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three dual sport motorcycles stopped for a break looking at the Andes Mountains in Ecuador

What Makes The Cardo Packtalk The Best Communicator For Dual-Sport Tours

Here at Ecuador Freedom Bike Rental, we’ve been rabid fans and outspoken advocates of the Cardo Packtalk, which we’re convinced is hands down the best motorcycle communicator system currently on the market. There’s just nothing else out there that’s as powerful, user-friendly, and adventure-ready as a Cardo Packtalk.

We’ve been using these products for years, so of course we were excited when we recently got the opportunity to work directly with the team at Cardo. This new partnership allows up to pass down a 25% discount on the Packtalk to anyone booking a guided or self-guided motorcycle tour with us.

This partnership was a no-brainer for us, but for anyone new to the Cardo Packtalk or curious about what makes it the best com system for dual-sport motorcycle tours, here are a few of the perks that we enjoy the most.

a guided dual sport motorcycle tour in Ecuador stopped for a break waving to the camera

The Cardo Packtalk Is Perfect For Dual-Sport Tours

Most motorcycle communication systems all share a glaring flaw: They use a standard Bluetooth connection to link riders together. This works fine in theory, but in real-life riding situations, getting and staying connected is a major hassle. This is even ten times the case when riding in the twisties of the Ecuadorian Andes.

That’s because any time a rider drifts out of range, the entire connection chain breaks down, and everyone has to stop to regroup and reconnect to stay in touch. Not the case with a Cardo Packtalk.

Cardo uses their own proprietary rider linking system, called “Dynamic Mesh Communication” (or DMC for short), which replaces the standard Bluetooth chain with a flexible network that allows riders to come and go as they please without having to recalibrate the entire system.

It’s easy to imagine how important this is for staying connected in remote areas. On our guided dual-sport motorcycle tours like our six-day Dirt Deluxe tour, riders or guides may need to scout ahead or drop back to help get a fellow adventurer back on the road. Cardo’s DMC automatically reconnects riders to the group’s network as they make their way back into the pack, so there’s no need to stop or coordinate a mass reconnect with the entire group.

Battery life is also excellent for these all-day rides. We consistently get a solid 12 hours of battery life on a single charge with the Cardo Packtalk. Back in our days with our previous communicator system, UClear, we’d typically have to stop and recharge our coms over lunch, which has been a boon for overall rider experience.

We’ll also note that the DMC system provides a much stronger signal than standard Bluetooth. That’s because Cardo has engineered each Packtalk to serve as a standalone communication beacon. In addition to providing seamless connecting and reconnecting as needed, this clever technology also works to boost the overall signal and range of the entire motorcycle tour group (up to 15 riders), which extends the maximum range of our group’s signal up to a whopping 5 miles, according to Cardo Systems.

 a bmw f750gs and a honda africa twin on a dirt road in Ecuador doing a dual sport motorcycle tour

The Cardo Packtalk Is Built For Dual Sport Abuse

Our dual-sport tours are a rain-or-shine endeavor. They’re also a dirt-and-pavement endeavor, and many times a sand-and-mud endeavor as well. Cardo goes the extra mile with their Packtalk systems by engineering them with a full IP67 rating.

If you’re not familiar with the IP rating system, just know that IP67 means the Packtalk is essentially both dust-proof and waterproof (rain won’t hurt it and should you happen to take your Cardo swimming in a river, lake, or puddle, it’s built to survive 30 minutes or more completely submerged).

We’ve had zero issues with Cardo products on our guided motorcycle tours, but we love that Cardo stands behind their products should anything go wrong. Every Packtalk comes with a 2+ year warranty that covers everything from the speakers to the battery itself, meaning Cardo will repair or replace any defective product completely free of charge to the owner. 

two suzuki dr650 riding with chimborazo snow capped volcano in the background

Hands-Free Controls Improve Rider Safety

There’s nothing quite like putting your head in a helmet and going for a ride to clear your mind from the constantly-connected routine of day-to-day life. With that being said, electronic gadgets like smartphones and GPS units add loads of convenience and enjoyment to any long ride, and play a huge role in keeping dual-sport tours on track and prepared for whatever lies on the trail ahead.

We’ve all heard stories or experienced firsthand what distracted riding can lead to. Taking your hands off the bars to check your route, adjust your screen, or ignore an incoming call only takes a split second, but sometimes that’s all the time it takes to find yourself in an “Oh shit” situation.

The Cardo Packtalk solves that problem with its always-on natural voice operation. No buttons to push, wheels to turn, or sliders to fumble with. Once you’ve connected the Packtalk to your electronics of choice, everything is controlled with a simple “Hey, Cardo” followed by a voice command. That includes calls, navigation, connecting with your group, and any other voice-controlled features found on modern electronics. No matter what you need, you keep your hands on the bars and your eyes on the road ahead.

