My Negative Cardo Scala Rider G9 Experience / Review

Discussion in 'Equipment' started by TurkeyChicken, Aug 16, 2012.

  1. TurkeyChicken

    TurkeyChicken Been here awhile

    Mar 22, 2011
    Albuquerque, NM
    A buddy and I recently returned from a 17 day motorcycle tour and decided we'd review all of the equipment we took with us. Our reviews are simply our experiences with the product and how it handled during the ride. The full ride report for that trip can be found here:

    UPDATE: (Aug 30, 2012) We received a new pair of G9's from Cardo and will start testing these new ones. We will update the review when necessary.

    On to the review...

    First things first let me just say that I really like the Scala Rider Q2 that I've been using since 2009. I had a couple issues with it over the years but nothing as bad as the utter failure of the G9. I started off with some really high hopes for this product and was excited that my buddy and I were going to have 17 days of riding around the western part of the country.

    The first negative experience of the product came when we tried to pair our teamset. No matter what we did we seemingly couldn't get them to join together so we could talk. Finally after messing around for about a half hour, and we're still not sure what we did, the communication channels finally opened and we could talk to each other.

    Next came figuring out how to re-establish this connection each time we turned the units on. Even after a couple days of use we still didn't know the exact method to get them to connect. It usually ended up with us pushing the A and B buttons over and over for about 5 minutes until we were able to hear each other again.

    Aside from the extremely difficult times we had pairing and talking, my right speaker died after the first day of our trip and the left one started to get extremely static-filled for a couple of days before it too finally died. We were super pissed when this happened since we were only a few days into our trip and were left without any form of verbal communication while riding. I thought maybe some of the rain we had ridden through might have been the problem so I let the unit dry out in my tank bag for a few days and tried again with no luck.

    For some reason out of frustration I smacked the side of my helmet and low and behold I was able to hear from the speakers again! What a feat of engineering... designing a product that needs to be smacked a few times for it to work! Anyway, this would work for a few minutes before the speakers would die and I'd need to smack it again. I was able to continue this method for another day or two before no matter how much smacking I did would help... both speakers were absolutely toast.

    While I'm having issues with my headset, my buddy is starting to experience the shorting out and static issues I had the first day.

    If that's still not enough to turn you away from purchasing this product, let me rattle off a couple other extreme negatives:

    1. you CANNOT charge this unit and use it at the same time. WTF?! With the Q2's you could have them plugged in and still talk to your buddy and listen to music without any issues. Now with the G9 it completely shuts the unit off if it's plugged in.

    2. You CANNOT listen to music and talk to a friend at the same time. With the Q2's you can listen to your mp3 player and if your buddy starts to talk, it disables the mp3 and you hear their voice. With the G9 it appears to be one or the other which is a shame.

    Again, I really wanted to love this product but I'm simply shocked with how many issues we had with it. It's possible part of the issues were human error (like linking them together), but the utter failure of the speakers and not being able to charge and use the device at the same time is a huge shame.

    I'm going back to my Cardo Scala Rider Q2 until I hear some extremely positive reviews from some other headset/intercom system.

    I've got a full review and some photos posted here:
  2. Bonwit

    Bonwit Adventurer

    Mar 2, 2011
    North Texas
    I've got the G4 and love it. We do sometimes have a problem getting the pair to connect the first time, but it's probably from forgetting which button to push to accomplish this. I wish the Scala had more independent buttons and switches rather than trying to accomplish multiple functions with just 5. My friend has the G9 and has had none of the problems you have.
  3. mmoore

    mmoore n00b

    Jun 4, 2007
    Bay Area, CA
    I bought the G9 on the strength of the WebBikeWorld review, and I have to say I've been quite disappointed. I haven't used the intercom (yet to have any friends own one) so I'm using it for occasional phone calls and music.

    First problem was the sound level - I wear earplugs (foams) and the sound is barely audible over my Vespa at 30mph, and completely inaudible on my Ducati. The speakers are directly over my ears, and the volume on my iPhone is at max.

    The second problem is the very low Vox sensitivity to commands. I have given up and use buttons 100% of the time. Occasionally a cough will trigger the Vox, but otherwise it is useless. Even yelling doesn't work.

    The third issue is the baffling lack of voice prompts, as noted in the WBW review. This coupled with fairly cryptic requirements for holding a button down for some number of seconds, makes the user interface very hard to learn and operate.

