In this week's show, Todd Heslin talks us through his recent Bucket Racing experience. Also,
The Cardo Packtalk Edge is out, and I've been running it on the side of my Airoh Commander ADV lid for the past month or so. I've put it through some serious abuse off-road and in some of the wettest commuting I've done in the past 18 months. So, how did it fair?
I ran it on my helmet during round 2 of the NZ Enduro champs at Moonshine Upper Hutt in the rain and mud, as well as through a couple of serious downpours while commuting, and have not had a single issue at all. It's solid and as far as I can tell, very dependable.
The installation of the Packtalk Edge is much like any other intercom, though its clear that Cardo uses top-notch materials. All the bits and pieces you need to install to almost any helmet are included. Nothing has really changed from the Packtalk Bold unit apart from the shape of the mounting plate. You still get the clamp mount and the adhesive mount, so whatever way to need to go, you'll be fine. I've installed enough of these units, that it took me around 8 minutes from unboxing to turning on. But, if you were starting from scratch and had never done it before, it might pay to allow yourself 20-30 minutes including test fitting.
Possibly the biggest innovation of the Packtalk Edge is the Magnetic and self-locking "Air-mount" which raised some eyebrows and questions when it was announced. But I can confirm it is very secure and requires the user to press a release lever before the unit slides off the mount. There is no chance this is coming off your helmet while you ride.
This is a big step up over the Packtalk Bold. There is more volume in every function. With the Packtalk Bold, I used to have it running within 90% of full volume most of the time. With the Edge, it's down around 50% most of the time. I got a phone call the other day and actually had to turn the volume down. Well done Cardo.
The Packtalk Bold was pretty good in the area, so I was wondering how the Edge could improve on this. Cardo has done some work on the noise cancellation, meaning when talking on the phone as you ride, you sound clearer to the person on the other end. Often they won't even know you are riding at the time. As mentioned above, there is also now more volume so it's easier to hear the person you are talking to, even at motorway speeds.
In this area, the Edge is head and shoulders above the Bold units. The intercom sound quality is astounding. It's what I would call "Wide-band audio". the difference is like if you called someone on the old house phone plugged into the copper network, compared to Zoom calling them. At least this is what I experienced when sitting at home playing with the units with my wife. In the real world, I am yet to test the range and quality of the DMC2.0 connection, from Edge to Edge.
I really like the feature where you can listen to music while using the intercom, and either stream that music to everyone on the connection or just keep it to yourself. Every time you or someone else on the connection talks, the volume of the music drops than when they stop it goes up again, this is a setting I the app, and you can set the amount of "volume drop" from 0 to 100%.
Making the Connection
This has always been something I have struggled with. We call it the "Cardo dance" as you awkwardly stand on the side of the road at the start of your ride and try to get everyone on the same connection. Admittedly it's possibly because I've never really read the instructions. But it just never seems to go as smoothly as it does in the YouTube videos. Connecting my Packtalk Edge to my mate's Packtalk Bold took about twice as long as it should have, we ended up turning our phones off and holding the connection button until something happened and we could hear each other. It turned out we were connected via Bluetooth which is a weaker signal than the DMC option, and very "line of sight". Both the Packtalk Bold and Edge units claim they are good for 1600m range in DMC mode, but in this situation, we were struggling for maybe 400m using Bluetooth. We were adv riding and every time one of us would disappear over a rock step or mound of dirt, we would drop out. We did reconnect quickly and easily without pushing any more buttons. But it was not the best experience I've ever had. For some reason on this ride, we just couldn't get DMC to connect. Cardo made a big song and dance about the Edge being quicker to connect, and I have noticed it connected to my phone very quickly indeed. More testing is required.
The app hasn't really changed much. It's still the same app you connected to the Packtalk Bold, but now instead of connecting your Edge unit to the computer for updates, you can push them to the unit from your phone. Very handy. Also, all the settings you could ever want to change are in the app. It also helps when creating MDC groups and adding new people to those groups. Because it's the same app as the Bold, previous model Cardo users should be pretty familiar with it and find it a breeze to navigate.
Music sounds great through the JBL 45mm speakers. There is more volume than the Packtalk Bold, and the new improved JBL sound profiles in the app make a noticeable difference to the listening experience.
Though the Edge is not IP67 rated like the Bold unit before it. Cardo stands behind their waterproofing claim and will replace any unit that fails due to water seeping in. I have ridden through some serious rain in the last few weeks and have not had a single issue. I've also seen these units fully submerged in a mug of beer with no issues.
Charging and Battery life
The USB-c port allows the unit to charge very fast. Up to 80% in a single-hour lunch break, and the battery lasts ages also. In my commuting environment, the battery lasts more than a week easily. On the box, Cardo claims 13 hours of battery life, and I see no reason to dispute that.
The PT Edge has all the voice commands I have become customed to from using the Bold. Interestingly I have not experienced any issues as yet. With the Bold unit, I would randomly activate the radio or other such feature while talking with my riding mates. I've not managed to accidentally activate anything as yet with the PT Edge.
It's the flagship product from Cardo, and lives up to the hype. It has all the bells and whistles.
The max volume has increased
The USB-C fast charging is awesome, and I not only need to carry a USB-C cable to charge everything while going on a road trip.
The Magnetic "Air-mount" works nicely and is very secure
The buttons don't seem as sensitive as the Packtalk bold. On the bold unit, they're hard plastic and don't move laterally, whereas with the PT Edge they're made of a softer rubber. When turning the unit on, I sometimes push and hold the button for a few seconds and the unit doesn't turn on. I have another go and it works. I put this down to occasionally the solid rubber buttons, made so you can feel them through thick gloves, move laterally just enough that they don't make contact in the right place on the circuit board. It's not a major issue and doesn't really detract from the user experience, It's just something I have noticed.
The Cardo Packtalk Edge is available now from your local motorbike gear store. It comes in both single packs @ $649 and Duo packs @ $1199. or you can click THIS LINK and buy from the international online store and support MotoNZ.com in the process.