Cardo Bk-1 DUO Review

Gear

Bottom Line
The Bk-1 is primarily an intercom system which allows 2 0r 3-way conferences between other BK-1 equipped bicyclists at a range of 100-400 yards. It is also a fancy connector to Bluetooth enabled devices, such as a mobile phone, GPS and MP3 player. You can stream music and take calls as required, and participate in a conference, opening up a huge spectrum of functionality and entertainment. I found the whole thing surprisingly enlivening, making rides fun and different, and it was especially useful when riding with my kids. After you get used to the buttons, using the BK-1 was pretty simple, and even when the system got confused, it was easy to get it rolling again. The distance that the intercom worked was highly dependent on the surroundings and the line of sight with your partners, and heavy foliage caused the reception to drop down to 100 yards or less, though keeping one another in plain view helped the problem.

I liked the outer ear speaker set up of the BK-1 system, as they allowed me to listen to music or participate on a conference, and still hear ambient sounds and spatial cues from my surroundings. Using ear buds, even loose ones, isolates you, and I much preferred listening to things in this outer ear manner. The speaker booms were easy to move around, so I could change their positioning next to my ear, for lots of fine tuning.

The system might be considered silly and worthless, and it’s expensive, and you need at least two of them to tango, but I found it very useful, functional, feature laden, and it’s just plain fun to use, and it made rides take on a different aspect when I was using the system. It tough and rugged, and is immune to the average abuse I tossed at it, making for a great outdoor product. I have regularly used it for music streaming and getting calls (mostly music), and having the outer ear speaker set up was ideal for getting the cusp between listening to a bit of background music when grinding up a trail and hearing the outside world.

Strengths

  • Rugged – waterproof, dustproof and tough
  • High tech features – VOX, DSP, PCL, AGC, echo cancellation
  • 2 and 3-way intercom between other BK-1′s
  • Mobile phone usage – hands free music streaming and phone interaction
  • Easy to use
  • Speaker booms – allow fine tuning of placement
  • Outside of ear speakers – can listen, yet get ambient sounds and spatial cues

Weaknesses

  • Expensive
  • Distance issue – especially in heavy foliage
  • Need other BK-1′s for intercom usage

Overall Rating: 4 Flamin’ Chili Peppers

MSRP: BK-1 $274.95 and BK-1 DUO $479.95

 

Cardo BK-1 Specs:

General

  • Fits virtually all bicycle helmet
  • Lightweight Aerodynamic design (under 50g)
  • Waterproof and dustproof (IP67 standards)
  • Up to 7 hours talk time/1 week stand by
  • Universal Travel Charger 110/240V 50/60Hz Battery type: Rechargeable Li- Polymer
  • Charging time – 3 hours
  • Omni-directional microphone
  • Hovering speakers with flexible boom for maximum biker comfort
  • Multi – functional USB jack

Multiple Device Connectivity

  • 3-Way Intercom Conferencing
  • Mobile Phone
  • GPS
  • MP3
  • FM

Intercom

  • 3-way Bike-to-Bike intercom conference mode at a range of up to 500 m /1 640 feet*
  • Click-to-Link Spontaneous intercom conversations with any cardo BK-1 user nearby

Key Functions

  • Make / Receive / Reject mobile phone calls either by voice command or at the push of a button
  • Receive in-the-ear GPS navigation voice Instructions
  • Upgradeable Software to support future enhancements/features USB cable for PC included

Advanced Technology

  • Voice-control for receiving or rejecting incoming mobile or intercom calls
  • Packet Loss Concealment: Real-Time compensation of audio losses in challenging environments
  • Digital Signal Processing Technology for advanced functionality
  • Volume-Per-Mode: Volume is set and saved at different levels for each audio function
  • AGC – Automatic Gain Control
  • Echo cancellation for increased audio clarity
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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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Wordpress Comments:

  • 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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