We took a couple of short rides and while they were a lot of fun, we found it difficult for us to communicate while on the bike. There were times when I wanted to ask Trina whether she wanted to stop at a particular place or continue on the trip. Likewise Trina wanted to let me know when she needed something without having to resort to one handed sign language while clinging to the back of my jacket.
Clearly we needed some way to communicate that was a little more accurate and easy than our rudimentary hand signals. At the same time I needed to find something that would let me know when my cellphone rang when I was riding alone. There have been times with Trina or the kids are trying to reach me to let me know they needed me to pick something up or if there has been a change in plans.
Given these requirements I began to research what options there were available for motorcycle communication devices. As I searched for information, one name continued to pop-up, Cardo. Cardo offers a series of wireless communication devices that connect to a rider’s helmet that allow riders to communicate between bikes.
I liked the idea of being wireless. The last thing I needed was to be connected to the bike or to another rider via a cable. I know myself too well to believe that I would not forget to disconnect the wires and the result would be yanking them out leaving the communication system broken.
Cardo offers several types of communication devices. After reviewing the features of each I decided that the best option for me was the Cardo Scala Rider Q2 system. This communication device not only will allow you to talk to other riders but will also act as a Bluetooth headset for a cell phone and as a hands free speech device for a GPS unit.
I decided to purchase two Scala Rider Q2 sets since it really wouldn’t do me any good to talk to Trina if I only had one set. I ordered the Q2 systems from Revzilla, who is quickly becoming my favorite online retailer for motorcycle rider accessories.
The Scala Rider Q2 devices arrived in a few short days from when I placed the order. They came boxed separately with all the parts to install them. The Scala Rider Q2 comes in two parts.
The first part is a clamp that attaches to the left side of your helmet. It has a boom mike that can be threaded into the front of the user’s helmet inside to allow you to speak to the unit. The boom mike is directional so you do have to make sure that you orient the microphone the right direction for it to pick up your voice.
The clamp also has two wired speakers that are threaded inside the helmet under the pads and oriented on the left and right side of the helmet. Placement for these speakers is crucial otherwise it is hard to pick up the voices. I had to make several minute adjustments to the speaker placement to get the sound just right.
The speakers are mono speakers when used with Scala Rider Q2 device. Newer models of the Q2 include a jack on the helmet clamp that will allow you to connect the cable from an MP3 player to the device which will allow the speakers inside the helmet to play music in stereo. For those who do not have the MP3 jack on their helmet clamp, you can purchase replacement clamps on the Scala web site that include this functionality.
Once the clamp, mike and speakers have been installed, the next step is to charge the Scala Rider Q2 device. According to the instructions you should charge the Q2 for 5 hours before setting it up for the first time. There have been occurrences where not fully charging the device before set-up have caused problems so I did not take any chances and followed the directions perfectly.
Once the device is charged, you will need to pair the Q2 devices together so that they can talk to each other. This is simply a matter of pressing the buttons on the side of the Q2 in certain combinations until red and blue lights flash to validate that the two devices know about each other. It took me a couple of tries to get the two Q2 devices to recognize each other but ultimately they did.
After pairing the two Q2 devices, my next step was to pair one of the Q2 devices to my Apple iPhone. Again this was a matter of holding down the buttons on the Q2 device until it entered Bluetooth mode then setting my iPhone to search for discoverable devices. Once the iPhone found the Q2, I was required to enter a code into my iPhone to finish the discovery process. The code is “0000” in case you miss that in the manual (I did).
According to the documentation that came with the Scala Rider Q2, if you have a GPS device you should pair it with the Q2 and then pair the GPS with your cell phone. Since I do not have a GPS, I just skipped that part.
Besides Bluetooth headset support the Q2 also offers an FM tuner with a six station preset. It took a little bit to get the local radio stations tuned in and set. It requires you to have good hand eye coordination since you are pressing buttons in sequence while the helmet is on to make sure you can hear the stations. My best recommendation for this part is to have patience. It can be a little frustrating but if you just relax it’s not too bad.
Once I had both Q2 systems installed and set it was time to give them a try. Trina and I jumped on the bike and went for a short ride. When the Q2 is turned on it is voice activated and allows the rider and passenger to talk. Unlike many other communicators, you are not limited to the walkie-talkie syndrome where only one person can talk. We could each talk and carry on a conversation.
The Scala Rider Q2 does have some precedence in the order of communications. If you are listening to the FM radio and the passenger begins talking the radio will stop and you will get the other person. If you get a call on your cell phone it will take precedence over either the radio or the other person. That seems a little backwards until you remember that the cell phone could also be the GPS so the device first thinks you need to know where you are then you can tell the other rider and finally you can relax to a little music.
The overall quality of the Scala Rider Q2 is very good. It took a little bit to get the speakers places appropriately so that the unit was loud enough to hear. There was also a little bit of a learning curve to navigate the buttons on the device to get it in the proper mode and functioning where you wanted it to.
Both the clamp and the Scala Rider Q2 are well protected from the weather meaning they work well whether it is sunny or raining. The hot summer of Arizona did not seem to impact the operation of the Q2 unit adversely so that was very good news. The documentation suggests that the Scala Rider Q2 has a range of 500 meters or 1,640 feet in wide open terrain. In areas that are more confined the range drops to 250 meters or 800 feet which is still adequate. You can pair three Q2 devices together to talk with two other riders.
Overall the Cardo Scala Rider Q2 has met my requirements allowing me to communicate with my wife wirelessly while we are riding. It has also provided me with a way that I can safely answer my cell phone while I am riding so that I don’t miss an important call. With some full face helmets the boom mike can get in the way or not fit properly. Cardo offers an alternative clamp that replaces the boom mike with a low-profile wired mike to fit easier. Overall I would not hesitate to recommend the Cardo Scala Rider Q2 system to anyone looking for a wireless communication device for a motorcycle.