Motorcycle Rider Basics
14Mar/11

Review: Scala Rider Q2 MultiSet PRO

The Scala Rider Q2 PRO uses Bluetooth technology to wirelessly connect the rider with the passenger with intercom communication. The Q2 will also connect rider to rider, mobil phone and GPS Bluetooth devices.

BLUETOOTH

My wife also likes to ride and riding together is one thing that we can do and really have fun. And because it's so hard to communicate with all the noise, we never have any arguments when we are riding, smile.

So how do we communicate? Well our first communication takes place right when are ready to take off. Engines running, I'm watching the traffic, Irina is settling in on the back, and when Irina gives me a quick double pat on my right shoulder she is telling me that she is ready to go, And, when the traffic breaks, away we go.

We have to be careful while stopped at a red light because everybody within a three or four car radius can hear everything were talking about. This is not a good time to point out the funny haircut on the lady driving the car next to us, or the obscene bumper sticker on the pickup truck in front of us.

Of course anybody who has ever written 2-up on a motorcycle understands the noise challenge. The introduction of in-helmet communication for fighter pilots, combat soldiers, football players and motorcycle riders has solved this problem for years now. Current Bluetooth technology has brought simple helmet communication to very sophisticated level. No more wires is a wonderful thing when you are riding a motorcycle. And helmet communication means an awful lot more than just talking to each other. Rider to passenger, rider to another rider, mobile phone, FM radio, MP3 music and real-time GPS driving instructions are all part of today's helmet.

And Bluetooth technology itself has become a no-brainer. Let me explain.

Bluetooth is the name for a class of radio transceivers or radios which talk to each other. When you see someone with Bluetooth hanging on their ear, you're looking at a radio transceiver which is "talking" to that person's mobile phone. The Bluetooth device in the ear must establish a connection (handshake) with the mobile phone and this is called pairing (as in a pair of devices). Today the pairing process has become extremely simple and once both devices are paired together they remember all of the settings so that the next time you use Bluetooth on the same devices, all you have to do is turn them on and they are "talking" to each other.

So when it comes to helmets, that Bluetooth device which you saw hanging in somebody's ear, is now hanging on the side of your helmet.

Recently I had a chance to try out the newest top-of-the-line Bluetooth solution for motorcycle helmets.


Scala Rider Q2 MultiSet Pro

SCALA RIDER Q2

Cardo Systems manufacturers the Scala Rider Q2 MultiSet Pro Bluetooth headset.

Cardo Systems, Inc., headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA. (USA) is the world’s acknowledged market leader in Bluetooth communication systems for motorcycle and other head protection helmets. [Excerpt from Cardo website]

The manufacturer says that the system can do the following.

What Does it Do?

Bike to bike intercom communication up to 2,300ft1

A2DP compatibility with MP3 players to listen to wireless stereo music

Multi-Device Connectivity Options

Enhanced audio quality with amplified speakers

VOX Technology- receive, initiate and reject calls by voice control

Embedded FM radio with seek and scan functions and 6 user defined stations

Full duplex- allows simultaneous talking and listening between bikers

Talk time up to 8 hours, standby time up to one week

AGC Technology- headset automatically adjusts volume based on ambient noise

Noise canceling microphone

Fits virtually all helmets, easy 5 minute self-installation

This system offers helmet to helmet intercom which is rated operational for a distance of 700 m or 2300 feet. This is a little more than one half of a mile.

This is a full duplex system which means that the rider and passenger can talk back and forth just like a telephone. No more old-fashioned walkie-talkie, “one person talking at a time,” OVER.

In addition to the intercom both the rider in the passenger can independently make mobile phone calls, listen to MP3 stereo music, GPS driving instructions, or listen to the built-in FM radio.

click to enlarge

You can physically connect your MP3 player to this Bluetooth headset. For me, I have an Android mobile phone with all of my music on an SD card inside the phone. So I can play my music with my phone and eliminate the need for an additional MP3 player. My phone requires A2DP capability on the Bluetooth headset for stereo music and the Scala Rider Q2 is A2DP capable.

