The motorcycle Bluetooth communicator wars are a pretty heated arena. Sena, Cardo, Uclear, and even some helmet manufacturers have been duking it out in a battle royale of features, easy integration, ease of use, durability, and all sorts of other criteria.
I’ve had the opportunity to test and use all manner of Bluetooth comms over the years, and my hands down favorite, that I use every day, is the Cardo Freedom 2+. It’s not even necessarily the best comm I’ve used (although it’s pretty close), but it hits that “just right” sweet spot. The Freecom 2+ is easy to set up and use, sounds great, has a slim aerodynamic profile on the side of your helmet, and is one of the most affordable options on the market today.
Let’s take a closer look.
From the jump, you’ll notice how small, sleek, and aerodynamic the Freecom 2+ is. Once installed, it doesn’t protrude awkwardly off the side of your helmet, and the slim design keeps it from catching wind. Drag and noise from wind can be a significant issue with comms, and Cardo solves that by keeping their designs as aerodynamic as possible.
Installation is easy, and Cardo has made some smart design choices to make the installation more sleek and clean than some of their competitors. For instance, I’ve always had an issue with most Sena units and the large protrusion at the bottom of the comm that houses much of the comm’s electronics and audio connectors. Once installed, that protrusion often makes it so that the base of the helmet will no longer sit flush when placed on a table or shelf. It can also get caught on jackets with higher collars or on scarves, bandanas, or neck gaiters. The Freecom 2+ doesn’t have that problem, which makes the look and functionality feel just a bit more thoughtful and refined.
The interface couldn’t be simpler or more straightforward. It has four buttons on it’s face, which perform all functions of the comm. Powering on and off, controlling the volume, playing/pausing music, connecting the intercom, and all other functions are handled through either a single button press, a double-tap, or a press-and-hold of one or two buttons. There’s a bit of a learning curve, but it all comes together pretty quickly. It’s only four buttons, and the Freecom 2+ doesn’t have a ton of features or functions, so it’s not confusing or overwhelming. The buttons themselves are relatively large, easy to find even with gloves on, thanks to ridges on each button, and there is ample feedback, both tactile and audible, for button presses.
The Freecom 2+ is pretty straightforward and basic on features, which largely works in its favor to keep the unit small, inexpensive, and easy to use.
It can only connect to another unit for intercom communication. It doesn’t support connecting to a larger group of riders, or dynamic mesh for rider-to-rider communication. If you’re looking for a way to communicate with a large group, then you need to look at something like a Freecom 4+ or a Packtalk unit. If all you need is rider-to-rider communication for just a single riding buddy or your passenger, then the Freecom 2+ will work just fine.
I don’t personally do much group riding, let alone with groups who all have comm units, so the Freecom 2+ works for me. If you’re more of a solo rider or daily commuter, then the Freecom 2+ is a good option.
The intercom functionality works well. Just pair the comms, press the button to open the comm channel, and talk away. If you buy the Freecom 2+ Duo Pack, then you don’t even have to pair the units, as they come paired out of the box. Audio quality and noise cancellation for the intercom is pretty solid. Around town and at lower speeds, it tends to be crystal clear, allowing for uninterrupted conversation.
It’s not perfect, though. It will break up some at higher speeds (think 70mph+) where the wind noise seems to overwhelm its noise cancellation capabilities, or at the edge of its 500m (1600ft, or about 1/3 of a mile) range. It still works, though, and you can carry on a conversation, even if it’s a bit choppy.
Where the Freecom 2+ really shines is its Bluetooth smartphone connectivity for music and phone calls. It’s incredibly reliable. The Bluetooth connection to my phone has never been disrupted in over a year of near daily use.
Music quality and volume are excellent. I’ve used much more expensive units that don’t sound as good as the Freecom 2+. My favorite feature is the dynamic volume, which adjusts the volume of the music based on your speed and the level of ambient sound; so it’s quieter at low speeds and around town, and gets louder as you pick up speed. Music sounds great through the included standard speakers. Upgraded JBL speakers are available if you want a bit more output and quality, but let’s be honest; this is a motorcycle helmet comm, and there’s a lot of wind, road, and engine/exhaust noise to contend with. Even if you have a quiet helmet and/or use earplugs, it’s probably not going to make a huge difference to upgrade the speakers.
Battery life is also a major factor for a comm unit, and the Freecom 2+ is borderline ridiculous. I use mine almost daily, often for over two hours per day, and typically only charge it once every week or two. Cardo claims it’s good for up to 13 hours of talk time, and it easily meets, if not exceeds, that claim. To have a device that actually holds a charge for a long time is pretty awesome.
The Cardo Connect app works great for managing you device settings, such as max volume output, dynamic volume threshold (or whether or not to use it at all), and microphone sensitivity. Getting the unit dialed in and personalized just for you will have a big impact on getting the most out of the comm device.
The Freecom 2+ may fall more into the entry-level Bluetooth comm category, but like many of my other favorite motorcycle products and accessories, it punches above its weight. For a basic comm that just gets the job done, it’s about as good as it gets. It’s sleek and aerodynamic, installs cleanly and simply, has great audio quality, long battery life, and is quite affordable. The only drawback is that it can only connect to one other intercom, so it’s not well-suited for riders who regularly ride with large groups. It’s an impressive device overall, and perfect for the solo rider or daily commuter who just needs music and GPS and to occasionally talk to another rider or passenger.