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Product Review Scala Rider Q2

Monday, October 27, 2008
The Q2 setup includes:
1. Wind-resistant microphone claimed to work at high-speeds.
2. Large  easy-to-reach control button.
3. Ultra-slim speakers that fit any helmet and adjusts volume automatically.
4. Quick-release clamp to attach or detach headset within seconds.
5. Multi-connection  MC  button for the FM Radio or initiating steady audio link with other bikers or with passenger.
The Q2 setup includes: 1. Wind-resistant microphone claimed to work at high-speeds. 2. Large, easy-to-reach control button. 3. Ultra-slim speakers that fit any helmet and adjusts volume automatically. 4. Quick-release clamp to attach or detach headset within seconds. 5. Multi-connection (MC) button for the FM Radio or initiating steady audio link with other bikers or with passenger.
Lately when riding, I've been hearing voices in my head. Before you get the wrong impression, no, I am not possessed. But I have been testing Cardo System's Scala Rider Q2, a motorcycle-to-motorcycle communication system. We recently got a pair of Q2's and put them to the test in several press introductions. In doing so, I enlisted the help of MotorcycleUSA's videographer and avid techie, Robin Haldane, who tested the original system two years back.

When MotorcycleUSA first sampled the original Scala Rider, the main grievance Haldane had was the system's inability to communicate between motorcycles. It appears that Scala listened to his input. The updated system not only features bike-to-bike communication, but it also has a Bluetooth headset so you can receive and place calls while riding, is capable of running a GPS turn-by-turn navigation system through it and comes with a convenient built-in FM radio.

When I cracked open the box, I saw the thickness of the instruction manual and groaned. Thinking I was going to have to pour through pages of technical jargon, I was relieved to find out that there were only 10 pages of easy-to-read instructions. The other 53 pages are the same info printed out in various languages. The directions are succinct and easy to understand, and getting everything set up didn't take long. Everything you need for mounting is provided, including the world's smallest allen wrench.

The most important first step is to charge the system. Cardo Systems recommends allowing it to charge for five hours initially. Just plug it into the provided Charging Jack and forget about it until later. In the meantime, you'll have time to attach the mounting bracket to your helmet. This is where your handy-dandy allen wrench comes into play. I slid the clamp between the shell of my Shoei RF-1000 and the cheek pad and tightened down two small bolts. The system includes two small speakers. I placed mine right above the ear cut-outs, attaching them directly to the helmet lining by virtue of the Velcro on the backs of the speakers. They are flat enough so that they are unobtrusive yet still deliver quality sound. The microphone is also connected to the helmet clamp and was easy to position in the space between my mouth and helmet. The Q2 is set up to mount on the left side of a helmet, so the last step I did was to run the right speaker wire out of the way under the helmet liner.

The next step was to buddy up the headsets. It takes two to tango, and obviously it takes two Q2 headsets to communicate between motorcycles. To keep things simple, there's only four buttons on the Q2s - a control button (CTRL) that is the largest and farthest forward, a multi-connection button (MC) that is next to it, and small volume up and down buttons mounted on the back of the headset. To synch the two headsets, simply press down and hold the CTRL button until the blue light flashes three times. After you get both sets flashing blue, take one headset and press and hold the CTRL and MC buttons for about six seconds until the light starts blinking red. Do the same for the second headset, and after flashing rapidly for a few seconds, both headsets will show a solid red light, and then will beginning flashing in blue. And that's it. You're ready to communicate bike-to-bike.

Setting it up to run my phone through it was a simple process as well. I turned on my phone's Bluetooth function and then turned on the Q2. I held the CTRL button down for approximately six seconds until it started alternately flashing between red and blue. I then searched for Bluetooth devices on my phone, and after a few seconds Scala-Rider Q2 popped up on my list. I selected it on my phone and at the prompt I set my passkey at 0000. The phone synched with the Q2 and the light on my headset began flashing blue and I was done.

The Q2 also allows riders to set it up for a Bluetooth GPS device, which we didn't do, but the process is pretty much the same as the one listed above for hooking up the phone. The unit can also be configured to use with a third party and is compatible with older Scala Rider systems, if needed, but we only used it in two-way communication mode.

