Cardo BK-1 turns your bike helmet into a walkie talkie
By C.C. Weiss
March 26, 2012
Cardo Systems, Inc. has long specialized in radio communications systems for motorcycles. Now the company has turned to the bike market in building what it calls the "world's first Bluetooth communications and entertainment system for bicycle helmets."
The stereotypical cyclist with his Lycra jersey and bib shorts doesn't have a whole lot of personal storage space for an electronics device. So, Cardo built a unit designed to be mounted to the bicycle helmet. The BK-1 unit is a waterproof, aerodynamic Bluetooth device that fits nearly any helmet with some simple hardware. The hardware looks a little more streamlined than the similar HIOD One system we saw last year.
The BK-1 is a communications device, first and foremost. It can pair with up to two other BK-1 units, allowing you to communicate with fellow cyclists at distances up to 1,640 feet (500 m). It can also work with a mobile phone via Bluetooth, to make/receive calls. Both the intercom and phone functions are voice activated, so you can keep your hands planted on the handlebars. With its click-to-link function, you can even automatically connect to other BK-1 users in the area and have a spontaneous conversation (similar to how you could use a radio to scan for other users on the same channel). The Automatic Gain Control adjusts volume according to speed and ambient noise.
In addition to communications, the BK-1 can pair with a music player or GPS via Bluetooth or hard-wire connection, allowing you to listen to music or GPS routing. An incoming phone call will interrupt intercom audio, and an incoming intercom message will interrupt music.
The BK-1 package features several components, including the main control unit, a microphone and earpiece unit, and a cradle. The cradle attaches to a helmet with an included Velcro strap, and the main unit and headphones slide into the cradle. Velcro pads allow you to customize the fit and stability of the system. The main unit has five buttons that switch between audio sources and control tracks. The BK-1 provides up to seven hours of talk time via a rechargeable battery. It comes in both solo and duo packages.