It’s the best upgrade I’ve ever made to my driving experience. You should forget to mount your smartphone on the handlebar and do the update too. Your sanity will thank you.
If you purchase something using links in our stories, we may earn a commission. This helps support our journalism. Find out more.
Eyes forward, ears up
Since I read about smartphone cameras they are shaken due to the vibrations when mounting it on the motorcycle handlebar, I was afraid of destroying mine. I also generally don’t like looking at a screen for navigation directions while driving. People can do a lot of stupid things behind the wheel of a car in just one second.
Call it defensive driving or whatever you like, I always want my eyes on the road, specially when I’m on the go. There’s an unwritten law of the universe that says the smaller the vehicle you’re driving, the less likely it is that other drivers will notice you (or care that you’re hogging a chunk of the road). That’s bad enough in a small car. Multiply that several times when you’re on a motorcycle.
I’d rather get all my directions via a Bluetooth headset, powered by Apple Maps or Google Maps on my phone and delivered straight to my ear without having to take my eyes off the road. It’s safer and makes driving much less stressful.
Yes you can just use wireless earphones, but I’ll make you a better one: the Cardo Freecom 2X. It’s my favorite Bluetooth headset. The controls, a large, chunky scroll wheel, are easier to use while wearing motorcycle gloves than the touch controls on most wireless earphones, and the 40-millimeter JBL speakers put out pretty great sound. It’s handy for clearer directions and for listening to music and taking phone calls (although I rarely do the latter two when driving).
At highway speeds, the JBLs are loud enough to be heard clearly over wind noise, although you won’t exactly be able to deafen yourself with excess volume. You can hear music well enough to hear it, but it’s not loud enough for a true blue headbanger.
The Freecom 2X can be used on its own or connected to another Freecom unit if you like to ride with a partner, and its half-mile range will let you talk to each other without worry. If you’re traveling in larger groups, you can upgrade to Freecom 4X ($216). It’s the same unit, but lets you connect up to four headphones over a 0.75 mile radius.
The finer details
The Cardo Connect app that pairs your smartphone with the headset works perfectly and I’ve had no issues with it my iPhone. The Freecom 2X charges via a USB-C connector, which is a nice modern touch. No more Micro USB!
Comes with hardware to mount it to a closed or open helmet. For closed helmets, you attach an adhesive-backed microphone (to pick up your voice) inside the chin bar. For open face helmets, there is a flexible stem that fits close to the ear and hangs down in front of the mouth. Routing the cables and speakers under the helmet padding takes some DIY work, but it’s nothing a little determination can’t fix, even if the directions aren’t great.
Cardo offers options for mounting the headset itself to the side of the helmet. There is a clip if you are using a helmet with thin sides and an adhesive backed mount if your helmet is too thick for the clip. I mounted the Freecom 2X on mine Shoei RF-1200 closed face helmet with the adhesive clip, and has held up through scorching east coast summers and freezing year-end rain with no sign that it will weaken and peel.
If you use GPS apps while riding—who doesn’t these days?—consider pairing your favorite helmet (or helmets) with a Bluetooth headset like this one. Phone calls and the ability to listen to Spotify while browsing are perks, but the real sweetness is keeping you safe enough for another day of travel.
Special Offer for Gear Readers: Get a 1 Year Subscription a WIRED for $5 ($25 off). This includes unlimited access to WIRED.com and our print magazine (if you like). Memberships help fund the work we do every day.
Leave a Comment