Do Motorcycles Have a Radio? Best Way To Listen To Music

black and white photo of people riding motorcycle

Most vehicles have a radio. You can find one inside any car or truck, inside the center console, on top of the dash, and in the back. Some even have a built-in CD player.

For people who have been out of school for a while, radios were all the rage back in the day. They played music and talked about sports. It was so big that it could be placed in a separate room. They were called “home theaters.” Today, however, radios aren’t used nearly as often as they were in the past. Nowadays, most people listen to music using their smartphones or tablets or listen to streaming radio services like Spotify, Youtube Music, Pandora, and iHeart. 

YouTube player

So, do motorcycles have radios or stereo systems in them? 

Some motorcycles have stereo systems installed, including radios. Harley Davidson’s are known for their stereo systems. Most brands don’t offer this as a default setting, but you can buy a stereo system and install it.

Motorcycles and stereo systems

There are just three motorcycles that can accommodate a sound system today: touring bikes, choppers, and sports bikes. The touring bike is the most practical of the three; the cowlings and dashboard are large enough to accommodate a radio and control panels.

An audio system for a touring bike typically has 2 to 5 channels, subwoofers, a CD player, speakers, and volume controls on the handlebar. The entire system is built around a frame, and the engine is mounted similarly to a Harley Davidson.

An excellent entire stereo system for a motorcycle can set you back $300 to $800.

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Simple stereo system 

Bluetooth technology has come a long way since the 1980s, when it was first developed to allow two or more people to communicate without wires. Today’s technology has made it possible to put speakers on any motorcycle or scooter and connect them to any mobile device. If you don’t want to mess with installing a five-channel system, you can mount a pair of weatherproof speakers onto your handlebar (e.g., JBL Cruise). The setup is easy and takes little time. 

Other options for keeping up with music while on the go include Bluetooth communicators (e.g., Cardo Pactalk) or helmets with built-in Bluetooth communication systems (e.g., Sena Momentum series) linked with a smartphone.

Open Speakers versus In-helmet Speakers

The advantage of the open-speaker solution is obvious—you get full, rich, high-quality sound without the helmet interfering. But there is a downside to the open-speaker solution: when you’re on a high-speed ride, all that music turns into wind noise.

In-helmet headphones are the future of mobile audio and allow riders to listen to music, make calls, and communicate with their riding friends. Just make sure they are fully charged before riding. 

Pros and Cons of Listening to Music While Riding

The most significant advantage of listening to music while riding is that it helps you get more comfortable in the saddle. By letting your body relax, you’ll feel less stressed. In contrast, the downside of listening to music while riding a motorcycle is the distraction. If you’re talking on the phone or listening to someone who isn’t on the bike, it could prompt you to do something risky, such as ride too quickly or turn too abruptly and cause a crash.

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When you’re out on a long ride, be sure to turn down the volume of your speakers. If it’s in your helmet, turn it down even more! Long-distance riding with loud music can cause permanent damage to your ears.

Other Benefits of having a stereo system on your motorcycle

1. Increase the resale value of your motorcycle. If you plan on selling your bike in the future, having a stereo system installed will increase the value of your motorcycle.

2. Listen to Turn by turn navigation instead of looking at your phone. If you’re in an unfamiliar place, set the destination on your Google Maps and listen to the navigation instructions.

3. If you have a full-stereo sound system on your motorcycle, it also serves as an outdoor sound system when you’re camping or at an outdoor party.

What to consider when installing a speaker system on your motorcycle?

Choosing the right quality speaker system for your motorcycle is crucial. A speaker system that sounds good can be the difference between enjoying your ride and wanting to stop riding because of how annoying it is to ride with a loudspeaker system. 

The first thing to consider is what kind of speaker system you want. Open speakers are best for most riders, but you’ll want a closed system if you ride off the road.

It’s also essential to make sure your speakers are correctly mounted. You want to make sure that your speakers don’t move around on your motorcycle and cause a safety hazard to you or other riders. Also, make sure that your motorcycle has a proper location to mount the speaker. The ideal spot is somewhere that doesn’t interfere with the steering or suspension.

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Weather Proof

Another concern when installing speakers on your motorcycle is weatherproofing. If you plan on riding in the rain, make sure your speakers are made from a material that can withstand the elements. Aluminum is a good choice as it is weatherproof. 


Another concern when installing speakers on your motorcycle is shockproofing. If your motorcycle is constantly exposed to bumps and jolts from potholes, curbs, etc., it’s crucial to make sure that your speakers can withstand these kinds of shocks. 

Sound Quality

The quality of the sound you get out of your speakers is also important. While most speakers have built-in amplifiers, they can still be improved upon.  While in-helmet speakers are the easiest to acquire, the sound coming from them doesn’t have the oomph you will find in a full speaker system. 

Conclusion: Installing a speaker system on your motorcycle can provide a more enjoyable ride and listening experience. You should constantly keep in mind the chance of getting into an accident while trying to find a radio station or a song to listen to while you’re riding. Even if you’re just out to have fun, remember to ride safely at all times.