Do Motorcycles Have Radios?


The Popularity of Motorcycles

For well over one hundred years, motorcycles have been one of the most popular forms of transportation all over the globe.  Compared to larger vehicles, motorcycles are more affordable and have fewer mechanical parts making them cheaper and easier to work on.  They are fuel efficient and can travel to places that larger, heavier vehicles simply cannot go, which makes them not only the perfect choice for a commuter vehicle but also the perfect vehicle to explore the world with. 

Early motorcycles were little more than motorized bicycles, and the best surfaces that were available for riding included dirt roads, gravel paths, and the occasional brick road that could be found in urban areas.  These early bikes were not fast at all by today's standards, but they were one of the few affordable choices when it came to motorized transportation.  As roads began to improve, so did motorcycles.  They not only got faster but also became more comfortable and user-friendly, and most importantly, they became safer.

Automobile technology has grown by leaps and bounds over the last century, and motorcycles have been right there with them.  Better tires, more powerful brakes, more fuel-efficient and robust engines, and improved safety equipment have made modern motorcycles and cars easier and more reliable to use, and creature comforts have improved over the years as well.  Taking a cross-country trip on a motorcycle at the beginning of the 1900s would have been a formidable task, but a rider today using modern equipment can accomplish this goal with relative ease and comfort if they have the right equipment and the spare time.

Early bikes didn't have the accessories that we are used to seeing today.  Some modern motorcycles, like dirt bikes and sport bikes, are still basic by some standards, but a lot of bikes feature accessories that focus on comfort, which makes them just as easy to use on long rides as it is to cruise around the block.  One of the best accessories that can be found on a modern motorcycle that helps make travel easier is a radio.  The technology behind motorcycle radios and sound systems is much newer than similar technology in cars and trucks, but motorcycle radios can make riding a bike just as entertaining and relaxing as driving a car.

Why Are Radios Important

Radios started to find their way into American homes and started to really become popular almost one hundred years ago.  Radios at this time were large pieces of equipment that featured a dial, a single large speaker, and many complex (at the time) internal components, all housed in a large wooden box that resembled a piece of brown furniture. 

While phonographs and record players had been around for a few decades prior to the household radio, they could only play what music and recordings were physically available to consumers at the time, which means you didn't have much of a choice when it came to options of what to listen to.  You would have to purchase new recordings as they became available if you wanted to hear new music.  With a household radio, you had a few options as to what you could listen to depending on what stations you could pick up,  and you had access to local, national, and even global news that could keep you up to date on current events long before the days of television, cell phones, and the internet. 

Listening to your radio at home was a popular pastime, but the addition of radios and sound systems in automobiles was a real game changer.  Now you could listen to music on the AM or FM radio stations, hear the local news, and keep up with world events while driving.  Due to technical constraints, it took a while for radios and sound systems to become popular accessories on motorcycles, but with the modern equipment that is now available, if you plan on doing any traveling on a motorcycle, a radio is a must-have.

Radios and speakers began to appear in cars before motorcycles for the simple reason that cars have a lot more space to work with.  Early automotive audio systems were simple by today's standards and usually consisted of only a few speakers that were only capable of producing a mid-range sound, but as technology advanced and sound system components and speakers became smaller without sacrificing sound quality, they started to appear on more and more motorcycles

Technical Challenges of Radios on Motorcycles

The biggest and most obvious technical challenge that a bike owner would have faced years ago when installing a radio and speakers on their bike would be space constraints.  Motorcycles offer an amount of freedom that no other vehicle can match, but with this freedom and open-air feel comes a lack of useable space for mounting accessories.  Luckily modern speaker technology and current motorcycle accessories have made installing sound systems on bikes easier than ever.

Speaker technology has increased exponentially since those first radios began to appear in homes a century ago.  While the basic design and theory behind them have stayed the same, almost everything else has changed.  The shape of a modern speaker isn't all that different than older versions, but the materials they are made of have improved over the decades, making modern speakers lighter weight and stronger than ever before and just because a modern speaker is smaller than an older version doesn't me they sound any worse.

