Cardo SCALA RIDER Q2 MultiSet Bluetooth (Motorcycle Helmet) Headset Review

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I have been riding motorcycles for over two decades; nearly twice as long as I have been a true tech-junkie. While I love putting around on my bike, I have always wanted to ride with music playing. I have attempted to make this happen many times over the years but nothing I have tried was either comfortable or convenient. The Cardo SCALA RIDER Q2 MultiSet Bluetooth (Motorcycle Helmet) Headset not only provides music while riding, but cellular conductivity, rider to rider/passenger communications, FM radio, and audible GPS instructions (via bluetooth).  I have my hopes up….I hope I am not disappointed.

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The SCALA RIDER Q2 MultiSet comes very nicely and effectively packaged.

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The MultiSet is just that; two complete, pre-paired Q2 setups. I often complain about manufactures shipping their (tiny) products in huge packaging. Cardo does just the opposite with the Q2 MultiSet, they jam both Q2’s into a relatively small volume.

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Here is one of the two SCALA RIDER Q2 headset setups Cardo includes in the MultiSet.

Package Contents

  • 2 x SCALA RIDER Q2 MultiSet Bluetooth Headset Units
  • 2 x Helmet clamps w/attached speaker & microphone unit
  • 2 x Dual-voltage universal travel charges
  • Microphone sponges
  • 4 x Velcro pads
  • 2 x Allen wrenches
  • 2 x Carrying Pouches
  • 2 x Spacers for clamps
  • User guide & registration card

Hardware Specifications

Compliance: Bluetooth version: 2.0, class 1
Bluetooth Profiles: Headset and Handsfree
Operating Range: Bike-to-Bike comms up to 500 m / 1,640 ft.
Frequency: 2.4 GHz
Talk Time: Up to 8 hours
Stand-by time: Up to 10 days
Charging Time: 3 hours
Battery Type: Rechargeable Li-Po
Warranty: One year

Features

  • Bike-to-Bike intercom communications (w/up to three bikers) within a range of up to 500 m / 1,640 ft
  • Rider-to-Passenger communications
  • Works with up to four different Bluetooth devices (cellphone, GPS unit, other SCALA RIDER Q2 Headsets, SCALA RIDER solo)
  • Ultra-slim speakers
  • System adjusts volume automatically
  • Embedded FM Radio
  • mp3 player input

Installation

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The installation went reasonably well. My helmet’s padding did not allow me to use the clamp Cardo includes to attach the Q2. The clamp is the recommended method of attaching the Q2 to your motorcycle helmet.

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But thankfully Cardo also includes an optional Q2 mount that attaches to the helmet with a glue pad. The adhesive appears to be very strong and does not seem likely to fail with normal use. I have been using it for several weeks now and it gives no indication of falling off (which would definitely stink while motoring along @ 75mph).

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The speaker & microphone unit screws onto the clamp/glue plate.  At this point, the two pieces are firmly attached to the side of the helmet.

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Once the speaker & microphone unit are attached to the helmet, the speakers are the next piece that need to be installed.

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It took a bit of trial and error to place the speakers and tuck the wires properly. The speakers themselves need to be situated directly on the outside of your ears for the best sound. The velcro on the back of the speakers gripped themselves very well to the inner padding material that lines the inside of my helmet. Once in place, if you decide to move or remove the speakers, it requires a good amount of pull to get them detached from the lining material.

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The speaker wires are exposed the way I installed my Q2 system but should not get in the way. Although, I am considering cutting into my helmet padding to better install the speakers and wiring.

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On a full face helmet, the microphone is suppose to be tucked between your mouth/chin and the inner-front of the helmet. With a 3/4 open-faced helmet, the microphone is simply positioned in front of your mouth. In my case, I prefer my helmets to be snug fitting leaving little room for either the speakers or microphone. But with a bit of experimentation, I located both where I hardly notice the speakers and place the mic within my helmet when I need it.

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The SCALA RIDER Q2 MultiSet Bluetooth Headset Unit slides easily along the rails of the speaker/microphone unit and clicks into place.

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Here is the bottom side of the assembly giving you a better view of how the bluetooth unit and rails come together.

