This is my first post on advrider.com - so hello! A little about myself: I’m from Maine, 26 years old and have an ’09 BMW F800-GS w/ 12k miles. My girlfriend purchased a Cardo Scala Rider G4 Powerset for us in June and another riding couple purchased a set at the same time. We’ve been riding with them all summer. When researching the product I found the technology extremely confusing. It was unclear what devices work with the unit, how they work with the unit and even how well they work in general. They’re really too expensive to guess-and-check your way to satisfaction…
The purpose of this thread is twofold: (1) provide people with a layman’s description of how (and how well) these headsets work and (2) provide a place for people with the headsets to share their ideas on how they use the devices and make them better
. I couldn’t find a thread like this here, or anywhere else on the internet. So let’s begin!
Helmet and Fitting:
I use a Shoei X-Eleven Helmet and yes, I had to remove the chin piece and cut blind holes in the Styrofoam for the speakers. The helmet is a size small and there is absolutely no room for the speakers. It was a pain in the butt and a little nerve racking modifying a $600 helmet. Speaker placement is not optimal because there’s really only one small area the speakers can be placed. My girlfriend has an HJC CL-16 and had absolutely no problem getting the speakers in and positioned properly – she didn’t even have to remove any padding.
– These headsets will not work as expected inside your house and it’s a waste of time to try. They need the ambient road noise to properly function. This makes it difficult to troubleshoot the system because you need to be on the bike and driving. It can get fairly distracting and I’d suggest going out on 40MPH roads with no one else on them while you play with the system.
– The instruction manual is a little weak, but the section for connecting other people and devices isn’t too bad. Just sit down and read it.
Intercom (2 People)
– This set up works great except for the VOX (automatic voice activation) feature. When starting an intercom conversation just press the button of the rider you would like to connect to and the channel opens. Press it again and the channel closes. If you receive a phone call or GPS instructions the channel will be closed, you will receive the call or instructions, and then the channel to the other rider will open again (it beeps they know what’s going on).
The VOX feature has proven extremely unreliable for us. It’s basically unusable. It never opens a channel when you want it to. The only nice feature is if you do manage to get it to open up a channel it automatically disconnects after 30 seconds of no talking – which is great for hands free operation.
Intercom (3 People)
– Haven’t tried this yet.
Intercom (4 People)
– This set up is a little quirky but does work well if you know what to expect. It is meant for 2 motorcycles with 2 passengers each. The method of connecting the headsets is strange, so read the manual carefully. Basically, the two passengers connect to each other and can then page in the two drivers. Its fun having a big conversation just like you’d have in a car and you can always opt-out with the push of a button.
The one quirk with a 4 person intercom is that when you’re connected to all 4 people you cannot be connected to a GPS. I have the GPS in the group so when I’m using it I can only connect to my passenger.
– This is a really neat feature. If any one person in the group receives or makes a cell phone call anyone else can be paged in. So, if all 4 riders are connected and you receive a call everyone can then chat together.
iPhone (1st Gen) – I have a first gen iPhone and it works with the head set, but keep in mind that with no voice dialing you will only be able to receive calls. The volume control is also a little messed up and I’m not sure if it’s the phone or the headset. The volume is always lower than the GPS, radio, and intercom – it’s like the speed sensitive volume control doesn’t work with the phone. I have to crank it and cannot call on the highway; it’s just too loud to hear the phone.
My girl friend has some cheapo phone with voice dial and it works much better, but she still complains that the volume seems to be lower.
I have a Garmin Zumo 660 GPS. When I connect my iPhone to the GPS, and then connect the GPS to the headset it is much easier to use the phone while riding. I can go through my contacts and call someone, I can see the person who is calling me on the screen and I can check the battery and signal levels (volume is still an issue). One thing that does not work, and this may be a 1st gen iPhone issue, is that there is no way to make music from the iPhone play through the GPS into the headset – very disappointing.
The only other strange thing is that the GPS voices (all of them) cause the speakers to crackle at higher volumes. This means I can be listening to the radio, or talking to my passenger on a busy highway just fine, but when I receive GPS instructions the speakers crackle badly. It works fine at lower speeds and volumes.
The device has FM radio only (no AM). It works ok, it looses signal much more easily then a car radio does and tuning it can be a pain, especially setting pre sets.
The unit does choke and crash every once and while. The worste thing about this is that you have basically no troubleshooting ability while on the bike. You just loose the headset and won’t get it back until you stop and play with it for a while.
There is an upgrade available of the Cardo web site for the unit. I would recommend doing it, it increases the stability and also allows you to set up the device on your computer which is much easier then holding buttons and waiting for beeps on the device. Note that they only have a 32bit Windows program for this so you will be S.O.L. if you have a 64bit computer (like I do).
Battery Life is pretty much as advertised. If you leave the intercom on or play music all the time you probably won’t get the full 10 hours of claimed use, but you’ll come close. Under normal use I regularly use it all weekend before needing a charge. The unit charges very fast, in about 30 minutes.
I’m thinking about getting some new speakers to eliminate the GPS voice crackle, phone volume issue and to just be able to hear everything while I have my ear plugs in on the highway. Anybody tried these?
HS24 Iasus XSound2 Helmet Speakers