The Scala Rider Q2 is unobtrusive  easy to install  easy to use  and provided a strong  clear signal while communicating bike-to-bike.
The Scala Rider Q2 is unobtrusive, easy to install, easy to use, and provided a strong, clear signal while communicating bike-to-bike.
Being a motojournalist, the Q2s were extremely helpful during the recent Victory Motorcycles' press launch. We shoot a lot of onboard footage, and being able to communicate with my videographer while riding made our job so much easier. When you're riding high-powered motorcycles at a high rate of speed in close proximity, knowing what the other person is thinking is paramount. To initiate a conversation, simply speak into the microphone. You might have to check the placement of your speakers to make sure they are lined up correctly, but mine were spot-on the first try. I clicked the volume up a few settings and after that we were able to communicate the rest of the day. Haldane let me know what he wanted me to do so that we could get the shots he needed, whether it was passing on the left or right, closing the gap, or shooting him the thumbs up. It made our jobs so much easier. If there was an obstacle in the road, the lead rider could let the other person know. One thing that would have been helpful is to have an attachment so that one person could use the Q2 without a helmet, as often Haldane would park on the side of the road and film while we did ride-bys. Then he could have informed me if there was a car coming that could spoil the shot, but in Cardo Systems defense, not everybody has a job where being able to use them in this manner would have been helpful.

The signal came through strong, and we lost contact only once when we got separated by a considerable distance in a curvy canyon. It has a claimed range of 500 meters, and though we didn't measure it, I'll take Cardo Systems word for it. The sound quality was always strong and clear unless I had my visor up and ambient noise was too much for me to make out what he was saying.

Receiving calls is just as easy. You can answer in one of two ways - either press down on the CTRL button quickly or simply say 'Hello' loudly and you've got a mobile phone. Whether you are engaged in conversation with another rider or listening to the FM radio, phone calls get precedence, and the cell will cut in automatically if a call comes in. Again, the sound quality was clear, and to end a call simply quick press the CTRL button again or remain silent for a little while (they say 15 seconds) and the call will terminate. The Q2 can also be set up for voice dial, and it's always a good idea to keep both hands on the handlebar, so this is another convenient function.

I also enjoyed using the Q2's FM radio. To turn it on, press down and hold the CTRL button for three seconds until you hear the radio kick on. There are six preset stations, but you can also toggle to your favorite station by holding the Volume Up or Volume Down button for three seconds. It will run through stations one-by-one according to their location on the dial, but once you're on your favorite station you can add it as one of your six pre-set radio stations. Overall reception was fairly strong, only fading when we got outside of town and into the canyons, but this is pretty much true even if you're traveling by car. To turn the radio off, just press and hold the CTRL button down again for three seconds.

The only challenge I could find with the Q2 is that in order to switch radio stations while riding, you have to press and hold the button down for three seconds, which requires a lot of pressure through gloved fingers, and since you can only rifle through the stations one at a time, it took a lot of button pushing to move up the dial. Once your presets are established, though, this point of conflict becomes non-existent.

The Scala Rider Q2 is easy to install, easy to use, and made my job easier. The signal was strong and clear and the unit did everything Cardo Systems said it would. The battery is rechargeable and is claimed to last up to eight hours. You can speak bike-to-bike, rider to passenger, and run your mobile phone through it. You can also hook up your MP3 player to it if FM's too old school. One unit is priced at $189.95, but like I said, it takes two to tango, so you're looking at $379.90 for a set. The unit is vastly improved over the original Scala Rider system that we originally tested and gets a big two-thumbs up from MotorcycleUSA.

