If you love the open road, you know nothing beats riding your motorcycle. Whether it’s winding through mountain roads or hugging the curves of coastlines, there is something special about being out in nature on two wheels, and having the right music just makes it all the better.
While many motorbikes don’t come with speakers pre-installed as cars do, this doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a great soundtrack as you cruise without spending too much money.
Installing an audio system on your motorcycle will allow you to enjoy long rides even more. You can listen to your favorite tunes while relaxing on your bike as you relax in your car. But can you use car speakers on a motorcycle?
Car speakers can be used on a motorcycle. However, car speakers may not withstand the vibrations and weather conditions that motorcycle speakers are designed to handle. Additionally, car speakers may not be as loud as motorcycle speakers. Therefore, it’s always best to use speakers that are specifically designed for use on a motorcycle.
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Tip: If you’re in the market for new speakers for your motorcycle, the Polk Audio MM522 is an excellent choice. Its ultra-marine certification and high-performance sound features make it perfect for use on a bike, and it’s sure to provide unparalleled sonic accuracy.
Plus, its durable design will withstand harsh environmental conditions, so you can enjoy fantastic sound quality no matter where you ride. So if you want top-quality sound for your motorcycle, consider giving the Polk Audio MM522 a try.
Here’s everything you need to know about motorbike speakers and the ones you can use on yours!
What Are the Differences Between Car and Motorcycle Stereo Systems?
There are many differences between car speakers and those found on bikes. Some are more obvious than others, which is why some people have mistakenly said you can use the two interchangeably.
Car and motorcycle speakers are similar in many ways, but the two have some key differences.
The size is the most apparent difference. Bike speakers are relatively small speakers that easily fit onto a bike’s handlebars.
Car speakers are much larger, need larger amps, and must be permanently installed.
Motorcycle speakers are designed to be more durable than car speakers, as they need to withstand the elements and vibrations while on the road.
On the other hand, car speakers are less protected to withstand harsh conditions and vibrations of the car’s body.
Bike speakers will work whether it’s a nice sunny day or raining down a storm outside.
On the other hand, car speakers work much better when installed inside a closed cabin. Even too much sun can damage them because they are much more sensitive to the sun, humidity, and surrounding temperature.
Moisture will settle into the electronic components in no time, and speakers will short out. Thankfully, you can find many types of waterproof or marine grade speakers on the market that you can use on motorcycles.
#3. Volume Level
Car speakers can quickly become loud, with enough volume to give entire rugby fields a soundtrack.
Bike speakers may not be as loud or dynamic because of their size, and most sound effects are focused on mid and high frequencies.
#4. Power Handling
Car speakers are designed to handle more power than motorcycle speakers and are often powered by an external amplifier, which can produce higher wattages.
When powered by large amplifiers, some car speakers can draw enough energy even to drain a car battery if you listen to music when the engine is turned off.
On the other hand, motorcycle speakers are typically powered by a motorcycle’s battery, which has a lower wattage output.
#5. Bluetooth Connectivity
Something else to consider when choosing speakers for your motorcycle is whether or not they have Bluetooth connectivity.
If you plan on listening to streaming music like iHeartRadio, Pandora, or Spotify right from your cellphone, Bluetooth is invaluable. Furthermore, Bluetooth allows us to use GPS navigation services.
Connect your phone to the speakers via Bluetooth, and you will hear everything from the smartphone.
Car speakers are typically installed in a car’s doors, dashboard, or trunk, while motorcycle speakers are mostly installed on the handlebars or fairing of a motorcycle.
Handlebar-mounted speakers are ideal because of their ability to project sound directly in front of the rider. Still, installing them on all motorcycle types can sometimes be tricky.
#7. Ease of use
Pay close attention to the buttons’ placement and the types of controls used in the motorcycle speakers or stereo system.
They may be hard to use if they are not in handy positions, especially while riding your motorbike. All controls should be designed to allow easy control, even with gloves.
Overall, car and motorcycle speakers serve the same purpose of producing sound but are designed to meet each type of vehicle’s unique needs and requirements.
While you could use some bike speakers in a car, the same cannot be said for car speakers, as they are not nearly as robust as bike speakers.
How Do Motorcycle Speakers Work?
Unlike boats or cars, motorbike speakers have two distinct types available, each with different advantages.
These are either mounted and amplified speakers or removable Bluetooth speakers.
Motorcycle speakers work in a similar way to other types of speakers. They consist of a cone, a magnet, and a coil of wire.
When an audio signal is applied to the voice coil, it causes it to move back and forth within the magnetic field, which in turn causes the diaphragm to vibrate. This produces audible sound waves.
