Home > Product Reviews > Review: Low cost motorcycle audio by Shark

Review: Low cost motorcycle audio by Shark

August 3rd, 2009

Music! For me and many other riders, is something that goes hand-in-hand with the open road. The problem is that in most states, including my home state of California, it’s illegal to wear headphones while riding. Otherwise we’d be riding with ear-buds with an MP3 player cleverly hidden in a vest or jacket pocket.

Enter the emerging market of audio systems designed specifically for your motorcycle! While this seems to be the answer to our need for music and of course our never-ending desire to stay this side of the law, it introduces a new problem. Cost. Most of the systems I’ve looked at are in the $300.00 and up range. And you’ll still need to provide your own MP3 player.

So my search found a system for less than $100.00. It’s the Shark 100 watt Motorcycle Audio System Model MSR2050PB. So I bought it and installed it on my bike. But before we get into that, here are the technical specs.

Specifications of the 100 watt amplifier & radio receiver:

  • Working Voltage 10-16V DC
  • MAX power @ 4 50WX2
  • RMS power @ 4 25WX2
  • THD 75dB
  • Channel separation >45dB
  • Frequency response 20Hz-50kHz
  • Sensitivity 50mv
  • SLIM REMOTE CONTROL INCLUDED
  • Frequency range 87.5–108MHz
  • Dot Matrix LCD FM frequency display
  • Usable sensitivity 5 v at S/N 26dB
  • Fuse rating 5A

Details for loudspeakers:

  • Working Voltage 10-16V DC
  • VoiceCoil Impedance: 4
  • Resonc Frequency: 165HZ
  • Effective Frequency Range: Fo-12kHZ
  • Puiput Sound Pressure Level: 88dB
  • Rated Input Power: 15W
  • Max Input Power: 50W
  • Distortion: <= 5%

While this is useful information, if you’re anything like me it really doesn’t mean much. What I want to know is pretty simple; is it easy to install and does it sound good? Simple right?

Installation:

The components to install were, the amp and two speakers plus the wiring. The amplifier did not include and mounting brackets and the brackets included for the speakers were not meant for any sort of handlebar mount.

The amplifier houses the controls, (power, volume up and down, mode selector, FM station controls, mute) so it needed to be close to my hands while riding. I used a universal handlebar mount from Kuryakyn, which worked perfectly. I mounted the speakers using their brackets to the hardware for my windscreen, which tucked them in nicely. Though in retrospect, I think it may have been a wiser choice to use a set of the Kuryakyn mounts for those as well. This would have allowed me to insert a greater distance between each speaker and would have given me more options for aiming them. In my view this is something that affects the overall sound. More on that later.

Shark Audio Diagram

Shark Audio Diagram

Wiring was straightforward and the included instructions were easy to understand. I routed the wires under the gas tank, under the seat to the battery. I connected directly to the battery and included the inline 5 amp fuse. Finally, I ran the jack for my MP3 player around the triple-tree and down to a pocket located on my tank bra. This allows me to hide the MP3 player and the wire for it tucked nicely under it so even that doesn’t show.

Use:

Since the Amp was mounted to the left side of my handlebars, I am able to reach all the controls and see the display easily. The power button must be pressed and held for two seconds to turn the system on or off. But while it’s on, simply pressing the power button toggles between MP3 mode and FM Receiver mode.

Sound Quality:

The speakers are loud. Unfortunately using my MP3 player with the 100-watt amp allows too much distortion to get through and that, in my view, goes a long way toward ruining the sound. I corrected this (somewhat) by limiting the output from the MP3 player. This helped but didn’t totally eliminate the distortion, which presents itself when I turn the volume way up on the amp. It should be noted here that Shark offers a 250-watt amp that can be used instead of the 100-watt amp. The problem though is their 250-watt unit does not include the FM receiver and I really wanted that.

I also believe that my having placed the speakers so close to each other also has some impact on sound. So once I get a couple more of the Kuryakyn mounts, I’ll be able to put this theory to a test.

While riding at speeds up to say about 50 MPH, the sound is fine and I can listen to my music without having to turn the volume to its maximum. Anything higher than that though is far different. With the wind-noise produced at speeds of 60, 70, 70 plus MHP I can’t hear the music at all. However in all fairness, I normally wear a half helmet, which means I get maximum wind noise. When I wear my full-face helmet, and thereby reducing the ambient wind noise, I can hear the music fairly well.

My over-all assessment:

Considering the wide rage of systems out there that are much more expensive, I believe I got some value for my dollar. It’s a low-cost system and it behaves as I would expect from a low-cost system. Over-all, I’m happy with it when I consider what I spent. I would love to check out some other systems, especially the Kuryakyn set-up that has the amp build into the speakers.  And as soon as I have a couple extra bucks to spend on that, I’ll do so and of course, I’ll post my impressions here.

