PRODUCT EVALUATION: CARDO PACKTALK BOLD

Communication is key By the staff of Dirt Wheels

Having the ability to communicate with other riders can be critical in some situations, but it makes riding with a companion more enjoyable in all situations. Engines are loud and helmets block out lots of noise, so it can be hard to hear a passenger who is trying to tell you something. Now some people purposely don’t want to hear their passenger, and for that we recommend a single-seat machine. If you are riding in a pack, a comm system can help communicate trail directions, hazards and, our favorite, jokes. This comm system is only usable with a helmet, which we highly suggest our readers wear anyway. This makes it accessible to UTV, ATV and two-wheel riders alike. We’ve recently discovered that the Cardo Packtalk systems are great for parent-to-child or coach-to-beginner communication. New riders often need some coaching to stay safe and understand fundamental practices. Instead of yelling when they might not even hear you, you can clearly guide them to “shift now” or “slow down to turn up ahead.” The same would work for a co-driver giving instructions as a spotter on difficult trail obstacles.

MAKE THE SWITCH

Another thing we like about the Cardo is that you have the option to switch it to a new helmet with ease. Driving in a side-by-side, we often prefer a helmet with no peak, but on a quad, our moto helmets usually have one. This isn’t the case for everyone, but the system was easily interchangeable. Some helmet brands require a little more skill and possible modifications to work with the earpieces and Bluetooth unit. The moto helmet we used slipped the unit right on in about five minutes. Our full-face street-style helmet required us to cut some plastic trimming to string the wires and attach the actual unit. This only took about 15 minutes and wasn’t too difficult. Be sure to read the instructions carefully; otherwise, pairing the devices can be tricky. We just might not be technologically inclined, because one of our groups figured it out no problem without even seeing the directions.

FEATURES FOR DAYS

The Packtalk Bold system comes with a ton of awesome standard features. Dynamic Mesh Communication with up to 15 riders makes it easy to stay connected for group rides, and means you only need to connect once and forget about it. One-touch volume control means you can always hear the conversation, and there’s no fumbling around with buttons or taking gloves off. In fact, you can keep your hands free and just use the “Hey, Cardo” command to make and answer calls, use GPS, change music, or do whatever you need without distraction. With the hands-free connection, we found that we did need to speak louder than a regular speaking voice—almost a shout every once in a while—because it is made to block out wind and engine noise, which happened to be particularly loud on our ride. When we were at an easy cruising speed, it picked up on a regular speaking voice easier, but overall, it was exponentially better than having to scream across the cab or not communicate at all when riding with multiple vehicles.

IS IT TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE?

In perfect conditions, Cardo claims to get 1600 meters of connection distance, but they point out that it is generally closer to 1000 meters (or 3300 feet), which we found to be an on-average measurement. We found that in some places we got spotty connection if we got too far away, but 90 percent of the time we found that the sound was surprising clear. Although it has a 13-hour battery life, if you forget to charge your unit, you also have the option to charge it while you use it. Audio sharing gives you the option to share your favorite playlist or radio station with your group; however, you can also privately chat with just one member of the group if you get tired of the group chatter. Like everything nowadays, there is an app you can use with your Cardo, and honestly, it made everything easier to figure out. This unit was easy to install, easy to use and made our overall riding experience more enjoyable. You can get yours from www.cardosystems.com for $339.95 for a single or $599.95 for two units together.

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