Combining the passions of motorcycle riding and music is a no-brainer. But for a long time, speakers on big bikes were reserved only for high end models. However, that’s all changed. Today there are many options for enjoying your own music when riding your motorcycle. We’re going to give you everything you need to know about motorcycle handlebar speakers to find the best system for your bike.
In this article, we’ll focus on one popular option for motorcyclists who want a speaker system that won’t distract from safety, but also offer excellent sound at an affordable price. We’re talking about bluetooth handlebar speakers, which are now common on road bikes.
Not all motorcycle speakers are the same, so it’s important to know the differences between models before making a selection. This article will cover key features to look for and also review the top six models we found.
How to choose the best motorcycle handlebar speakers
What a speaker is made of will have a big effect on its longevity and its weight. With handlebar speakers, high quality materials are incredibly important. Speakers that are meant to be used outdoors and on the road require more durability than normal indoor speakers.
Most of the time, metal is the material of choice for the casing, either aluminum or stainless steel. They usually have a chrome finish, and for good reason: chrome finish is known for its resistance to the elements. On top of that, they compliment the classic style of many bikes.
Lighter alternatives are sometimes used, like PVC. Handlebar speakers are placed high on the bike, so being lightweight is a great benefit. It allows the user to control and steer the bike more easily than with a heavier set.
This is especially important for this type of speaker because everyone (especially the rider) will clearly be able to see them on your handlebars. As there are many different case shapes available, make sure you’re comfortable with how your speakers will look with the rest of the bike. Most are chrome or black to match the widest selection of bikes.
More than many other speaker types, these speakers have really got to be secured well to your bike. Naturally, they will be moving whenever you turn the handlebars, so you must be guaranteed that they will stay in place.
First of all, you should check the product description to see if the product includes the necessary accessories for mounting you new speakers or if they are part of the speaker’s design.
Another important thing to check is that the mounting equipment is the right size for the handlebars. Take a measurement of the diameter of the section where you plan to mount speakers and make sure it is compatible with the speaker you want to install.
The power rating of a speaker system is measured in Watts. This means that the more Watts it uses, the louder the speaker can get. When looking at specifications, RMS indicates the amount of power that can be used continuously by the speaker.
The power necessity of a system depends on a few things. Some motorcycles are louder than others, depending on the muffler and the type of bike. It also depends on where you plan on riding. In quieter or slower areas you won’t need a really loud system compared to in a busy city or on the highway. Other factors like wind speed and rain can require a higher volume.
Like any speaker meant to be used outdoors, motorcycle speakers are designed to have tolerance for different weather conditions. This means you can play them in the scorching heat, the rain, humidity, dusty conditions and even snow.
Water-resistant Bluetooth speakers are good for riding in light rain. But it’s safer to have speakers that are water-proof if you plan on exposing them to all weather conditions. This means no matter how much rain gets on them, they will work. Plus you can wash them with the rest of the bike.
With waterproof speakers, special gaskets are used to completely seal off the inside parts from exposure to water. Water-proof speakers are also naturally humidity proof. Humidity exposure over time can corrode the inner parts of the speaker system and lower it’s longevity.
Dust is also a naturally occurring issue on any road. Your water-proof speakers will be dustproof as well, allowing no particles to stick to the fine surfaces inside the speaker.
A further consideration is that most speakers have a particular position where they produce the best sound quality. Sometimes the manual used for installation will tell you this focus point, but you can also find it by adjusting the speakers by yourself, until you find that ideal spot.
When adjusting the speakers to find this point, position yourself as you would when you ride. After all, that’s how you’ll be experiencing the sound system. You want to listen for the loudest volume with the clearest sound.
As a part of the aesthetic of your speaker choice, size comes into play as well. Most handlebar speakers are on the small side, but some are larger than others. Taking measurements depending on your handlebar type is a good idea to get an idea of what your ideal size for your bike is. They shouldn’t look too big and out of proportion with the rest of the bike.
Additionally, more speakers may be heavier or get in the way of other components. Some people choose to put four speakers on their handlebars instead of just two. They should in no way block the rider’s ability to see the road.
Ease of Use
It’s vital that your handlebar speakers be easy to use, primarily for safety reasons. Lot’s of motorcyclists use gloves, so having large buttons is a definite benefit for this type of speaker. In fact, the less you have to touch the speaker, the better.
The system should in no way distract the rider, so being user-friendly is super important. A particularly useful feature is thumb control for volume control or pausing music.
The 6 Best Motorcycle Bluetooth Speakers in 2020
1) JBL Cruise Bluetooth Handlebar speaker
JBL is well-known for producing durable speakers and this pair is no exception. They are powered with lower wattage, and so are better suited for smaller bikes. Volume will produce clear sound up to about 50 mph. These JBLs have a unique mounting design, attaching on the mirror mount, so there’s not doubt they’ll stay in place. However, Yamaha users will want to contact JBL for a reverse thread adapter to help with their install.
