Motorcycle Music!

Recently, I’ve been bitten by the “must modify the motorcycle” bug. A short while ago, I added crash bars and highway pegs—they both look good and are functional for long rides. I have also been looking for other ways to make my longer rides more enjoyable, and came across the Kuryakyn Air Master fairing setup. It’s a pretty Batwing fairing set up for metric bikes complete with audio system and storage. The stereo is really crazy; it accepts input from a 3.5mm jack, sd card, usb port, and Ipod direct control hook up. Nice 5″x7″ speakers. While it’d be great to have, $2400 plus the cost to get it painted to match my bike (as I think I’d want to do) is probably not a reasonable expenditure for me.

Instead, I found the Sound of Chrome system, also from Kuryakyn. Almost every review I read about the setup was positive, and I was able to get it for $280, new, including shipping on eBay. After trying to be responsible for a while, I finally pulled the trigger and bought it.

I received the package on Friday, and took the time to install it yesterday. The installation only took about 1.5 – 2 hours, with me going very slowly and double checking every step before I did anything. Here’s the story of the installation process.

Here we have all of the parts of the kit laid out.  Kuryakyn really put togehter a nice set up.  They include everything you need in order to properly install the system.  They even include 8 wire ties and small packets of anti-seize compound for the fasteners and dielectric grease for the connectors.  The left speaker is the “brain” of the system; from it comes the connections for the power, right speaker, and input.  It is also where the on/off/volume knob is located.  The clamps allow the mounting of the speakers in a number of different configurations.  Mounting the speakers is the first order of business, so let’s get on to that.

When mounting the speakers you want them to point towards your head for the best results.  because of the way the Spirit’s speedometer  is mounted, there is plenty of room between the windshield and the handlebars to mount the speakers above the bars.  Additionally, when spaced out like this, I think they complement the speedomoeter pretty well.  Note the tank is covered with a towel.  I highly recommend this as I dropped the clamps and bolts a couple of times, and the towel saved the tank from any knicks it would have otherwise received.  You can see the cords for the speakers hanging off.  I ended up using the wire ties to bind them to the switch wires, and then routed them through the front frame cover.

Now it’s time to start the wiring. The instructions tell you to remove the seat. I also removed the side covers (as you need to in order to access the battery) as well as the tank. Removing the tank isn’t necessary, but it was well worth the effort. It would have been a big pain in the ass to try to route all of the wires with the tank on. This photo shows the power wires entering the battery area. I routed these wires under the frame into the battery area from the air box area under the seat.

There was not really anywhere for the noise filter to fit under the seat. I ended up routing the wire under the seat and put the unit in the storage area under the right side cover. This is where I used to keep my insurance / registration info, but I’ve moved them to the saddlebags instead. The cable on the left comes from the battery. The cable on the right leads to the block connector. I routed it back under the seat and over to the left side of the bike. I found it useful to actually remove the battery while routing this cable. Doing so allowed me to keep it much more out of the way on it’s trip up to the front of the bike.

I routed the power cable to the front of the bike along the same path as the other electrical wires. Had I not removed the tank, this would have been very difficult. I used the wire ties along the way to keep the cable in its place.

Here are all of the block connectors hanging out behind the front frame covers. I don’t think I would have been able to get into this area with the tank in the way. This seemed like the best place for the all of the connectors to have their party. Unfortunately, from here, the audio cable does not have enough length to reach back to the handle bars. I had to use the long extension cable they provide for keeping your music player in a place like your saddlebags. I had to coil the cable up, and use a wire tie to keep the coil out of the way up at the handlebars.

Here’s everything put back together. You can see the speakers up on the bars. I think they actually look pretty nice up there. I have an power point as well as a universal mounting bracket on the way that I will add to the handlebars to power and mount the ipod or iphone.

After I finished everything up, I took the bike out for a test ride. For this, I used my old 3rd generation ipod with the wired remote. The remote wire is long enough to reach from the handlebars to my jacket pocket, with enough room to spare. Additionally, the remote controls end up hanging right on the handlebar for easy control.

How does it sound? Pretty darn good for little 3″ speakers. This does not sound like a nice car system, of course. There’s not much low-end, but still much more than I expected. And at 70 mph on a secondary highway I can still hear the music loud and clear. I imagine that it wouldn’t perform as well with the windshield off. I’ll test that soon.

The big downside, for now, is the stupid weather. A week ago I made a comment about missing Pittsburgh. Since that point, it’s been rainy here every day, and is forecast to continue for the next week, with heavy rainfall and thunderstorms at times. This is not typical. The weather is mocking me.

So, there you go. Motorcycle music.

6 Responses to “Motorcycle Music!”

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  2. S-RODD Says:


    Great article

    I was wondering if you did get around to testing performance without the windshield…..can you still hear musi at 70mph ?


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