Years ago, if someone wanted a sound system that produced quality sounding music, they would need a radio control head or tuner, an amplifier, and multiple speakers of various sizes that focused on different frequency ranges.  Small speakers, known as tweeters, focused on higher frequencies, midsized mid-range speakers focused on mid-range sound frequencies, and larger speakers, known as subwoofers or subs, focused on low-range frequencies and were responsible for bass notes that other speakers simply could not handle. 

While subwoofers are still a popular addition to many automotive and motorcycle sound systems, modern-day speakers have solved the problem of needing multiple speakers to experience the entire frequency range.  Coaxial speakers and two-way speakers solve this problem by having more than one driver in a single housing, which allows them to cover the range of two or more speakers in a single unit. 

Motorcycles themselves are now featuring accessories that make sound system installation more manageable than ever before.  The addition of front fairings helps protect a rider and bike from water, wind, and road debris, but they also make a great place to install a radio and speakers, and if the fairings are large enough, multiple speakers of various sizes can be installed.  It's not uncommon to see touring bikes, road bikes, cruisers, and baggers that feature speakers mounted in custom saddle bags, and some bikes, such as several Harley Davidson models, now come from the factory with speakers already installed.

The biggest technological challenge facing motorcycle radios and sound systems, besides taking up too much space, has always been the quality of available components.  Any speaker mounted on a motorcycle will be exposed to the great outdoors, unlike speakers in cars, which usually feature a spacious enclosed interior and trunk.  Motorcycle speakers will have to face wind, rain, splashing water, dirt, gravel, and prolonged exposure to the sun and its harmful UV rays.  Luckily for any rider looking to install or upgrade a motorcycle's sound system, many of the major speaker manufacturers are now producing high-quality marine-grade speakers made out of water-resistant and waterproof materials that can also withstand exposure to the sun.

Radios have always been a popular choice for motorcycle sound systems because cassette tape decks and CD players would take up too much space.  But modern motorcycle radio control heads now feature wireless and Bluetooth connectivity that allows a rider to easily access music from their favorite satellite radio station, streaming service, and music that is stored on the device of their choice.  This also allows for easier communication between riders.  In the old days, a giant radio and antenna would be needed for two-way radio systems or motorcycle intercoms systems, and with wireless and Bluetooth headsets and headphones, there is no need for bulky handheld radios. 

HDHU Precision Power Soundstream Motorcycle radio

Top Motorcycle Audio Systems

             Audio systems for motorcycles have advanced rapidly over the years and are now better than ever.  All of the top brands like Cicada Audio, DB Drive, Diamond Audio, Ground Zero Audio, Rockford Fosgate, Sony, and many others are producing high-quality marine-grade speakers and audio components that will work perfectly on a motorcycle.  And many other companies are producing motorcycle accessories such as fairings and saddle bags that are a perfect place to house these sound system components, making motorcycle radios and sound systems easy to install and use.

            So if you are considering installing a radio and sound system on your bike or want to upgrade your factory stereo, where is the best place to search for this equipment?  Look no further than Garage Bagger Stereo.  They carry all of the best brands on the market when it comes to motorcycle sound systems and marine-grade speakers.  The folks at Garage Bagger have decades of combined experience and are just a phone call or email away if you have any questions, and they can point you in the right direction and help you accomplish your goal of building the bike of your dreams.

            So head on over to , order the sound system components you need, install them, and turn up the radio as you head down the road listening to your favorite music for many miles to come!

This Blog Was Reviewed for Accuracy By Audio Expert, Chris Lowe

Chris Lowe, the esteemed owner of Garage Bagger Stereo, is a globally recognized authority in Motorcycle and Boat Audio systems. With a decorated experience spanning over a decade, Chris has curated audio experiences for enthusiasts and businesses worldwide. His expertise and stellar work are prominently showcased across various social media platforms and can be further explored through the offerings on the official Garage Bagger Stereo website.

Originally hailing from South Georgia and currently residing in Greenville, South Carolina, Chris's fervor for boating and motorcycles is deeply rooted. It's this passion, coupled with his affection for car audio, that has seamlessly interwoven his personal interests with his professional pursuits. This synergy has not only invigorated his daily endeavors but also continually fuels his commitment to excellence in the audio industry.