Cobra CXR925 Two-Way Portable Radios
If you’re heading out on the trail for a day, it’s always good to have multiple forms of communication for the group. CB radios are great chatting between trucks, Jeeps or SUVs (or even UTVs), but this requires that the entire group has one installed. If you’re taking out dirt bikes and ATVs a CB isn’t an option. Tack on the fact that cell phones can be practically useless off-road at times and communication options become limited.
Two-way radios can be a great first or second option for off-road communication. If you’re heading out with a friend who’s not an avid off-roader and doesn’t have a CB installed, a two-way radio can bridge the communication gap. If you’re trail riding with a buddy on dirt bikes or ATVs, two-way radios can be tossed in with your gear in case someone gets separated from the group. They’re also great if the group hops out of the vehicles to go for a hike – this way the party can explore the area while staying in contact. Since they are compact, lightweight and relatively inexpensive, two-way radios are great to have around when heading out for a day in the dirt.
Cobra released a new line of GMRS/FRS two-ways this past year as part of its “greener” line, as it is packaged in smaller, more environmentally friendly packages. We got our hands on one of top-end units in the line in the CXR925 to test. This slender, compact radio only weighs about .15 lbs., is 7 inches tall, 1.9 inches wide and 1.3 inches thick. The two-way radio features 3124 channel combinations when the 22 channels are combined with the 142 privacy codes (38 CTCSS/104 DCS) to prevent interference from other radios. The radio also features a built-in NOAA radio receiver to provide coverage for government-operated weather channels.
The Cobra CXR925 allows a user to program up to 10 channel or channel/privacy code combinations for ease of use. It also features a scan feature to locate conversations in progress. The VOX function allows for hands-free operation, as the radio will transmit without any button pressing (with 5 VOX sensitivity level options). One of the unique features on the CXR925 is Cobra’s Rewind-Say-Again digital voice recorder that allows you to play the last 20 seconds of audio, transmit a saved message or record a message to yourself.
Powering the CXR925 are rechargeable high-performance lithium-ion batteries. The set of two-way radios comes with a desktop charger cradle that the units easily slide into to rest securely while charging in an upright position. The CXR925 also features what Cobra refers to as “Battery Saver Circuitry” to preserve battery life by putting the unit into battery-saver mode if there are no transmissions within 10 seconds. It also features a selectable power output to conserve battery life. The batteries worked well in our experience, but if there’s one downside it’s that there’s not the option to use traditional batteries should the charge run out on the LiON batteries.
The CXR925 features an illuminated LED screen that can be turned on or off to see the 3/4-inch by 1/2-inch screen at night. It includes a jack on top of the unit that serves as a wall-charger location or a microphone/speaker input for another option for hands-free operation. The CXR925 is not waterproof but is weatherproof with its rubber-coated buttons and rubber cover for the jack insert. Also included for each hand-held is a belt clip. The CXR925 comes with a one-year warranty from Cobra.
ON THE TRAIL
Cobra says the CXR925 has up to a 35-mile range capacity in ideal conditions; we, however, were unable to find those conditions. Although Cobra notes the range will vary due to terrain and weather, in our experience we weren’t able to extend beyond a few miles. This is pretty typical with pretty much all hand-helds, however, as electronic interference, woods, hills, weather and other options can play a factor. With a clear range of site between units on a clear day, that distance might be attainable. For all intents and purposes, the range is closer to a few miles when off-road.
The range of the CXR925 decreased when we were in really hilly terrain, moving closer to about a mile range; this is also about the same distance we got in the city, though we were able to stretch out the range to about two miles a few times. The CXR925 features an auto squelch to shut off weak transmissions or cut out unwanted noise (this can reduce range, however, and can be shut off by pressing the light button). Even with it turned off, our range didn’t increase much.
The Cobra CXR925 may not live up to the mileage range it claims, but honestly, this has always been the case with any two-way radio we’ve used in the past. The ratings are based on optimal conditions that never seem to add up in the real world. That’s not just Cobra – that’s every manufacturer out there. With all that said, for our intended use as a backup communication system for four-wheeling and a trail ride companion on dirt bike rides and hikes, the units work well. The battery life overall is long (lasting a few days with moderate use), and as is the case with any battery-operated device keeping it out of the sun will prolong its life. The sounds quality is clear and the buttons are easy to find and operate.
The Rewind-Say-Again function works well so you don’t have to re-ask questions constantly and can listen to the transmission again, but take our advice and take a quick glance at the directions to note how to turn on the function. The option of multiple channels makes it easier to find a chatter-free channel, and the weather service function is definitely a nice option to have – especially if you don’t have means to check for changing weather conditions. The call function is also great for off-roaders, as it not only audibly rings but also vibrates (which is important to feel when riding as the engine noise can drown out the call noise).
Overall, we liked the performance and function of the CXR925. Obviously the range claims are not on par, but to be honest we didn’t expect we’d get that type of range (with this or any hand-held). The units are light, ergonomically they feel comfortable in the hand and the buttons are easy to operate, and the sturdy construction has held up to a few drops in the dirt and bouncing around our trail rigs.
Whether you’re on dirt bikes, ATVs, 4x4s or other vehicles, this is just another tool worth having along for the ride. It’s easy to get just a little ways away of your group when on a trail – especially if it’s not flat ground. A two-way radio gives you yet another option of locating your party with ease. The units are a great means of simple communication when on the trail – even if it isn’t your only option.
Cobra’s new two-way radio lineup also includes the CXT425, CXR725 and CXR825 models. The CXR925 we tested has an MSRP of $99.95 (though we did see it as low as roughly $60 with a little online searching).