Posts Tagged ‘Bluetooth’

This is part 2 of a long review of the Scala Rider Q2 Pro Helmet Headset, a wireless communication device for motorcycle helmets. Click here to read part 1.

I turned on the iPhone’s music. The Q2 Pro is equipped with the A2DP/AVRCP Bluetooth profiles, meaning you get a very good quality stereo, and it showed. The sound was excellent, close to being in a concert hall. It’s a very enjoyable experience, listening to music while riding. And if your music player doesn’t have Bluetooth, the Q2 Pro has a standard audio jack into which can plug your player.

The advantage of the Q2 Pro is that sound is priority driven, meaning that while you are listening to your favorite music, if your pillion starts talking to you on the intercom, or your riding partner does, or even if your GPS has navigation instructions to give you, the music is interrupted until the other party is finished. Then music is turned back on, and all this is done automatically.

Obviously the same applies to your phone. If someone rings, your music or conversations are interrupted, and you can talk to whoever is calling you. BUT, please pull over to continue your conversation. Talking on the phone while riding is VERY dangerous.

The Q2 Pro is also equipped with a decent FM radio with a RDS function (that’s a feature that bikers love, since if a radio station has different antennas located in geographically parts of the country, the Q2 will select the transmitter with the strongest signal; No need to “dial” the best station, the Q2 does it for you). 6 stations can be pre-programmed, and selecting the station is relatively easy, a question of pressing a button sequence.

The Q2 Pro battery is slated for a total of 8 hours continuous operations (and 7 days in standby mode). Our experience is more or less that. We did spend most of the day on the road, had lunch, continued riding, and in between we did turn off the units. So we can’t tell you 100% if the 8 hours were met, but if they didn’t, it was close. But do remember that the older the batteries become, the less long they go.

Charging the units takes about 3 hours, so easy and quick.


The units worked very well as advertised. Sound was crystal clear and loud enough at any speed. The intercom usage was great, even fun. Music was beautiful, the range of notes that can be played through the speakers was very good. It made the riding experience, whether riding with others or solo a more memorable experience. If you’ve never tried riding with music, TRY IT.

The Q2 Pro can be used with other Scala Rider units, which is an advantage; It means if you buy it, you can continue using it even if your friends have upgraded to more advanced Scala Rider units.

On the downside of the Q2 (and other Scala units) is that using the models requires you to memorize button sequences (it does have voice commands, but it’s not very practical). Often it’s not a question of pushing one of the four buttons, but a sequence. And that makes it more difficult when riding, when your brains are focussing on the road, it become difficult to remember what to press.

My suggestion to Scala is make a remote control unit that gets placed on your handlebars (like the Parrot SK4000), or maybe even an application for the smartphone to control the units.

But for the rest, I really liked the Q2 Pro. And for the price, you can a full biker entertainment & communication system. What’s there not to like in that?

Click here to buy the Scala Rider Q2 Pro.

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There’s something to be said about riding your motorcycle with only the sound of your throbbing engine, wind blowing over your helmet and the whistling of the tires on the road. You’re on your own, and nothing and nobody to bother you in the solitude of your ride. But then there are times that you would want to communicate with someone while riding.

Many of us bikers ride with pillions or with other bikers. During the ride we do want to talk to them. For example with your pillion; “do we stop now”, “should we go left here”, etc. Same with your riding buddies: “watch out for that SUV!”, “I’ll wait for you at the gas station”.

There’s also a large population of bikers who like listening to music while riding. Many bikers can blast music through rainproof speakers, but that’s not very friendly towards other people who are sharing the road.

One way of doing all of the above is by using a special headset that gets fitted into your helmet. The unit communicates with other devices, including music players, without any wires. The wireless technology is called Bluetooth, something most modern smartphones are equipped with, and many electronic devices use as standard.

One of the undisputed leaders in the field of biker wireless communications is Scala. They have a range of Bluetooth headsets called “Rider”. For this review, I decided to try out their best selling Q2 Pro model.

Scala Rider Q2 Pro

Scala Rider Q2 Pro

Before you begin using the Scala (or any other manufacturer’s model) you need to install the unit inside your helmet. Most of them are stereo, so you’ll need to fit two (usually very flat) loudspeakers, a microphone (make sure you’re ordering the right one for your type of helmet) and the control unit/battery. For some it’s going to be easy, for others it might be more of a problem.

