certainly knows. Cardo knows this, and it’s looking into a future possibility where your Cardo device could notify emergency services directly.

Unfortunately, the cellular connection is currently a hardware limitation. Cardo believes it is possible to have a satellite-based system, but that would likely require a subscription. Another limitation of crash detection is that it’s not tuned to work for off-road riding. Thankfully, you can turn crash detection off when you decide to get dirty.

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Finally, my test unit, which was a prototype, had some issues pairing to both my phone and a beta version of the Cardo Connect app. Some device restarts and fiddling with the pairing procedure fixed whatever was going on. Everything has worked flawlessly ever since. If you encounter an issue, I bet working through basic troubleshooting should get you through.

Pimp Out Your Helmet

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Moneeb Nain

If you can live with those quirks, I think you’ll like the Cardo Packtalk Pro. It’s one of those products that just delivers everything it says on the tin. Cardo even says you get 13 hours of battery out of the system and my testing suggests it’s pretty much on point.

Even if the crash detection isn’t something you want, Cardo does sell a range of communicators from the $104 Bluetooth-based Spirit to the $319 Packtalk Neo, which gets you mesh communication and smaller JBL speakers.

If you want to have a little fun, Cardo says it’s giving a Packtalk Pro away for free. You can enter to win it by downloading the Riser app and logging 400 miles of riding by June 17. The winner gets a Packtalk Pro. Second place gets a Packtalk Edge and ten additional winners get a year of Riser Pro for free.

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Mercedes Streeter

So, we arrive back at our original question. Is this worth $459? The closest competition comes from the Sena 50R, which offers mesh communication and quality sound for $359, but no crash detection. So, you have to ask yourself if the redundancy of a helmet that can help you out after a crash is worth an extra $100. I love the idea of being able to notify my wife of trouble, even if I can’t do it myself.

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If you want to pimp out your helmet, Cardo Packtalk Pro units are expected to begin shipping on July 7 for the United States. Should you buy one of these, I think you’ll be happy with it. I was satisfied enough to add upgrades to a Packtalk Bold I had sitting around. My wife will use it when she joins me on rides this summer.

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Birk
Birk
13 days ago

Timely review (or maybe a little late)!

I ordered a pair of Packtalk Neos on Sunday and should have them Thursday. My first time with comms or any audio in the helmet. Got them mostly to communicate with my wife when we ride. She’s already warned me that I’m likely to hear things I don’t want to hear when we’re off road.

CSRoad
CSRoad
14 days ago

I mostly ride alone and the ride is a complete sensory experience, whether playing in traffic or knocking back the highway miles.
I have a cell phone in my pocket and my one bike does the bluetooth connection thing to the instrument cluster, but I don’t pair it and I don’t use the Kawasaki Rideology app, but it’s there on my phone.
About the only tech I’ll use is Google Maps when I’ve been riding as my guts guide me and I have NFC where I am.

I should probably add I’m tech informed, but old and grumpy and limit my “Cloud” data.

Last edited 14 days ago by CSRoad
Matti Sillanpää
Matti Sillanpää
13 days ago
Reply to  CSRoad

Google maps has really infuriating way of changing routes on the fly with no user input. Damn that has caused quite few problems when one has chosen some smaller gravel bits with nice scenery and it decides to swap to faster route :/.

CSRoad
CSRoad
13 days ago

Google Maps is good for finding where you are and general pre-ride planning, the maps are good.
However you are right about the annoying AI “best for a car” dynamic route selection. Probably something like Rever is a far superior choice for an alternate route bike ride.

Matti Sillanpää
Matti Sillanpää
13 days ago
Reply to  CSRoad

Surely it should not be that hard to add option “do not change route without user input”.

Harmon20
Harmon20
14 days ago

I’m as tech friendly as they come (tech is my job) buy I can’t quite get on board with the riding gadgets. When I’m on the bike I’m looking to enjoy a completely offline, analog, can’t-be-reached, enjoying the wind and the road few minutes to myself. No radio, no Bluetooth, phone zipped up in my jacket. The only tech I’ve got out is an old Samsung 360 out on the handlebars, but its a ‘set it and forget it’ device I just use as a dash cam. I really don’t think I’m missing anything, but…maybe? Am I? I haven’t ridden since long before such tech existed so now that I’m riding again a few decades later I might not know what I’m talking about.

