Scala Rider G4 Bluetooth Headset Review
We test and review the Cardo Scala Rider G4 Bluetooth motorcycle headset from Strike.
Scala Rider G4 Bluetooth Helmet Intercom
A while back we had a bit of harmless fun using the Scala Rider Q2 intercom and an Iphone at at a drag strip. We noted at the time that having an intercom set up between two bikes would be fun, but as we only had the one set at that time, were unable to try it.
Well, as technology moves on, a new Scala Rider headset, the G4 has appeared. Our friends at Strike supplied a new G4 unit to test, and as we still have the original Scala Rider, and the old and new are compatible, we got to have our intercom bike to bike fun.
The new G4 is a much more powerful unit, with an amazing 1.5 km range bike to bike, compared to the older unit’s 500 metres. The G4 is a totally new design, featuring a neat streamlined pop-up aerial which no doubt helps with the improved reception. You can set it up as a 3 way system between bikes, or even a 4 way conversation with 2 bikes and 2 pillions. It has a host of other features, an Iphone or other MP3 player can plug in to it, plus the bluetooth function will pair with a phone or GPS unit.
Installation was a breeze, both Bec and I use KBC helmets, and the supplied clamps fitted onto the helmets with no issues, although there is a supplied stick-on mounting plate if your particular helmet design precludes the use of the clamp. The impressively packaged unit includes a thick manual for the thick headed, and everything you will need, right down to the Allen key needed to tighten the mounting clamp.Pairing it to the older Q2 headset was simple, just a matter of pressing buttons on each unit, and letting them hunt each other down. Within minutes we were standing in the kitchen, helmets on, and talking to each other. Exciting stuff!
The thing I noticed immediately after installing the G4 and testing it, was how good the speakers sound. With the Q2 model, I did remark in our review that while the sound quality for music was OK, it was no audiophiles treat. The G4 however sounded great, with the small helmet speakers sounding as good as my iphones ear pods.
The review on the Q2 was all about talking on the phone, as we only had the one headset. With the new G4, we were focused on the intercom feature, however I did use the bluetooth phone connection. It worked perfectly, like the other unit, although once I managed to make several voice activated calls without trying. I didn’t try to figure out what I’d done wrong, Im sure it was a simple fix.
The G4 has two easily accessed channel buttons on the side, in our case we used one channel, which could be activated by simply talking loudly, after which it operates in full duplex mode, meaning it is like a clear telephone conversation, not a “one after the other” walkie-talkie type setup. It turns off after a few minutes of inactivity, only requiring a word or two to get conversation again. The G4 also has the feature of auto volume control, the louder the background noise -ie the faster you go – the more it turns itself up. (or down, if you slow).
I hadn’t thought too much about the use of in-helmet intercoms before, they simply weren’t something I thought I would use. After using the two products from Strike, firstly the Q2, and then the G4, it’s hard to imagine how I thought this. The usefulness of bike to bike, and for that matter rider to pillion, is many and varied. From pointing out something of interest, to telling the rider in front you are going to stop, being able to clearly and calmly communicate in the previously solitary world of the motorcycle helmet is a wondrous thing.
An application that could be worth thinking about would be for a learning rider, with a more experienced guiding voice from behind, just like you would have when getting lessons in a car.
Of course we hardly used it for anything so sensible, it was all, “Is that all you got?” and “Ha-ha!..you ran wide, loser” and things like that. In fact we used it so much on one all day ride, the battery in Bec’s older Scala Q2 set went flat. To be fair, I don’t think it was fully charged before we left.
Only once, when we were separated by probably 1/2 a kilometer or more and over a hill, did the actual connection drop out. As soon as we closed up again, I selected the channel button, and connection was instant. Remember too, one of the headsets was the older Q2 with a much shorter range, so this is the least it would be. With 2 G4 headsets, the claim is up to 1.6kms, (1 mile) and for those using the G4 as a rider to pillion setup, being so close would mean you would have perfect clear reception at all times.
