The speakers on the new bikes sound pretty decent when you first get the bike, but they degrade rather rapidly. The speakers in the fairing are easy to replace with better units.
It is difficult to replace the head unit because you typically lose the audio controls in the grips, unless you use an infrared adapter unit for the controls, and pretty soon it's more trouble then it's worth.
As far as CD units I have no personal experience, but have heard it both ways, some seem to be reasonably happy, some say they skip a lot.
If money is no object I'm under the impression (not sure) HD has a unit made by the same manufacturer as the rest of the sound system, and one would hope it works.
you sure know your hd bikes thanks for the reply.If you have one more minute would you think that the stock amplifier is good enough for highway touring or would you upgrade to the enhanced sound system harley is offering in their new catalog?Also do you think I've made a good decision jumping off a Fatboy to an Ultra? Any pros or cons ?Thanks big man.
Stock system is good enough for me, but I'm not what you would call an audiophile, in particular when riding, and I'm half deaf anyway. It probably makes a difference how loud your pipes are.
Strictly from a functional point of view no one can really argue against the touring bikes being by far the best bikes HD makes, but then I'm the sort that thinks of a RoadKing as a barhopper. It will amaze you what can be done with such a heavy bike.
The only real downside I can see is that they are easily damaged and the plastic parts are horribly expensive.
I do recall Sony makes a headunit with some sort of adapter u can use that allows your handlebar controls to work with a Sony headunit. Also its fairly simple to install a small amp under the tourpack and if u get creative u can also fabricate some sort of cover (that still allows for ventilation) over the amp as insurance against rain. This is going to be one of my future projects since im not thrilled with the tape player on my 2001. Try this link here. http://www.biketron.com/item.html?PRID=1513808
With a Sony CD/MP3 head unit, and a device called the RetroRadio, you can continue to use the hand controls. I installed this on my FLHTI this past summer, and it works great! Not cheap though, the RetroRadio itself is about $200, and then you have to buy the head unit on top of that (and speakers). I ended up paying about $500 total, including the antenna (have one inside the fairing).
It sounds great though, and it's nice because the Sony units automatically adjust the volume based on speed (mine does at least). Not sure if the H-D units do this or not, but it's a nice feature to have on a bike.
The RetroRadio is made by BikeTronics, Inc. There are a few other makers out there that I've heard good things about too.