Communicating with other motorcyclists while riding can become a somewhat creative endeavor often involving various gestures, hand signals, horn beeping and muffled shouting usually never heard outside a helmets confines. The Scala Rider Q2 Multi-Set communication system by Cardo Systems, Inc. remedies the problem, making helmet-to-helmet communication a much simpler and less eventful task.
The Scala Rider Q2 uses the latest Bluetooth technology to accomplish its mission. It not only allows riders (up to three) to speak to one another, but also talk hands-free on a (Bluetooth-enabled) cell phone, receive GPS audio instructions, listen to the radio, or listen to an MP3 player. All of this (except for the MP3 player) happens cordlessly no more wires to tangle or keep you attached to your bike.
A teardrop-shaped, rubber-encased headset serves as “control central” for the system. A microphone and two ultra-slim (0.18 inches thick) speakers and their associated wiring handle speaking and listening duties. All three of these merge into a clamp-type fastener that cradles the lower left side of a helmet and is tightened by two screws. No holes or drilling needed. The screws just tighten the clamp to the edge of the helmet. Cardo Systems states the Q2 will fit all full-face and 3/4 length helmets. A charger, a carrying case, an MP3 cable and various installation aids come with the kit, which retails for $395 for the two-unit Multi-Set.
Promotional literature claims installation only takes five minutes. Id agree if you have three hands. If not, plan on needing more time and finding another set of hands to steady the helmet. However, installation is fairly simple and the instructions well written and easy to understand. Basically, you screw the clamp to the helmet with a supplied Allen wrenchone side of the clamp on the helmet’s exterior, the other between the shell and internal padding, positioning the clamp so the attached microphone sits directly in front of your lips. Should the clamp not fit over the helmets shell, you can glue the clamp to the helmet (parts for that are included).
Communicating with another rider requires “pairing” the two headsets thats Bluetooth talk for the process of allowing one device to “speak” to another. Its an easy procedure requiring nothing more than a Bluetooth-enabled mobile phone or a GPS system.
Large easy-to-locate buttons simplify control of the headset no fumbling here, even with gloved hands. A forward button powers the system. A large rearward button controls the radio and six station pre-sets. Upper and lower buttons regulate volume or manually change radio stations.
However, most of the units operation needs no hands at all, a truly cool feature. To initiate communication with another headset, simply speak. To answer your phone, say hello. Simply stop talking when the call is over, and the Q2 hangs up. You can even use voice commands to dial a number. The Q2 uses a noise-cancelling, high impact balancing microphone with automatic volume control, meaning volume increases along with the ambient noise level and driving speed the rider doesnt need to manually adjust the volume.
My husband, Tim, and I tested the Scala Rider Q2 on several trips. I wore a full-face helmet and he wore a three-quarter helmet. Id have to rate overall sound quality as pretty good, though I heard definite wind noise from his end. The automatic volume control works well and the new full-duplex technology eliminates “walkie-talkie” syndrome, where only one person can speak at a time. The Q2 allegedly operates within a 3/10 of a mile range not far, but adequate as long as you stay close together and dont let many hills separate you. My biggest disappointment came from the battery life. The literature states the units provide eight hours of talk time, but the most we received was five hours not even enough for a long days ride. To my mind, long trips to new locations are when communication would be most essential, but the Q2 didnt deliver on that end. Also, though purportedly weather resistant, no promises exist regarding how the Q2 would fair in a downpour.
The Scala Rider Q2 offers the latest technology and easy installation for riders seeking motorcycle communication. My only issue was with the battery life. For more information about this communication system visit CardoSystems.com.