Scala Rider PackTalk long-term review

Today, I want to share about a long-term test review of the Scala Rider PackTalk by Cardo.

I’ve spent just over a year now riding with this unit to bring you a straightforward, no BS, hands-on opinion of what I think is cutting-edge technology.

I’ve tested the system in various climates and terrain. My goal is to provide you with an informative review that I hope will increase your knowledge of Bluetooth vs. DMC (Dynamic Mesh Communication) systems for your potential future purchases.

I initially purchased this product when it was just released to the market and had some firmware update issues. After a few updates, the system became more user-friendly.

Prior to buying this unit, I had a Sena SMH10, which failed me on my ride to Nova Scotia when water got inside the unit and eventually fried it. I also tried the 20S, but ran into a few problems and didn’t get much help from the customer service end to resolve those issues. I returned the 20S unit.

I then switched over to Cardo. Right off the bat, I noticed this unit had a lot going on. I mean really, this PackTalk could do just about everything for me besides maybe wash my bike. I was able to not only connect to multiple riders, but also to my iPhone, GPS, and music system seamlessly. Learning all these features didn’t come quickly, though. I had to watch many YouTube videos, make a couple of trips to the local dealership, and then finally make contact with a Cardo rep, Mike, at the BMW MOA Rally in Hamburg, New York. After a few back-and-forth conversations with Mike, I quickly learned how easy it was to use the system that initially seemed so difficult to learn, but was really just me overthinking it. Mike opened my eyes to the understanding of what DMC technology is, as well as the great benefits of having DMC vs. Bluetooth.

To put it in simple terms, DMC provides a seamless interaction between multiple units and has the ability to instantly connect riders when turning another unit on or coming within the range of an active unit. The more units you add, the stronger the signal and ability to cover greater distances. The exact opposite happens when using Bluetooth technology, as you are in a daisy chain and each unit you add weakens the signal.

I bought a second PackTalk unit for my wife. We took a quick trip to the mountains of Georgia and Tennessee, and got to experience the crystal-clear clarity of the system firsthand. When I still had my Bluetooth system, I would always experience some sort of interference or distortion when speaking with someone paired to the unit, and if we got separated, it was sometimes a painfully long delay before getting paired back up.

Seeing as how the PackTalk is a new unit, I had trouble finding other riders that also carried the system, and thus, I was never able to use the DMC technology to its fullest potential. I reached out to Cardo and told them about my Alaskan adventure. Cardo provided my group with four headsets to bring along for the experience so we could provide feedback, good or bad, upon our return.

Upon receipt of the four units, I made sure they were updated with the latest software, and I paired each unit to the pack leader (me).

What we initially noticed was that the system worked great when riders did not change or attempt to pair the units to other systems such as a phone or GPS. This was mostly due to the fact that they kept hitting the wrong pairing sequence, which would interfere with the primary pairing of the system. Once we recognized and corrected that minor setback, we didn’t have any further issues.

PackTalk is said to have a 5 mile range for up to 15 riders. While riding in Alaska, we were synced between three to five riders out of six total PackTalks on any given day. We never got to experience all six riders connected at once due to bikes breaking down and people getting separated or delayed. What I can tell you, and everybody in the group will agree, is that the more riders connected with the DMC headsets, the stronger the signal was, giving us a greater distance of area between riders.

When we only had two to three headsets connected with DMC, we could tell that the range on the units was reduced. I believe we were only at a range of approximately 3/4 of a mile with only three riders connected. When we were able to use four or five units, the distance/signal strength was noticeable greater.

Using the built-in radio, auto tuner was simple and straightforward. While traveling to different areas, 3 simple clicks on the unit allows the rider to search for the strongest signals in the area and automatically tune into those channels.

Everyone got to experience their PackTalk systems through many miles of continuous rain or “Dalton dirt.” Each day they continued to perform as designed without a hiccup. We averaged 10 hours of daily use with these units over a period of roughly three weeks.

Overall, everyone was pleased with the unit and I believe Cardo earned some more business from the trial.

Is it an expensive investment? Yes, but when compared to the competition, it’s worth the investment.

Keep leading the way with great customer service and technology!

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