    Lastly, I have never been able to get the unit to sync up with my computer using the interface on the Cardo website. It just sits at "Reading from Device" and never completes. I have tried this on a Macbook Pro, with Chrome, Firefox and Safari, and on a PC using Chrome and Firefox, and I have never gotten past this point. So all the "social" features are pretty much no-op for me.

    I have contacted Cardo support, and their response has been to suggest obvious remedies that I have already tried.

    I have to say, if a friend asked me about buying a G9, I would tell him to avoid it and get something else.
  4. Riot

    Riot Tiger Rider

    Aug 21, 2012
    Brisvagas, Oztralia
    I have a G4 and most functions work most of the time.
    Intercom is the biggest problem, you need a witch doctor and a Ouija board to use VOX, the open channel continuously is OK.
    Volume could be louder and the speakers are a bit tinny for sound but its not hi-fi (though for the price it should be).
    I am consdering hacking it up and replacing the output with 3.5mm stereo jack and use better speakers or earbuds.
    See here:
  5. 74C5

    74C5 Long timer

    Aug 7, 2008
    El Dorado Hills, CA
    First, I'm not a fan of anything Cardo. They stonewalled me on problems with a zumo 665 for over a year. Then said it wasn't compatible. Dicks.

    I had the same problem. However, I had a teamset. I was able to get them both up on the computer with one of the two cables. They were a bit incredulous that a usb cable could be bad but, it was. They replaced it as they should.

    Try another cable or send it back.....sooner than later.
  6. ram1000

    ram1000 Long timer

    Feb 14, 2004
    Tricities Washington
    After trying to make our own setup with hunting radios and other attempts we bought Cardio 2's and also and found them to work just a little bit better than our homemade efforts. As stated, getting them to pair up was always a problem especially with 3 of us. There is no way to remember all the variations of button holding with these things after a long winter of no riding. They are only good for a part of a day if used for much talking, or music, but I never could remember how to turn the music on or change channels anyway. They don't work unless we have line of sight either. I would love to find something that actually works as good as it should, but I simply can't afford such things if they exist. In the end if you can't afford something better don't purchase the Cardio 2's, we have given up on them.
  7. peterang

    peterang n00b

    Nov 20, 2011
    I had a pair of G4 and had problems from Day 1. Pairing with the other unit to talk has always been a hit and miss.

    The only way the units could talk without issues is to force a permanent connection and leave it that way for the entire trip, not cutting the connection off or switching to music.

    After one month, one unit would not turn on at all. I had to plug in the power before i csn turn it on. From there I could unplug the power and continue using for several hours - so it cant be a low battery issue. this happens also when its fully charged.

    Finally I gave up and bought the Sena SMH10. I never turned back. it was simple and worked everytime. Yes, I lose the FM radio but I'd go for a stable and working product than one with all the bells and whistles but unstable.

    Its also dangerous fiddling with the unit while riding. Performance of the communications is great. I did a 3 way conference with 2 friends on SMH10 and its so simple to get it done up. Rider A connect to Rider B, then Rider C connect to A. Done!

    Only gripe is the speakers are softer than those on the G4. Hopefully would be solved with future firmware updates which is again easy to perform. (updated twice)
  8. Scutty

    Scutty Been here awhile

    Jul 19, 2011
    Sunny Surrey, UK
    In my little riding group we have 5x G4s and a G9 and have had so few problems with them - they have been a revelation. We even run all 6 together for comms across 5 bikes and it just works. On longer trips we find the batteries will last about 7-8hrs of continual intercom with open channel (the vox is a little 'clippy').
    My only problem is that I run an Android phone and Co-Pilot Sat Nav which is sent to the G4 as A2DP sound, not GPS, and therefore the turn announcements do not over-ride the intercom (which they would if I had a TomTom for example). This isn't a Cardo issue though but an Android/Bluetooth/Co-Pilot problem.

    We never ride in a group now without comms - they have totally changed the group riding dynamic for us.
  9. White Tenere

    White Tenere Been here awhile

    Jan 14, 2007
    I'm a new G9 owner and have to say my experience has been 100% positive/ happy with the product. Zero set up issues, sounds great with the provided speakers. I get calls all the time and answer using the VOX feature and people trip out when I tell them I'm riding 75mph down the freeway. They say it sounds like I'm sitting at home, I did find if I just crack the visor people on the other end say it sounds best/better that way.