Some motorcycle speakers are powered by the motorcycle’s battery, while others may have a built-in power source, such as a rechargeable battery.
In either case, the speakers are typically connected to the motorcycle’s audio system, either through a wired connection or wirelessly using Bluetooth technology.
When you are looking at the typical motorcycle speakers, you will find two main groups:
#1. Permanent Speakers
These are some of the more popular speakers. If your bike has classic Harley Davidson or chopper stylings, they are often shaped like rearview mirrors and can be mounted right next to your hands.
- If you want a chrome design, try GoHawk TN4-Q (link to Amazon). They will add a unique style to your motorcycle.
- For touring motorbikes, definitely worth considering are Rockford Fosgate TMS65 (link to Amazon). They offer high-end quality and are fully waterproof.
Both types receive the signal via Bluetooth and are powered by small amplifiers and the bike’s battery.
This can make them quite comfortable on longer rides as they will never go flat and provide you with music, podcasts, or other things as you drive. However, many bike owners have started moving away from them.
The complexity of having to route cables through your bike, trying to hide a small amplifier, and ensuring the smaller parts don’t get wet in the weather has made them unfavorable.
While there are now many variations in their size, other more portable speaker solutions have become much more popular as speaker technology has improved.
#2. Bluetooth Speakers
The second type of motorcycle speakers are the Bluetooth versions.
The key feature with these is that they’re portable and allow you to take them off your bike to use in other places like a car, pool party, or even indoors.
They come with all sorts of fun features, such as:
- USB charging
- Longer battery life
- Ability to connect with other speakers
One of the most popular and new to the market speaker solutions for bikes have become the speakers that require you always to keep them charged.
However, many bikers prefer to install Bluetooth speakers due to the possibility of their fast removal and lack of wires. If you also prefer Bluetooth speakers, try GoHawk RD8 (link to Amazon).
They are Bluetooth speakers that you can also use around your house or campsite, with simple clamps made for your bike’s handlebars.
Which Car Speakers Are Good for Motorcycles?
While it is almost impossible to put car speakers on a bike, some tricycles and bikes with sidecars can be fitted with car speakers. However, these are unique cases and often require serious modifications.
However, if you are determined to use car speakers on your motorcycle, choose speakers with standard size and power for your bike and its audio system, which you can securely mount on your motorcycle.
If you’re looking for the best car speakers for your motorcycle, here’s a list of my best picks and also recommended by many bikers:
Polk Audio DB522
The Polk Audio DB522 (link to Amazon) is a high-performance factory audio upgrade for a motorcycle.
These marine-certified speakers are IP56 rated, meaning they are water-resistant and have been tested for salt fog, UV, and humidity.
They feature a non-corrosive plastic grille, a polypropylene UV tolerant cone, waterproof inner and outer surrounds, and stainless steel mounting hardware to protect against harsh conditions.
The DB522 has a driver complement of one 5.25″ mid/woofer and one 0.75″ tweeter and has a round shape with a diameter of 4.76″.
These speakers have a full-range mounting depth of 1.74″ top mount and 2.01″ bottom mount. They work with a total frequency response of 55 Hz to 22,000 Hz, have a nominal impedance of 4 ohms, and have 91 dB sensitivity.
In addition, they have a continuous power handling of 100 watts and a peak power handling of 300 watts.
I recently installed the DB522 as a replacement for the factory front speakers on my friend’s 2019 Kawasaki Voyager ABS, and as a simple replacement, it took us no more than 20 minutes.
The installation process, as we were expecting, was straightforward. First, we had to remove the factory grill covers and the four screws holding the factory speakers in place, and after splitting the new speaker wires to the factory harness, we put everything back together.
After the switch, it was hard to compare the sound quality of the DB522 to the stock speakers.
Listening to them is a much better experience than with the factory speakers, especially in the mids and highs.
The lows, although better than the original and pretty decent for a 5.25″ speaker, are not enough if your main goal is bass. If so, I suggest choosing bigger speakers or adding a subwoofer.
Overall, I’m satisfied with the DB522. They are pretty loud with a half helmet, even in heavy traffic, but more importantly, they will not ruin your wallet.
- Easy to install
- The improved sound quality in highs and mids
- Marine-certified and resistant to dirt, water, and other elements
- Continuous power handling of 100 watts and peak power handling of 300 watts
- Lows may not be as strong as desired for some users.
Polk Audio MM522
The Polk Audio MM522 from the MM1 series (link to Amazon) is a premium upgrade for any vehicle or motorbike.
It is designed to deliver unparalleled sonic accuracy, much like a studio monitor speaker, but in a durable and ultra-marine certified design.
