Cardo Systems Inc. is well known for its Bluetooth® communication systems for motorcycles and other head protection helmets. It has been producing the scala rider® line for 10 years and was a pioneer in this category. The Cardo BK-I line was introduced in 2012 as its first Bluetooth® communication system designed especially for cyclists. Originally available only to professional cycling teams the BK-1 line is now available for sale to the general public. The Cardo BK-1 Duo is a pair of Cardo BK-1’s that come already paired. I tested the system out on bike rides with my family.
I was very impressed with the packaging of the Cardo BK-I Duo, it comes in a nice hard-sided travel case with individual spots for all the parts, making it very easy to keep it organized when not in use. It comes with it’s own charger and it is a good idea to fully charge before the first use. Once it is charged, set up is pretty straight forward though it takes a few minutes, so it’s a good idea to do it ahead of time, rather than when your child is waiting to go for a ride!
I must admit when I first heard of the BK-1 I thought it would be useful with my 10 year-old, but that I wouldn’t be able to use it with my 6 year-old twins who have just mastered riding a bike without training wheels. I was wrong!! It is really simple to use and can be voice activated so even very young children can use it, and they don’t need to take their hands off the handlebars at all!
We live near the coast and have a beautiful coastal bike trail so my daughter and I decided to test out the BK-1 on a mother-daughter ride. My daughter is only 6 and hadn’t ridden the trail before, so I was a little nervous about the many places it crosses the road. The BK-1 performed beautifully – I could easily tell her when obstacles were coming up that she needed to slow down or stop for, and I could gently remind her which side of the path she should be on when we met oncoming pedestrians or cyclists. Activating it was easy – if I spoke loudly it would switch on the headset and then I could speak at a normal volume and she could hear me clearly. Not being used to wearing a microphone she did knock it out of position part-way through the ride, but even with the microphone positioned away from her mouth I could still hear her clearly.
My daughter thought it was fun to be able to talk to me throughout the ride, and it gave me a lot of peace of mind to be able to give her safety instructions without having to ride alongside and shout. It was very clear and easy to hear, even when there was wind and traffic noise. It was also great for discussing where and when we wanted to take breaks, though we had so much fun on the ride that we cycled almost 9 miles!
The BK-1 connects to your smartphone (or GPS) via Bluetooth, I also tested it out on other occasions listening to music from my iPhone, and receiving calls, and it worked very well for those too.
The system consists several parts. A cradle attaches to your bicycle helmet using velcro straps that go through the ventilation holes, and the main BK-1 snaps into place on the cradle. The audio kit has 2 speakers that sit inside your helmet – these are kept in place with adhesive backed velcro strips (included) that you place inside your helmet, as they are tiny speakers rather than headphones you can still hear traffic noise – which is important for safety when bike riding. The right audio kit also has a flexible mic attached. The left speaker is optional – so with my daughter I only had her use the right speaker, with mic, I used both speakers for myself.
Overall, this is a great communication system for bike riders, it works really well, is simple to use, can be used handsfree. It is a great safety aid for parents riding with children, and it’s fun to be able to easily chat whilst riding. The only downside is the cost, it adds up quickly if you have more than 2 family members using it.
Available from Cardo online store and bike stores RRP BK-1 (single cyclist) $209, Bk-1 Duo (2 paired units) $389
NOTE: A product was supplied by the company for review purposes, no other form of compensation was received, all opinions stated in the review are those of the author and have been offered honestly.
Mary is originally from England but now lives in California with her husband, dog, cat and three children. Mary and her family love Apple products and own an iPad2, iPad3, iPad Mini, iTouch, iPhone5 and several MacBook Pros. They also love cub scouts, skiing, camping and hiking. The family iPads are also used for therapy for their daughters Apraxia (speech disorder).