I’ve been riding motorcycles for the last 35 years, but this was fundamentally changed about a decade ago when I was asked to review a communication system used between riders. Initially, I was sceptical to use one as I was convinced that part of the joy of riding was the uninterrupted time I had to think. However, with a couple of pals, we fitted the units and went for a ride. We spent all day riding and talking, and I loved it. Gone were the machine gun chats at coffee stops where we would battle to discuss the ride, the sights, our work weeks, family etc.
I have tested most of the systems you can buy, and they have changed considerably over the years. When the first units came out, they were experimental and still finding their feet. Many were either too big, too complicated, had poor battery length or just didn’t work very well. Whereas Cardo has been making their communication systems for nearly 20 years and it’s fair to say they are the market leader for a reason. The EDGE is easy to use and at the click of a button you can turn on your tunes, radio, or audiobook. You can also link it up with your sat nav and of course, make and receive phone calls - but I skip this one as I ride to get away from that.
The Cardo Packtalk EDGE is one of the smallest and lightest units to have on your helmet whilst being swamped with technology. The noise-cancelling microphone and high-quality ‘Sound by JBL’ speakers that come as standard are superb. We all noticed that the new mics don’t pick up nearly as much wind noise as previous models. Voices were always crisp and clear, and listening to music was superb with a great level of treble and bass. The voice control is easy and effective to use, however, you are still given buttons to use if preferred. The automatic volume scaling works great too, and you will forget it's there whilst it perfectly turns the sound up and down in response to ambient wind noise.
You can’t overlook the safety element too when linked to your mates. We all miss things when riding, be it changing lights, animals, speed zones, cars creeping at T junction etc. When connected to your mates you are all on the lookout and these extra eyes can point out all the potential dangers, some of which you may have missed. I know this has saved us on more than one occasion.
The units offer two ways of connecting – Bluetooth connection or mesh, using Cardo’s proven Dynamic Mesh Communication connectivity, now in its 2nd generation. In mesh mode, each of the units acts as a ‘hub’, connecting to all the other units around it, meaning no breaking of the chain when swapping positions or moving in and out of range (a common pet hate for many riders using comms). The DMC also proved handy as once our units were connected, the next day when we switched them on, they remembered each other, we put our helmets on and rode – no need to mess around reconnecting.
Our testing ground was three riders jollying around France for 10 days and usually, on a trip of this length you will notice gremlins in new gear but there was nothing. The battery life never once let us down. I believe the estimated battery life is 13 hours and after testing it I have no doubt that this is true. Even after a full day of use I only ever got down to 25%, which you are told the percentage remaining as you power down the unit. I like that the EDGE gets a USB-C port which in my opinion is one of the easiest to use for quick charging. Furthermore, the charging port is at the back and protected by a little rubber flap from getting water in it. We got caught out in a few very heavy downpours in Normandy, to the point it got through my Gore-Tex clothing, however, the headsets had no issues with their IP67 waterproof design.
The EDGE uses Bluetooth 5.2 and it is fast – most notably with updates and pairing speed. We found once you turned the unit on, put on your gloves and sat on your bike we were all connected. The EDGE doesn’t need a flick-up antenna to gain range which makes them sleek and has less chance of breakage without losing any of its 1.6 km line-of-sight range – brilliant!
The EDGE uses a magnetic "Air Mount" to connect the unit to your helmet. Once the unit has been removed from your helmet and charged, you just hold it near to your helmet and it is magnetically pulled and snapped into place. Then, once on it won’t come off as it activates a security clip that keeps it in place.
So, is the Packtalk EDGE the best motorcycle communication unit available?
Yes, I think it is. I have had less success with other units, and it feels like Cardo has used their experience to create the ultimate communication unit for bikers. The kit is a lot of money to buy, however, they are superior quality and work fantastically - and let’s face it, everything related to motorcycling is expensive! They will last for years so maybe if you look at it in relation to years of use for the price they are not as expensive. To sum up, we had an extensive 10-day test, long days, changing weathers of heat and rain and we had no issues, not one!
- Seamless pairing with universal Bluetooth 5.2
- 13 Hours of Battery Life and battery percentage reminders
- Automatic sound level adjustment from ambient noise
- Top-quality audio with JBL 40mm high-definition speakers
- Can connect up to 15 riders at a range of up t 1.6km with 2nd Gen Dynamic Mesh Communication intercom
- The units are pricey – but they are a worthwhile investment if you are an avid biker for all their incredible functions and years of use per cost