Review by Ken Freund
[This Scala TeamSet Motorcycle Headsets Review was originally published in American Rider magazine]
I’m not a gadget freak, but I do find it annoying to have to slow down or stop and yell to my passenger whenever I want to say something. And sometimes I want to go for a ride, but don’t want to miss an important phone call. The new Scala Rider TeamSet headset provides a solution to both of these situations.
Scala’s weather-protected headsets fit 3/4 open-face and full-face helmets. With Scala, you can use hands-free Bluetooth communication without the hassle of dealing with cables and plugs every time you get on or off the bike.
The TeamSet, which includes two headsets, allows wireless two-way voice communication between the rider and passenger while on the go. It can also receive, initiate, or reject calls by voice control (subject to cell-phone abilities) and you can even hold a conference call by adding your passenger to the conversation. While we don’t recommend conducting cell-phone conversations while riding, you can pull over to safely make or receive a call.
The kit came with everything needed, and initial installation only took a few minutes. It’s fairly easy to get everything set up by following the quick-reference chart. The microphones are on flexible booms and the earpieces and mics have hook-and-loop fasteners that attach to the helmet lining. Installation requires no gluing or drilling and leaves no trace afterwards on the helmets. The only thing that slowed us down was the initial battery charging, which took several hours.
Rechargeable lithium-polymer batteries are designed to provide up to seven hours of talk time and up to a week on standby. Scala says charging takes several hours, although ours usually recharged in just over an hour after the initial charge. Both units can be recharged from a 120-volt AC outlet simultaneously. A red LED light indicates when the headsets are charging, and goes out when they’re ready. (Don’t forget to shut the unit off when you’re done riding.)
After installation, a quick-release clamp allows attachment and release of the Bluetooth portion of the headset (for charging) in seconds. The units weigh less than 2 ounces, so you don’t feel the weight on your helmet. Although I could feel the speakers touching my ears, there was no uncomfortable pressure.
Bluetooth wireless communication works at short range and has a security feature to keep others from connecting. Voice-activated (VOX) technology allows hands-free intercom use and can provide voice-controlled receiving or rejecting of incoming cell-phone calls. The high-impact balancing (HIB) microphones are designed for high-speed wind-noise conditions, and automatic gain control (AGC) provides self-adjusting speaker volume according to ambient noise level and riding speed. There’s also a manual volume control on the outside of the Bluetooth unit.
With full-face helmets we found the Scala units provided good voice quality and volume, even at speeds up to 80 mph. Open-face helmets and windshield configuration results may vary. I even had a riding buddy put the other Scala headset on and we were able to talk bike-to-bike up to about 100 feet apart.
Receiving calls worked quite well. If your cell phone has voice-command capability, like our Ericsson W300i, you can program it to work with the TeamSet. The voice recognition system worked with the engine off, but we had trouble getting it to work when the bike was running, even with a stock exhaust. We tried reprogramming the voice commands with the engine running, but had limited success. Although we had problems initiating calls while riding, we don’t recommend that activity anyway, so overall we were pleased with the Scala-Rider TeamSet, especially the intercom feature. It is a quality, innovative product that provides convenient communication for motorcyclists. Suggested retail price is $279.99.
For more information contact Cardo Wireless, 800-488-0363, www.cardowireless.com.