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The overall build and material qualities are both very good. I believe the SCALA RIDER Q2 MultiSet will stand the test of time of many hours of riding in sun, heat, rain, cold, etc.  While the Q2 is not weatherproof, it is definitely weather resistant.

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For the most part, the Q2 is a large (feature rich) bluetooth headset that allows you to stay well connected during motorcycle rides. There are two primary control buttons on the main face of the bluetooth headset unit. These are the Main Control and Multi-Connection buttons.

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The backside of the headset unit has the volume up and down buttons and the power charging port. The charging port has a rubber cover that seals the opening while not in use. All four of the buttons are easy to operate by feel while operating your bike.

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mp3 Input

The mp3 player input is also on the rear of the assembly. The input connects directly into the speaker/microphone unit bypassing the bluetooth control unit. While it is great to be able to listen to music while riding, Cardo’s current Q2 design has limitations. All music control (INCLUDING VOLUME) are controlled via the player itself (versus the Q2). Futzing with your mp3 player while zipping along at highway speeds, controlling the motorcycle, watching out for all the other vehicles is a difficult (to near impossible) thing to do….and definitely not the smartest idea either. The speakers (while great for cellphone/comms) are less than ideal for listening to music. The music is tinny and has little bass. But the speakers are loud enough to be heard over the motorcycle and road noise, giving you ok music experience.

My suggestion to Cardo is to add A2DP (aka stereo bluetooth streaming) to its next iteration of their SCALA RIDER series. Then there would be no need for any wires connecting your player (assuming its bluetooth enabled) to the headset and you would have volume control through the Bluetooth Headset Unit. Especially now that Apple has enabled the 2nd generation iPod Touch’s and iPhone’s stereo bluetooth capability (plus the fact my Bold has that ability as well) with their latest OS update.

Cellphone Connectivity

Those limitations aside, the SCALA RIDER Q2 MultiSet bluetooth headset does an extremely good job of bringing connectivity to your motorcycle helmet. The pairing process was as quick and easy as any other bluetooth headset out today. The phone calls I had while at highway speeds were incredibly crisp and clear. Everyone I talked to could not believe I was taking the call on my motorcycle traveling at 70mph. Cardo’s noise cancellation microphone, automatic volume adjustment (based on speed and ambient noise), and speaker booster work well in concert to bring you an excellent call experience.

Bike-to-Bike/Passenger Communications

Bike-to-bike and rider-to-passenger communications was very clean and clear as well. Bike-to-bike communications allows for up to three bikers to communicate, assuming they are within range. Both bike-to-bike and rider-to-passenger communications allows riders and passenger to also conduct mobile phone calls, listen to the FM radio, or mp3 player. The SCALA RIDER Q2 has full duplex which allows bikers and passengers to talk and listen simultaneously. The Q2 MultiSet are pre-paired with each other and are good to go out of the box…..

FM Receiver

The FM receiver worked well enough. In the greater Seattle area, I was able to find 4-6 of the stronger stations depending on location. The Q2 has the ability to assign (up to) 6 pre-set stations. You can cycle through your pre-sets, which is controlled via the Multi-Connection button. The reception was, for the most part, finicky. Given the choice, I would choose the mp3 input over the FM radio every time.

Conclusions

Overall, I really like the Scala Rider Q2 Multiset bluetooth headset and will continue to use it when I need to talk on my cellphone or when I take a passenger in tow. But as I stated above, the music interface/experience and lack of stereo bluetooth leave something to be desired and will hopefully be improved with Cardo’s next Scala product. If excellent cellular conductivity is what you are looking for then the Q2 does not disappoint. If you are looking for a quality music experience, there are better alternatives out there.

