Suppose you agree that there are two essentials for communicating while riding a motorcycle: eyes on the road and hands on the handlebars. In that case, you sound like a savvy motorcyclist who is experienced. Motorcycle communications have come a long way in the past few years, incorporating innovative technology to make communication a seamless experience.
In this article, we will give you an overview of the best way to communicate while riding your motorcycle while you ride safely.
Let’s get into it.
Cardo vs Sena
Two companies dominate the communication space for motorcycles, so it makes sense to compare the flagship products from both companies and provide you with an unbiased opinion of both units.
The Cardo Packtalk Bold and the Sena 50 series are the industry titans, but is one better than the other?
For a bit of history, the Sena has always trailed behind the Cardo due to inferior speakers, but now the speakers have been upgraded with something equally as good as the Cardo. Is this going to be a game changer for Sena?
Sena is now using Harman Kardon speakers. Interestingly Harman Kardon is the parent company of JBL! Cardo has relied solely on JBL speakers, and they are high-quality speakers.
For more information on the two brands go here.
What do you expect from a motorcycle communications system?
If you could design the system, it would be streamlined, at the very least. It’s not great having a cumbersome unit attached to your crash helmet.
On paper, the Cardo Packtalk Bold and The Sena 50S are almost identical in weight and dimensions.
Both have around 13 hours of battery life. Still, unfortunately, some of the bugs from their previous Sena have migrated to the 50S, such as the low battery voice prompt arriving almost as the battery is about to cut out.
Both units support a mesh system, with Sena stating the mesh can be unlimited when riders are in rage, sounds like you will need to make some new friends quickly to make the most of the Sena 50S.
The gap has closed, with Sena now producing an amazing base response that rivals the Cardo Packtalk. However, it does sound like JBL still has the edge over Sena in terms of overall sound quality.
Packtalk claims 1.6 miles range in open terrain, and the Sena claims 2 miles. Under testing, both units failed dismally, with both equally dropping in and out of signal within a range of 500 yards.
From experience, the range of most comms devices will always be the line of sight, and this still seems to be true. However, the Packtalk range is less than Sena. This could be due to Packtalk using Bluetooth 4.1 and Sena using Bluetooth 5.0.
Dynamic mesh Communication
If you are concerned about the range, you should consider how groups tend to ride.
One of you rarely takes off a couple of miles ahead; you ride in a group, making the DMC ideal for communicating with each other.
How can you achieve a greater distance with dynamic mesh communications? If you are spread out over a distance, if a rider is close enough to you, the signal can jump from unit to unit. This is true of the Packtalk and the Sena.
How do Cardo and Sena fare with wind noise?
If you ride with a half helmet or a flip-up modular helmet, then you will understand wind noise is the bane of your life and can and does ruin the intercom experience.
The idea is that when you talk on the comms in mesh mode that the music level drops and voice takes over, it works well on the Cardo Packtalk. A clever algorithm can recognise the turbulence of the wind and suppress the sound within seconds.
Whereas the Sena 50S is not so responsive, and the wind noise can be very irritating, it is a failure for Sena in this area.
Are the Cardo Packtalk Bold and the Sena 50S waterproof?
The Cardo Packtalk Bold is fully waterproof, but here is the biggest downfall of the Sena 50S, it’s not waterproof!
How is it possible that Sena failed to make the 50S waterproof? It is beyond comprehension that the developers of this unit could have missed such a vital function.
Is it because of the price? It seems as if the price is not the issue. On the retail side, the Sena 50S is priced at $350 and the cardo packtalkBold at $389, with discounts to be found on both models when shopping online.
Ease of use?
The last thing you need to do while riding is fumbling at the side of your helmet to alter volume levels, so both units come with voice commands, but do they work?
The Cardo unit has terrific voice commands that work incredibly well. After a short time, you will forget what the buttons on the unit are there for.
You can interact with your Cardo Packtalk through the app, which makes the buttons somewhat obsolete, but you can imagine necessary.
Sena, on the other hand, is not so good. It seems as if Sena has been playing catch up with Cardo and have increased the functionality of their unit but have bought some of the old bugs from the 30 to the new 50.
The ambient mode does not work in the real world. Despite the fantastic USB dongle for charging, a flagship device’s lack of quality control is easily noticeable and somewhat unforgivable to riders.
Which should you buy?
It is subjective. If you are a Sena fan, you may decide to stick with Sena, but it will all depend on what your riding group is using. The mesh system is not interchangeable between units, with the Cardo needing to pair to one of the devices to stay in communication.
The biggest failure from Sena with their new range is the unit is not waterproof. If you get caught in a shower, you’re screwed. The 50R can not be dismounted from the helmet, so it’s as good as scrap after a good downpour.