When last we tested a Cardo communications device it was the Scala Rider G4 in 2011. That model’s multi-rider connectivity and various functions worked so well we awarded it with Best New Product of 2011. Three years on and Cardo’s premier communications unit has progressed to the G9 model.
What new features does the G9 model bring? The most impressive function of the G9 over the G4 is the G9’s ability to connect up to eight riders with its One+8 function where the G4 could only connect four. This feature alone should pique the interest of group riders. With the ability for each rider to connect up to eight other riders, the entire group can stay in contact no matter how many riders are involved. No more missed turns, riders getting left behind at traffic lights, lost in general or failing to communicate fuel stop or restroom needs.
What we like best about the One+8 function is not only its social connectivity while riding but the ease in which you can add your buddies’ G9 units on the Friends & One+8 page of Cardo’s website. Simply create a Buddy List, search for your riding partners with G9 units and add them to the list. Connect your G9 to a computer, hit the sync button and, voila, you’re now connected to your friends’ G9 units prior to even arriving at your meeting place. You can connect your G9 to older models or other Cardo communicator products, but only G9s have the One+8 function.
From the Cardo site you can also adjust your pre-set FM radio stations, manipulate the general settings such as Click-to-Link, VOX and AGC sensitivity or add a hot dial phone number. Under the “Tours” tab you can create your next Sunday ride or motorcycle vacation complete with Departure/Arrival locations and times, levels of difficulty, descriptions, photos, maps, etc., and share with your group of friends or the general public.
Outside of these new features the G9 technical specifications remain consistent with the G4 model.
- Range: Up to 1 mile
- Talk time: up to 13 hours
- Standby time: 7 days
- Charging time: 3 hours
- Radio on time: 8-10 hours
- Compatible with entire scala rider product line
- Certified waterproof and dustproof
During our time with the Scala Rider G9 we found its performance aspects mirrored our findings when we tested the G4. While the range of the G9 is an impressive one mile in distance, a line-of-sight disruption can break the connection. The good thing is the units automatically reconnect once line of sight is re-established.
Don’t disregard the small antenna included on the G9, as having it extended is advantageous to better reception/transmission. The antenna is spring-loaded and easily pops up from its stored location via a quick, inward push from a gloved index finger.
Manipulating the G9’s functions is easy enough once you’re familiar with the functions of the individual buttons. Connecting the G9 to personal devices such as smartphones, MP3 players or GPS units is simple. When using a smartphone GPS or navigation app, you can stow the device safely in your jacket and listen to voice instructions instead of mounting it to a motorcycle (which is oftentimes a precarious proposition). Listening to music via the G9 instead of wind noise is a nice option. The G9 also allows answering phone calls while on the move, but it’s a function we don’t necessarily condone unless riding somewhere away from urban centers.
Installation, like connecting to personal devices, is pretty straightforward. The G9 comes packaged with a detachable helmet mount or, if your helmet does not accept the detachable mount, there’s a stick-on mount that’s equally effective. For voice commands there’s both a boom microphone for open-face helmets and a wired mic for full-face helmets that sticks to the inside of the helmet’s chin bar. While speaker placement is obvious, the speakers’ effectiveness and the comfort of having them pressing against your ears depends largely on the helmet you wear and the shape of your ears. Some helmets are designed with communication units in mind while others are not.
Minor exterior differences between the G4 and G9 exist, but the units are otherwise very similar. A G4 will even fit into the G9’s helmet mount and vice versa.
Great news is that pricing for the G9 remains the same as the G4 from three years ago, with single units retailing for $289.95 and G9 PowerSets retailing for $499.95.
Cardo also has more affordable alternatives if you’re utilizing a Bluetooth communication unit primarily for talking to your passenger and connecting electronic devices such as phones, MP3 players or a GPS unit. Its Q1 TeamSet ($259.95) or the QZ ($129.95) don’t have the multi-rider and long-range connectivity, but why pay for features if you’re not going to use them?
For more on about our take on the Cardo Scala Rider G4/G9 check out our G4 review.