Last edited 14 days ago by Harmon20
Shop-Teacher
Shop-Teacher
14 days ago
Reply to  Harmon20

I’m pretty much the same way, but I’m looking to get one of these systems just to communicate with my friends on group rides. I have no interest in listening to music or podcasts while I’m writing, and I damn sure don’t want to talk to anybody on the phone.

LastStandard
LastStandard
14 days ago
Reply to  Harmon20

If you ride solo, you’re really not missing anything. When I’m riding solo I rarely even turn on my Cardo. But riding with others is so much nicer, being able to communicate without a bunch of hand waving and pointing.

Spikedlemon
Spikedlemon
14 days ago

Was this whole article all an excuse to post up your helmet stickers to elicit commentary on your selection?

We’ll never know.

Mechanical Pig
Mechanical Pig
14 days ago

My experience with helmet coms in general has been pretty awful. I’ve tried both Cardo and Sena units over the years, and neither one has ever really impressed me. They have all felt like alpha-test prototypes, loaded with bugs and performance significantly worse than advertised.

Range and battery claims from both companies in my experience are total BS, cut those in half.

Cardo’s bluetooth is also hot garbage. You noticed some “pairing issues”. That has been standard-issue on Cardo units since forever. Just getting them to pair to ONE phone is always a struggle and involves lots of screwing around. It pairs, but no audio. It pairs, then magically unpairs for no reason. It pairs, but then registers as a “phone only” (no media) headset for some reason. It pairs, but then the stupid app keeps throwing redundant “Cardo Connect Wants to Pair- Grant Permission?” to a device that’s already paired and regardless if you hit yes or no, it borks the pairing and you have to start over. The app “finds” your Cardo maybe 10% of the time, fortunately it’s not necessary for any core functions. It will incessantly pester you to do a firmware update to “clean some bugs off our visor”, this takes about 10 attempts before the app connects and starts doing the update, the update fails several times, and when it finally completes, absolutely nothing has improved.

Heaven forbid you attempt to pair to more than one device- a feature they proudly advertise. It completely shits it’s pants. For example, if you have a GPS device to navigate (or play music), and your phone in your pocket. It can supposedly pair to both, and you can select “priority” (so GPS instructions will pause music, or phone calls will pause music, ect). This again, doesn’t work, at all. Or if it does initially, the first time device #2 attempts to cut in over device #1 the thing borks and now both are paired, but muted. Turn it off, back on again. Get used to that, you’ll be doing it a lot.

I have a relatively old Freecom 2 (maybe 2017-2018?). After much “screwing around”, I was able to get it to connect channel 1 to my phone, and channel 2 to my Goldwing’s built in system as a headset (which is required if you want to do anything beside play the radio). This means the chat function is dead, since normally channel 2 would be to another headset. I tried it once, the range was hilariously short (maybe 100yds with direct line of sight) and using the chat tended to break channel 1’s connection to my phone so the music would cut out- and then never come back. So never used it anyway. It’s extremely slow to connect- 20-30 seconds or so, and every once in a while it connects as a “phone only” device for some reason and then the Goldwing refuses to use it. Turn it off, restart, try again. But if I’m riding my Zero, channel 1 pairs to my phone and works fine. If I ride the Goldwing, channel 1 pairs, and as long as I don’t start any music playing before channel 2 (the bike) pairs, the bike’s system seems to over-ride channel 1, and works as intended.

