There was a time in the not-too-distant past when only guys on massive BMW LT and Honda Goldwings had music systems in their bikes. These were real party pieces that were synonymous with those two-wheeled cars.

These days you can buy an add-on kit to turn any bike or ATV into a potential party-starter. All you need to do is lay down a little bit of cash and provide your own music. There are a lot of products out there, though it’s always the case with electronics that there’s a sea of cheap, low quality garbage hoping to take your money and give you nothing in return.

I’ve had a look at some of the most popular sound systems you’re likely to find online these days and tried to separate the good deals from the bad ones. I’ve put my top pick at, well, the top, and the rest are listed in no particular order.

So let’s have a look and let the music play.

Best Overall Choice – MTX MUDHSB-B Universal 6-Speaker

The MUDHSB-B is an elegant, all-in-one solution that connects to the center of your handlebars with very little fuss. It has two 2×3 full range speakers and four 1” tweeters, which should make for a decent sound range and excellent clarity. The unit is weather-resistant, which means a bit of wind and rain shouldn’t concern you. Just don’t expect it to survive submersion.

Apart from Bluetooth support there is also an NFC chip which lets you instantly pair another NFC device like your phone by simply touching the two devices together. There’s still an old-school 3.5mm aux input and an output for chaining in additional speakers. One thing that does concern me is the size of the controls. They look a little small for gloved hands to operate. Still, I haven’t seen any complaints about them. Impressions of the audio itself has been overwhelmingly positive and the installation is relatively simple. In terms of volume, depending on your bike’s fairing, you should be OK up to about 50 or 60 mph. Everything you need to complete the installation is included in the box.

This speaker is very pricey, but it’s compact, feature rich, and sounds great. This is what I would be aiming for as the best overall solution. Of course, your pillion is going to hear squat, but it’s up to you whether this matters or not.

BOSS ATV25B Bluetooth Audio System

The ATV25B is a massive 450W (that’s PMPO, unfortunately) audio system for your ATV or Jet Ski. So, obviously, it’s water and weather proof. The actual system looks like a PVC u-bend, which is plumber speak for a u-shaped pipe. It’s not particularly interesting or attractive. At least not unless you are really into plumbing, you pervert.

Anyway, the ATV25B is distinct from its little brother, the ATV20 in one major way – it has Bluetooth. Frankly, I consider Bluetooth to be a minimum requirement. I hate the idea of having an auxiliary cable trailing from my expensive phone to something strapped to my ATV or bike.

People find all sorts of ways to mount this thing, which I’m amazed by because, once again, it is huge. Really, only ATVs with their huge car-like bonnets provide anywhere to put this thing. But in return for its hugeness you get really good sound, if the tastes of its customers are anything to go by. The general consensus from people who have strapped the tube to their vehicles is that you can’t get something better-sounding without spending at least another $300. That’s a pretty big endorsement. So, by all means, if you have an ATV or Jet Ski, it seems this may be the only serious game in town.

Shark SHKC6800SME

This huge sound system from Shark is definitely meant for the large variety of bike. It includes four speakers that add up to 1000W of audio power. There’s Bluetooth support and, interestingly, two different audio inputs can share the system.

The system will also play music off an SD card or USB thumb drive. Everything except the amp is waterproof, so be sure to mount it accordingly. There’s also an FM radio antenna and two wireless remotes – one for the rider and another for the pillion.

The speakers are a sizable 4×3 inches and the amp is 4.5”x4.5”x1.75”. Keep that in mind when figuring out if you have a spot on your bike somewhere to mount the device. The control unit is also very big, making it easy to operate the controls.
The sound is powerful and clearly audible at speed, according to testers. Wind rush can’t stand up to the 1000W speakers.

This is an expensive system at four hundred bucks, but I have seen it steeply discounted at times, which may make it worth it. If you have a big bike then this is probably the choice for you. If you have a smaller bike and just want to be ridiculous, well, who am I to stop you?

BOSS Audio MC400 Chrome 600W Speakers

BOSS is offering a range of options with this speaker and amp set. You can have it without Bluetooth, but with an FM radio tuner, without anything other than wired inputs, or with Bluetooth. Personally I prefer Bluetooth streaming since I don’t like to tether my phone to a moving vehicle, if possible.

The two chrome speakers are styled in a way that I think will look best on a cruiser. Although BOSS says these are fine for scooters and other motorcycles, I don’t think they’ll fit the looks of those vehicles. A chrome cruiser is definitely the destined home of these speakers. They mount to your existing mirror mounts and really look like chrome cruiser gear.

