Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Bluetooth comm system for cyclists


Too many bicycle mishaps have taught me to keep my eyes on the road and my ears tuned for danger. Long ago my wife outlawed wearing headphones of talking on my mobile.

But there are plenty of people who are far more adept than I at multitasking while navigating a two-lane country road while seated on 30 pounds of aluminum. It's those folks who are likely to embrace the BK-1, a multifunction communication and entertainment system for bicycle helmets.

The BK-1 is built by Cardo, a company with a long history of making communication products that let motorcycle riders talk to each other and to their passengers. It's the first communication system for cyclists to use Bluetooth technology to connect up to three cyclists who are separated by up to 1,640 feet under ideal road conditions.

The system includes a small waterproof transmitter/receiver that straps onto a bike helmet and connects to a pair of earpiece and microphone combos. The system connects to other BK-1 units as well as other Bluetooth devices including mobile phones, MP3 players and GPS units. Press one of the buttons on the receiver or use voice commands and you can talk to another cyclist, carry on a phone conversation, get navigation alerts (if your GPS has a voice option) or cue up "Born To Run."

The receiver also has a mini-USB port and a special audio cable so you can connect the system to an iPod or other MP3 device that doesn't have Bluetooth.

Getting the Cardo system set up on a bike helmet is a bit tricky. There are a lot of straps and cables to manage with a variety of Velcro pads to get all the components in place. 

The system also requires a hefty investment of cash as well as time. A single BK-1 rig costs $280 and a Duo version with two units costs $480. Both packages are available on the Cardo website.


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Follow me on Twitter @ricmanning and read my technology columns at My Well Being.


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