Cardo are the leading manufacturer in the world of Bluetooth motorcycle helmet intercoms and have been one of the front-running companies with this technology for the last 20 years. So, there’s a certain reassurance that these guys know what they’re doing. This particular piece has many functions, undoubtedly a culmination of their experience in the field and we’ll start, appropriately, with the Bluetooth itself. You’ll be pleased to know it utilises the latest version of this software (perhaps unsurprisingly!) which is currently at version 5.2, the latest update focusing on improvements to audio devices. As well as this, it has 2 channels built in meaning you can connect to 2 other Bluetooth devices at the same time (phone and cycle dashboard perhaps?) and universal pairing is included too so you don’t have to stick to the same brand when pairing those devices.
The App that Cardo provide, Cardo Connect, is nicely laid out in design with all the main functions on one easy to use screen, giving you the options of Audio, Phone, FM Radio and the intercom at the touch of a button. Particularly handy if you don’t want to use the voice command function and have your device within easy touching distance. Speaking of the App, it doesn’t take too long to get it sorted when you first get the Freecom 4X set up and will instantly provide an update to the Firmware. It’s fairly easy to fix the device on to your helmet (you won’t be needing an electronics degree and takes about 15 minutes) and the update from the App will take just under 10 minutes to get installed.
Once you’re set up you can look forward to using the voice-activation to access 23 different functions including internet searching (I can’t help but think KITT from Knight Rider rebuilt as a bike!) and the ability to connect with up to 4 other Freecom 4X devices (although you have to pay more to get 4, the standard model is 2 connections) with a range of ¾ of a mile, terrain dependant of course. You can even share your music if you like (and now I’m just thinking Ride of the Valkyries as you and your mates approach the nearest meet…).
A handy thing with this model is the ability to have wired earbuds (although having these in while riding could impair your hearing a little too much so be cautious) while retaining all the functionality of the Freecom X4 – you’re not taking up a Bluetooth connection after-all. The speakers provided however, are good enough to give you a good, rich sound with volume enough if you like it loud so is there really a need for earbuds? The speakers also come with two types of mounting – a clamp style or the gluing in option, dependant on the type of helmet you have.
The controls are fairly intuitive and well-designed. If unable (or simply don’t want to!) mount your mobile on your handlebars, the controls on the unit itself are easy to use. The front control is for your music and is the first thing your fingers will naturally come in to contact with – the ridged control interface also making it easy to locate, even with your gloves on. The control wheel is used to control the volume and a press upwards will pause the music. Easy. The device is waterproof and it doesn’t matter what weather is thrown your way be it snow, mud, dust or rain it will not effect it. The natural voice operation means you just say “Hey Cardo” and the X4 will do the rest.
Finally, how long will this last before recharging? Cardo state 13 hours talking time with 2 hours to fully charge it. Can’t imagine many journeys lasting as long as 13 hours so it ticks all the buttons there! RRP £235
- Ability to connect to up to 4 other Freecom X4’s
- Option for plug-in earbuds
- Easy to use App
- Automatically tries to reconnect for 10 mins – no need to restart when back in range
- Good voice-activated options
- Not the latest mesh radio technology