Between Harley Factory Speakers and Polk Audio GXR5
I love music, and for years
have always done my research with it comes to anything music. It was
the love of music that convinced me that I didn't want a FatBoy. I really
like the look of the FatBoy, but knew that I wanted a windshield and
bags. I rented a Road King and knew that I was on the right track, but
after I started to narrow down my search for a Harley, I began to check
out the Electra Glides. They can be equipped with a stereo and that
was it. The Electra Glide was the machine for me.
I love my Electra
Glide and the bike that I bought (1 year old used) came with a factory
radio and speakers. I was never that impressed with the speakers, even
thought I found that in 2001, the high performance Harley speakers became
standard. I found that the only way that I could listen to them with any
level of clarity was to turn the bass down to about 20%. I then began
to read that other riders were swapping out the factory speakers with
found that most any 5.25" round, water resistant / proof speakers
would fill the bill. When it comes to speakers, I've always found that
those companies that specialize in speakers are always a good bet, i.e.
Polk, JBL, Infinity or Alpine. I've never fancied Japanese speakers, i.e.
Sony and others. They have never been known for producing award winning
speakers, Mini disks and cameras yes, but not speakers.
researched J&M, who target the motorcycle audio market. When I asked
the for specs on their speakers, they (the president) noted that they
did not have specs on their product line, which I thought was bull. I'm
not sure how you sell a $99 - $159 speaker pair without providing any
kind of useful information, so I ruled them out. I'm glad I did, but at
least I wanted to compare them with the Polk product that I was looking
have had good luck with Polk Audio. They have always been highly acclaimed.
After searching Crutchfield.com for 5 1/4 round speakers, I found the
GXR5 to be waterproof. I even read on the forum that another member had
selected and installed tht GXR5 and had a very good experience with them.
He noted that the sound quality was better than the Harley factory speaker,
but I didn't know how much better. For some reason, I felt that for the
money paid for the factory radio, they must use very high grade speakers,
but this was far from the truth. They're basic speakers that can handle
a damp environment, but they aren't high fidelity speakers.
broke down and purchase the Polk's from Crutchfield.com. The GXR5 lists
for $89.95. I believe replacement Harley speakers run about the same price.
To my surprise, I found the GXR5's on sale at Crutchfield for only $39.95.
The GXR5's are no longer being offered at Crutchfield and have been replaced
with the GXR5a and available for $49.95. I believe that this is the same
speaker, except for a different speaker grill, which we don't use. Compare
this with the typical factory replacement cost of $79.95.
I've tried to compare the Harley High Performance Speaker and the Polk
GXR5, as well as any modification I had to made to make them fit properly.
High Performance Speakers
Harley speakers have a coated, heavy coated paper speaker cone, with
a foam outer surround ring.
Audio GXR5 Speakers
The Polk GXR5
speaker is built with their own exclusive Duralam Cone, a silicone treated
lacquered fiber material that is almost plastic in appearance. Not only
is the cone much stronger than the Harley speaker, it's very lightweight,
which is important for good low frequency responses. It's also waterproof,
a very important factor to consider for a motorcycle. I wouldn't even
consider a speaker for this environment if it wasn't waterproof. The
cone is supported by a Butyl Rubber (not foam) Surround Ring, which
is said to provide a smoother response and improved long term durability
under higher loads (crank up the volume).
Rubber Surround Ring vs. Foam Surround.
image shows the Polk speaker (left) surround along side a foam based
surround ring found on the factory speaker. My existing speaker wasn't
as bad as the image shown, but it did display obvious wear in the surround
area, which experiences the most movement in a speaker.
by Side Front View
about the image quality, but my wife has my good digital camera. I was
stuck using an antique digital camera which suffers in the image and
color accuracy arena.
speaker (left) had a much smaller tweeter. The Polk offered a 1-1/2"
PEI Semi-dome Tweeter. PEI (Polyetherimide) is a polymer that offers
high resistance against harsh environmental extremes, superior rigidity,
and sonic purity.
by Side Rear Views
speaker (left) had a surprising small magnet as compared to the Polk
(right). This larger magnet results more sound and better bass and mid-range
required to accommodate the Polk Speakers.
one minor modification that I needed to make. Initially, everything
seemed to fit OK, but I had read from another forum member that he had
to notch out something. I installed the one speaker and it seemed as
if the screw wasn't going in straight and was giving me a little trouble.
I did get it to install without any modification, but when I installed
the second speaker, I finally noticed why the screw on the top didn't
seem to align correctly.
speaker fits within a flange on the perimeter of an angled speaker base
plate (see image above). I noticed that the speaker screw tabs were
not aligning property due to this flange. To make the adjustment, I
notched back that flange on the top of the angled speaker base about
1/2". The base is made of plastic, so this is relatively easy and
can be done with a dremel or a hacksaw. With this modification, the
speaker fit perfectly.
on top are about 2" long and the bottom two screws are about 1
1/4" long. I cut lower screws down about 3/8", since they
looked long and the Polk speaker drew a lower profile.
connector need no changes and was a snap to put on. The negative speaker
blade (tab) was much smaller and required a 1/8" female spade to
be used. The Harley dealer had this, but you can get this at most any
Radio Shack of electronic store.
Blocker - To Use or Not To Use
At the same
time that I purchased the speakers, I also purchase a pair of 150Hz
Bass Blockers, which block all frequencies below 150 Hertz. This helps
preserve the speaker at high volumes. I tested the speakers with and
without the Bass Blocker installed. After trying each several times,
I described to not use the Bass Blocker. I found that the overall tone
quality was better with the Bass Blocker removed. With the Bass Blocker
installed, I found myself turning up the Bass level to almost 100%.
Without the Bass Blocker, I found that I got about the same tone quality
with the Bass turned up to about the 60% level. I wasn't driving the
speakers to hard and if I wanted to increase the bass levels, I could.
I could hear that the Polk speakers could handle both the volume and
bass if the bass was used in moderation. The net result is that I'm
returning the Bass Blockers.
Does the Polk Audio GXR5 Sound as Compared to the Harley Factory Speakers?
They aren't even in the same ball park. The delta between the two models
in amazing. It almost sounds that the Polk's are about 40% louder (if
you want more volume). The tone is far superior and they don't cut out
and distort at high volumes with increased bass. They are amazing and
would recommend that everyone replace their speakers with a higher grade
speaker. It just so happens that the Polk's are as I expected them to
be - GREAT.
These Speakers Fit in the Rear of the Ultra Glides?
I'm told by other Electra Glide Garage
forum members that the Polk GXR5 will fit in the rear speaker enclosure,
and you can use the grills with a little work.
for the Polk Audio GXR5
Frequency Response: 80 - 20k Hz
RMS Power Range (Watts): 2-45
Peak Power Handling (Watts): 115
Tweeter Design: 1-1/2" Semi-dome
Voice Coil Diameter: Tweeter 1/2" (1.27cm)
Power Handling (continuous): 45 w
Power Handling (peak): 115 w
Efficiency: 91 dB
Tweeter Composition: PEI
Woofer Composition: Treated-fiber
Woofer Surround: Butyl rubber
Impedance (Ohms): 4
Top-mount Depth (Inches): 2
Bottom-mount Depth (Inches): 2 1/4
Cutout Diameter or Length (inches): 4 11/16
Parts Warranty: 1 Year
Labor Warranty: 1 Year
Full-range Mounting Depth
Top Mount 2" (5.08cm)
Bottom Mount 2-1/4" (5.71cm)
Height 3/4" (1.91cm)
Diameter 6-1/4" (15.88cm)
Driver Cut-out Diameter 4-9/16" (11.59cm)