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Discussion Starter #1
Thought I'd report back to you all!

I've been wanting to upgrade the factory speakers for a while. I wanted marine grade speakers; those summer deluge's always seem to find me on long trips. With Randy Brewster's adapters, I was able to go with 6.5" Polk speakers; and a 300 watt Rockford Fosgate amp.

First I decided to strip the bike down before proceeding. I decided it would be easier to work on if I just had everything out of the way. Frankly, I think people spend more time and energy trying NOT to just take parts off, than they would if they took parts off. It takes less than 5 minutes to remove the fuel tank on the Vaquero; and I'm sure I would spend more time than that fishing wires under it. So off the tank went:



Of course, the fairing also had to be removed. That's not difficult, but it is a little tedious and time consuming. In the process, I also decided to re-wire my trailer lighting setup while I was at it. So I removed the saddlebags and trim. Because I wanted to run the amp directly to the battery; I wanted to move my trailer lights OFF of the battery. I use an isolator circuit, so I just need a source of 12V power. So I just ran those wires to the accessory leads under the seat. Works just fine.



Amp mounted. I realized what a dolt I was running the power alongside the speaker cables. So I did reroute that afterwards. But that's it! Bolted onto a little bracket, fresh wires running to both speakers.

The factory speakers connect to the stereo via a releasable 'clip'. I wanted to limit the amount of factory wiring I cut. So I took the wire that normally runs down from the speakers to the connector on the bottom side of the fairing. I cut the speaker connections off of that, and soldered it to the amplifiers proprietary high-level input harness. So it all plugs right in and can easily be returned to stock; either by soldering on new speaker connections into that factory lead, or just replacing the factory lead. MUCH easier than if I had cut into the bikes main wiring harness.



Here's a shot of the 6.5" speakers mounted. I struggled to find some speakers whose grille was attractive. My GOAL was that if someone walked up to my bike and didn't know better; they'd think it was stock. Obviously, a Vaquero owner is gonna know those are aftermarket; but I didn't want a crazy "aftermarket" look to it. I think those look pretty good.



And the last step before I buttoned it all up; I mounted a Garmin Zumo 595LM ahead of a trip through the Blue Ridge Parkway in a couple of weeks. The fairing 12v accessory leads give absolutely no slack; but they are a super handy place to run wires for the Zumo. Once the fairing is already off, anyway. Had I not already had the fairing off; I probably would've spliced it in to the wires running to the under-seat 12v accessory leads; that are currently occupied by my trailer light isolator kit. (If you look at the wiring diagram; both accessory leads go to the same fuse; so they're on the same circuit regardless). The trailer lights are LED, and the Zumo draws just 1 amp, so it's no big deal.

Under the fairing, there is a GPS audio connector. You can spend $30 to buy the adapter from Kawasaki; but it's something you could easily make yourself with a soldering gun and a trip to anywhere that sells electronic connectors. I elected not to connect it; choosing instead to use my bluetooth headset exclusively. If I change my mind; I can go into the fairing again. Although it's currently all taped up; there is an audio lead in the fairing for the Zumo, that would just have to be connected to the factory stereo.

All in all; I'm fairly happy with it. It's much louder. Audio quality isn't fantastic; I suspect a lot of that is the factory stereo. The install wasn't too difficult. Unfortunately, it was ME doing the install; so the fairing came off a few times. After buttoning it all up and taking it for a test ride, it became apparent that my headlight wasn't working. So the fairing came off again so the idiot who took it off the first time (me) could plug the headlight back in. Somewhere in THAT process, a windshield nut had come loose; so it had to come off a THIRD time. But other than that, a project well done.

Blue Ridge Parkway; here I come!
 

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I'm sure you're glad to have the project done. And you have a lot of experience taking the fairing off now. Ha. Do you think you'll replace the factory head unit? I'd like to have better speakers but not sure I want to go to the trouble of putting in an amp.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I'm sure you're glad to have the project done. And you have a lot of experience taking the fairing off now. Ha. Do you think you'll replace the factory head unit? I'd like to have better speakers but not sure I want to go to the trouble of putting in an amp.
The factory stereo doesn't output a lot of power. I'd strongly recommend putting an amp in. The fairing isn't actually that difficult. It's a little time consuming, but there isn't a single part of it that is technical or hard. 15 minutes and it's off.

I probably won't put an aftermarket radio on. Vanity, really. First off; there's a limited number of receivers available that would check all of the boxes (work with the factory handlebar controls, be marine grade, have a rear USB port to run into the side pocket). And, frankly, just about all aftermarket head units out there just look terrible. I really love the look of my bike and want to preserve it. So it's all about vanity; I don't want to change the "look" of the factory stereo.
 

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You getting any rattle from your fairing? Mine rattles and vibrates every time the bass hits since I installed the 6.5" speakers.
 

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I may try putting the speaker buckets back in first. I left them out thinking bigger box =more bass.
 

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I may try putting the speaker buckets back in first. I left them out thinking bigger box =more bass.
That's generally true, but with the enclosures you should get more volume without distortion. Especially important when you're on two wheels.
 

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I may have to crank my amp
Down a bit. It already makes the speakers bottom out on hard hits.
 

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I put the buckets in and it made a big difference. Speakers don't sound liker they're bottoming out as much as they did before, and it sounds better.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I folloiwed "ohms law" for setting my amp. My speakers are rated at 100 watts RMS and 2.7ohms. So I plugged those numbers into the formula and found that I should be getting 16.43VAC at the output of the amplifier when the stereo is turned all the way up, playing a test tone (that would mean the amp is outputting 100 watts at 2.7ohms). I set it at about 15.2VAC, which is giving me around 85 watts to the speakers. That's plenty, it's very loud, and it's well within what the speakers can handle; and I don't get the clipping, or any rattling, etc. I do have bass turned down a notch or two to eliminate rattle. Dynamat would help, but I didn't go that route. I might in the future.
 

