Scala Rider Q2 Bluetooth Headset Review
We put a Scala Rider Q2 bluetooth motorcycle headset to the test using an iPhone and a dragstrip.
Cardo Scala Rider Q2 Headset with Intercom and Bluetooth
How much: $309 RRP Single, $539 RRP twin pack (at time of writing, check with distributor.)
What does it do?: Talk on the phone, listen to music, talk to a pillion or another rider with matching headset, listen to GPS voice directions.
What’s it come with?: As tested was a single headset, complete with mounting kit, tools, charger, and a decent instruction manual.
Detailed Review on the Scala Rider Q2
The Scala Rider Q2 from Strike.com.au is a full featured, helmet mounted intercom system, capable of bluetooth pairing with phones, GPS units, and communication with another matching Scala unit, either pillion or another motorcycle within range. While the bike to bike intercom feature would have been something we would have liked to try, as we only had the one headset this wasn’t possible.
This left the range of options we could test to playing music, pairing with a GPS -which we also didn’t have – or pairing with a bluetooth phone. So, in the interests of making this review interesting, we decided the best use for this technology would be to use the phone, on the bike, whilst drag racing it. If it was usable under that type of mental pressure, and high speeds, it would surely be simple elsewhere. Plus we could test it at much higher speeds than is legal on the road.
So, at a recent All Bike Shootout at our local drag strip, we gave it a try. Since I’m not a regular drag racer, and I haven’t taken a run down a drag strip for more than 6 months, we wondered how usable it would be. For this test we used the trusty Suzuki GSX1400, an Apple iPhone 3GS, and mounted the Scala to a KBC VR-2 helmet.
Microphone flexes under to fit nicely inside chin guard area of helmet.
The Scala intercom set mounts to the helmet, in this case we used the self adhesive mount, although the unit also comes with a clamp mount that might work with different helmets. The base with a flexible microphone stalk mounts to the helmet, the unit itself clips to that. Two speakers with a velcro-like backing stick like the proverbial to the liner of the helmet, which after some “hot ear” rummaging around with the helmet on, were lined up approximately with my ears.
The unit was charged, and after a brief consultation with the owners manual, turned on and paired via bluetooth to the iPhone. This was a simple affair, although those with less affinity for electronic consumer goods may have to study the manual a little longer than my 10 second skim. The phone can then be stowed in tank bag, pocket or elsewhere on the bike.
Once paired to the phone, a quick test revealed that the speakers in the helmet gave a ring tone on an incoming call, and you could answer by either pressing the push button on the unit, or making a loud noise to kick in the voice activation. I found shouting “Yo!” to be both effective, and somewhat pleasing as a phone greeting. Remaining silent for 15 seconds will reject the call. The resultant call was amazingly clear and loud, for both parties, with callers saying there was no quality difference to a call made direct to the phone by itself.
The unit itself clips to the helmet mounted base as shown in previous picture.
Music played from the Ipod function of the Apple was as clear, although marginally lacking in hi-fidelity to a set of Ipod style earphones through the Scala speakers. Certainly it was listen-able, but you aren’t going to feel like you are right there in the concert hall. The Scala also has an FM radio function, with 6 pre-set radio stations, which worked fine, but wasn’t something I’d personally use, but talk back radio fans would love it. You could even call in from your bike.
Once at the track, we observed a couple of things. One, the helmet is slightly harder to take off and put on with the microphone fitted, and two, that you soon forget it is there. A test call was made to make sure it was all working and then it was on to the drag strip test. It’s worth mentioning that most likely various rules would prohibit using such a device in actual racing, so we only used it during practice runs.
The first phone call came in just before I did the burnout, and we chatted through out the procedure, with a pause in chat for the actual starting light countdown and launch, due to the level of concentration needed. After that some more quick words were exchanged, with the conversation audible past the half track mark at approximately 160km/h, at which point the helmets wind noise started to get too loud.
Had a bit of a chat on this run, discussed the reaction time. Conversation lasted less than 11.2 seconds.
The Scala features an auto noise compensating feature, which apparently turns up the volume the louder the background noise becomes. To be honest I didn’t notice this working, but would explain why it was audible at high speeds, yet not too loud when stationary, so I guess that works just fine. The GSX1400 isn’t the most potent drag strip weapon around, running the quarter in flat 11’s at about 190km/h, but even at near full speed I could still understand the incoming words.
What else I can tell you is this: Don’t try this at home (or your drag strip). The amount of concentration required exceeded my capacity to talk calmly and launch and flat shift a motorcycle through the gears to over 180km/h. So basically you shout for some reason. It was also hard to take in properly what was being said, as the majority of your brain – well, mine anyway – was used to control the bike. From this I learned I wouldn’t be wanting to chat on the phone to mum whilst attacking a set of high speed sweepers at peg grinding speeds. However for normal speed highway cruising it would present no problems at all.
For those who spend a lot of time on the bike, and need – or want – to be aggravated by incoming calls, this would be a great investment. I have experienced the frustration of having to stop repeatedly after hearing a mobile ring in a pocket, stopping and removing gear, only to find it was a telemarketer or wrong number. Of course most times I prefer to have the phone off, and enjoy the ride, but for some that isn’t possible.
Scala’s chart of connectivity showing various connection options.
The other phone features include voice dialling if your phone supports it, manual volume control, and press and hold redial. The intercom feature which would enable you to talk to a pillion or another bike would be great too I imagine, even though I couldn’t test this with only one set, it certainly works as a full duplex system. This means it doesn’t cut off the incoming transmission if you speak too soon, which can make conversations an annoying array, of – “sorry, you what?”
With a stated range of up to 500 metres to another motorcycle equipped with a matching Scala, one can only imagine how much fun could be had with such a set-up, and a riding buddy who doesn’t like the look of your tail light. Battery life seemed more than enough, as it was still on when I took my helmet out again several days later, after forgetting to turn it off. The manual says up to a week standby, and up to 8 hours talk time, which is more than I can afford.
Forget our silly drag strip usage idea, your brain won’t cope, and it’s probably not allowed anyway.
The Radio or MP3 functions are fine, but if that’s all you need an Ipod or similar device would be easier and cheaper. But for those who are slaves to the phone for whatever reason this would be invaluable, and I’m sure it would be be an absolute joy to have the capability to talk to another bike on the move, or even the pillion.
Those who travel two up long distances would love this, I’d say it would be a “must have”.
Verdict: A big bluetoothy voice-activated thumbs up!
Big thanks to Rachael and Strike for the use of the unit.
More details and purchase enquiry: 1300 792 044 or strike.com.au