Years ago, I bought a Chatterbox helmet communication system to be able to talk wirelessly to my motorcycle riding buddies while roaming around the east coast. That particular setup was very primitive by today’s standards, but it showed me the possibilities for adding music and communication to my moto experience.
Fast-forward to Nolan’s new N-Com helmet. Nolan offers a few options for the N-Com helmet. The Basic Kit lets the rider alone listen to music and talk on phone with a wired connection. The E-Box Intercom option is for wired communications and lets you connect to your passenger and share equipment such as a cell phone or MP3 player. I use the E-Box Bluetooth kit. This allows me to interface wirelessly with my passengers or other bikes (they need to have a Bluetooth headset as well), cell phone, or GPS.
People I speak with on the cell while riding at speed say I sound clearer than when I am in my car!
The system comes with a charger and a battery and I have used it with great success for thousands of miles. The only real criticism I can think of is that if I am listening to my iPod, the phone ringtone can sometime be difficult to hear.
Cardo’s Scala Rider Q2 can be mated to a variety of (but not all) helmets with relative ease. My original Chatterbox made the same claim, but I recall that being a very difficult system to install and get right. I installed the Cardo unit in my Schuberth S1 helmet, and though it took a few tries to get the positioning correct on the speakers, the install was a piece of cake otherwise. Note that you must install the speakers right against your ears or they will not give you adequate sound.
Much like the Nolan, you can use your cell via Bluetooth, plug in your iPod, get audio directions from your GPS, and talk wirelessly with your passenger and up to three other bikes. However, it also boasts an embedded FM radio. Cardo’s MultiSet pack contains two helmet headsets, and you will no longer experience walkie-talkie syndrome where one party can only speak when the other is silent. The Scala Rider Q2 allows simultaneous speaking and listening between bikers and passengers.
Speaker volume adjusts automatically according to ambient noise level and driving speed. Unlike the Nolan, I had no problem hearing my phone ring-it pauses the music when there’s an incoming call. However, you cannot use the Q2′s volume buttons to adjust your iPod as you can with the Nolan, unless you buy a wireless remote for your iPod, in which case you can use the helmet volume buttons.
The Q2′s VOX Technology allows you to receive or reject incoming calls by voice control. A special clamp allows quick attachment or release of the Q2 headset from helmet.
With the Nolan you just plug the helmet in to charge-it and nothing needs to be removed. The Nolan also has voice activation for calls, which is quite critical when riding and focusing on the road ahead.