Thinking surely, in the last 5-6 years they must have hammered out some of these bugs and now a lot of bikes have infotainment systems that use a headset, must be a better experience, so I bought a brand new Freecom 4X. And found it to be completely unusable and returned in a couple days later, going back to my old one. First, it refused to work with the Goldwing, at all, if I set pairing mode to “Bike”, as the instructions suggest. It would only work if I removed all other pairings, and paired the bike as “Phone 1”. If I added my phone as “phone 2” or “GPS” or “bike”, both connections borked. Cardo’s customer support was of no help whatsoever. Even pairing it to just my phone was a hassle, and it never reliably connected. Still had the rigamroll of “Screwing around” for 10 minutes to get it to actually pair, but my old Cardo at least then would reliably- if slowly- reconnect in the future. This one often just wouldn’t “see” my phone and need to be restarted 2-3 times before it would pair. The speakers- supposedly upgraded JBL ones- still sounded atrocious. The volume wheel on the side of the unit was a coin toss if it would work or not, meaning you had to adjust volume with the buttons on your phone, and I couldn’t at all from the Goldwing.

For the money these things cost, they’re a poor experience. Buggy, underperforming devices that increasingly rely on a terrible app. Given Cardo can’t seem to figure out how to get a bluetooth device to reliably pair in 2024, I can’t say I’d have a whole lot of faith their automatic crash detection is going to save your bacon. You’ll take a header and the app will be pinging your phone asking if you want to pair a thing that’s already paired for the 500th time instead of dialing 911.

LastStandard
LastStandard
14 days ago
Reply to  Mechanical Pig

I’ve got a Freecom 2+ and while it’s not perfect, I haven’t had nearly the issues you have. It’s paired to both my phone and Zumo XT, along with a buddy.

Frackle
Frackle
14 days ago

I’m annoyed at Cardo over a few things, not least of which their attempt at a subscription model for the packtalk custom, but they really are the best in the game. You can get much cheaper if you just want tunes and to chat with a pillion, but for group riding it’s a giant leap over the cheaper competition, and a solid edge over Sena.

Matt Dieter
Matt Dieter
12 days ago
Reply to  Frackle

After having both, I completely disagree. Sena is by far the superior unit.

First is the UI- both have an ‘analog’ volume control- IE a scroll wheel. However, only Sena’s is actually linear, whereas Cardo requires some arbitrary number of degrees of rotation to go up 1 click of volume. So if you reach up to turn the volume up a smidge, you may have to reach up 4 or 5 times until you rotate it just the right amount to get it to go up a click without overshooting. And it never fails that one is too quiet, and the next too loud. Additionally, I never once questioned what I needed to do with the 1 button/knob on the Sena. Phone rings? Boop the button. Deny the call? Boop and twist backwards. Skip? Boop and twist forwards. While there may only be 3 buttons on the Cardo, their use is kind of arbitrary, and much more difficult with gloved hands.

Next, the pairing- holy hell, the number of tries it took to get our 4 helmets synced for our last motorcycle trip was nuts. With or without the app, the process was awful, and despite following the instructions with 4 highly intelligent college educated tech nerds, it still failed more often than it worked. Sena? Press and hold until the color changed. Boom. Paired. And yes, while you did need to make sure it was in order so you knew who was which contact number, it worked flawlessly.

The final thing of the litany of issues I could talk about is the biggest issue- pillion communication lag. There is a solid 2-3 second lag between hearing my wife saying something into her headset and me hearing it through mine. So now I’m hearing some kind of awful echo track, because on a goldwing it’s not like there’s much wind noise, and trying to decode what’s being said as I hear her voice overlaid on itself as awful. So honestly, we’ve gone back to her just talking to me, without the headset. I wish my buddy hadn’t lost my other Sena, or I’d switch back in a heartbeat.

Captain Muppet
Captain Muppet
14 days ago

I don’t listen to music on my motorcycles as I want to be as aware as I can be of stuff around me. Does the music drown out other noises or can you still here other traffic/sirens etc?

Frackle
Frackle
14 days ago
Reply to  Captain Muppet

In my experience, they’re very open. They’re speakers in the helmet and don’t have any kind of sound insulation cupped around your ears like headphones would. I do think they get louder than they probably should, which could drown out noises (and damage your ears), but at a responsible level you can absolutely hear the road. I mainly use them for navigation directions, and they’re far less distracting than looking down at a quadlock-mounted phone.