If you ride with friends, you can communicate with them if they also have a Scala Rider Q2 Bluetooth enabled helmet. This is an either/or situation. You can communicate to your passenger or you can communicate with other riders who have the system but not all at the same time.

What’s in the box?

THE BOX

● 2 Headset Units

● 2 Helmet clamp, speaker & microphone units

● 2 Dual-voltage universal travel charges

● 2 Allen wrenches

● 4 Velcro pads

● 2 MP3 cables and holders

● 2 glue plates & towelettes

● 4 Microphone sponges

● 2 Carrying Pouches

● User guide & registration car

Over last few years it seems that manufacturers are reducing costs by minimizing parts whenever an opportunity arises. Especially with computer parts, the peripheral cables are getting shorter or are not even included, instructions seem to now be online only and so on. I was pleasantly surprised to find that everything I needed was in the box. There was even a hex tool in the box, ready to go.

So everything I needed to enable Bluetooth on two helmets, including two chargers, was in the box. It looks like I am off to a good start.

Installation

As a long time technical writer I am sensitive to the user instructions and as a motorcycle rider I routinely ignore all of the instructions and immediately start putting everything together as soon as I open the box. This time I did a little of both. I sorted thought the documentation and noticed the single card with the large red stop sign graphic that said “Important Information.” It informed me that I need to charge the headsets for 4 hours before using.

Each headset has its own charger so I was able to get both headsets charging while I installed the helmet bracket units. Cool.

While the headsets were charging I tried the manufactures claim that I could install a helmet in 5 minutes.

Installing the Q2

Earlier I pulled out the actual Bluetooth device, the guts of the headset, and attached it to the charger which I plugged into the wall outlet.

CHARGER

Earlier I pulled out the actual Bluetooth device, the guts of the headset, and attached it to the charger which I plugged into the wall outlet.

(HINT: Click on the photo to see a larger image.)

After looking through all the parts in the box, I eliminated the MP3 player cables as I would be getting my MP3 music through the Bluetooth connection to my phone. I also eliminated the glue on bracket as I did not intend to glue this to my helmet. Basically I was left with the helmet clamp which includes the speakers and microphone.

HELMET CLAMP

After looking through all the parts in the box, I eliminated the MP3 player cables as I would be getting my MP3 music through the Bluetooth connection to my phone. I also eliminated the glue on bracket as I did not intend to glue this to my helmet. Basically I was left with the helmet clamp which includes the speakers and microphone.

I loosened the two screws using the hex wrench, which came with the kit, which allowed the clamp to open up wide enough to slide it onto my helmet. It goes on the left-hand side of the helmet, microphone on the outside, but the screw side inserted between the helmet outer shell and the foam lining.

ATTACH HELMET CLAMP

I loosened the two screws using the hex wrench, which came with the kit, which allowed the clamp to open up wide enough to slide it onto my helmet. It goes on the left-hand side of the helmet, microphone on the outside, but the screw side inserted between the helmet outer shell and the foam lining.

I wear a half helmet which means my ears are below the helmet edge, so placing the speakers inside the helmet may not work. Cardo sells a half helmet audio adapter kit to solve this problem, but I had read a post online where someone had installed the speakers in a half helmet and was still able to hear everything just fine, so I just put the speakers in the half helmet without any additional modifications.

HALF HELMET SPEAKER

(Sold Separately)

I wear a half helmet which means my ears are below the helmet edge, so placing the speakers inside the helmet may not work. Cardo sells a half helmet audio adapter kit to solve this problem, but I  just put the speakers in the half helmet without any additional modifications.

(See what has happened since I posted this review.)

Everything is tightened up waiting for the Bluetooth unit to be attached.

HELMET UNIT DONE

Everything is tightened up waiting for the Bluetooth unit to be attached.