BOSS takes great pains to remind us that the product is water resistant but NOT waterproof. In other words, they can be rained on without an issue, but they won’t survive being immersed in water.

The little amp draws its power from your motorcycle’s 12V line and, according to people who have bought it, the installation is easy to intermediate in terms of difficulty. The sound seems pretty solid but, of course if you are going riding on the highway at speed you aren’t going to hear jack. These are meant for town cruising, to annoy other people. Which is cool.

I think the MC400s do a great job of not ruining your cruiser’s look while providing a fair bit of jam. The price is nice as well, so these seem like a fun addition.

LEXIN Motorcycle Sound

Well, one thing you can say about the Lexins is that they are pretty cheap. You’ll also notice that there is no separate amplifier, as each speaker is self-powered with an internal 50W amp. No indication if that’s 50W PMPO or RMS though. Although this makes these quite a bit less powerful than units with separate amps, it does make for a neater system and easier installation, since you only need to mount the speakers and not an amp as well, which is usually the tricky part.

At this price you can basically forget about Bluetooth; it’s wired auxiliary jack sound all the way. I haven’t been able to find any opinions of the sound quality anywhere, though. Honestly, these make me a little nervous as they don’t seem to be great quality, but if you only have fifty bucks you might as well try them, right? If you have more than that to spend, I suggest you try something else.

Familyus Stereo Sound System

Wow, they have included everything but the kitchen sink with this little guy, This is an all-in-one stereo unit that connects to a 12V plug or directly into the battery, with the caveat that it could drain the battery if you’re not riding often.

For about eighty bucks this thing has a lot of features. It’s IP4 waterproof. It accepts USB drives and auxiliary audio. It also has Bluetooth, which is very important in my book. There’s FM radio, MP3 and WAV support too. The design is nice and clean. If your handlebars are thin enough it will clamp on easily, but many people just end up using zip ties to fasten it. The unit contains two 7-watt speakers, which I presume is the RMS number. You can also use the face control buttons to skip tracks and adjust volume on your Bluetooth device, which makes it pretty convenient.

Users are generally satisfied with the sound, and I think if you have a smaller bike or scooter this is the perfect solution for those who want something neat and easy. Audio-wise, customers say that the audio is very clear, although at 7W you aren’t going to blow anyone away with your sick tunes, kids.

XYZXTEM Handlebar Audio

Pay attention kids, having an unpronounceable name is not an example of good marketing. I really have no idea how to say “XYZXTEM”, but what really matters is if this handlebar audio system is worth your time.

At maybe thirty bucks this is one of the cheapest bike systems money can buy. Obviously at this price there’s no Bluetooth, but you do get FM radio and wired MP3 input. As you’d expect though, these are basically junk. Almost every person’s impression I’ve seen shows that you can’t actually hear these weedy speakers and the build quality is abysmal. Don’t waste your thirty dollars. Buy lunch instead – it will satisfy you for longer.

Let The Music Play

I was surprised at how far aftermarket audio solutions for motorcycles have come, but unfortunately there are a bunch of junk products on the market. I’m not going to write a fully separate buyer’s guide for these, but there are a few things you should look out for if none of the products on this page take your fancy.

Wherever possible ignore the PMPO (peak music power output) wattage figure and look for the RMS (root mean square) number to get a true idea of how loud and powerful the system is. Systems with separate high range speakers (also known as “tweeters”) will generally give you a better, less muddy sound.

Make sure you have a bike with the right voltage. Most audio systems can only be used on bikes with 12V systems. These days 6V bikes are rare, but you may have one. So just make sure.

Wired Up

My opinion is that Bluetooth is non-negotiable, but if you have a cheap MP3 player that you don’t mind having wired to the audio system then you may be fine with it. When it comes to an expensive smartphone though, I prefer to leave it safely in a pocket. On top of this you can’t really work smartphone controls while riding. Bluetooth sound systems can skip tracks and control other playback functions remotely using the dedicated, glove-friendly controls on the control unit itself. So what I’m saying is, don’t rely on wired solutions unless you know it will work for you.

The Sound of Music

Also, you should seriously consider whether what you want are external loudspeakers. If you are driving at speed and/or are wearing a full-face helmet, you are unlikely to hear well. It may be better to get a helmet with built-in Bluetooth speakers if you want the best sound experience. If you want everyone else to hear the music however, then obviously these are the ones to go for.