More and more companies are offering motorcycle audio system upgrade solutions. Bikes like Harley-Davidson Road Glide and Street Glide can sound so much better with proper speakers and a high-power amplifier. In this article, we’ll cover four things you need to keep in mind when shopping for new tunes for your touring bike.
1. Installation Is Crucial to Performance and Reliability
How the new speakers, amplifier and perhaps a new radio are mounted, wired and configured plays a considerable role in the performance and reliability of your motorcycle audio system. New speakers are often much more substantial than the factory-installed products they replace. The speakers need to be mounted securely with corrosion-resistant fasteners. Of course, the speakers need to fit perfectly and seal tightly against the faring face for optimum performance.
Amplifiers can draw a lot of current from the battery and charging system when the volume is cranked. High-quality, appropriately sized wiring with solid electrical connections is mandatory to get the most efficient delivery.
2. Buy from a Brick-and-Mortar Retailer
If you’re going to have work done to your motorcycle, make sure that it’s by someone who will be available to support the products and services they sell you. Many bike enthusiasts buy audio upgrades at shows and rallies. If you have problems or need adjustments weeks or months after the purchase, you’ll need to find someone else to help and you’ll have to pay them for their time. Dealing with a local shop that specializes in motorcycle audio can save you a lot of headaches. A deal at a show isn’t a deal if you have to invest more money down the road.
3. Choose Premium Products
Face it: Your motorcycle is likely worth a lot of money. Inexpensive speakers and amplifiers aren’t apt to perform well or last as long as products from reputable companies. A motorcycle presents a challenging environment for audio equipment. Vibration is a huge factor, and when poorly designed audio components are used, they often fail in a few months.
Amplifiers need to be designed so that they are efficient and reliable — the fragile components inside need to be secured so that nothing will break. Speakers need to be weather-resistant in case you get caught in the rain. You also want a solution that is designed to handle prolonged UV exposure without drying out, chalking, cracking or fading. Woofer cones that fade or change color after prolonged exposure to the sun may become more brittle and eventually crack and fail. Regular car audio speakers simply aren’t a reliable option.
If you’re upgrading the radio on your bike, be sure to choose something that is weather resistant. You want a bright screen that’s easy to see in direct sunlight. You will also want something that can integrate with the handlebar stereo controls, if your bike has them.
4. Audio System Upgrades Need Tuning for Accurate Sound
We may have beat this topic to death, but it’s worth stating at least one more time. The factory-installed radios in 2014 and newer Harley-Davidson touring bikes have a slew of signal processing built into them. If you don’t address this tuning when upgrading the bike with a new amp and speakers, the system likely won’t sound right, and you could damage the new components. A reputable mobile enhancement retailer should have the tools to check the output of the radio on a Honda, Yamaha or BMW bike before they dive into an upgrade.
Your best bet is to purchase a digital signal processor (DSP) from the shop installing your equipment. They can use their audio test equipment to smooth the EQ curve in the radio and fine-tune the system to sound the way you want. Having the radio flashed to reduce the equalization settings is another option, but this process could be undone if you take your bike in for service. Likewise, there may be concerns about your warranty when you make alterations to the software.
Upgrade the Audio System on Your Motorcycle Today!
If you can’t crank the stereo on your motorcycle to the point that it gives you goosebumps, drop by your local specialty mobile enhancement retailer today and find out about the upgrades that are available. Don’t be afraid to research the suitability and reliability of their suggestions before you make a purchase. In the end, a little planning will keep your investment sounding great and last for years.