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Did you have to remove the engine guards when you removed your fairing? Any chance you've got step-by-step directions for the fairing removal? I'd love to add an amp and speakers myself, but find the process of removing the front fairing to be daunting.

Thanks,

-John
 

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Did you have to remove the engine guards when you removed your fairing? Any chance you've got step-by-step directions for the fairing removal? I'd love to add an amp and speakers myself, but find the process of removing the front fairing to be daunting.

Thanks,

-John
I did NOT remove the lowers or engine guard.
1: Remove the speaker covers and speakers
2: remove the 2 storage compartments
3: remove the windshield
4: reach in through the storage compartment holes and unplug the driving lights and other wiring, except the headlight
5: remove the trim around the headlight by removing the screw under the bottom and gently pull the top.
6: remove the 4 bolts under the bottom of the fairing (hardest part of the job)
7: remove the 2 bolts just above the speaker holes
8: pull the fairing away from the bike far enough to get your hand down in there and unplug the headlight
9: carefully pull the fairing off and lay it somewhere safe.

reinstall is reverse of these steps
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Why did you remove the trim around the headlight? Maybe it's different on the Voyager, that wasn't necessary on my Vaquero.

Otherwise, that's the same process for me. Basically I followed the service manual, sans the removal of the lower fairing as it's unnecessary. A flat box wrench removes the two 10mm bolts holding the outer fairing to the lower fairing.
 

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Why did you remove the trim around the headlight? Maybe it's different on the Voyager, that wasn't necessary on my Vaquero.

Otherwise, that's the same process for me. Basically I followed the service manual, sans the removal of the lower fairing as it's unnecessary. A flat box wrench removes the two 10mm bolts holding the outer fairing to the lower fairing.
I wasn't sure if that bolt was holding anything else or not. It's probably not necessary, but it's one bolt so it didn't take me but a few seconds.
 

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Thanks so much! When I installed the aux. driving lights on my Vaquero, I did it all through the speaker and cubby openings - what a PITA. The instructions for *that* install started with removing the engine guards, and I was like NOPE, not happening! Found the instructions online to go through the speaker and cubby holes, and got 'er done.

Can't do an amp install that way though... too ship-in-a-bottle for me.

-John
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I think a lot of people do things "the hard way" because they THINK they're saving themselves the effort. A prime example is the old tactic of removing the bottom two bolts from the fuel tank and 'propping it up' and fishing wires under it. You've already removed it! You're literally a minute away (pop off the ignition switch cover and remove two or three hoses; depending on whether yours is California compliant; and you are done! It's fuel injected so nothing is going to leak fuel!) from having the tank completely off, and having all of the room you need to work. It's best to have the tank low on fuel, but the difference between a bone dry tank, and a completely full tank is only about 35 pounds. So if the tank is full, get a helper, or go for a ride before you start and get it down a few gallons. Taking the fairing off is a little tedious because some of the bolts are in kind of funky spots; but it's not difficult.

I'm a firm believer that if it's in your way, just take it off. It'll save you time, effort and headache in the long run.
 

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I really wish there was a shop or professional installers around here that I could pay to upgrade my radio and speakers. I'm at the point in my life now that I can't be bothered tinkering with the bike...I'd rather be riding it. If there was a reputable place to have this done I'd gladly pay. But I do enjoy reading the posts, looking at the photos, and hearing about everyone's success with their bikes.
 

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I really wish there was a shop or professional installers around here that I could pay to upgrade my radio and speakers. I'm at the point in my life now that I can't be bothered tinkering with the bike...I'd rather be riding it. If there was a reputable place to have this done I'd gladly pay. But I do enjoy reading the posts, looking at the photos, and hearing about everyone's success with their bikes.
Contact your local Kawasaki dealer or a reputable independent shop. The independent shop I take all my bikes to said it was a 1.5 or 2hr job, so not cheap, but hassle-free. I like to do these types of jobs myself, if possible. I totally understand that you'd rather ride than tinker - I'm the same way. I did my bobber conversion myself because it was winter and I had multiple bikes to ride.

-John
 

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I really wish there was a shop or professional installers around here that I could pay to upgrade my radio and speakers. I'm at the point in my life now that I can't be bothered tinkering with the bike...I'd rather be riding it. If there was a reputable place to have this done I'd gladly pay. But I do enjoy reading the posts, looking at the photos, and hearing about everyone's success with their bikes.
There's 2 shops in our town that specialize in motorcycle audio. They're definitely not cheap, but I've seen some of their work and they're good.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I really wish there was a shop or professional installers around here that I could pay to upgrade my radio and speakers. I'm at the point in my life now that I can't be bothered tinkering with the bike...I'd rather be riding it. If there was a reputable place to have this done I'd gladly pay. But I do enjoy reading the posts, looking at the photos, and hearing about everyone's success with their bikes.
It's funny you say that. "I'd rather be riding" is exactly why I do my own work. I don't want to leave my bike at a shop for days, or sit around in a waiting room for a couple of hours. I can bang out an oil change in 20 minutes and go for a ride. And this project I can do without having to go back to get my bike and bring someone along to drive my car back or whatever. I do it myself to save time.

Might call the local dealer. You never know. They might do it. Especially if it's a dealer that also does Harley-Davidson. Harley has factory available audio upgrades, so there may be a Harley tech who knows a little bit about audio, who can work with one of the Kawi techs.

And, hey, just call around. I stopped by an audio shop to grab some wiring I needed, and sure enough, there was a Harley Ultra-Classic in his garage with the fairing off, and he was installing an aftermarket stereo and audio processor! You might be surprised.
 
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