Being an enthusiastic motorcyclist is expensive. It’s like one, or in my case two, huge money pits have suddenly appeared in the middle of my bank vault which was pretty empty to begin with. Passing the test set me back quite a few bucks, buying the beasts were cheap relatively speaking but still set med back even more. To that comes all the gear, spare parts, custom parts, gas, insurance and so on. The list keeps growing. But there is one investment that I’ve never regretted: My Scala Rider. First of all, I’ve owned three. I lost the first one, a G9, and bought a G9x. I managed to lose that one too and had to buy another one. After that I found the first one which I gave to my brother. So I’ve bought and owned a few of these and know what I’m talking about. Just to set the record straight, I mean.
The Scala Rider from Cardo System is an intercom that allows full duplex with at least three other riders but can connect to eight other riders. I usually ride with just one or two buddies so I can’t really tell how it works when connecting more. It has a feature to connect to a random rider in the vicinity but I haven’t used that one because I don’t want to scare off other riders with my blabbering. It also pairs with your phone via bluetooth to allow you to not only answer and call people but listen to music as well. You can of course pair it with other sources like GPS, MP3 and what not but I haven’t done that, just the phone.
The range for communication through the walkie-talkie like intercom is said to be up to 1,6 kilometers (a mile) but that is of course either greatly exaggerated or possible under extremely favorable conditions. On a highway I usually get a few hundred meters with a reduction in sound quality and in the city it can disconnect if you happen to be on different streets in the same block. I’m saying it can, because sometimes it maintains the connection over a greater distance than anticipated.
Pairing several devices is supposed to be easy, just pushing them together but I’ve had some serious problems with this one as with actually calling an already paired device. Sometimes it connects immediately, sometimes we’re pushing buttons for twenty minutes before anything happen. It might be just a case of not having understood the manual but to be fair, that could be more consistent and easier. I won’t bother you with the technical procedure since this is just some short statements of the G9/G9x. I’m not really sure what separates the models, especially now that both of them has an app that makes it easy to access your settings.
The device comes with either a set microphone and speakers that you mount inside your helmet or a beam mic. You can buy these kits separately if you have several helmets and use the same device for all helmets, that’s what I do. It’s all fairly rugged and I’ve used mine in really bad weather without problems.
Instructions and confirmations of selections are read aloud in any of the available languages. It’s quite a nice feeling to be greeted when you turn it on. I find the use of voice commands a bit sketchy at times, especially when it turns on the radio and refuses to turn it off no matter how loud I scream “Radio off” but is probably related to my helmet which is pretty loud.
The great thing about the Scala Rider is of course communication. I’ve noticed that many riders don’t use one and I get that too. Sometimes you want to be alone with your thoughts when riding through a beautiful landscape but a Scala Rider will change your group riding forever. Not only is it a great safety precaution, allowing you to both warn and be warned of dangers ahead but it is great being able to talk about just about anything while riding. No matter if you’re rambling about work or commenting those two beautiful creatures you just rode passed, it greatly enhances the experience. You don’t have to stop to discuss where you’re heading or comment on something, you don’t have to ride beside each other and shout, you can talk just like if you were sitting at the cafe to which you’re headed.
When you get used to it, you never want to ride without it. It really helps my little group to coordinate our riding, blocking lanes to allow the others to get in front of you, or give heads up about cagers on their phones, not paying attention to your presence. To be honest, I now take being able to talk to my fellow riders for granted and I feel alone and a bit nervous riding with others without it.
In conclusion I would like to say that this is one of those things every rider should have. At least every rider with the intention to ride with others. Of course other intercoms work the same way regarding the benefits of riding but I must say that I’ve been impressed with the robust qualities of the Scala Rider and I never leave home without it.