 

Product Information

Price:MSRP $395.95 (but can be found on the internet for under $300)
Manufacturer:Cardo Systems, Inc.
Pros:
  • Well made/quality materials
  • Simple, easy to use design
  • Very weather resistant
  • Fits full and 3/4 motorcycle helmets
  • Excellent battery life
  • Great call/comms quality
  • Lightweight
  • Built-in FM Radio
  • mp3 input
  • Incoming calls can be accepted/rejected by voice-command
Cons:
  • Stereo sound quality is fair at best
  • No stereo bluetooth (A2DP)
  • No volume control when listening to mp3 player
Posted in: Audio, Video, TV Gear, Wireless

{ 7 comments… add one }

  • Brice Ligget July 3, 2009, 9:40 am

    Do you normally wear earplugs when riding? Could you hear the speakers even through earplugs?

    1
  • She Rides October 3, 2009, 12:10 pm

    I don’t have any problems hearing my Scala Rider Q2 when I ride with earplugs.

    2
  • dan December 29, 2009, 11:39 am

    Great write-up! I just purchased the Q2 multi-set for me and the wife.

    One thing I can’t quite grasp from reading several reviews: Since the unit can connect with up to 4 Bluetooth devices (cell phone, GPS, etc.), can the Q2 connect to a Bluetooth iPod or other MP3 player (vs wired connection)?

    Thanks for the nice article and informative photos.

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  • zack July 12, 2010, 9:27 pm

    I have the Q2 Multi-set and I think it is poorly designed in terms of its set up, feature sets, and compatibility. It is difficult to sync with 3 units as its claims it can easily. There is NO Blue Tooth A2DP and the speakers flat out suck! Even the newer Cardo system is over rated and over priced. Look at the Blue Ant F4 Interphone or the Chatterbox XBi2-h. They are much better!

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  • d8oNa July 17, 2010, 1:16 am

    Having had a Q2 Multi-set for nearly 2 years I think I can safely say that it does what it claims to do very well. I have often recommended getting one or a set to other riders!
    Initially I placed the speakers badly rushing the installation as a mate and I went halves on a set the week before the 08 GP in Phillip Island. Placed correctly the speakers are more than adequate for both talking on the phone and listening to music. Sure its not brilliant stereo but its better than wind and road noise, and will no doubt will be addressed with the next model!
    The noise filtering on the microphone is incredible. I actually have to tell people I am riding as they can’t tell from background noise.
    Rider to rider comms is a really handy thing and on a straight road ,with seperation of up to 300 metres, it is still possible to have a conversation. It breakes up a bit beyond that and on windy mountain roads over 100 metres the Scala is tested. The noise filtering works well between riders as well!
    Battery life is excellent! I have not exhausted the battery on a ride yet and I have done some big days in the saddle. I should say that the longest time between charges is 2 days, or about 16 hrs.
    I was unable to initiate calls with my Samsung mobile, but with my new iPhone 16G 3GS I have full functionality, and though I don’t make a lot of calls while riding it has come in handy once or twice and is a real boon.
    I wouldn’t be without mine on a ride and will upgrade to the newer model when circumstances require it!

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  • Steve May 27, 2013, 7:19 am

    I have in the last few days purchased the ScalaRider Teamset pro, and I am experiencing some problems. My phone paired up with no problem, but I had a problem pairing my Tom Tom Rider 1. It will not pair when it has the SD card maps of western Europe installed, but would when the SD card maps of GB is installed. This is a problem because I go to France next week.
    I then realised only one headset was receiving messages and we could not speak to one another, so it would appear that the head set’s are not paired. I followed the instruction shown in the user guide ie. Make sure both units are switched on and blue light is flashing slowly. Pick up on e headset and simultaneously press and hold CTRL button and Intercom button for at least six seconds unti the red light begins flashing rapidly, indicating it is in intercom pairing mode. I held the buttons well beyond six seconds and never got a red flashing light. I tried on both units and never got a red flashing light. So if anyone out there has the answer please let me know, I am now getting very frustrated, I have spent hours on this.
    Cheers, Steve

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  • Maria November 7, 2013, 9:38 am

    I am considering purchasing these for my family as we often ride together, but my father wears a 3/4 helmet (with no face shield at all) and my brother wears a brain bucket (I prefer an actual helmet…I’m kind of attached to the image in my mirror…). Does anyone know how the sound would be with the openness of my dad’s helmet? I read that it probably wouldn’t attach to my brother’s, but I’m more concerned about it working for my parents. Thanks!

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