Cardo Packtalk Black Review

Rennie Scaysbrook | October 6, 2020

Cardo’s line of Packtalk headsets has been around for ages, but the latest Packtalk Black is a little different.

Cardo Packtalk Black helmet communication system installed on a helmet
We are extremely impressed with the sound quality of the Cardo Packtalk Black communication system.

The 57-gram Packtalk Black allows you to mesh with up to 15 different riders, perfect for tour operators or even press-launch ride conductors (hint, hint). Packtalk claims you can be up to one-mile apart and even out of the line of sight and the Packtalks won’t drop out of range. The Packtalk can link to any Bluetooth headset, so if your buddy is riding with a Sena, you can still chat.

Sound comes from the 45mm speakers, developed with audio partners, JBL.

Packtalk says the battery will last you 13 hours of talk time and you can charge the system as you ride via the USB connection that links up to your bike’s 12v socket.

There’s all the usual stuff, like voice control for your phone features, text-to-voice, answering calls, FM radio and private chat that allows you to isolate one particular rider within your group and just talk to them, rather than all the other riders you’re with.

Cardo has also redeveloped their Cardo Connect app, designed to make all these features easy to access and play with.

Cardo Packtalk Black | Lowdown


Standout Feature: Awesome sound from the JBL speakers

wheelie-up Excellent sound
wheelie-up Slim and light weight
wheelie-up 13 hours of talk time
endo-down Too many buttons and dials
endo-down Voice command isn’t as smooth as hoped

Cardo Packtalk Black | Rider Analysis

For me, Bluetooth headsets are much of a muchness across different brands, simply because there’s only so much I’m ever going to do with one.

What I care about is ease of use and good sound, simply because sound is the one area no one seems to be taking seriously.

So, for me, that makes the Packtalk Black stand out from the crowd. The 45mm JBL speakers that now reside in my Arai are absolutely awesome. They produce more bass and less high-frequency distortion than my old Sena—the benefit of which isn’t just loud music but being able to hear spoken podcasts and directions clearly. I always ride with earplugs, so I need a system that’s properly loud as the earplugs filter out most of the wind noise, and a good deal of the audio. The new speakers in the Packtalk Black therefore are the new market leader, in my opinion.

JBL speakers for the Cardo Packtalk Black helmet communication system
The secret to the Cardo’s success? These things, the JBL speakers.

Other parts of the Packtalk I’m not crazy about: I find the four buttons plus the jog wheel rather cumbersome to use, and the voice command feature isn’t as seamless as I’d like. It’s good that you can just start talking and not have to push a button like on a Sena, but if the command doesn’t go through, it’s not much good.

The connectivity to other riders is something I’ve only tested once, as I normally ride alone. We linked up three riders on one ride, and everything worked well, as expected. I promptly disconnected from the group, simply for a bit of peace and quiet.

Overall, the Packtalk is a solid buy for the speakers alone. After many years on Sena, I’m still getting used to how the Cardo system works, but it’s a slim, lightweight, good-looking unit I certainly have no intentions of replacing any time soon.CN

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Click here to read the Cardo Packtalk Black Review in the Cycle News Digital Edition Magazine.


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Rennie Scaysbrook | Road Test Editor Rennie Scaysbrook is our Road Test Editor. A lifetime rider, the Aussie made the trek across the Pacific to live the dream in the U.S. of A. Likes puppies and wheelies.