Test Ride
For the review I went for a ride with Jake, who was on his Harley. He has a similar Scala Rider Q2 Pro fitted in his helmet (NOTE: Bluetooth communications devices will only work with other units from the same manufacturer, not with other ones; you can not mix & match units from different manufacturers).

Both units were paired to each other (pairing is a way to inter-connect units to each other and to other devices, and it basically involves pressing a button sequence), and my Q2 was paired with my iPhone. My iPhone has, obviously, music in its “iPod” part and a TomTom GPS navigator software. All these items can be accessed through the Q2 Pro, including the phone.

Scala Rider Q2 Pro Devices

Scala Rider Q2 Pro Devices

The bike-to-bike communications function is billed to work up to 2300 feet, but that’s the theoretical range, not the real working range. The real range will depend on where you are riding and what the atmospheric conditions are. In our case, when we had an open road with little traffic the range was pretty good, some 1900 feet, which is pretty impressive. In the forests, range dropped to 1300-1500 feet, and in the city we would be lucky with 900 feet. But despite the range being lower than what it’s billed for, it’s still very good. It beats shouting.

Talking to each other is a great way of riding. Sharing the fun is twice the fun. Sound is loud & clear (you can turn the volume up sufficiently), and the communication with Jake, even at the limits of the range, was very good and clear at all times The noise cancellation microphone works very well. Not a single time did the communication channel get opened because of outside noise, something older units suffered from.

An important aspect of Bluetooth communications is that it’s not like the good old CB radio or walkie-talkie days. It’s not one person talking and then saying “over”. The transmission is full duplex, in other words, both parties can talk at the same time.

The Q2 Pro will only handle one intercom; your pillion or your riding partner. If you need to handle multiple bikers, either go for one of the bigger models (and more expensive), or get a Bluetooth equipped walkie-talkie.

That ends part 1 of the review. Click here for Part 2.

Click here for more info on the Scala Rider Q2 Pro.

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Many bikers love riding a motorcycle for the reason that they are alone, not bothered by any noise other than the rumbling of their motorcycle engine, and the sound of rushing winds. Riding the twisting roads, unencumbered by your normal day-to-day life, is a bliss for many.

But on the other hand there are also many bikers who ride with their pillion passenger, and who want to be able to communicate with each other. Particularly on long trips, talking to your pillion can have enormous advantages. No longer are you expected to make all the decisions on you own. “Do we stop here for a bite to eat”, or “shall we go there?” can be asked and answered while riding.

For many years, bikers who wanted to talk with their pillion had either very expensive electronic communication gadgets installed on their motorcycle, usually wired to their helmet, or used simple air tube systems that worked fine until you reached a particular speed that stopped all communication.

BluetoothBut things have changed over the recent years. Wireless technology, particularly Bluetooth, made it more interesting for bikers to use communication facilities on their motorcycles. The equipment is sufficiently small to be installed on your helmet, not on your bike, meaning that you can take the equipment with you no matter which motorcycle you ride. It also means you are not attached to your ride.

But these wireless communication gizmos also offer added advantages over talking with your pillion, like the ability to receive navigation instructions from a GPS equipped with Bluetooth, or to listen to music. Some units even connect with Bluetooth equipped walkie-talkies, allowing you to talk to your riding buddies. The latest wireless communication devices now offer the ability to talk to another biker, also equipped with the same gizmo. It doesn’t really replace a walkie-talkie since the range is very limited, and only allows you to talk to one other rider, but for those that ride in pairs, it is a good and cheap alternative.

Another advantage, or for many a disadvantage, is the ability to use the mobile phone while riding. We all know about the dangers of using a mobile phone while driving a car, and the same danger exists on a motorcycle. Even if you are not taking your hands of the handlebar to talk to someone over the mobile phone, your attention is greatly diminished. But it does give you the opportunity to remain in contact. You can answer a call, and then pull over and talk to the other person.

But one of the biggest advantages of the new generation of wireless equipment is cost. Miniaturization and greatly reduced prices make these gadgets less of a gadget and more a useful add-on for any biker. Take for example one of the most popular brands in wireless communication devices, Scala. The Scala Rider Q2 allows you to communicate for 8 hours non-stop, has a built-in FM radio and a communication range of some 1600 ft (but the other device must be the same brand).

You don’t need to talk to a pillion, and you don’t need to enable the mobile phone, but all the features are there, and it’s up to you to decide which ones you want to use. It beats using hand signals. Bluetooth technology has greatly simplified our lives on the motorcycle.

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