Home > REVIEWS > GEAR > A rolling jukebox

A rolling jukebox

By “LoDown” Dan Parker

Hawg Wired Audio System: Amp and Speakers and Sony CDX-M50iP Marine Receiver AM/FM/CD

Hawg Wired and Sony

Amp: $495.95, Speakers: $179.95, (Complete system: $675.90)
Bezel: $69.95, Cradle: $69.95
Harley to Sony Adapter Kit: $149.95
Sony Marine Radio: $199.00

Flying down the road recently on the ’04 Electra Glide Standard while listening to Charlie Brechtel belt out his musical saga of the Iron Buffalo, it was hard to believe that the Harley bagger we now affectionately call the Geezer Glide had gone its first 80,000 miles tuneless.

Now, however, thanks to the folks at Hawg Wired Audio Systems, all that has changed, and for the better. We recently installed a pumped-up amp and clear-as-a-bell speakers from Hawg Wired and hooked them up to a very affordable Sony Marine radio/CD player. Now the old girl is a veritable rolling jukebox.

That we previously had so many “Freebird”-free riding experiences is, to a certain extent, understandable. Back in fall 2003 when the FLHT rolled new off the showroom floor, it was the MoCo’s bargain bagger, with no bells, no whistles, and no sound system (but plumbed with stock audio controls in case you changed your mind).

In the intervening years, whatever extra pesos we had in our pockets went mostly toward improving the Glide’s engine performance and long-distance touring capabilities. Besides, we rationalized, if music were needed while riding, one could always belt out a ditty or two. However, when this conjured up visions of a warbling rider wielding maracas while accompanied by a guitar-strumming passenger, we dropped the whole idea and rode to the sound of silence.

That worked until a wise old soul, upon hearing our observation that a sound system just contaminated the purity of the “in the wind” riding experience, gave us something to ponder. The music, he observed, is for when you and a special friend have your bike parked down by the river and the moon is out and you want a little “ambience.” Oh yeah, everybody needs a little ambience now and then. Sign me up for the moto CD of the month club.

What’s old is new
Those following along at home already know that much earlier this year as the Granny Glide breeched the 70,000 mileage mark we decided to spruce the old gal up a bit. Most of the changes we made improved the touring experience in one way or another, and several improved the bike’s looks.

One of the more radical changes was to be the addition of a sound system. This was seen as a definite upgrade for an existing motorcycle that otherwise—thanks to a very regular maintenance program—already ran well. Some quick research revealed that the right aftermarket sound system would plug right into the Glide’s stock handlebar-mounted audio controls. In the current “pinch every penny till it screams” economy, this made practical bike budget sense too.

As it turned out, assembling all the components necessary to make musical noise took more time than first imagined. But after a flurry of communications and consultation with Paul Hughes at Hawg Wired, Inc. in Fremont, California (www.hawg-wired.com), we finally assembled what was needed for a plug-and-play system. Here is what we ended up with: Hawg Wired’s DCS1202 Audio System with a 2-channel, 120 watt amplifier, a pair of SX50x-60 speakers, a DB235 Din bezel, and a DC235 Din cradle.

The sound deck is a Sony CDX-M50iP Marine Receiver AM/FM/CD. This unit has a removable face and plug-ins for an iPod (or other MP3 player). To more easily wed the stock H-D electrical components and the sound deck, we also acquired the Hawg Wired HSA470 Harley-to-Sony Install Bundle (a move that saved considerable time).

Once again we asked JP and his crew at My Evil Twin Choppers in Lodi, California, to help us with the installation (www.myeviltwinchoppers.com). In involving MET Choppers in the project, we had several objectives. First, we wanted the job done right and knew JP would deliver on that front. Secondly, we asked him to access Hawg Wired’s step-by-step instructions with a home installation option in mind, and to evaluate the overall quality of the components.

Later, once the job was complete, JP would remark that, while the “average guy” could probably do the job, he recommended a professional audio installation (and, after watching the process, we agree). As to the components, JP said, “The quality of the speakers, the mounting bracket and the interface between the stereo and stock hand controls are awesome.”

Read the !#%*ing instructions
To get started, JP and his tech Mongo went over the supplied instructions and other technical information. Then they covered up the tank and front fender, disconnected the Glide’s battery, and got to work. (What follows is a simplified overview of the sound system installation and is not a substitute for closely reading and following the appropriate instructions).

The initial teardown called for removing the Glide’s batwing fairing, followed by a close examination of the exposed wiring and other components. Hawg Wired’s instructions wisely note that, with the fairing off, one can address other issues like a burnt-out gauge bulb. In our case, it turned out that the support struts on the clutch side of the fairing needed repair. JP took care of this quickly with his welder. (For this project, we elected to also repaint the faded inner fairing cover, and this added some time to completing the install.)

The Standard’s plastic glove box was removed and the cradle was mounted behind the opening. Some patience was required to squeeze the cradle into place between the fairing’s brackets. (It should be noted that Hawg Wired’s instructions cover both the batwing fairing and the Road Glide’s “sharknose” fairing.)

With the cradle in place, the Sony unit was slid rearward from the front of the fairing and then secured to the cradle (note that the bezel slides over the sound deck from the rear before the deck is passed through the fairing). The Hawg Wired amp is then mounted to the top of the sound deck using the hook-and-loop patches included in the kit.

During this phase, the MET Choppers crew took care not to pinch or bind any of the wiring. Once the sound unit—in this case the Sony deck—and the amp were in place, the appropriate wiring connections were made. The speakers went in next, with close attention paid to the proper polarities. (Note that, depending on what combination of speakers and grill faces are used, some tweaking may be necessary for a close fit.)

Plastic zip ties included in the kit were used to neaten up the wiring. After securing a proper ground and reconnecting the battery, it was time to check that the amp, sound deck, and speakers were working. Only then did the fairing go back on.

With the new Hawg Wired system and Sony sound deck hooked up, I can say I haven’t ridden a mile since without tunes. Warming up to an MP3 player or an iPod—both of which, for me, have a “beam me up Scotty” quality to them—may take a little longer. But after the next musical 80,000 miles, I’m betting I’ll get the hang of it. As for the midnight music madness angle, I’m really looking forward to that too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *