Cardo Sends Out Statement Explaining “Crippleware” Plan For Packtalk Custom Communicator

Credit: Cardo

On March 8, we told you about Cardo’s plan to release a new Packtalk Custom comm set, which would have communication functions out of the box. It communicates with to up to 15 other riders through Cardo’s Dynamic Mesh tech, and can also stream Bluetooth audio (music, or GPS instructions, presumably). However, if you wanted other features, Cardo introduced a new monthly or yearly payment plan, which sees riders forking out extra cash after paying for their unit, in order to unlock its full potential.

You can read that previous article here. Cardo’s explanation for the move was that it allowed them to sell a comm set a lower price for basic users, while also offering high-end features for those who were willing to pay more. See their PR for the machine below:

Some riders liked the idea, others saw differently, as a quick survey of Reddit threads and other social media hangouts showed. Many were incensed by the introduction of what they considered “crippleware” into the world of motorcycle accessories.

Cardo has now responded with the following press release:


Last week Cardo Systems launched the all-new Packtalk Custom. At $269, it’s by far the most affordable Dynamic Mesh Communication (DMC)-enabled communicator we have ever created. It’s also the most cost effective way for consumers to enjoy the superior performance and 15 person group-networking benefits of the world’s best motorcycle Mesh technology.

We’ve received consumer questions and feedback revealing confusion, and misinformation, that Cardo Systems is moving to a monthly subscription model. That is not the case. Our product platforms remain anchored in a singular price point, for a specific set of service features, and not subject to, or reliant on, any monthly service fees.

The Packtalk Custom platform, from conception, is designed to offer a basic set of features with premium DMC mesh at entry level price point. Additional premium features can be activated for a short-term period of a single month, or longer term if that’s what the consumer desires. This means that consumers have the ability to upgrade, short- or long-term, to additional features they may desire, without having to buy an entirely different product in order to do so. That said, the stock feature-set includes all the essentials functionality for most usage scenarios without needing to ever upgrade.

At Cardo Systems, we maintain unwavering commitment to riders, providing the widest range of products and services on the market today, and simultaneously serving up the highest level of choice and flexibility to our customers. And that is the entire motivation for Packtalk Custom – to expand accessibility to DMC technology at a lower price point, while still enabling those Packtalk Custom users the flexibility to upgrade and enjoy a wider range of features, if and when they so desire.

Note that it confirms exactly what we told you last week. You should ignore some of the social media panic, though. While some riders might be fearful this pay-to-play pricing program might spread to the Cardo units they already own, that isn’t the case. Cardo’s plan is to introduce this system for the Custom.

That doesn’t mean that Cardo won’t make this standard operating procedure going ahead for other new units. And it doesn’t mean that other manufacturers won’t follow suit. We’re seeing similar plans in the automotive world already, and KTM has introduced this idea into the world of motorcycles themselves, with bikes that come with all the hardware for quickshifting, etc., built in—but disabled, unless you pay extra.

In some cases, this allows lower pricing for riders who do want better or faster things. The other way of looking at it is, there’s a grim future of nickel-and-diming ahead for riders if you don’t take a stand on this. Maybe it’s inevitable anyway, but making your voices heard on this issue will certainly raise the attention of industry insiders.


  1. Cardo still makes the best units by far. I’ve owned 3 Sena units in the past and they went into the electronics recycling bin as soon as I got a Cardo Packtalk Bold. It’s just sad that Cardo fell victim to the evil trend of subscription fees. It’s a terrible idea. I guess you can avoid this by buying the Packtalk Edge which has all the features included forever and better speakers and better mounting system etc. Or pick up a discounted Packtalk Black or Bold which do basically all the same things as the Edge except it’s micro USB, one extra button press to create a group and a non-magnetic clip mount.

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