Captain Muppet
Captain Muppet
14 days ago

Cool, it might be an option for longer rides then.

On shorter rides I have a tiny V4 engine to listen to.

Diana Slyter
Diana Slyter
14 days ago

I’ve never bought one because I refuse to join the other BMW riders in this unnecessary conspicuous consumption, and a near hundred $ price ain’t gonna change my mind!

Frackle
Frackle
14 days ago
Reply to  Diana Slyter

BMW riders and conspicuous consumption? What a foreign concept it must be to them.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
14 days ago

Hmmm how hard would it be to tap into such a system being used by a particularly loud, obnoxious group of riders and directly blast THEM with the ear shattering sounds of straight pipes?

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
13 days ago

Thankfully we have a helmet law.

Taco Shackleford
Taco Shackleford
14 days ago

That’s my purse! I don’t know you!

Love all the helmet stickers, especially the KoTH ones!

Greg
Greg
14 days ago

Photo under “more than just chatting” is perfect for the cover of your soon to be produced, photo-journalism coffee table book.

Buzz
Buzz
14 days ago

The Cardo Connect app is disappointingly bad, and pairing headsets for group riding is needlessly complicated.

I’d love to be able to point my smartphone camera at my dad’s smartphone, scan a QR code from his Cardo app into my Cardo app and be instantly paired for a group ride, but no. Instead you have to remember some arcane sequence of button presses and you have to blindly poke around at the wart stuck to the side of your helmet and pray you’re touching the right button, or you have to take your helmet off so you can see the buttons you’re trying to press, but then you can’t hear any of the audio prompts that indicate success/failure/searching/pairing/etc.

It is so frustrating, particularly for a product that costs multiple hundreds of dollars. Make your damn app better, Cardo!

Squirrelmaster
Squirrelmaster
14 days ago

Mercedes, do you have any photos of the speakers inside the helmet? I don’t ride motorcycles anymore, but I do ride ATVs and have been looking at something like this for group trail rides. Since I ride with a dirt bike helmet, I’m curious about the speaker arrangement inside the helmet and how well it would fit inside a Fox V1 motocross helmet?

Squirrelmaster
Squirrelmaster
14 days ago

Good to know. I took have experienced speakers digging into my ears, albeit with a different helmet, so I was curious of the speaker shape was different. The worst I’ve experienced was a buddy had some speakers that had a convex speaker grill that dug into my ear lobes like mad, but sadly I don’t know which brand that nonsense was.

Mechjaz
Mechjaz
14 days ago

Cool. This is very relevant to me, as I’m tired of my goddamn earbuds falling out every time I take off my helmet. This is one of the first things I’ll be improving in and about the motorcycle when I’m back to work.

Mechanical Pig
Mechanical Pig
14 days ago
Reply to  Mechjaz

Try a set of Plugfones. I’ve always found helmet speakers to be complete trash. I’m not expecting some audiophile listening experience going down the highway, but all the ones I’ve tried sound like playing music on your phone speaker at max volume and then cramming it right into your ear. While it does get quite “loud”, it’s tinny, screechy, and just sounds awful.

Fortunately Cardo’s use a standard headphone plug for the speakers, so you can just toss those in the bin and plug in whatever earbuds you like. Plugfones are like $20. I wrap most of the excess cord around the Cardo mount itself. Pop the helmet on top of your head, slip in the earplug/earbuds, then pull on. They stay in play extremely well, are quite small so the helmet won’t press on them, and are not dislodged by pulling the helmet on, and are comfortable to wear all day. Being they are about 90% as effective at blocking noise as standard foamy earplugs, the music isn’t competing with tons of wind/engine noise. I can listen to a podcast or other spoken word clear as can be at <50% volume at freeway speeds, even on a bike with no fairing or windscreen. Bonus- since you don’t have to have the volume at 100% all the time to kinda-sorta hear it on the highway, and it’s only driving teeny little earbuds instead of relatively large speakers, the battery in the cardo lasts like twice as long too.

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