     ATTACH BLUETOOTH  Then, just like the cooking shows on TV, my four hour charging time was over and I pulled the Bluetooth device off of the charger and attach it to the helmet. It attaches to the helmet by simply sliding up and snap locking into position. Very easy.

ATTACH BLUETOOTH

Then, just like the cooking shows on TV, my four hour charging time was over and I pulled the Bluetooth device off of the charger and attach it to the helmet. It attaches to the helmet by simply sliding up and snap locking into position. Very easy.

Installation is now almost done. I just need to look at it in a mirror and see if it looks cool or not. While the Bluetooth headset and microphone looks just like I thought it would look like, my goatee is looking a little scruffy. It doesn't look cool at all.

FINAL Q/C

Installation is now almost done. I just need to look at it in a mirror and see if it looks cool or not. While the Bluetooth headset and microphone looks just like I thought it would look like, my goatee is looking a little scruffy. It doesn't look cool at all.

And the 5 minute install? Yep, 5 minutes is all it takes.

Pairing Mobile Phone to the Q2

It was very simple to pair my phone to the Bluetooth device. With the Q2 powered off, I depressed the large control button for 6 seconds and the built-in LED started flashing red and blue which told me that it was in the pairing mode.

BIG CONTROL BUTTON

It was very simple to pair my phone to the Bluetooth device. With the Q2 powered off, I depressed the large control button for 6 seconds and the built-in LED started flashing red and blue which told me that it was in the pairing mode.

I turned on my phone's Bluetooth and put it in the discovery mode. Almost immediately it found the headset and I was connected.

I turned on the phone's music player and started playing music. I put on my helmet and voila, my helmet was full of music.

Does it Work?

Okay, the Q2 is installed in both helmets and everything works so it's time to try it out on the road. This video does not allow you to hear our helmet to helmet communication but it is a good example of Irina, my wife, hamming it up. Keep in mind that she is the one operating the camera.

Bike to bike intercom communication up to 2,300 feet: I tested the helmet to helmet range by talking to my wife Irina while I rode my motorcycle away from our house. This is a geographically flat, single-story residential neighborhood. Irina stayed in our driveway while I rode away on the motorcycle as we chatted through the helmet to helmet Q2 Bluetooth. I used the motorcycle diameter plus my GPS feature in my mobile phone. The signal faded away at exactly 2,400 feet.

A2DP compatibility with MP3 players to listen to wireless stereo music: This feature worked great with my A2DP compatible mobile phone as a music source. A2DP capability is an important element for wireless music. If your mobile phone is not A2DP capable, you will not get wireless music through the headset.

If you plan on using your mobile phone as an MP3 player, don't take it for granted that it is A2DP compatible. Check with the manufacturer or your network service provider to make sure it is A2DP compatible.

Full duplex- allows simultaneous talking and listening between bikers: Yes it truly is full duplex. Once we got settled into the ride we were chatting back and forth and after a while forgot that we're even using the Q2. When we first started using the Q2, we were not accustomed to our first words being clipped when we started speaking. The Q2 senses your voice when you start speaking and the first one half syllable seems to get clipped off when you start speaking. Once we understood this, the problem seemed to go away as we tended to compensate every time we started speaking.

We successfully paired both helmets to both of our smart phones and made phone calls and listen to music. The FM radio in the headset was sounded fine but I honestly did not spend much time fiddling around with it. As far as talk time and standby time, after the initial charge, both headsets were alive and working for three days which included about three hours of riding and talking.

Yes it was an easy 5 min. installation but I did have some problems with my half helmet. In fact both of us where half helmets and I installed the headset both of these half helmets. During our first test ride my wife Irina had a real problem hearing me through the headset. We stopped and she repositioned the speakers, pulling them down lower over her ears, and the problem was solved. I did the same thing with my helmet and from that point forward we can hear each other very well. This was a temporary fix because the speakers were basically hanging loose and held against our ears by the helmet chin strap.

Where Can I Buy it and What Does it Cost?

