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Five things we love about motorcycle communication systems

Five things we love about motorcycle communication systems



Five Things We Love About Motorcycle Communication Systems.

WORDS Jon Langston PHOTOS Cardo Systems

 

CONTENT SUPPORTED BY

Here’s the thing about motorcycling: We do it our own way, all of us—and that’s why we love it. It’s just us, the machine, and the road. Whether it’s the type of bike and riding we like, the gear and tech we use, or the reason we get behind the bars in the first place, we ride motorcycles because it’s one of the few places in this crazy, mixed-up world where we get to call all the shots.

That’s the great thing about riding: We all do it differently. Whether it’s riding in groups, planning routes, listening to tunes, or splitting lanes, we don’t have to agree on a damn thing. You ride your ride, and I’ll ride mine. At the end of the day, we’re both right.

Same with motorcycle communications systems. Some folks swear by them, others don’t want anything to do with them. I admit I was firmly a member of that latter camp for most of my riding career. Motorcycling to me is such a solitary thing, I didn’t see the need to listen to music or make phone calls while riding. Behind the bars was my time to unplug, to get away from the distractions and just “be.”

Then, I got stranded somewhere in the Catskills. Oh, everything turned out all right; I had my mobile phone and a modicum of service. But of course, the day was shot and the weekend plans were ruined. 

Sitting there by the roadside, though, waiting for my rescue, I decided to try a motorcycle comms system next time. At that moment, the benefits seemed to far outweigh the drawbacks: A map app would have given me turn-by-turn directions and I wouldn’t have gotten off at the wrong exit; a nice playlist, or even a podcast or audiobook, would have made the interstate slog that much more bearable. And, at the first sign of trouble, I could have called someone right away and I wouldn’t be sitting here. 

I ended up wiring a Cardo Packtalk Bold into my favorite Arai. A riding buddy had gotten the dual-pack as a gift and he wasn’t using the second unit, so I had nothing to lose. There’s no drilling required, nothing beyond some Velcro stickers involved in the setup, so I knew if I didn’t like it I knew I’d rip it right out and give it back to him.

Two years later, and it’s still there. I admit the Cardo took some getting used to, but after using it a bunch I’ve got the controls and fit pretty well dialed in. I can’t feel the speakers or mic behind the helmet padding, so it’s totally comfortable (this did take some trial-and-error, FYI). And it’s proven to be far more than just a way to make or take phone calls while riding.

Once it’s turned on and connected to my phone, the controls are pretty much hands-free except for the simplest of actions like the volume spindle. Before I pull away from the curb I dial up a playlist or podcast on Spotify (or not), set a route in Google Maps for directions and traffic alerts (or not), and (usually) silence my phone to anyone but my wife or kids. It’s great for commuting around town; I use Waze to avoid traffic knots. It’s awesome for keeping my mind occupied on long freeway runs. And if there’s an emergency at home, my family doesn’t have to wait until I pull over to reach me.

My buddy and I have even experimented with pairing our Cardos on rides, and while such a feature would drive me admittedly batshit in a group, it’s handy as hell for the two of us to be able to say “Hey, I need gas” or “Yo, I think we missed that turn back there” without pulling over or using sign language. Pairing is surprisingly simple, the range is impressive (it depends on the terrain but if we’re in sight of each other we can chat), and the utility never ceases to amaze us.

It’s saved our bacon a dozen times. Once, he had an electrical issue that killed his bike mid-ride; I was a few car lengths ahead and if it weren’t for our Cardos, I might have been miles or minutes away (or farther) before I realized he wasn’t behind me. As it was, I swung right over to the shoulder and walked back to see what was up.

So if you’re leery of motorcycle comms systems or are unsure if they’re right for you, take it from an old-school skeptic. Riding with comms is not only easy, it’s also surprisingly fun and useful. I only have it in one helmet, so if I don’t want to deal? I just grab a different one. It’s not like it’s always squawking at me; the functionality is only as intrusive as your settings allow it to be. I only use my Cardo for what I want and I only use it when I want. And honestly? I use it far more than I ever thought I would.

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Here are five things I love about my motorcycle comms system.

 

1. In-helmet Entertainment & Information

Whether it’s listening to music, podcasts, traffic alerts, or directions, my Cardo keeps me awake, alert, and informed. And, it keeps me in touch while riding—something I not only avoided but downright resisted until I became a dad a few years back.

2. Safety & Efficiency

If I or someone I’m riding with has bike trouble, we can get help right away. That means you’re never alone when you need help. If you’re into group riding, the pairing function can avoid stragglers by keeping the group together, focused, and moving along toward that common destination.

3. Hands-Free Operation

“Hey, Cardo.” Just say that phrase out loud in your helmet and the PackTalk will listen to your next command: call a contact, read or reply to a text message, or even switch the playlist you’re listening to. The only time I ever touch it is when I power it on or off, or when I want to answer an incoming call (I usually don’t). Okay, sometimes a song will come on while riding and I’ll crank it up by spinning the volume spindle. Yeah, guilty as charged.

4. Blends with Other Bluetooth Comms Systems

For me, waiting around for others to gas up, catch up, or show up is freakin’ maddening. But if you like to ride with a group, the Cardo’s universal connectivity will pair with almost any other Bluetooth communication unit that anyone else in your group is using—whether it’s made by Cardo or another brand. That’s remarkable. You can pair with up to ten other units.

5. Waterproof & Weatherproof

Rain, shine, mud, dust, or snow, you don’t have to worry about the Cardo unit on the outside of your helmet because it’s completely waterproof and weatherproof. You don’t even have to turn it off for fear of shock. You might, however, want to pull over and dig that rainsuit out of your bag.

This article was created with support from Cardo Systems

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