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The Bleeding Edge: A Cardo Packtalk Edge Long Term Review

The Cardo Packtalk Edge is one of the leading motorcycle communication systems on the market today.

I picked mine up from Ride Manila, and have been using it for over a year now. I’ve got mounts on both my street helmet and my dirt bike helmet.

TL;DR: The Edge makes groups FB Messenger easy, and can take punishment like a bloody champ. For more details, do read on.

The Cardo Edge is one of many headset offerings mounted in your helmet, connected to other headsets like it, and to your phone. It lets you talk to your riding buddies, your passengers, listen to and share music, take calls, and all that good stuff that keeps you as connected as you want to be while blasting down the highway at… the speed limit.

The spec sheet reads “Bluetooth 5.1, JBL Speakers, Dynamic Mesh Communications, Magnetic Locking System, Voice Commands,” and a lot of other Star Trek words.

All I know is that it’s an easy way to get straight to riding with your friends, without diddling with some fiddly device for hours.

The old Sena communicators had to be connected to each other every time. It was a tedious process. Frustratingly, if a rider in a group strayed out of communicator range – something that happens very often – that rider had to be manually connected again to the group.

Dynamic Mesh does away with that. The connection process is still painful, but a group has to only be made once. Like FB messenger. After that, every future get-together is like a reunion of old friends, starting where the conversation was left off.

Renzo with the Edge on his helmet. Photo by Ariel Ansaldo c/o Renzo Villalon.

It automatically reconnects straying riders who catch up, does not need the group creator to be present for the group to work, and just… works. Once the bloody tedium of setup is overcome, it’s seamless.

Making a Cardo group on the Edge is easiest on the Cardo mobile app. You can have several groups with different members saved on the app.

The Edge MUST be the group creator, and all Edge members must be connected BEFORE adding the previous Cadro models like the Bold and below. With a bit more patience, you can even connect Senas and other different brands to the group.

The Edge will also mess up groups created by a previous model for some reason.

Lastly, the Edge also seems to pop its radio on for no good reason, and that’ll keep it from pairing.

That’s the fiddly bit.

From there, you can do all the good stuff – including record conversations! Great for content creators, although synching the conversation to video will take some work. The Sena C line is better at this, with its latest 50C communicator sporting a 4K action camera on it, over and above all the features Cardo offers.

Back to Cardo – the magnetic lock lets you move the device very easily from helmet to helmet. It’s reasonably strong. I’ve only had the communicator pop off during a nasty fall off the dirt bike – which is admittedly the exact time you’d like it to stay on.

The voice commands are great. They’re also a bit biased towards western english. A friend from the Visayas had a very hard time getting her Cardo to do anything.

The device itself is very rugged. I had a 24-hour ride through a river in Calamba, Laguna, complete with rain, epic rider and bike drownings, and breakdowns. The Cardo and the speakers kept ticking without any problems, despite the lack of any coherent communication, save oddly erotic huffing and puffing.

This is why it’s the “bleeding Edge” for me. It’s not the pinnacle of development and refinement. It just comes back from rides battered and scarred, but still working as well as the day I bought it.

Folks say the JBL speakers really make a difference, but I don’t hear it. Might be either the roaring of the wind, or the roaring of my tinnitus, but they sound like any other speakers to me.

My primary use for the Cardo is safety. Team members can warn each other of obstacles ahead – like trucks – or obstacles behind – like overtaking trucks. We can call for help. It’s an indispensable tool that keeps us from bleeding.

Cost will always be an issue. The device is around P19,450 from Ride Manila, the official PH distributor. There are cheaper ones on Lazada and Shoppee, but these may not be supported by dealer warranties.

So… why no regrets?

There are admittedly cheaper options out there. Hit up “bluetooth communicator” on your favorite online shopping site, and a whole bunch of devices will pop up. They’ll all do essentially the same thing – let you talk to your buddies, let you talk to your backride, play music, and make calls.

Even further up the food chain, the Sena remains a compelling option. It’s the only communicator at that level that has an action camera built in. I had the old 10C, and loved it.

I’d buy Cardo again primarily because it’s survived everything I’ve thrown at it. Rocks, sand, water, trees – the kind of malicious abuse I put my gear through makes for a very narrow band of survivors, and the Packtalk Edge is one of them.

Even if you’re not like me – who really makes their Edge bleed – you may appreciate just how tough this little thing is.

But the real reason to choose a brand is because all your buddies are using it. I ride with several groups, and everyone is on a Cardo.