There’s no denying that social media has become a huge part of our lives. And the popularity of social networks continues to explode. Facebook. Twitter. FourSquare. And now…Cardo? Cardo Systems, the makers of the scala rider G9 Bluetooth motorcycle communication system, have managed to create a veritable social network for riders. With the launch of the online “Cardo Community” to complement its G9 devices, riders now have the ability to do more than have bike-to-bike conversations; they can establish an online network of riding friends, set up or join a tour, connect their G9 devices with up to eight other G9-outfitted riders and then head out for some real-world socializing on favorite roads.
Clearly Cardo intended to make the G9 user experience welcoming and supportive from the word go. I opened the G9 PowerSet box ($499.95 retail) and found two pre-paired G9 units nestled inside, each with its components neatly packaged with the corresponding unit. No confusion here. An easy-to-follow instruction booklet talks the user through installation, setup and use. Included are mounting options for open-face, full-face and modular helmet designs. We fitted a full-face helmet and a modular unit, and both were quick installations thanks to a straightforward clamp-type mounting system that requires no drilling or helmet modifications. An adhesive mount option is also included.
My riding buddy Tim and I devoted some time in the garage to get familiar with the units and their controls before heading out on the road. Good idea since there are plenty of Bluetooth functions to operate, including bike-to-bike communication, rider-to-passenger intercom, 4-way intercom conferencing, FM radio, stereo MP3 player, GPS and smartphone. With devices paired, Tim and I immediately commented on the outstanding sound quality. We were able to do that simultaneously since the intercom is full duplex and allows for natural conversation. The units are controlled by voice command or pushbutton. I found it best to switch to manual mode when talking with tollbooth and parking lot attendants, since the device otherwise attempted to interpret my conversation as a series of commands and responded by turning the radio on, then off, and then placed a phone call. Out on the road, however, the hands-free voice control is effective and convenient. A simple “radio on” command elicits a confirming, “turning radio on” response and the FM radio smoothly fades in. An incoming phone call mutes the radio and answering the call is as easy as saying “Hello?” The firmware is updateable, and the online Cardo Community lets users adjust device voice command settings and other functions to preference. As a bike-to-bike communicator, the G9 units are primarily line-of-sight radios. On an open highway that can be quite a distance. On rolling back roads it’s significantly less. It was never an issue unless Tim and I were separated by traffic or a stoplight.
Motorcycling has always been a social activity. Having the ability to communicate easily with another rider enhances that experience. Augmenting the G9 with the free Cardo Community expands the social aspects to a whole new level. Now, where is the “Like” button?
For more information: Call Cardo Systems, Inc. at (412) 788-4533, or visit cardosystems.com
(This Gearlab review was published in the May 2013 issue of Rider magazine.)