On rare occasions my wife allows me to drive her Mercedes GLE. It’s a treat compared to my aging Tacoma. One of its tastiest bits is the Harman/Kardon sound system. When I saw that Sena’s newest modular helmet featured the same brand name audio engineering, I was quick to call E-i-C Brasfield and coerce him into letting me test one. He did, and I’m here to report that the Impulse is the best-sounding helmet I’ve ever worn.
You can be excused if you assumed that the advent of mesh communicators spelled the end of Bluetooth systems, but the reality is that not every rider needs the features – or expense – of mesh helmet communication systems. Bluetooth is all you need if you ride alone since you’re just connecting to your phone. Additionally, if you only ride with one other rider much of mesh’s flexibility goes unused. A long-range Bluetooth system will do just fine for two riders, and if the group expands a bit, a couple more riders works ok, too. Still, I was surprised when Cardo reached out to see if I wanted to test its updated Bluetooth communicators. The Cardo Freecom 4x has much to offer riders who haven’t yet moved into motorcycle helmet communication and are aware of how they can fit into their riding scenarios.
Let’s get this out of the way right here: The Cardo Packtalk Headphones are an extremely niche product. However, for riders who have already bought into the Cardo Packtalk system of communicators and also fall into that niche, the Packtalk Headphones are a tremendously useful tool. Also, just for the sake of clarity, the Packtalk Headphones do not come with Packtalk Bold or Black communicators; they are simply an accessory.
Add helmet communicator to the long list of new tricks this old dog resisted learning. Riding always felt like the only quiet time in a wired world, where I could do a little of what felt like meditating – I always enjoyed the solitude. Well, screw that. The voices in my head are increasingly pissed off lately at the absurdity of it all; how about a little diversion?
You like good deals, right? Well, sometimes the best deals are for items with superficial blemishes, or products that have been out of its box and on display on the shelves. Every now and then Revzilla has blemished and/or display items they need to clear out, too, and this is your chance to get your hands on some great products that might have very minor imperfections. Below are a select few items up for grabs, but to see them all you need to click below.
While they may be called helmet communicators, I bet that most riders spend the majority of their time listening to music rather than talking with other riders. Because of that, the most common complaint we hear about these Bluetooth systems is that the speakers have tinny sound and lack the volume to be heard clearly at speed – particularly when wearing earplugs. Well, Cardo has heard you and responded with the recently released 45mm Audio Set, which consists of a pair of 45mm JBL-developed helmet speakers and the firmware to allow select Cardo units to get the most out of them.
Thanksgiving means it’s time for family, football, turkey, and, of course, Black Friday shopping. While you’ve been scarfing down stuffing or watching the Bears down the Lions (spoiler alert!), we looked around and compiled a list of some of the best Black Friday deals for motorcyclists.
“Smart” technology: it’s a buzzword that tells you a device is enhanced in some way, usually by connectivity to other devices. Odds are your helmet is dumb: it’s just a helmet. But in an era of smartphones, houses, appliances, cars and even eyeglasses, odds are you want your helmet to do more than just protect your melon from wind, weather, or bouncing off the ground.
I love helmet communicators. Using them has changed the way I ride. In fact, when testing new helmets, one of the first things I do (once I become familiar with the noise levels in the helmet) is install a communicator. I ride so many places where I use turn-by-turn directions that I can’t imagine going back to the bad old days of taping directions on the gas tank. Until Sena released the 30K, the company’s 20S/20S EVO units were my go-to communicators. So, you can imagine my excitement when it came time to test the 30K which takes all the features of the 20S and adds the new, easy-to-use mesh communication technology to the mix.
Helmet communication systems have moved beyond the upstart phase of their existence, and now the major manufacturers (primarily Cardo Systems and Sena) are working on ever-increasing refinement. Case in point is the Cardo Systems PackTalk Bold. The company’s Dynamic Mesh Communication (DMC) system has been around for a couple years and has grown quite popular with its increased flexibility compared to Bluetooth group communications. To this improved group chatting, the PackTalk Bold takes the company’s top-of-the-line communicator and adds next-generation voice control, allowing riders to keep their hands on the motorcycle’s grips where they belong instead of manipulating the controls of a helmet-mounted communicator.
Way back in March of 2015 I reviewed the Sena 20S Motorcycle Bluetooth Communication System and found it to be my favorite of all the systems I’d ever sampled. I liked it so much that I bought a an extra mounting kit for it so that I could use it on my two favorite helmets, and when I wore something other than those two lids, I usually switched one of the mounts. In those two-plus years since the review, I’ve used the 20S on almost every single one of my motorcycle rides. It is an essential part of my motorcycle kit. That’s how much I’ve grown to love the Sena 20S. So, you can imagine how stoked I was when I received a pair of the upgraded Sena 20S EVO communicators.
These days technology is developing faster than ever, and just when you’ve saved up enough hard-earned cash and purchased the latest and greatest gadget, a better, faster, sleeker model hits the market and renders yours a dinosaur. Damn it! On September 13th, Tokyo-based company Borderless Inc. launched a Kickstarter campaign for its newest design – the CrossHelmet X1, a smart helmet that features an integrated heads-up display (HUD) with claimed 360-degree field of view, ambient sound control and Bluetooth connectivity to your smartphone. The crowd-funding campaign has since amounted over $277,000 – almost three times its goal – and continues to rise even as I write this.
Sena has been on a tear, lately. The Bluetooth communication company threw down the gauntlet with the release of the Sena 20S Motorcycle Bluetooth Communication System, bringing class-leading features and ease-of-use to the helmet communicator market. Then, back in December, Sena jumped into the action-camera fray with its Prism Bluetooth Action Camera featuring a unique Bluetooth audio recording capability. It might seem logical to sit back and let these two products gather market share. Instead, Sena has released a product that combines many of the key features of the 20S and Prism into one package that checks in at $349 – significantly less than the 20S/Prism combo, even with the recently lowered Prism price.