Cardo Packtalk Edge review | Best intercom on the market?

Cardo Packtalk Edge Review

After a new intercom unit? We review the Cardo Packtalk Edge - packed with features, you could argue that it’s… cutting edge!

Intercom units are becoming a must-have accessory for many riders, whether that’s to add some music to your adventure, connect with other riders, or simply gain a bit of navigational advice when you’re running out of fuel and a little bit lost in the countryside (might be speaking from experience there). We have tested the new Cardo Packtalk Edge over a few thousand miles to see what’s what!

The Cardo Packtalk range has long been a staple of the intercom market, and the latest iteration brings the Edge to market. A premium option, the Edge is filled to the brim with practically every function an intercom can offer.

With a sleek design and magnetic air mount to snap the unit on securely, the Edge boasts second-generation Dynamic Mesh Communication intercom functionality, high-quality 40mm JBL speakers, USB-C quick charge, and Bluetooth 5.2 connectivity - amongst other features.

Cardo Packtalk Edge price

Available for purchase in the UK at around £339 for a single unit, there are certainly cheaper options on the market, and the Edge does position itself as one of the priciest options - though it packs power behind its punch with a host of features - it truly does it all as an intercom.

Other options on the market are the SENA 10C Evo (if you want a camera), 30K & the 50S, Cardo Freecom 4X, and a host of other options that are helmet-specific. 

It’s worth mentioning that Cardo has recently collaborated with Honda & KTM for brand-specific versions of the Edge system, too.

Quick Cardo Packtalk Edge install guide

The Cardo Packtalk Edge easily fits into any helmet, and inside the box, you are provided with mic options for full-face or open-face helmets, plus 40mm JBL speakers that should fit in most lids, and all the tools you need in the box - which is mostly just sticky pads.

For a full-face lid, like my Shoei NXR2, you first want to remove all of the internals of your lid - a chance to get them a bit of air, also. Get the sticky pads stuck in the pre-made grooves for 40mm speakers - I also used the spacers to get them a bit closer to my ears - and get the mic stuck in up front.

Return all of the internals, and tuck the wires away neatly - you may want to run the speaker wire over the top of the internal shell for a better radio signal (though that point is up to be argued).

Pick a spot on your lid for the magnetic mount to go, matching the shape of the lid ideally with as much contact patch for the sticky pads as you can find, and pre-clean the area with the supplied alcohol pad. I found the NXR2 has a nice spot for the mount to fit properly just beneath the left edge of the visor, resulting in a great full contact stick. For lids with slimmer shells, you can alternatively opt to slide in the supplied grip mount.

Give a good bit of pressure to get the mount stuck on, and the instructions (provided in the box) say to leave it there without using it for around 4 hours to ensure it’s stuck on properly. Once done, the Cardo Edge unit will be snapped-in with a very strong magnet, with a latch & slide physical mechanism to remove it - no, you can’t pull it off without pushing the latch, so no worries about the unit going flying mid-ride.

Worth a note that the mount & unit combo does protrude quite far out on the lid, and despite a slim & sleek design for the actual Edge unit with no antenna, together they do generate a little bit of wind noise at speed.

But that’s it, all done, speakers and mic installed, mount applied, connect to your phone with Bluetooth 5.2 (it says device connected each time, which is nice) and you’re away. Make sure to charge the unit & connect it to your smartphone Cardo Connect app to run any over-the-air updates that may be waiting.

Cardo Packtalk Edge - Features

A long list of features awaits buyers of the Cardo Packtalk Edge, and for my few thousands of miles of use so far I’ve been enjoying using it effectively as an extension of my phone. Music, sat-nav, the occasional radio listen, phone calls.

Dedicated intercom usage has admittedly been somewhat limited over the few thousands of miles of use, but the Edge boasts full Packtalk Mesh functionality for up to 15 riders with single-button connections, and speech is captured very nicely and clearly with the mic. Intercom range is around 1 mile, but with the mesh system, you find it stretched to around 5 miles. Now, if your riding mate is 5 miles away, you might want to stop and wait for them… but if a rider is disconnected, they’ll seamlessly be reconnected once back in range.

Full charge should last 13 hours, and I’ve found that quite true to life, which is brilliant. Though it can be a tad confusing when you finish a 2-hour ride, shut the unit off, and it announces ‘battery status: full’ as it works in 25% increments. Recharging via a USB-C fast charge, 20 minutes will give around 2 hours of ride time, a full charge achieved in up to 2 hours.

As for the JBL speakers, they are 40mm left & right speakers with simply superb quality. Working with a 3.5mm jack, the audio quality is excellent even with earplugs in - and there is improved noise-cancelling functionality via the mic.

Over-the-air updates can be accessed via the smartphone app or your computer, the most recent update as of writing includes: 

  • Improved Natural Voice Operation
  • Improved music and intercom audio mixing
  • Fine-tuned audio experience - with a new 'background volume' setting available in the Cardo Connect App.

With three main buttons, plus the clickable-scroll wheel for audio control, I found the buttons nicely positioned away from each other with a satisfying click for gloved fingers. Though, you can do nearly everything with your voice, so other than switching on you shouldn’t need to press anything once you’re rolling.

If you mount your phone to the bike, you can also access simple commands via the Cardo Connect App - I don’t mount my phone to the bars, but all options (phone, music, radio, intercom) are easily accessed if you do.

Good things

Easy to use overall, voice integration & clarity is superb - full tuck at speed you can calmy say ‘hey Cardo/Siri next song’ and it’ll do it.

The magnetic snap-on feature is great to ensure quick secure fixing onto the mount.

Big mention to the top-quality 40mm JBL speakers, too. I’m not quite an audiophile but can certainly appreciate the quality speakers over sub-par alternatives out there.

Plus, it’s fully waterproof - not just water-resistant - so you don’t have to worry if caught in a downpour.

Bad things

It’s not reinventing the wheel with previously unheard-of new features and style - but it doesn’t need to.

Whilst battery life is noticeably longer than the Freecom 4X, battery life update is still in 25% chunks - not a huge issue as it’s working with big battery life, but finer percentages would be welcome.

Despite the Edge being a sleek unit, the mount itself makes the whole thing stick out on your lid a bit, creating a bit of turbulence and wind noise at higher speeds.

Sometimes saying ‘hey Siri’ will be recognised by the unit (with an initial beep to confirm it heard you’ but the follow-up signature ‘Siri beep’ never arrives. Though this may be an Apple issue over Cardo which resolves itself after about 10 seconds on a subsequent retry.

Cardo Packtalk Edge - verdict

If after an intercom unit with exceptional audio quality, easy operation, and some of the best comms functionality for up to 15 riders with Mesh, this Cardo Packtalk Edge should certainly be on the shopping list if after a new intercom.

Whether you’re already a Cardo fan or not, this device is a seriously polished and sleek device to add a bit extra to your rides. I love the magnetic attachment system, and the JBL speaker audio & mic quality is superb - with the added advantage of long battery life to accompany you for 13 hours.

It may be a pricier option, but you genuinely get what you pay for here - I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this unit to anyone after a state-of-the-art intercom device. It hasn’t let me down once, and it’s quickly become a vital addition to every ride.

Have a listen to our ‘Rock & Ride’ playlist on Spotify if you’re after some tunes to rock out to on your ride! Find out more on the Cardo website.