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Review: Cardo Scala Rider G9 - Part 1 -Installation

  Posted at 02:00:00 PM
  File under  Bluetooth Product Review
  Author: Mike Werner
  Location: Normandy, France

NOTE: This is a very large review, and is therefore split into 3 different articles. The link to the next installment is at the bottom of the article.

Cardo logo
We did a product review of the Cardo Scala Teamset in 2007, and although it worked fine, we came away not to happy with it. It worked pretty good, but with several quirks (like sound not loud enough). So it was time to see if any progress was made with the giant in motorcycle communication equipment, Cardo Open link in a new window.

NOTE: In this review, any photo that can be clicked on for a bigger version is signalled with a magnifying glass icon (Open image in a new window) at the bottom left of the photo. Click on it to have a bigger version. BUT.... you will need to make sure the WHOLE page has loaded beforehand, if not the zoom in will not work.

Cardo were kind enough to send me the Scala Rider G9 Powerset Open Cardosystems link in a new window, a box containing two G9 wireless communication devices. Already at first contact, the whole "feel" of their setup looked & felt first class. When you remove the box sleeve with its features & functions, the white box has an "expensive" feel to it. My first thought was BBSBBigger Boxes Sell Better. A marketing philosophy that says the bigger the box, the more the customers believes they have purchased something substantial., but I was wrong, since every bit of space inside the box was crammed full with electronics. You know at this stage that you've got your hands on a top-end device.

This is what the content looks like:

NOTE: Every photo has a figure number below it. I will be referencing these numbesr with a #, often followed by a "-" and a number. The last number indicates the number you see in the photo,i.e., #2-3 means photo 2, part number 3.

Click for bigger version of Scala G9 01
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Figure #1

Once you unpack the box, this is what you get (2 x everything, since this is a dual set):

Click for bigger version of Scala G9 02
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Figure #2

1 - The G9 units, the heart of the G9.
2 - Carry bag. To be used when you have removed the G9 unit from your helmet.
3 - The helmet unit. This gets bolted or glued onto your helmet, and has a microphone and two very thin loudspeakers.
4 - The "glue-on" optional part for your helmet (seen from both sides since there are two of them).
5 - Plastic bag containing:
6 - Alcohol preparation pad, to be used to clean your helmet.
7 - 2 x Velcro adhesive pads for your loudspeakers.
8 - Spare microphone wind cover (in case your microphone cover is damaged).
9 - Allen key
10 - In a plastic bag, optional wired microphone and Velcro adhesive pad, to be used for full face/integral helmets ONLY.
11 - In a plastic bag, an audio cable to be used to plug a non-wireless music device (like MP3 or CD-Player).
12 - Wall chargers, to be used to charge the G9 battery
13 - USB style cable to be used to connect the G9 to the battery charger, or to connect to your PC.


As you can see, everything you need is there. But before we start, let's see the functionality and features of the G9: The interface is priority driven, i.e., depending on what is happening, the G9 will interrupt one source for another, e.g., when your pillion is talking to you, if your GPS has instructions for you, the pillion will be interrupted for those instructions, and when the GPS is finished, you're back to the pillion.

The G9 is very advanced, it uses some nifty technology that enables you to talk to 8 other devices over a range of up to 1.6 kilometer. In other words, you can go for a ride out, talking to your riding buddies, 8 maximum, and the furthest can be is 1.6 kilometer (1 mile) away (theoretical maximum, the real range will depend on weather and terrain). Please not however, that it's not a case of you being 1.6 kilometers away from the next one... the other G9s are a sort of a daisy chain, or a relay chain, with each having a range of 250 or so meters, with the total length adding up to 1.6 kilometers.

Scala G9 Range

NOTE: To be able to talk to others, including your pillion, the units MUST be Cardo Scala ones. You can e.g. use the G9 to talk to your pillion if the pillion uses a former Scala unit, but to talk to 8 other bikers, they must all be equipped with a G9. You can however connect on-the-fly or in 4 way conferencing mode with a G4.

The G9 main unit (#1-1) looks like this up close:

Click for bigger version of Scala G9 03
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Figure #3

1 - Button A/MP3
2 - Voice Command
3 - Button B/FM Radio
4 - Volume Up
5 - Mobile
6 - Volume Down
7 - USB connector port (hidden under rubber casing).
In between #1, #2 and #3 are LEDs, which will light up BLUE, PURPLE or RED. Further more, there's a foldable antenna unit, not visible behind the unit that can be used to increase the range.