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Comments
vintul   August 11, 2011 08:51 PM
Buying a Cardo q2 communication system is my worse investment. Regardless where I am, riding or not, I cannot and I never could listen to the radio. Zero clarity, lots of static. Rating my purchase 1 out of ten.
Bill M   April 3, 2011 08:48 PM
Just started using the Q2 and have been mostly pleased with its performance. I have a couple of questions however: 1) When in standby mode can either rider reactivate the intercom through voice command or just the primary headset? 2)While riding I periodically get single beeps in my earphones even while I'm alone and only using the Q2 for cell phone calls. Is anyone else getting these beeps? If so, what are they?
Bob Chickness -Q2 Owner  September 5, 2010 01:58 PM
I Have Know Had My Q2 For About 2 Years,The Only Issue Is Now I Have 1 Of Them Where The Battery Is Not Lasting,Not Happy To Hear that They Are Not Replaceable,In This Day & Age Everything Is Disposable.How Hard Is It To Make The Batteries Replaceable,I Think Not That Hard.Come on Guys You Have A Good Product Here Don't Screw It Up By Allowing Your Competion To Get Ahead Because Of A Battery?
stephen stevens -Frustrated cardio owner  April 24, 2010 05:30 PM
We bought the cardio system a few months back and the charger light
on one of the batteries is not working therefore I do not know if irt is fully charged or not. Another thing,while riding if we are seperated mor than 10 15 feet my nwife can not hear me but I can hear her. This is very frustrating.
stephen stevens -Frustrated cardio owner  April 24, 2010 05:29 PM
We bought the cardio system a few months back and the charger light
on one of the batteries is not working therefore I do not know if irt is fully charged or not. Another thing,while riding if we are seperated mor than 10 15 feet my nwife can not hear me but I can hear her. This is very frustrating.
Kenny in Killeen -Q2 Multiset GPS & cell phone Incompatability  July 18, 2009 01:40 PM
I recently purchased the new Q2 with the MP3 plug in and the sounds are a little "un-amped"....even with the MP3 player's volume cranked all the way up....but good enough to hear and still remain aware of what is going on around you (other caged drivers). The cell phone connectivity works well and it automatically connects via bluetooth after you successfully synch it the first time. The challenge with the connection with cell phone is that it doesn't allow me to use my voice dialing options my phone has for some reason (to make it totally hands free)....I'll continue working through this and don't see it as a major obstacle since its always about the ride and not talking on a cell phone! Another challenge, discovered after reading several reviews....and after I purchased the set for the $400 (with tax) is that the Q2 Multiset doesn't synch with the Garmin Nuvi GPS....extreme bummer since the GPS costs twice as much as the Multiset and I don't want to go out and buy a different Garmin (Zumo) for $750-$850!! I am happy with the set and look forward to expanding the fun through this new technology! Happy riding and ride safe!
Daniel Lowman -Q2 Sensitivity Issue  July 17, 2009 10:33 PM
I bought the Multiset a couple of months ago and love all the features of the Q2 with a couple of exceptions. The clarity is great and the range at 500m seems as advertised. I have the same problem when trying to use my MP3 player as Fred Ziglar. It's useless for anything above an idle--you simply cannot hear it. But the biggest complaint I have is that the units go into standby mode during active conversation whether at idle or highway speed and sometimes takes 3 or 4 good yells to reactivate them once in standby. I've written to Cardo to see if this is typical or if my set needs the sensitivity tweeked up. Waiting for their reply.
Peg W -They Q2s are disposable tho...  March 12, 2009 09:53 AM
Since the batteries on these units are NOT replaceable, they are disposable units which is disappointing. I wish there was some way of knowing how long before the units are dead. Seems a lot of money to pay for throw away communicators.
Justin Weathersbee -I own a SRQ2  January 27, 2009 08:41 PM
My wife and I got these today from Patclark motorsports here in vegas and Jared G. did a perfect install I love these . It really has added something missing from our rides. Great product.
Fred Ziglar -Scala Rider Q2  January 7, 2009 02:28 PM
My son and I used a pair of Q2's on a recent 4,000 mile trip on our KLR650's and were thrilled with them. In addition to bike to bike communication, we also used the Bluetooth feature for our phones. I also tuned the Q2's FM receiver to my Sirius satellite radio's FM output and was able to listen to sat radio throughout the trip. Our only ocmplaint is that we tried 3 different MP3 players and none had enough volume output to hear clearly. The Q2 directions say that the unit's vulume control has no effect on the MP3 input. This feature needs ot be improved. In the meantime, I'll enjoy music from my Sirius radio. We bought the Q2 Multiset that comes with two complete sets and chargers for under $300 from a vendor on ebay.
David Lyons -Scala Rider Q2 is a piece of art  November 11, 2008 07:58 AM
As a "sky rider" my experienced, as well as the comments that I hear from other bikers and my friends to the ride, is that the SRQ2 is a piece of art which changed our riding experience forever. From now on it would be impossible to think about riding with lower standards. Thanks Cardo, and keep on upgarading our ride.
Richard Ashton -I Own a Q2  November 3, 2008 10:44 AM
Would recommend a pair. Communication is clear. Setup is easy. Installation is quick. Can communicate up to 1/4 mile given PERFECT conditions. Generally if you're in eye contact with the other rider you'll be in audio contact as well.
Richard Ashton -Experienced Scala Rider Q2 Owner  November 3, 2008 10:41 AM
These units are awesome. Chrystal clear communications. Easy setup. Conditions have to be perfect for communications up to a 1/4 mile (no physical/landscape obstructions). Generally if you're in visual contact with your riding partner, you're in audio contact. Seem to me to be a real bargain.