The MM1 Series is perfect for upgrading their on-the-go audio experience beyond the stock factory setup. When compared to the older DB522, the difference is huge, not to mention comparing them to stock speakers.
Like in other Polk Audion speakers, one of the standout features of the MM522 MM1 is its ultra-marine certification, which gives it an IP56 rating.
This means it is resistant to water, dirt, and dust, making it perfect for use in harsh environmental conditions.
The speakers are also tested on salt-fog, UV, and humidity to ensure they can withstand virtually anything mother nature throws at them.
The MM522 MM1 also boasts several high-performance sound features, including Dynamic Balance technology, a pivoting 1″ terylene tweeter, and a lightweight neodymium motor structure.
It also has high-temp Conex spiders, oversized voice coils for increased power handling, and 2nd order high & low pass crossovers for optimal system blending. In other words, these speakers are designed to deliver exceptional sound quality and performance.
The speakers are 2-way, 5-1/4″, with a titanium-coated polymer woofer cone and Santoprene rubber surround.
The tweeter is a 1″ Terylene fabric dome designed to deliver precise and detailed high frequencies, and it does an excellent job going up to 40,000 Hz.
The speakers also have non-corrosive fiberglass reinforced ABS basket, epoxy-coated crossovers, and waterproof surrounds. They can handle up to 80 watts RMS and have a frequency response of 50-40,000 Hz, with a sensitivity of 92 dB.
In terms of installation, the MM522 MM1 has a cut-out diameter of 4-5/8″ and a top-mount depth of 2-3/8″, which is a lot for such small drivers, and they may not fit into shallow mounting holes.
Overall, the Polk Audio MM522 MM1 is a top-quality choice if you want to update your motorbike’s audio system to a better design and performance than the older DB522.
- Ultra-marine certified for use in harsh environments.
- High-performance sound features for exceptional sound quality
- Come with grilles and a year warranty.
- They require an aftermarket amp to fully showcase the capabilities.
Overall, MM522 speakers are better than DB522 in terms of performance and design, but they are also more expensive.
Both types have the same marine certification, which makes them comparable.
However, when it comes to the components and materials used, I would go for Polk Audio MM522 or any other from the MM1 series if you need larger speakers in a 6.5″ or 6×9 design.
How to Install Car Speakers on a Motorcycle?
Installing cars, or rather, marine speakers on your bike, can be a complicated process.
It often requires customized design and manufacturing of lightweight enclosures for the speakers later mounted on the back of the motorbike.
Installing car speakers on your bike also requires a fair bit of knowledge of how your bike’s electrics currently work and how adding an amplifier will affect the bike’s overall performance.
It may differ between different bikes and speakers you want to install, but in general, the installation process would involve:
#1. Gather the necessary equipment and materials. You’ll need the following items to install car speakers on your motorcycle:
- A set of car speakers that are specifically designed for use on motorcycles. These will be more durable and weather-resistant than regular models used in cars and will fit in your motorcycle’s mounting locations.
- An amplifier to power the speakers.
- A wiring kit to connect the amplifier to the speakers and the motorcycle’s electrical system. This will include cables, connectors, and fuses.
- A head unit to play music, such as a smartphone or MP3 player.
#2. Choose a location for the speakers that is both convenient for you and structurally sound.
Mount the speakers in a place that is easily accessible and within reach but also out of any moving parts or other hazards.
Remember that the speakers will be exposed to moisture or dust, so choose a location protected from rain and wind whenever possible.
#3. Install the amplifier according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
This typically involves mounting the amplifier to a solid surface, such as a frame or a luggage rack, and connecting the power and ground cables to the motorcycle’s electrical system.
Connect the RCA cables from the head unit to the amplifier and the speakers to the amplifier using the wiring kit. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully when working with your motorcycle’s electrical system.
#4. Wire the speakers to the amplifier using the wiring kit.
This involves connecting the amplifier’s positive and negative terminals to the speakers’ positive and negative terminals.
Again, be sure to use caution when working with electrical connections.
#5. Test the system to make sure everything is working correctly. Turn on the head unit and play some music through the speakers.
If everything is working correctly, you should be able to hear the music clearly through the speakers.
If you don’t hear anything or the sound is distorted, you may need to adjust the amplifier’s settings or check the connections for loose wires.
There are many solutions to the sound systems you can have on your bike; however, one of the trickiest ones is adapting something from your car.
It will always be better to buy purpose-built speakers that can work with complete ease on your bike than it will be to build a system yourself.
When choosing car speakers for your motorcycle, it’s important to consider factors such as size, weight, sound quality, and durability.
Remember to buy weather-resistant speakers, as motorcycles are exposed to rain, dust, or extreme temperatures.