- Easy to install
- Excellent mounting system
- User-friendly, large buttons
- Fully weather-proof
- Not as loud as other options
- Must raise the mirrors to use
2) BOSS Audio MC470B Bluetooth Speakers
This speaker set is among the top selling motorcycle speaker systems on Google and for good reason. We found these to work well on any motorcycle, mainly because they are LOUD. The RMS is a whopping 1000 Watts. They also come with a handle-mountable thumb switch for adjusting the volume.
- Plenty of volume, even on larger bikes at high speeds
- Available in sets of two or four, in chrome or black
- Responsive bluetooth
- Thumb switch can be mounted on handle for safe volume control
- No on/off switch on the amplifier
- Don’t expect car audio quality
3) Lexin LX-S3 Chrome Motorcycle Speakers
The most important feature to us is sound quality, and these speakers were at the top of the list. We were really impressed, especially on the highway, and felt the most comfortable with these during our ride. They certainly are a good value for the price too. The mounting is simple but effective and they can be fixed to a variety of configurations, from the handlebars to the engine bars. These come in black, as well.
- Superb sound quality, even at high speeds (70 mph)
- Compact size
- Sturdy stainless steal housing
- Easy to mount
- We would have liked more bass
- Only available in a set of two speakers
4) GoHawk TJ4 2.1
Another good choice for those who want it loud. These speakers are among the lightest in our test since the cases are made of ABS plastic. We like the fact that GoHawk offers these speakers in a range of styles, colors, and two- or four-packs. This set was also one of the most affordable we tested.
- Lightweight material
- High volume capability
- Great sound quality
- Several designs to choose from
- Not as versatile as other models
- No hands-free calling feature
5) BOSS Audio Systems MC440B
While looking at the wide range of Boss motorcycle speakers, these also stood out. They have sound quality much like their cousins, the MC470B as seen above. But, they’re offered in both 3 inch (600 watts) and 4 inch (1000 watt) sizes. This pair is perfect for a rider on a budget.
- Two choices for size and power
- Easy to install
- Excellent option for the money
- Perfect for other recreational vehicles
- Bulky design for 4 inch model
6) Kuryakyn 2720 MTX Road Thunder Motorcycle Sound Bar Plus
We love the handsome design of this 300 watt speaker from Kuryakyn. But does it perform as well as the other sets? Definitely, the sound quality is very good. The secret behind this the actual speaker units: it has two smaller full-range speakers and four tweeters.Even though it only uses 300 Watts max, it still was easy to hear at 70 mph. Once installed, it felt very secure.
- Unique, centered design for virtually any bike
- Safely out of the way
- Excellent sound range
- Easy to enjoy at high speeds
- High price
- Buttons are a bit small if using big gloves
- No thumb control unit
- Can be tricky to install alone
Frequently Asked Questions
Are handlebar speakers or helmet speakers better?
It is not definitive, as there are advantages and disadvantages of each type of speaker. There is a reason both speaker types are popular with users.
Handlebar speakers have the benefit of being more user-friendly than helmet speakers. Everything is located externally on the bike when you have handlebar speakers. They allow the rider to easily make adjustments to the volume and some other operations quickly.
Another benefit of having external speakers is the rider’s ability to more clearly hear important noise. Honking, sirens, and other sounds that motorists should be aware of are easier to hear when handlebar speakers are used instead of helmet speakers.
Users of some helmet speakers find that their biggest issue with this type is if wires are involved. They can get pulled around or feel uncomfortable when a rider is turning his head. Furthermore, there is a chance that the helmet speaker could come loose in the helmet, causing a distraction to the rider.
Also, controlling helmet speakers can mean taking out the little controller, usually kept in a jacket pocket, to adjust the sound or turn them off. And finally, actually taking them on and off is certainly not as convenient, since it can require removing the whole helmet.
Can I listen to music while the motorcycle is off?
The speakers reviewed here are all excellent for using at outdoor parties, while working or playing in the yard, or just relaxing on the deck…as long as they stay connected to the bike. And of course, no need to worry if it starts raining.
Can I hear bluetooth speakers clearly when riding fast?
It is natural that if a bike is speeding down the freeway, the sound of the wind whipping past will interfere with the ability to hear music.
Another factor is how loud the bike is when running. Larger cruisers, choppers, will probably be as loud as or louder than the music when accelerating quickly or at high speeds.
This shouldn’t deter you from buying handlebar speakers. Under most riding conditions, these speakers are designed to push out clear sound.
Do I have to wire bluetooth speakers to the motorcycle ?
Yes, handlebar speakers will need to be wired to the battery in order to be powered. Most handlebar speakers come with an amplifier that will need to be connected into the system as well.
Make sure wires are securely fastened to your bike and aren’t loose. Don’t worry though, this wiring process is pretty straight forward and doesn’t take long to accomplish.
Will motorcycle handlebar speakers work below freezing?
Yes, this type of speaker is designed to be tough. Even though most people don’t ride motorcycles at freezing temperatures, those few badasses that do can still enjoy their music.
Sidney U. Harman has over 10 years of experience working in the AVL industry. He originally cut his teeth as a stagehand in the OKC area before moving to Denton for university. After learning to run the boards, he developed a solid passion for sound. His obsession with car audio developed 5 years ago as a natural progression from commercial AVL.