Will the Cardo Packtalk Edge Sharpen Motorcycle Helmet Communication?

While some ride motorcycles to savor the silence of solitude, there are few things as fun as group riding. Coordinating and communicating with that many riders gets tricky once you hit the road, though. Hand signals and plans help, but if you really need to be heard, in-helmet motorcycle communication systems are the way to go. And Cardo Systems just released a new version of a rider favorite: the Packtalk Edge.

The Cardo Packtalk Edge brings mesh motorcycle communication to its next generation

A black Cardo Packtalk Edge in front of its black-and-blue packaging
Cardo Packtalk Edge with packaging | Cardo Systems

Although it’s not the only name in the motorcycle helmet communication systems game, Cardo is one of the biggest. It’s also one of the most significant, as it created the first motorcycle-helmet-specific Bluetooth headset in 2004. But though it still makes Bluetooth headsets, Cardo’s flagship Packtalk series features something better: Dynamic Mesh Communication, aka DMC or ‘mesh.’ Now, after introducing DMC to the market in 2015, Cardo is bringing the next-gen version in the new Packtalk Edge.

DMC works like Bluetooth in that both use radio waves to stream data between devices. In the case of motorcycle headsets, that data is usually phone call audio or a song. However, unlike Bluetooth, DMC headsets don’t need to re-establish pairings if a rider enters or leaves the group. Instead, the ‘self-healing’ mesh network automatically compensates for these changes.

OK, but the existing Cardo Packtalk Bold, Slim, and Black already do that for up to 15 riders. So, what does the new Edge bring?

Firstly, Cardo claims its second-gen DMC software pairs faster and easier than the first-gen version. Secondly, the system has a better Live Intercom system thanks in part to the updated Bluetooth chip, RideApart says. Furthermore, although the Edge has JBL speakers like the other Cardo Packtalk models, JBL redesigned its system for the new headset. Cardo also improved the noise-filtering microphone and the natural-voice operations.

In addition, the Edge offers over-the-air updates via an app and regains 2 hours of talk time with 20 minutes of USB-C fast charging. It’s also waterproof and, like the Bold, has a claimed one-mile range, despite not having an antenna. However, while the other Cardo Packtalks have clip-in mounts, the Edge has a new magnetic Air Mount.

How much does it cost compared to the Packtalk Bold and Slim?

A white motorcycle helmet with a black Cardo Packtalk Edge on a red Ducati Streetfighter V4
Helmet with a Cardo Packtalk Edge on a Ducati Streetfighter V4 | Cardo Systems

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Speaking of the other Cardo Packtalk models, the Edge is replacing the Black, though the Bold and Slim are staying. That makes the Edge the new flagship version of Cardo’s flagship motorcycle communication system.

This also makes it the priciest model. Like the outgoing Black, the Packtalk Edge retails at $389.95, or $50 more than the Bold and Slim. It should hit shelves in late April 2022.

Is the Cardo Packtalk Edge worth buying over other motorcycle communicators?

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As of this writing, we haven’t tested the Cardo Packtalk Edge, so it’s tough to say if it’s worth buying over the other models. However, if its claimed voice operation improvements hold up, it should be an upgrade over the Black. RideApart called the Packtalk Black’s voice commands “a mixed bag,” since the headset couldn’t understand the rider’s commands half the time.

Cycle World experienced similar issues with the cheaper Packtalk Slim and noted the speakers seemingly had some untapped potential. So, from the sound of things (no pun intended), Cardo has tried addressing these issues with the Edge.

In terms of external competition, the Sena 50S and 50R are arguably the Edge’s main rivals. Both retail at $359 and offer Bluetooth, mesh, voice commands, fast charging, and Harmon Kardon audio. But they can support up to 24 riders in Group Mesh Intercom mode. And in Open Intercom mode, if you have at least six riders per mile, their max ranges increase to five miles. However, unlike the Edge, the 50S and 50R have external antennas. Plus, neither have waterproof ratings.

Luckily, MotorBiscuit will be testing the new Cardo Packtalk Edge in the coming weeks. And as I recently bought a Sena 50S, I’ll be directly comparing the two motorcycle communication headsets back-to-back. Then we’ll really see if Cardo has the edge.

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