Cardo Systems Inc – Scala-Rider Q2

July 1 2008

Cardo Systems Inc. continues to make advancements in the bike-to-bike communications arena by releasing their highly anticipated Bluetooth intercom system, the Scala-Rider Q2.

The Scala-Rider Q2 allows bikers, or anyone with a helmet that covers their ears for that matter, to communicate with each other or with their passenger, to receive voice instructions from their Bluetooth GPS unit or audio from a Bluetooth audio device, conduct calls on their Bluetooth equipped mobile phone and listen to the FM radio with the built-in FM receiver. On top of the water resistant Scala-Rider Q2’s impressive list of accomplishments, it is also fully backward compatible with previous Scala-Rider communication devices.

The Scala-Rider is my first attempt at trying any type of communication device. I never thought I would be a proponent of bike-to-bike communication but after testing the Scala-Rider Q2, you could say I’m a convert. I still believe in most cases that motorcycling is a solitary pastime that, at times, can also be shared with loved ones and friends. They can come along for the ride, as long as they have their own bike, and leave me to take in all that motorcycling has to offer and to concentrate on the curves ahead and generally get lost in my own thoughts.

I can now see, however, the convenience of having bike-to-bike communication in some cases. A good example of this would be when Roger and I were out for a ride looking for a photo location. Instead of pulling over frequently to discuss possibilities, we simply spoke to each other over the Scala-Rider Q2 saving us both plenty of time, not to mention brake pad material.

Now think about you and your spouse, you are looking for a place to stay for the night while on the road. None of the major chains have a vacancy so you stop at every motel you see just for her to say, “No, it reminds me of a scene in CSI.” Bet you’ve heard that before. Now you don’t have to stop and waste time. Other scenarios could be communicating so that you don’t miss that great lookout or be able to warn your riding partner about that moose grazing on the roadside. Sometimes a situation might be better with four eyes instead of two.

The Scala-Rider Q2 is easy to operate and sync with other Scala-Rider Q2 devices or with Bluetooth units. The instructions are complete and accurate. I synced two Scala-Rider Q2 units and synced my Bluetooth equipped mobile phone in just a couple of minutes. The unit easily attaches to your helmet with a simple to use clamp and supplied allen key. The kit also comes with a battery charger and belt pouch for the communication device when not mounted on your helmet. A maximum charge time of 3-hours provides 8-hours of communication time or 10 days of standby.

Bike-to-bike communication is voice activated in full duplex—meaning the units allow simultaneous speaking and listening. Bluetooth cell phone communication is also voice activated providing your mobile phone supports all the functions that the Scala-Rider Q2 provides. If at any time you don’t want to communicate, glove friendly buttons easily turns off the unit.

Selecting radio stations is just as easy, simply hold the up or down volume buttons for three seconds and the built-in FM radio searches and stops automatically when a station is found. If the station is one you like, all you need to do to save it as a preset with the press of a button. The Scala-Rider Q2 holds six easy to access preset stations. Volume is easily adjusted and the unit will also adjust volume up or down automatically depending on ambient noise.

The Scala-Rider Q2 unit auto-matically puts various operations in priority with mobile phone and GPS instructions taking top priority, next is bike-to-bike intercom communication and then FM radio. For example, a phone call interrupts an intercom call and an intercom call interrupts the FM radio. Kind of like ‘rock, paper, scissors.’

While the Scala-Rider claims communication of 500 metres in wide-open terrain between devices, we found it to more like about 200-250 metres after measuring a few times. It’s possible there were environmental issues at play like humidity, or maybe we weren’t in an optimum wide-open area. Still, 250 metres is a good distance.

Bottom line is the unit works extremely well. It is easy to set up and makes for staying in touch or communicating on the road a breeze. It has converted me to thinking that there are times when having bike-to-bike chats might be valuable and entertaining. Plus the FM radio can be handy to break up the boredom of a perfectly straight piece of blacktop, or for checking weather reports on a long tour.

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While the Scala-Rider Q2 should be available from many vendors, I checked and their retail price is $190 in Canadian funds.




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