    I listen to music all the time and find if the volume is turned all the way up on my iPhone I can run the G9 at about half volume and hear it just fine, does it sound like my $800 custom Fit-Ear stereo plugs-well no but I didn't expect it to and I'm fine with the sound quality it does provide. I also like how it auto adjusts the volume as I slow down or speed up.

    Now I have to think, but I'm almost positive when listening to music and get a cell call or intercom "call" the music fades then fades back in when I'm done talking.

    The biggest help for me even before I opened the box was going to there website and reading all the info they have there.

    For me it was a double thumbs up buy!!:clap:clap
  10. ztrab

    ztrab Been here awhile

    Jan 13, 2006
    Tucson, Az
    Hummmm, I have been using the Autocom on two bikes, have it set up for intercom when my wife rides - have kenwood radios and all the cords, VOX & PTT buttons, etc. Having on cord to my helmet doesn't bother me, all the other junk is under my seat of tucked in my tank bag. I power the unit off my bike, can hear my GPS, MP3, Radar, phone, all cabled of course. For solo or two up, it is relatively simple, the external radios for duplex communication makes it a tad less desirable. However, it always works, flawlessly.

    I was offered some G4s to demo for a ride I was doing in Europe. I paired and matched Bluetooth devices before we left. On the eve of leaving one of the unit took a crap and wouldn't work. The other quit mid-ride. They were used demos and the rep said the G9 was coming out, I'd really like them.....

    So I spent good deal of time trying to update and assign rider names, read the manual, watch the videos, etc so I could operate the units - way before I left on a two up trip. Had to call Cardio and got one obscure issue resolved. First thing I noticed was it kept dropping the blue tooth connection with my Ipod - the second unit did the same. Over 1700 miles, each day was a new event with the intercom - I finally turned it off - Never could figure out why it randomly greets me by name, turns on the FM radio - shades of Hal??? Went for a solo ride the other day, as long as I never paused by music it stayed connected, though I still got some random greetings and the radio switched on a few times. I even got a call from my Iphone, but then I never got my music back. Reading through the thread, sounds like I am not alone.

    That said, I am am going to try an sort it out since they are great when they work, but not enough to warrant having to pull over, take my gloves off and reset my blue tooth or pound the side of my helmet. I will try to master the thing or give it back before I pass final judgment. I'll probably go back to my autocom for solo riding, way better volume, don't have to scrounge for outlets every night to charge and I am used to the one helmet wire. Really though, this technology isn't that complicated that a manufacturer could come up with a better unit - F'ing technology........
  11. Plane Dr

    Plane Dr Been here awhile

    Sep 29, 2005
    North TX Metromess
    I've had a G9 for6-7 months now. It is a royal pita to get it to sync on the computer. I also had issues syncing to my iPhone 5.

    However an email to tech support straightened it out and it has been good so far. I haven't used the intercom as my ring buddy moved just after getting these.

    The VOX sucks.

    However decent music volume, never had an issue once synced. Call quality is superb. I commute virtually every day on the bike and the phone function alone has paid for it.

    I don't have experience with other units but other than being fiddly I am happy
  12. drisschoufa

    drisschoufa Adventurer

    Feb 14, 2010
    beautiful San Diego
    I have had a G4 for over three years and it works flawlessly 70% of the time if I am by myself. I get my phone synced to my zumo 550 which then feeds me my music and phone calls, I can talk even at at 80mph without the caller knowing where I am then goes back to music again 70% of the time.
    Now add a rider to the equation and it becomes you worst nightmare if you force it to intercom and turn off the Bluetooth on the Zumo it improves to 50% of the time working it's a piece a shxxt product at $500 for the pair.
    Oh I might stress out the quality of the speakers they are crap and the volume is not loud enaugh on a stock BMW forget using on my DRZ with a yoshi pipe.
  13. levain

    levain STILL Jim Williams

    Oct 29, 2005
    Providence, RI
    Sena smh10 for 3 years. Works beautifully with no issues whatsoever. Time for an upgrade!
  14. StuartV

    StuartV Motorcyclist

    Oct 11, 2004
    Manassas, VA
    I've had my Senas for 1 year now. Also, no problems at all.
  15. nathank

    nathank Adventurer

    Jul 18, 2008
    Received my G9 last week and rode this weekend with intercom to other bikes.