A couple of practical applications that I noticed in our usage; giving the all clear for oncoming cars on a windy road, warning of a large truck that was wider than one lane on a narrow road, and getting a warning about gravel on a blind corner. Although everyone should ride within their own sphere of observation, a few timely warnings don’t go astray.
But mainly, we just used the headsets for fun, chatting, joking, and generally enjoying the shared experience of the ride, the great scenery and the overall joy that is motorcycling.
For those on a long distance trip, those who have a pillion – and as our special recommendation – those who ride with their wives or girlfriends, being connected up via an intercom is a great thing.
In summary, a really clever, useful and high quality bit of gear. Our advice, if you are going to trip around Australia, or you ride with your partner a lot – with the proviso of course you still enjoy your partners company – that you absolutely MUST try a bike to bike intercom. From our use of the Scala G4, you won’t be disappointed.
The retail price of the G4 is around $399 AUD for the single G4 unit, or $699 for a twin set.
More information including purchasing can be found at Strike.com.au
Cardo Scala Rider G4 Features at a glance:
# Bike-to-bike intercom communication with 3 other headsets, with a range of up to 1.6kms
# Link together for 4-way intercom conference calling between 2 couples riding on 2 motorcycles
# Voice activation: intercom calls, answer, voice dial, redial, and call reject functions
# FM radio with scan/seek features and 6 station channel memory
# Each G4 headset can conduct mobile phone calls or listen to FM radio or MP3 audio independently
# Full Duplex – allows simultaneous talking and listening when using intercom connections
# Talk time up to 10 hours, standby time up to 10 days
# AGC Technology – headset automatically adjusts it’s own volume based on ambient noise and driving speed
# Noise cancelling microphone
# Weather resistant design
# Fits virtually all 3/4 and full face helmets
# Note: Range may vary according to terrain
Cardo Scala Rider G4 Full Specifications:
* Talk time: up to 10 hours
* Standby time: 7 days
* Charging time: 3 hours
* Bluetooth® version 2.1 class 1
* Battery type: Rechargeable Li-Polymer
* Digital Signal Processing (DSP) for advanced audio
* Fully rain and snow resistant
Motorcycle Intercom (up to 1.6 km in Full Duplex)
* 4-Way (2 drivers and 2 pillions)
* 3-Way (3 separate bikes)
* 2-Way (rider-to-rider or rider-to-pillion)
* Mobile Phone Conference Mode (rider, pillion, outside caller)
GPS (requires headset profile)
* Compatible with most major Bluetooth GPS devices
* GPS voice instructions override music, FM Radio and Intercom calls
Supported Mobile Phone Profiles and Functions
* Headset and Handsfree profiles
* A2DP/AVRCP profile for wireless streaming stereo from MP3 player or other A2DP device
* Voice Dial
* Call Reject
* Conference mode between outside caller, Driver and Passenger
Built-in FM Radio
* 87.5 MHz to 108 MHz FM receiver
* RDS functionality (adjusts to best frequencies according to zones)
* 6-station memory with Search and Store functions
* Automatic radio muting for incoming calls
MP3 / Music
* Wireless MP3 music (A2DP) or through cable connected MP3 player
Mechanical / Functional Features
* Fits virtually all full-face and 3⁄4 helmets (also available in corded microphone version for full-face helmets)
* Quick-Release mechanism to detach Motorcycle Bluetooth headset from clamp
* Glue-On Option included,
* Two slim speakers
* Multi-Lingual Spoken Status Announcements
* Noise cancellation microphone
* AGC technology: automatic volume adjustment of audio signals according to ambient noise
* VOX technology: accept or reject calls by voice commands
* 110/240V 50/60Hz Universal Travel Charger
Charger unit uses USB cable that also serves as firmware download cable.
Backwards compatible with Scala rider headsets.