Editorial/RL Policar: We’ve assigned the responsibility of reviewing the Cardo BK-1 Duo to one of our Contributing Writers, Dial Tone. Read below see what he thinks of it.
So I’ve taken the Cardo BK-1 Duo for several rides now and my initial impression still holds true. I’ve used it on road rides and until recently on mountain bike rides.
Set up on the BK-1 Duo isnt quick nor is it intuitive. One really has to read over the User’s Manual to understand how the unit operates. Another annoying issue is when the units are turned off, they have to be paired again. If you test out the units after charging it and turn it off, you will have to pair it again on the trail. And unless you’ve memorized the text book-like User’s Manual, good luck figuring it out.
Placing the unit on top of the helmet wasn’t quite as ideal as I thought. The wire that leads from the top of the unit to the earpiece/boom mic isnt long enough so instead of the unit sitting directly on top of the head, its somewhere oriented towards the rear. By the way, Cardo provides a little spoiler to attach to the mounting base to deflect wayward branches off the unit itself. The thing comes off rather easily and I dont think its really effective against a good hit.
The earpiece /boom mice takes a good figuring out before “permanently” attaching it to the helmet. The package contains 2 bags of hook and loop fasteners, one for each unit and enough for several helmets. Once on, the earpiece is secured to the inside of the helmet and will take a good tug to take it off. The Duo set comes with 2 earpieces but I opted to only install one for two reasons: one less earpiece to deal with and in the State of California, its illegal to have it on both ears.
Line of sight the Cardo BK-1 Duo works well, which is good for road cycling. Use it for mountain biking where you can lose your riding buddy around a bend or add in foliage and trees the reception becomes choppy.
Because the boom mic is short, the user has a tendency to speak louder (read: yell). That is unnecessary. Normal speaking voice is enough though when you’re pedalling hard thats kinda hard not to do.
Surprisingly there is no wind noise. You’d hear your buddy’s heavy, labored breathing and grunting more than the wind blowing though the foam winscreen.
Since I dont have a GPS unit like a Garmin and the trails and paths I ride on are ones I am familiar with, I can’t say how well Cardo BK-1 Duo works. And since I am not big on distracted riding, I didnt connect it to my iPhone. I dont need the tunes and definitely do not want to take a call while riding. I want to be able to hear everything around me as I ride. Whether is road riding (listening for cars and other riders) or out on dirt. I used it for most important feature: talking to my riding buddy who is always far ahead.
Battery life is surprisingly long. It would take 2 really long rides to deplete the power on the the Duo. As mention earlier though, once the units are turned off, it needs to be paired again.
The Cardo BK-1 Duo is a well built product. As soon as you open the padded, zippered case it screams quality. There nothing on the Duo that feels cheap. The range is good for mountain biking and great for road cycling and the battery life is superb.
Will the Cardo BK-1 Duo appeal to the average Fred? Most likely it will not. The Duo isn’t simple to use and reading the manual thoroughly is highly recommended. It isn’t inexpensive and frankly for its pricepoint, I’d rather get a helmet cam (such as the Go Pro2) and get more out of it.
Perhaps to the well-heeled, gadget-freak riders it might.