In May 2013, Cardo Systems released new scala rider Q1 and Q3 Bluetooth communication systems for motorcycle helmets. I admit I have always shyed away from communication systems because I relish in the solitude of riding. However, with the new technology offering to play my music via Bluetooth inside my helmet, without the use of earphones, I was intrigued and decided to try it out.
The Q1 (rider to passenger team set) and Q3 (bike to bike) single or multi-set are the new technology to replace the solo, TeamSet and Q2pro products of previous years.
The Q3 multi-set comes in an easy to carry hard cover case and houses dual sets of helmets mounts, scala riders, microphones, head sets, cloth carrying bags, usb chargers and allen keys. It is simple to assemble to the side of any helmet and goes virtually unnoticed on a full face helmet. Open face helmets the microphone is in front thereby alerting all those that can see you, that you have a communication system. In a full face helmet, you can be talking to your riding companion or passenger and no one around you will know.
What better place to try this system out than while riding the unfamiliar areas of Florida during Bike Week? Charged up and in place on our helmets, my travel partner Brenda and I, set out to test ride bikes and discover all that Florida had to offer.
If you are like me, I have an affliction to always turn to the ‘official directions’ as a last resort. I prefer to assemble and ‘figure it out’ as I go and if I get stuck, then I will read the directions. I have learned that a large majority of the public suffer from this ‘read the directions later’ syndrome so when a product such as this comes out and is user friendly, it just makes it that much more appealing. You will get the system to work without directions but you won’t necessarily discover all it has to offer without the directions.
Upon the initial test of button pushing (officially known as click to link pairing) in the parking lot of the hotel, we realized that the system was actually voice activated making background noise unnoticeable unless the rider was speaking. With the push of a button, we were connected and only heard when one another spoke.
Brenda’s voice came through my inserted speakers (riders can use their own headphones as well), “Hey! I’ve got music!”, which statement sent me to push more buttons and lo and behold, I too had music. The playlist stored in my phone was coming through loud and clear for both of us. Another push of the button and radio silence. The Q3 also offers built in FM radio.
The bike to bike range of the Q3 MultiSet is listed at up to 1,100 yards, and up to 4 riders on two separate bikes or three riders on three separate bikes, can be on the same frequency.
What we did notice was frequent disconnection while riding. Although we were not able to determine why, a few coincidences presented themselves. It is possible that we exceeded the maximum distance between riders and when we came back into range we automatically re-connected. Another coincidence we experienced – again we have no evidence or proof that this was actually the cause of disconnection – but when we would travel through cities where there were a lot of wifi networks presenting themselves for connection, our connection between bikes appeared to drop. We noticed this in particular riding near areas we had previously been connected to the wifi like the hotel, a restaurant we frequented etc.
The battery life is superb and it seemed we had connection all day as we would only return the units to their chargers overnight. The units simple slide off their mounts and get plugged in. Plan on some time, like an overnight charge as they do not charge rapidly.
Even though Brenda and I had previously agreed that we would not ‘yack’ at each other for no reason while we were riding as we both appreciate our silence in a helmet, it was a great way to communicate in unfamiliar territory and safely change directions without causing the following rider to face traffic hazards. We also enjoyed a chuckle or two among ourselves at the variety of characters that bike week presented. While other riders were yelling at each other over the drone of mufflers, we could merely speak normally inside our full face helmets and no one even knew we were communicating.