Cardo Bk-1 DUO Review

Gear

I saw the interesting Cardo BK-1 intercom system at Sea Otter this past year, and was highly intrigued to test and review one here in the mountains of Colorado. Cardo Systems are best known for their wireless Bluetooth communication systems for motorcycles, such as the scala rider, and they recently released the cardo BK-1, which is a communication and entertainment product specifically designed for bicyclists. The BK-1 offers communication between other BK-1 equipped cyclists, and it gives the user hands-free use of Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones, MP3 players, or GPS devices.

Cardo BK-1
The BK-1 is a multi-purpose system, and is an intercom which allows 2 0r 3-way bike-to-bike conferences at a range of up to 500 m/1,640 feet, and/or it can be connected to any Bluetooth enabled mobile phone, GPS and MP3 player. The latter functions as both a music player and phone interface. It connects or pairs to the devices on two different channels, which are designated “A” and “B”. The basic portions of the BK-1 are the headset (i.e., the brains) and a pair of speakers with a microphone.

The BK-1 is lightweight, waterproof and dustproof, and has a seven-hour battery life from its internal rechargeable Li- Polymer battery. It takes three hours to charge through its multi-functional USB, which also allows a hard wire MP3 player to be attached, and is an interface when new firmware updates are available. For audio, it uses two hovering speakers with flexible booms, and the right speaker has an Omnidirectional microphone. It has advanced hardware and software features, including Voice-control (VOX) for receiving or rejecting incoming mobile or intercom calls, Packet Loss Concealment (PCL) for compensating audio packet losses, Digital Signal Processing (DSP), Advanced Gain Control (AGC) that automatically adjusts the volume, and echo cancellation.

The Bk-1 can be purchased singularly for $274.95 or the DUO (as tested), which has two full BK-1 kits, and retails for $479.95. Visit the Cardo BK-1 website for further information.

The DUO kit comes with two full BK-1 systems, a user manual in three languages (English, French and Spanish) and a padded case. The systems are comprised of the headset, right and left speaker (right has the microphone), a stub out (if only using the right speaker/microphone), a cradle with an optional spoiler, multiple Velcro pads (small, medium, large), USB wall charger, USB adapter cable, short and long attachment straps, MP3 cable and additional microphone sponge.

Measured Specs:

  • BK-1 – 41 grams
  • Cradle w/ short strap (i.e., the mount) – 11 grams
  • Speakers – 65 grams
  • Total BK-1 system weight – 117 grams
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About the author: Brian Mullin

Brian has been part of the Mtbr team since 2007, where he has become an integral member of the review and test staff, specializing in technical articles. He likes to push the limits in all the sports he obsesses in, whether it's mountain biking, whitewater kayaking, extreme skiing, or sport climbing. He takes those same strengths and a good dose of insanity to his reviewing and writing on mountain biking products, creating technical, in-depth and hyperbolic articles. Whenever he's not on the bike, he might be found watching MotoGP racing, otherwise look for him out on extremely technical singletrack.



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  • professor says:

    ugh… leave the electronics at home and ride your freakin’ bike.

  • Jonathan says:

    This would be good for larger group rides so the leader and the sweeper can stay in touch, make sure everyone’s going the same way.
    But other then that, I wouldn’t want to be bothered with all this, and certainly not at this price.

  • palmermtb says:

    $500 bucks for fancy walkie talkies?. For that price is should be small enough to fit all of that hardware it in the ear piece. These guys think they’re being clever with the hardware package. I give it 6 months before a chinese company makes a generic unit for 1/5th the price. That’s more realistic.

    • Brian Mullin says:

      They are expensive! I haven’t ripped open the headset module, but I doubt you could jam everything (the electronics) into the speakers? It’s beneficial to have the large and easy to use (with gloves on) buttons on the headset to alter the features and functions. This company has been making this type of system for a long time (many years) for motorcycle usage, and I haven’t seen any cheap knock offs from anywhere as yet? I personally would like just a Bluetooth version myself for music and phone connection, and it would be cheaper (hopefully).

  • Pete says:

    These could be just what I’m after- When I’m on call, I need a way to answer the phone on the run, and my little bluetooth headset just gets annihilated by wind.

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