While social distancing has always been part of motorcycling’s appeal, some of us now crave a stronger sense of connection, even through a tinted visor. Enter Cardo’s Packtalk Bold, a helmet-mounted communication system that enables bike-to-bike cross-talk with up to a mile of range. With its Dynamic Mesh Communication technology, the $340 device can link as many as 15 riders in a network configuration (rather than a daisy chain, as with older setups), which eliminates drop-offs when people stray out of range and adds them when they get closer. The JBL speakers can also stream music or phone calls.
The Packtalk Bold performed admirably in a recent group tour of Southern California’s rambling back roads, adding crisp, clear conversation to an otherwise solitary experience. The tech is mostly easy to operate, with key controls managed via a roller wheel and three small buttons. Our only gripe: Some of the more complex actions, like switching music sources and scrolling through tracks, require memorizing button taps—convoluted, but worth the learning curve for the ability to share a laugh about that last fast sweeper.