    We did have some trouble linking the G9s initially, but once we got them to pair they didn't seem to have any issues re-syncing up when we were off and on the bikes. The intercom is fantastic. No issues syncing on computer or syncing up to my phone.

    The only issue I have had really is I changed my buddy name online and synced and it's still calling me "scala rider", but I hope another sync will do the trick.
  16. wundis

    wundis Adventurer

    Apr 19, 2012
    Vilnius, Lithuania
    Got the scala g9 powerset around three weeks ago, just before our trip. And I must say I am very disappointed.

    We set them up, tested, sync, upgraded firmware etc, and it was working on the first day (working is a tricky word, we just kept the channel open, no clicking/using functions whatsoever).

    Once you try to use the radio/music - it all goes wrong. First the g9's started to not see each other. Saying unavailable/busy all the time. We rebooted them, still same thing. After some time they start seeing each other. Only thing that helps is to re-pair them again, reboot again - and then they work.

    Second thing is the sound quality. For the money, it should be better. The speakers are aligned perfectly, but listening to radio is a pain. Literally. You can only listen to the songs you like and know, everything else threatens to rip your ears out or you cant hear/understand it.

    And I'm not sure if a firmware update can fix any of that.

    All of which is very sad.
  17. mark18

    mark18 n00b

    Oct 29, 2013
    just come here, nice :clap i don't use g9, but i have a FREE TALKIE F9,well done
  18. BleeinTX

    BleeinTX n00b

    Oct 30, 2013
    I bought a G9 based on the feature set, and an upcoming trip with some very experienced friends who had Scala products. VOX was horrid, turned it off after first test ride. Going solo I found the the whole Iphone connection through a Zumo 660 to be random hit or miss. Searched the forums, found I was not alone, tried various reset and re-pair schemes - it remains random hit or miss. That said the problem may well be Garmin and/or Iphone, though you sure don't see the hassle often reported with Sena.

    Another new G9 rider who was going on the trip and I buddied each other through the Scala social media site. When we met up the units alerted us via voice prompt that they recognized each other - but no intercom. We jacked with them a bunch during rest stops, got the manual out and finally some how got the things working on the A channel. When they worked the range and sound quality were fine, but we never quite figured out how to get them to work consistently. Also the auto-squelch on my friends unit left him with an open mic most of the time, a battery drain and annoying.

    We met up with two other riders with the Scala neck ring units in a C3 and C3 Pro. Despite numerous attempts, manual reading, web page study - we never got intercom with them.

    Back to solo, GPS voice prompts from the Zumo 660 always work, the phone intermittently works (shows on Garmin, but hit or miss with G9). Again, this may not be a Scala issue. When it works it works well, party I'm speaking with cant tell I'm on a bike.

    My take on the thing is that they had a huge case of feature creep, and little regard for the human factors in running the thing. There seem to be some hardware issues with the units we had. Had they set it up to be controlled by an Iphone/Android app, they might have pulled it off.

    One note. If you are running a modular helmet or open face , they do have a "Hybrid" wire-to-boom mic available on the Scala site for $17. It's a huge improvement over the boom mike.

    In any case, I'm not going to jack with it any more and am switching to a Sena.
  19. machyoung

    machyoung n00b

    Sep 8, 2013
    Picked-up a G9 set about 3 months ago, gave away my Q2's to a friend. Oh how I want my Q2's back.

    I predominantly ride 2 up w/ my wife. Communication is vital and obviously increases fun-factor 10x. G9's are supposed to be synched/paired out of the box. Nope. Takes 10-15 minutes to pair each time we ride, each time we stop, each time we turn off.

    The clarity of the units are sketchy at best. Sounds like an echo in your ears. At any speed over 30 MPH, volume is nonexistent.

    I want my Q2's back or these fixed. I feel better now.
  20. Kafn8td

    Kafn8td Been here awhile

    May 31, 2012
    Had the G9s for a year now and work flawlessly. VOX works great for both me and my wife. She rides her own bike and the distance is pretty impressive. I pair with a Droid and she pairs with her I phone.
    A friend bought them On my recommendation and he hated them. That was until I showed him how to use them properly. He now recommends them.