Scala Rider Q2 MultiSet Pro | Review

Cardo Motorcycle Communication

Remember the opening scene of “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps,” when Jake Moore (Shia LaBeouf) is piloting a Ducati Streetfighter S through the Financial District of Manhattan, talking business?

Well what looks so ravish on the screen has become quite the mundane for many riders, with much help from a leading player in the world of wireless motorcycle communication systems, Cardo.

The Pennsylvania company, which actually supplied the devices for the 2010 Wall Street movie, makes communication possible via cell phone through Bluetooth Functionality.

And one of Cardo’s leading devices featuring Bluetooth Functionality is the scala rider Q2 MultiSet Pro, which I’ve been using for the past few months. But besides cell phones, the Q2 MultiSet Pro will also connect to GPS units and A2DP enabled MP3 Players that feature Bluetooth technology.

I’ve put the scala rider Q2 Pro through the test, conditions ranging from a 200-mile VFR sport-touring ride through 38-degree temps wearing an Arai RX-Q, to a cruises through town aboard a thumping Harley wearing a 3/4 Arai Classic.

Overall I was surprised with the performance of the Q2, although I dealt with some noise issues at higher speeds. And when using the unit solo with the cell phone, getting the voice activation correct is almost impossible at speeds…not nearly as easy as it looks on the Silver Screen.

But the scala Q2 MultiSet Pro is absolutely flawless when used for its original purpose: rider-to-passenger / rider-to-rider communication. The Q2 Pro system features technology that allows true simultaneous talking, almost like conversing on a cell phone; unlike older motorcycle communication systems, there is no dead audio. All conversations occur in real time.

But first, a bit on installation. When the scala Q2 Pros (two units) arrived in their attractive box, I first read the directions not once or twice, but three times to ensure proper setup.

While I gave the two headsets the recommended initial charge of four hours, I hooked the clamp device that holds them to my Arai RX-Q and the Shoei Qwest owned by my “other.” The Arai was easy due to the interior of the helmet spreading apart easy from the edge of the helmet. The Shoei took some extra work, but the Q2 headset eventually fit.

I used the supplied Velcro to install the left and right speakers, but instead of the huge patches supplied (two per unit), I cut one into four smaller pieces. I used one smaller piece for each speaker.

As for the microphone, it takes some experimenting so the passenger or phone call doesn’t hear much wind noise; keep in mind that this distortion is escalated when the helmet’s chin vents are opened.

As for passengers, I ride with one and one only – the “other” in my life, Pam. After two years of riding, this was her first experience with motorcycle communication. Although riding’s a huge escape, the rider-to-rider communication brings that human interaction we all naturally crave while riding, like pointing out landmarks, or just discussing the mundane while on the road.

During our first ride, the other and I were impressed, even if the voice does sound like a roller-coaster ride at an amusement park. All was clear at normal speeds, but I could hear some wind distortion at Highway speeds of 65 mph or more.

As for rider-to-rider, I synched with a friend’s Scala, and the distance apart was very impressive; the Q2 began breaking up about a half of mile down the road.

Regarding the solo usage, I synched the Q2 Pro to my Droid X, which has voice-activation. When getting a call, you simply speak loudly and it answers the phone, or tap the headset’s control button, which is easy even with bulky winter riding gloves on.

This time the problem wasn’t hearing over 65 mph, it was more of the receiving end hearing distortion. But at slower speeds, the communication is clear.

I’ve only tried the scala Q2 MultiSet Pro with the Droid X, but attempting to make voice activated calls while riding was almost impossible. It would call someone, but usually not the name you were saying.

All you do is hit the control button, and say “Call” whomever, such as “Call Pam.” Then the electronic lady rooming in your helmet would ask if the name was correct, but she never says Pam, or a name even close to Pam.

At extremely low speeds, though, the function works clearly. You just have to speak slow and clear. And although calling certain people isn’t the easiest, if you hear a call come in, signified by beeps, all you do is speak loudly or tap the control button to answer. This voice answering brings about a safety element, considering the rider doesn’t have to let go of the controls if receiving a call.

As for open-face helmet usage, I also the scala rider Q2 Pros with a ¾ Arai Classic M, and the noise distortion was a bit more obvious, but not as much as I expected. Installation on the open helmet was also much easier, and when I needed to remount them on the full-face Arai, the exchange took about two minutes.

Scala claims the Q2 is weatherproof, and this is correct. While traveling to a pressl launch in Maryland from Pennsylvania in 38-degree temps, I encountered consistent rain scattered with snowflakes for three consecutive hours. The Scala Q2s performed flawlessly, unaffected by the weather.

And times between charging? About eight hours of talk-time. This is more than enough for a weekend jaunt, or a month-long road trip. Just remember to charge them when you hit the hotel room on a long trip; I forgot once, and was suddenly lost without the Q2.

And finding that hotel room with the Q2 becomes much easier if you’re using GPS. The Scala Q2 MutliSet Pro also synchs with GPS units featuring Bluetooth, which makes directions much easier on the road.

The units also feature a built-in FM radio, which you can pre-program six separate stations. Although I spend the other portion of my life writing and playing music (jazz, blues guitar), I don’t allow myself to lose concentration on the road. But I did use FM capability in the office when setting up the Q2, and the stations were clear.

As the old adage goes, “communication is key,” nothing can be truer when enjoying a ride with a passenger, a friend on another motorcycle, or even that business call from some executives on Wall Street.

The Scala Q2 MultiSet Pro makes this communication possible for the motorcyclist, a testament to the company’s tagline: Communication in Motion.”

scala rider Q2 MultiSet Pro: $389 MSRP

Cardo Systems