For those of you that cruise and commute on your motorcycle, there may come a day and time that the factory or existing stereo needs to be replaced. A new stereo is a great starting point for making your audio and overall riding more enjoyable. So, where do you start? In this article, we will take a look at the steps required to install a replacement motorcycle stereo along with a few helpful tips as well.

Keep in mind, all motorcycle makes and models vary so you may need to make a few slight adjustments when necessary.

Required Tools (may vary depending on the motorcycle or installation needs):

  • Drill or Screwdrivers 
  • Socket Wrench
  • Wire Cutters
  • Wire Crimper and Stripper
  • Electrical Tape
PAC HDK001X Radio Replacement Kit for 1998-2013 Harley-Davidson Motorcycles

1. Find the correct stereo and installation accessories for your bike

Since your motorcycle is exposed to natural elements like rain and direct sun, it is not a wise choice to install any old stereo. Browse our motorcycle stereos to find receivers that have coated circuit boards, UV resistant coating, and other features that will keep your stereo in great condition. 

In addition to finding a motorcycle stereo, you also need to determine the correct fit for your particular needs. Some bikes already have single din head units installed from the factory so you may just be able to replace it with another single din stereo with little to no modification. However, if you are replacing a factory stereo that doesn’t use a typical Single or Double DIN housing, like on a Harley Davidson Road Glide for example, then you will need an installation kit so an aftermarket stereo will be able to fit properly. You will also need a wiring harness to be able to attach your new stereo to the existing wiring.

2. Disconnect the Battery’s Negative Cable

To keep yourself and your electronics safe, it is always advised to disconnect the negative battery cable before beginning. Remove your seat to access the battery and unscrew or unbolt the negative cable from the terminal post. Doing so will prevent shorts, shocks, and other unwanted issues.

3. Remove the outer fairing and remove your old motorcycle stereo

Next, you will need to access your existing stereo so it can be removed. Depending on the type of motorcycle you have, you may need to remove the windshield and will have to remove the outer fairing. Refer to your specific make and model’s manual or instructions if you need assistance doing so. Once removed, you should have clear visibility and access to the stereo and wiring. Next, Carefully disconnect the wiring from the back of the existing stereo. Finally, find the few bolts that are holding the stereo in place and remove those to free the stereo completely.

4. Connect the matching wires to your stereo adapter harness

A wiring harness allows you to easily take the existing wires and connect them to the harness so it can then be connected to your new aftermarket stereo. These harnesses are made specific to your motorcycle so all of the wires will be color coated to match the existing wiring. Simply connect the wires together via a butt connector or if you are looking for a more permanent fix, you can also solder the wires together. 

JVC KD-R97MBS Marine & Powersports Radio

5. Install the motorcycle stereo and test

Now that the old unit is out, it is time to install the new stereo receiver. First, you will want to install your new installation kit by using the hardware that is included with the kit. Now slide the stereo snuggly in place, bolt everything together, and plug your adapter harness into the back of the unit. Before buttoning things back up, it is a good idea to connect the battery again so you can test that the stereo is functioning correctly. Make sure the unit powers on and that the audio is heard through the speakers. Test the features thoroughly and once satisfied proceed with the final step.

6. Reassemble the Fairing and Seat

Replace the fairing and windshield if applicable. Bolt-on your seat to finalize the install and re-inspect your project. If all looks good you are ready to hop on and enjoy a ride with your new stereo.

As you can see, replacing a motorcycle stereo can be done relatively quickly as long as the proper preparation is taken and the correct installation accessories are purchased. Continue to check out our blog for more awesome how-to articles with this one so you can be well on your way to future audio upgrades!