It's Cyber Monday, baby! Time to get your electronics on, and no gearheads are more focused on the electron than cyclists. Cardo has been providing a communications fix to people who go fast for a long time; we've favorably reviewed their Scala Rider system for motorcyclists in the past. Enter stage right: the BK-1 Duo cycling bluetooth system.
The BK-1 Duo is (are?) two bluetooth headsets that provide intercom-style communication between two riders, and a third can chime in if they are equipped with a compatible Cardo system. The Duo pair comes factory-synced, so all you have to do is install it in your helmet and sync it with your phone or MP3 player. You can play music, take/make phone calls, even use the included second ear speaker to go full stereo. Just charge it up and strap it on. Installation is not overly complicated, and Cardo has done a great job of making the mounting rip-and-stick straps and adhesive pads pretty universal, but just give it an hour and make sure you have a tall cold one at hand. But that pretty much goes for any assembly job in our experience.
Once set up it feels like magic to start a conversation with your riding partner by simply speaking normally. No buttons to push, just converse like normal. Sound quality is excellent with clear line of sight, and this is the only technical downside: any kind of obstruction will significantly degrade signal quality. If you have visions of using this in a climbing helmet for conversations on winding routes, around corners and in crevasses, just stow that talk right now. Besides, it's not what the BK-1 is designed for: we're talking cycling where you have frequent and long opportunities for conversation but you don't want to shout. This is going to happen more often while road biking, but even cross-country mountain bikers may want to consider the BK-1. It's nice to have early warning of that log, ditch or snake.
Range as we tested was less than advertised, generally less than 1,000 feet, but that's plenty long enough for normal biking conditions.Overall the noise cancellation is excellent, the usability top-notch, the construction quality superior (lightweight, waterproof and dustproof), and the battery life good enough for a long day's ride. Aside from the technical limitation of line-of-sight, the only other thing preventing the Cardo BK-1 from immediately jumping onto your gear wall is the price. How badly do you want comms? If it's badly enough, you'll be happy with the BK-1.