Awesome audio for a Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic
Installing a Rockford Fosgate kit that really brings the thunder
There are few better examples of iconic Americana than the distinct rumble of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Add a high-quality sound sytem, and you've got a next-to-perfect mix of American culture. And Rockford Fosgate is making it easier for lots of Harley owners to enjoy the sound they want on the bikes they love.
When Rockford told us they'd created an amp-and-speakers kit for specific 2014-up bikes that would require no modifications or wire-splicing, lots of folks around here got pretty excited. When we finally got the kits in stock, I just had to see for myself just how straightforward the installation actually is.
So I grabbed a 2015 Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic owned by one of our tech support guys and pulled it into our HQ installation bay. I rolled up my sleeves and, with the help of a couple of colleagues, got to work. And oh my, am I happy.
One well-designed installation kit
Just opening the box of the Rockford Fosgate HD14-TKIT (since discontinued) let me know that I was dealing with a really well-designed system.
Not only does it contain the tough, efficient, and compact Power Series TM400X4ad amplifier and two TMS65 6-1/2" speakers, it includes everything else needed for the job. You get a well-labeled mounting bracket, extra brackets for various Harley models, two pairs of speaker grilles for different types of dashes, and all the wiring you could need, neatly packaged and labeled.
From the start, I was pretty sure that there'd be no standing around and scratching my head in puzzlement during the installation. That's a good feeling.
After looking over the contents of the kit and the included instruction sheet, then watching Rockford Fosgate's enormously helpful installation video (found on their site), I decided to tackle the installation in three sections: under the fairing, along the bike's chassis, and finally at the Tour Pak in back, where I would install Rockford Fosgate's Tour Pak speakers.
Section 1: Under the fairing
I started the process by removing the fairing. It actually wasn’t hard to do — seven screws, a couple of wiring connectors, and it was off. I just had to make sure to keep track of those screws for when it was time to put it all back together!
Getting under the fairing provided access to the amp mounting location and the front speaker pods.
Mounting the amplifier
At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, mounting the amp could not have been easier. Rockford Fosgate designed the mounting bracket to fit right on top of the factory radio, secured with just four screws — which were included, of course.
The amp mounted onto that bracket, also securing with just four included screws (two at each end). Within a matter of just a few minutes, the amp was in place and ready to rock.
Installing the front speakers
The next step required me to remove the factory speaker pod in order to take out the factory speakers. This took a bit of extra time, as a couple of the bolts holding the pods in place were tucked up into the frame and a little hard to reach, but all in all, presented no real challenge. The speakers came out with just four screws.
The really great thing about this system is that all the wiring for signal either plugs right into the amp, or connects directly to the factory wiring harnesses. The upshot: wiring the amp and speakers for sound is as simple as it gets.
The clearly labeled input signal wires plugged right into the factory wiring harness. So simple.
The new speakers dropped right in. Their mounting holes lined right up with the screw holes on the speaker pods, and secured with the factory screws. I finished the front speakers off by replacing the factory grilles with the Rockford Fosgate grilles that came with the kit.
Section 2: Along the motorcycle chassis
In the next phase of the installation, I focused on getting the power and ground wiring to the battery, and the wires for the rear speakers back to the Tour Pak. To accomplish this, I drafted some help to remove the seat to access the battery, and to pull off the gas tank to get to the bike's wiring channel.
Removing the seat to get to the battery
Harley-Davdison certainly makes it easy to get to the battery. We simply had to remove the bolt for the strap holding down the back seat, and one screw. After that, the seat lifted right up.
The battery itself sits beneath a small panel that unclips and pulls up, out of the way. With the battery exposed, we were able to disconnect the ground and power wires from the battery terminals.
Removing the gas tank
Though it sounds intimidating, the process of removing the gas tank actually proved quite manageable. We simply had to remove four bolts (two on each side), then detach the fuel line from the coupler on the tank (which, luckily, seals the tank so no gas can leak out). After that, the tank lifted up and away.
Harley-Davidson's fuel line coupler keeps gas from leaking when you disconnect the fuel line.
With the gas tank out of the way, we were able to access the bike's wiring channel, down which all the wires for the bike's electronics run. After removing some wire ties and popping a few tabs, we were able to lift off the channel's cover.
Wiring for power and rear speakers
When it came to the wiring, the amount of painstaking reasearch and development Rockford Fosgate undertook was clearly evident. The power and rear-speaker wiring harnesses are measured and cut so exactly, we had to plug each one into the amplifier, then run each one down a specific side of the bike. The exact measuring ensures there's enough wire without too much leftover. That's a big thing, given that space is a premium on a motorcycle, and you don't want to have to deal with trying to conceal stray wires.
We ran the amplifier's power and ground wires to the battery, and connected the ring terminals to the appropriate battery terminals.
Next, we ran the rear speaker wiring harness back to the Tour Pak. With all the wires run to their locations, we were able to replace the cover for the wiring channel and move on to the rear speakers.
Section 3: Rear speakers in the Tour Pak
To get to the rear speaker locations in the Tour Pak, I simply pried out the grilles, removed four screws, popped the old speakers out, then then ran the speaker wire into the Tour Pak locations.
To finish up the installation, I mounted the new speakers using the factory screws. and put the new Rockford Fosgate speaker grilles in place.
The results? Simply amazing sound
With everything put back together, I turned on the power and waited for the moment of truth. And that moment blew everyone in the room away. The sound is nothing short of incredible, especially given that it plays in an open-air environment.
Everyone who heard it came away impressed by the volume, the clarity of the highs, the punchiness of the midbass, and the unexpected presence of some low bass information. It's clearly a system designed to sing, even over the substantial rumble of the bike's motor.
I get the feeling that more and more bike owners will be taking advantage of systems like these. If you need a hand finding the right sound system for your motorcycle, please give one of our expert advisors a call at 1-888-955-6000.