New Bluetooth headset powers cyclists’ conference calls

With weather warming up in the Northern hemisphere, it’s time to get outside. My wife and I like to take the road bikes out and ride together, but we sometimes separate for stretches as one or the other of us is able to work the local hills better. At that point, we’ve lost the “group ride” feeling as we’re not able to communicate and warn for potholes, cars and the occasional snake that crosses the road. The Cardo BK-1 crossed my radar this morning and could help resolve that problem.

Cardo, based in Pittsburgh, PA, is a long-time manufacturer of motorcycle communications gear. This year, it added its first similar product for cyclists; the BK-1. The device looks like a typical Bluetooth earpiece for smartphones — in fact, it does work with handsets — but adds a small, wearable module that fits atop a bicycle helmet.

With up to three cyclists wearing the BK-1, riders can communicate wirelessly for up to 500 meters in a line of sight. Essentially, the device is a hands-free walkie-talkie using Bluetooth for communication between the earpiece and headset module with another wireless technology on unlicensed spectrum connecting the riders.

The BK-1 also connects to MP3 players and GPS devices over Bluetooth, although I’d never use the former function. I do run on the roads with music, but when riding, I like to hear the cars approaching from behind. The GPS feature could be handy, however as turn-by-turn navigation on a new ride would be extremely useful.

Cardo sells the direct BK-1 for $279 and offers a $479 two-pack called the BK-1 Duo. At that price only avid riders need apply to keep the conversation spinning.