The flip side of the G9 looks like this:

Scala G9 04

Figure #4

You can clearly see the edge connector that is inserted into the helmet unit (#1-3). The arrow points to the foldable antenna. This is what the helmet unit looks like:

Scala G9 05

Figure #5

1 - Helmet clamp. If your helmet is too thick, it can be removed and you'll need to use the glue-on (#1-4)
2 - Edge connector for the G9

The optional glue-on part consists of a plastic bit that gets placed on your helmet. The red is a "tear-off" under which is the glue:

Scala G9 06

Figure #6

You can see the 2 holes into which the screws go that place the helmet unit (#1-3) to your helmet.

Installing the Cardo Scala Rider G9

This is always the part that gets to me, since, if you've been following my other reviews, I have two left hands, both with opposable thumbs, so anything I touch usually falls to bits.

For this review, I decided to use my new BMW EVO6 flip-up helmet (I'm running out of helmets for reviews - hint to the helmet manufacturers). The new BMW EVO6 helmet is a haven of peace & quite, so should be ideal for the test.

I quickly opened helmet;

Click for bigger version of Scala G9 07
Open image in a new window

Figure #7

Though the BMW has an area prepared for loudspeakers (#2), I also noticed something I had not though off.... the sun visor slide. The slide is used to lower the sun visor, and since the G9 was going to have to sit there, it posed me a problem.

So I did the only thing I know how to do in these situations... I went to the BMW shop, and asked if they could do it. The guys at BMW Moto Technic Evolution Open BMW Moto Technic Evolution link in a new window in Rouen were kind enough to take up the challenge.

Patrick, the main guy there, had already installed G9s on EVO6s, so it took him only a few minutes. The EVO6 is way too thick at the base to use the clamp (#5-1), so it will have to be glued on. The disadvantage is that it will be stuck there forever, while a clamp can be unscrewed, but that's life. Here's how he did it:

Scala G9 08

Figure #8

You need to make sure you clean, with the alcohol pad (#1-6), the area where you are going to glue the helmet unit on. A good rub will do the trick, but make sure there's not sticky bits or dirt.

NOTE: The following is a hint for BMW EVO6 or equivalent helmets with a sun visor slide at the bottom. You do NOT need to do this if your helmet does not have one.

Scala G9 09

Figure #9

Use a sharp cutter...

Scala G9 10

Figure #10

.. and cut a line where you see the arrow (more or less lined up with the base). The reason for that, is that the big part of the adhesive strip (red) will be removed (exposing the glue), while the small bit is left intact. This allows the sun visor slide to "slide" into the small bit that is not glued.

According to the BMW guys, the Cardo adhesive is strong enough to allow this, and it gives you the ability to use the sun visor. The only disadvantage is the that G9 is moved more towards the back then it should, meaning the microphone will not sit exactly in front of your mouth, but on the side of your mouth. The tests we'll be conducting will see if this is acceptable or not.

Scala G9 11

Figure #11

Place the glue-on bit just slightly over the sun visor slide (notice the red tear-off is still present of the small portion). Now when you slide the sun visor, it will "slide" in between the helmet and G9 helmet unit, but only a small bit, enough to lower fully the sun visor.

Scala G9 12

Figure #12

After you have screwed in the helmet unit (#1-3) itself to the adhesive part, open the helmet, both plastic clips and the thick metal wire.

Scala G9 13

Figure #13

Rig the longest loudspeaker wire over the top of the helmet, in between the liner and the helmet case.

Scala G9 14

Figure #14

Place the adhesive loudspeaker pads (#1-7) in the area they need to be (in BMW's case there's a special place for loudspeakers).

HINT: If you do not know where to put the loudspeakers, get two small bits of 3M Post-it, put on your helmet and stick your finger with the Post-it where you ear is. After you remove your helmet, you will know the exact location of your ears in the helmet (the sticky bit goes in the helmet, not your ears...).

Stick the loudspeakers onto the Velcro portion of the glue-on loudspeaker pads, and close up the helmet (easier said than done).

Scala G9 15

Figure #15

Clip the thick metal wire into the clamps, push all the plastic push-buttons in place.

There, the hard part has been done, and now we're going to configure the Cardo Scala Rider G9.

Click here to read Part 2 - Configuring the Cardo Scala Rider G9 Open link in a new window

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