(If you’re still looking for a last-minute gift for a cyclist, or even a pair of them, you may want to consider a Cardo BK-1, which allows cyclists to talk to one another, listen to Mp3 music or even take a phone call. A review by guest writer, Peter Harris, appears below.)
Cardo BK-1 Duo Review
By Peter Harris
When I first heard about radios that attached to your helmet that enabled you to better communicate with you fellow riders I was skeptical. My first thoughts were that it probably came with problems like weight, such as point-of-view video cameras when they are attached to your helmet, and radio signal problems, where you would pick up other radio conversations or signals.
Cardo BK-1 duo
But as I researched this product I found that it could do many things. Even though it only came with two radios, it was able to pair with one more in case you have a trio. It could also connect through bluetooth to your cell phone and GPS which I thought was a pretty cool feature assuming your are going on a very long road ride. I was worried about one other thing before I even laid eyes on it. It was people using it on, say, a busy road and because you can also hook up you MP3 or iPod to it, you can blast music instead of being alert of the cars and traffic around you which could cause problems.
When I first received the Cardo BK-1 DUO I was impressed to find a very professional looking package or box it came in. As I opened the box I found lots of wires and booklets and manuals, even though wires and cords are my sort of thing, booklets and manuals are not. I decided if I was going to do this right, I should follow all the instructions fully. The owners manual was user friendly, had plenty of pictures and explained things in full. Initially, when I tried to pair the headsets the night before mountain biking with my friends where I planned to use them for the first time, it took approximately two hours of countless attempts and following the manual exactly to pair them I finally got it. So the manual wasn’t as user-friendly as I hoped it would be. I found out that after you attempt to pair them a few times you understand it better. Thankfully, that was the only problem that I have experienced with it.
A BK-1 being used by a Race Across America rider
One of my previous fears before I used it was that it would be very heavy, but it turned out to be a lot smaller than I expected to it was difficult to notice that it was even still on top of your head. I wasn’t impressed by the fact that it takes three hours to fully charge, so you kinda need to think ahead so it’s ready when you are, but on the other hand it has seven hours of talk time! I find that notable because I find it hard to imagine going on a ride with one or two other people and holding a conversation for seven hours. Attaching the actual headset to your helmet takes a bit of doing because your using long strips of velcro and weaving wires in and out of holes in your helmet.
When we split up when trying to get out of the woods before dark it became the most useful tool ever. We didn’t have to stop and break out our cell phones and try to figure out where everybody was. I could talk to my friend the whole time and while riding we talked about where we would meet up without even stopping, saving much needed time. And we never had a problem picking up other radio transmissions.
When we split up on purpose to test the Cardo’s distance, I was still impressed. After 50 feet it was still clear, then as you got farther away it slowly got worse. It was getting more static and clarity was about gone, and then it stopped when we were about 150 feet apart. I quickly turned around and rode back towards my friend who had the other headset and it started working again. Long story short – stick together.
My conclusion: I love it. It’s small, small enough not to be a nuisance. So much easier to talk in your regular voice as if your partner is standing right next to you rather than yelling at each other while riding. It was definitely worth the effort and little bit of stress to pair them.
The Cardo BK-1 duo, with a pair of the devices, is available at Green Mountain Cyclery in Ephrata and other local bike shops. The duo retail price is $480. A single BK-1 unit costs $275.