I went over to Folsom Harley and talked to Joe at the parts counter. He flipped open the catalog and started showing me this Scala products. He told me that's Scala was a pretty good company and they manufacture Bluetooth for cars. He showed me different Scala products and features and the Q2 PRO was $350.00. They did not keep this product in stock we could have it there in two days if I was interested in buying. He pointed out Firefox Throat Mic which is a military style communicator that does not have any telephone or music capability. He also told me that he would stay away from Nady products as he has had complaints about them. Friendly shop and everybody was very helpful.

I stopped in at the local BMW dealer, A&S BMW in Roseville, and talked to Josue at the parts counter. He was very knowledgeable and took me over to the shelf where they had Scala products on display. He thoroughly explained the different features for the different Scala products. He said he thought there was a new upgrade to the Q2 and he looked it up on the computer. Yes it was upgraded and retailed for $390. He also mentioned that a couple of his coworkers are using the Sena intercom which features a twisting knob to control volume instead of up and down buttons. It retailed for $400 and he had a helmet with the unit installed to show me. He did not have a favorite saying that Scala has been around for a long time so there are a lot of reviews and feedback that his coworkers really liked the Sena intercom. Nice motorcycle shop and I felt right at home. Josue was very knowledgeable, even in the subtleties of the products.

I did an Internet search on Google Shopping and I found a Q2 PRO available for $240. It looks like it pays to shop around. Don't forget that Internet purchases have an additional cost of shipping and if you're not happy with your purchase you just can't take it back to the store. As this is a relatively expensive item I would look for coupons, discounts and sales which could add up to serious money.

And of course Cardo Systems sells their own products in their own online store and you can get the Q2 PRO directly from the manufacturer, online, for $396.

Bottom Line

The Q2 does everything the manufacturer claims it can do. This is the first time in the last 10 years that we have ever used helmet to helmet communication, and we both agreed, that it was nice to be able to easily chitchat with each other while we were out for a ride. As far as voice quality, on a scale of five with five being the best or a typical mobile phone voice quality, we both gave the Q2 a four-plus. I would give it a five but with my jury rigged, half helmet speakers set-up, I still had a lot of wind noise mixed with the voice.

For me personally, I love my half helmet and I rarely use my three-quarter or full face helmet. I did not like having the microphone hanging down in my face or pushed out of the way. I am not very big on listening to music or talking on the telephone while riding my motorcycle. After all, I am riding the motorcycle to get away from all that stuff. Additionally, I'm always preaching about keeping focused on the ride and I don't think any distractions are worth losing your focus. But that's just my own two cents worth, everybody has their own style.

And the bottom line is yes; I would buy this unit and recommend it to my friends.

References

CardoSystems: Scala Rider Q2 Multiset PRO Product page

Cardo Systems Announces Scala Rider Q2 Multiset PRO

Scala Rider Q2 Manual

Bluetooth A2DP: Streaming Music From Your Cell Phone

Comments (3) Trackbacks (0)
  1. Very anoying at highway speeds to worth it. I guess when it comes right down to it this product does not function properly. If the unit is unusable at highway speeds then what good it is? If Cardo is really committed to customer service than that means they should stand behind their products. If the product is for communication on a motorcycle then it should be able to function properly at normal ambient noise at highway speeds. If it doesn’t function as represented by Cardo than Cardor should take it back and refund its cost. Cardo refused to do this.

  2. hi…can this be shared by 2 motorbike owners who simply want their own solo headset? in other words…my friend and I both need a motorcycle helmet headset to listen to music, receive calls etc. talking to each other is a bonus. can we buy one pair of Q2 pro and use the individual headset independently?

    thanks for any advice

  3. Very annoying too… Most of the time I cannot get it to pair with cell phone for calls, only able to get Bluetooth media (Pandora, Slacker, etc…) Volume is unstable at higher speeds… Most of the time I just leave it at home. I’ve called the manufacturer and looked on line for fixes…nothing available. Money wasted on this junk.


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