Review Cardo’s Scala Rider Teamset
File under Bluetooth Gadgets Product Review
Author: Mike Werner
Location: Normandy, France
One of the most dominant Bluetooth headset providers for the motorcycle world is Cardo's Scala Rider. Cardo specialize in Bluetooth headsets, not only for motorcycles, but also for mobile telephones.
Cardo offer different motorcycle headset flavors (with FM radio -Scala Rider FM, just for phone -Scala Rider or using it with a pillion as intercom and phone - Scala Rider Teamset). I got my hands on the Scala Rider Teamset.
The box comes fully equipped with everything you need. Two headsets, chargers, adapter for thick helmets, Velcro pads, tools. There's a short manual, and a larger and more complete manual is available for download at the Cardo website.
1. Rider's control unit (the one that can receive mobile phone connections)
2. Pillion control unit
3. 2 x Helmet attachments (one for the rider, one for the pillion)
4. Charger (one charger for two units - they can both be charged at the same time)
5. Velcro, Allen key, wide attachment (for thick helmets), microphone protector
The control unit is differentiated between the rider (yellow) and pillion (green).
The control unit has the on/off switch (#1) which is also contains the LED indicator (blue and red flashing light), volume up (#2), volume down (#3), power charger plug (#5) and function button (#6).
Note: don't ask what happened to #4 - I just can't count
The component that is attached to your helmets is a sturdy piece of plastic that is tightened to the helmet.
The unit has two slim speakers and a microphone.
There's a quick release for the control unit (red arrow).
Installing The Scala Rider Teamset
I decided to install the Rider onto a BMW System 4 helmet, since they often give problems due to their thickness and inflexibility. To install it, you'll need to remove the inside lining! There's no other way..
By removing the side leather from the helmet you can very simply insert the helmet attachment and slide it to the front. Once in position, use the Allen key to tighten the screws (not too tight). I did not need the additional attachment for thick helmets.
Undoing the bottom part of the BMW helmet is easy... putting it back properly is another thing!
Once the helmet attachment is properly fitted, you can pull the speaker wires under the lining.
There's enough wire for the right side speaker to properly position the speakers.
NOTE: I suggest you don't fix the speakers in place immediately. Wait until you try on the helmet.
The slim loudspeakers have Velcro on one side. The best thing is too loosely put the loudspeakers where you think you'll want them and while holding them in place, put the helmet on (a bit more difficult when you have a full face helmet).
Move the speakers towards your ear. Best is to have them exactly where your ears are!
HINT: If you've got a full face helmet, use a small Post-it and slide it to where your ears are when the helmet is on.
Once you've got the right placement established, use the Velcro pad supplied (one side has glue). In the BMW case, the speaker Velcro stuck to the helmet lining without the supplied Velcro pad. The other helmet, a Roof Boxer, needed the Velcro pad.
This is what it looks like when installed, and everything is back in place.
NOTE: It's best to slide the control unit the furthest possible to the front. This way the microphone will be located the closest to your mouth.
The microphone boom is very flexible, so if you've got a flip-up helmet, it can easily bend inwards.
Pairing the Rider
Pairing is a Bluetooth term, and it involves two Bluetooth units recognizing each other for future use. You "introduce" each other...
Both units (Rider and Pillion) should be factory paired and should work together out of the box. It was not the case, but all you had to do was turn on both units (press the on/off button - #1 - for 6 seconds and then press simultaneously both function buttons - #6 - for 10 seconds. The pillion LED goes red, and then blue, and you're in business).
Paring the main unit to a Bluetooth mobile telephone is easy as well. Turn on your phone's Bluetooth, and turn on your Scala Rider (hold button #1 for 10 seconds - LED turns red).
Use your telephone's discover feature, and eventually you'll see the Scala Rider in the list of devices.
Select the Scala and enter the passcode (0000). Done! You're ready to roll!
Turn on the unit (rider only for phone) by pressing the on/off (#1) button for 6 seconds. The LEDs will start flashing blue. The unit is operational.
I rode away on my trusty BMW R1150GS and asked my wife to give me a call. After a few minutes I could feel my phone vibrating followed by a few seconds later the ringing in my ear. To answer, just say a word (like "answer"). Any word will do as long as it's not short, and you need to speak clearly !
The phone is answered and you're able to speak. The conversation was clear, and my wife could barely hear any sounds from the motorcycle itself! The sound in the helmet was very good, specially considering that there are two speakers, so the helmet is "full of sound". I was riding 70 kph.
I then turned onto the autoroute and sped up to 130 kph. There the sound quality was too low and had problems hearing the conversation. Same for my wife, there was an audible motorcycle sound, but it did not hinder her from hearing me properly. I had to slow down to hear the conversation properly. In fact, above 100 kph, the sound was not that good.
Anyway, you shouldn't be riding and having a phone conversation at the same time! When you receive a phone call at higher speeds (or lower), you can answer and pull over and have your conversation: much safer!!
To end a call, either do nothing and let the other party end the call, or press the function button (#6).
If your phone has voice recognition, you can dial out. Press the on/off button (#1) for a short time and speak the name of the person you want to talk to.
Turn on both units by pressing the on/off (#1) button for 6 seconds. Both LEDs will start flashing blue.
I rode of with my wife on the BMW. There's nothing you need to do. Once on, you can communicate. The unit is in standby, and to bring it out of standby, just talk. NOTE: You'll need to speak loud and clear for the unit to start communicating.
Once the unit has switched to intercom, you can talk away. The intercom is full duplex, so you can talk both at the same time.
If you don't want to hear the pillion, you can turn off the intercom by pressing the function button (#6). You'll hear two short beeps. Turning it on again, just press the function button and you'll hear a short beep.
On the country roads, sound quality was very good. but once we hit the autoroute at 130 kph, sound was less, and we needed to raise our voice a bit to be heard. It was not that bothersome, but it was noticeable. The noise cancelling function of the microphone was excellent, since the motorcycle and traffic noise was not heard in the speakers.
Intercom and Phone Usage
Not only can you use the phone when in Intercom mode, you can also "conference call" in the pillion. Once you're talking on the phone, the intercom is disabled, so all you need to do is press the function key (#6) and the pillion can join in. Handy...
The Scala Rider Teamset did what it was advertized to do. You can use your mobile phone, talk to your pillion or both. However, the sound quality in a noisy environment leaves a bit to be desired. The GS generates a lot of wind noise at higher speeds, and I was straining to hear the conversation. Once below 100 kph (60 mph) is sound was fine.