We use these features constantly on our dual-sport tours. For instance, on the curvy and often challenging mountain passes in the Andes, we’ve actually come up with our own code words to coordinate guiding the group through traffic in dangerous situations: One guide gets around traffic when it’s safe to do so, then scouts out the road ahead to warn of any oncoming vehicles. Nothing ruins a perfect stretch of road like a slow-moving car: With the Cardo Packtalk, the entire group has eyes and ears around every blind curve, allowing safe passes on stretches of road that would normally be unimaginable and wildly unsafe.

The same goes for scouting out hazards on the road ahead. The Packtalk’s clear and reliable audio filtering lets us give the group plenty of heads up when there are fallen rocks, muddy washes, challenging turns, or bottlenecks up ahead long before they have a chance to catch anyone off guard.

garmin zumo xt

It Works Seamlessly With Our Garmin GPS Units

A dedicated motorcycle GPS like the Garmin Zumo XT we’ve recently outfitted our fleet with plays a huge role in keeping your group on track. While the large touch-screen displays and added safety features of these units make them great on their own, the ability to connect and control a GPS hands-free really sweetens the deal.

We love the Cardo Packtalk’s ability to instantly tether to a Garmin unit, giving riders the ability to do everything they need with simple voice commands from turn-by-turn directions to dialing up the perfect song for a challenging stretch of road.

It’s also worth mentioning that the Cardo is plug-and-play for Garmin’s “Group Ride Radio” feature, giving adventures the ability to communicate back and forth for up to a mile with or without a smartphone and/or cellular coverage. It even replaces the convenient “push to talk” feature of Group Ride Radio with the “Hey Cardo” command, so there’s no awkward heavy breathing or constant wind noise between important communications.

a motorcyclist in ecuador leading a tour with a cardo packtalk bold communicator on his helmet

Audio Quality Is Excellent

Outright audio quality isn’t the first thing we look for in a helmet com system, but it shouldn’t be overlooked either.

At risk of stating the obvious here: What’s the point of communicating with your group if you can’t make out 50% of what they’re saying? What’s the point of being able to listen to your favorite tunes on the go if they sound like they’re coming from the free earbuds they hand out on airplanes? What good are turn-by-turn directions if you’d be better off having a passenger shout them at you from the pillion seat?

We appreciate the fact that that Cardo appreciates that fact. So much so, in fact, that they outsourced their own helmet speaker system to none other than audio wizards JBL. The result is a pair of speakers that slide perfectly into your helmet and deliver sound that is rich, clear, and expertly tuned for anything from incoming calls to Beethoven’s 5th.

Combined with Cardo’s “smart audio mixing” feature, which both automatically adjusts volume for outside noise (so you don’t go deaf at stoplights) and automatically mixes your various audio sources (music, group chats, incoming calls, etc.) for optimal clarity, it’s just one less thing to distract you from enjoying your dual-sport tour.

a group motorcycle tour riding on a beach in manabi ecuador

Customer Support Is Top Notch

When we first started using com systems, our go-to was the UClear unit of the day. We might be showing our age here, but back then UClear was both the technology leader in the segment as well as one of the best companies for customer support we’d ever done business with.

Unfortunately, both the level of customer support and technology fell off over time, and Cardo appears to have taken the lead on both fronts. We’ve had excellent results getting any questions or concerns with the Cardo Packtalk addressed in short order. In fact about the only complaint we’ve had with the Packtalk is that the auxiliary microphones aren’t nearly as waterproof as the Packtalks themselves, but unlike the UClear systems, these microphones are modular and therefore easily replaceable (not to mention inexpensive), and customer service is always on hand should this issue arise.

a honda africa twin doing a river crossing in ecuador on a dual sport motorcycle tour

Closing Thoughts On The Cardo Packtalk

The Cardo Packtalk has been out in one iteration or another for years, and we’ve put thousands upon thousands of hard miles on their products without a single complaint. The competition is fierce, with brands like SENA and UClear trying their hardest to dethrone Cardo’s reigning line of motorcycle communicators, but to date no one has successfully managed to shake a stick at the Packtalk.

Cost is always a big hurdle when it comes to technology. Sticker shock drives many a motorcyclist over the cliff of bargain-bin imitators or stripped-down base models. The ability to give a sizeable discount for these best-in-class comms for our customers is just one more perk we’re excited to bring to the table in 2022 for our dual-sport tours. The best adventures start in the middle of the world, and just keep getting better. We’ll see you out there in 2022.

a group dual sport motorcycle tour enjoying breakfast in ecuador

Where To Buy The Cardo Packtalk

You’ll find no better deal on the Cardo Packtalk than the discount our customers get when booking a tour through us, but if you’re interested in trying the Packtalk out at home first, these carriers almost always have the full line in stock:

Shop directly at the Cardo online store

Shop the Cardo Packtalk at Revzilla

Shop the Cardo Packtalk at Amazon

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