Product Reviews

  1. Kevin
    August 6th, 2009 at 10:21 | #1

    I’m a new rider but I have a lot of friends who ride. Most of them like to use their iPods when they ride. I actually don’t get it though. Part of what makes riding cool for me is being able to hear my pipes and the wind rushing past my face. I ride a Triumph Thruxton with some pretty cool after-market pipes. To me the music would be a distraction. But then again I’ve never tried riding while listening to music. Good post though. And I read that you ride a Rocket. Crazy cool bike!
    Kevin

  2. admin
    August 7th, 2009 at 13:33 | #2

    Hey Kevin,

    I’ve heard that before. In my experience there are just as many who decline music while riding as those who enjoy it. For me it was never an issue until I started. Now even if I ride around the block, I have the music going.

  3. CJ
    August 13th, 2009 at 05:16 | #3

    Thank Gawd I found this posting. I just bought the 100W system, and in looking at it realized the manufacturer wanted consumers to actually screw into the handlebars…. as well as no proper mounting system for the amp that is anywhere reflective of a motorcycle assembly…. DAH!

    So thank you!!!!!!!

    I am going to go purchase some Kuryakyn handlebar mounts today and then try to set it up…. Another item that they seemed to have not included or thought of is a mount or holder for the MP3 player or remote…. which would have been nice on the bars too, as I don’t have or want a tank bra (typical male ~ don’t like bras ;-) )

    Anyway thanks again, you made a tough situation simple! Appreciated!
    CJ

  4. Karl@twisttiegrip.com
    August 13th, 2009 at 05:27 | #4

    CJ,
    I’m glad you found it helpful. As it happens since I have the amp mounted on the handlebars, I didn’t use the remote. But you’re right, mounting the MP3 player should have been considered.

    Let me know how the Kuryakyn mounts work out for the speakers.

    Ride safe!
    Karl

  5. SM
    September 22nd, 2009 at 18:47 | #5

    i got this 100W system from a colleague who had sold his bike.. he had cut off the ends of the cable that connects to the motorcycle. (too lazy to open the seat).

    So, i put in some O rings and attached to the battery and accidentally crossed the polarity and burnt the cable. So for all you folks out there, do not use the cable without a fuse built in. luckily, the amp is still working ok.

    Question is, does anyone where i can find the cable ?

  6. Karl@twisttiegrip.com
    September 22nd, 2009 at 19:36 | #6

    I would think you can replace it with just about any properly gauged wire from your local Radio Shack. But as you said, be certain to include an inline fuse.

    But just in case, I bought my set-up from these guys http://www.gooddeals18.com/ Hopefully they can get you what you need.

  7. Tom
    November 29th, 2009 at 08:31 | #7

    How is the FM sound quality???

  8. Karl@twisttiegrip.com
    November 29th, 2009 at 08:59 | #8

    Tom,
    The sound quality is pretty good. But, the FM antenna is not. The antenna is a simple wire than can be positioned pretty much anyway you like. Mine is cleverly hidden in the front part of the bike under the windscreen. The reception tends to go in and out frequently and this has turned out to be my biggest complaint about the system.
    Karl

  9. Erik
    January 2nd, 2010 at 05:50 | #9

    Hello,

    Thank you for the posts on this audio system. I ordered the 250 watt amp and I am wondering if you would please provide the model number of the Kuryakin mount that you used for the mount. Thanks again.

  10. Karl@twisttiegrip.com
    January 3rd, 2010 at 08:00 | #10

    Hey Erik,
    Take a look here for the mounts http://www.kuryakyn.com/index.cfm/go/Home.ProductDetail/catID/17/scID/44/IMID/931

    I did a little shopping around and you can find some pretty good deals on sites like eBay.

    Cheers!
    Karl

  11. eric
    April 7th, 2010 at 09:20 | #11

    “It should be noted here that Shark offers a 250-watt amp that can be used instead of the 100-watt amp.”

    actually, i’ve seen the 250w amp kits and they have the same power output to the speakers with an additional 150 watts going to a subwoofer output, so unless you have an unpowered motorcycle size subwoofer, the 250W amp will add no power

  12. scott
    April 22nd, 2010 at 17:30 | #12

    I just ordered a shark 250w system and it didnt come with any installation instructions. I looked at the speaker mounts and there is no way to mount to the wind screen with the bracket provided. can anyone recomend the right clamps?

  13. Karl@twisttiegrip.com
    April 23rd, 2010 at 06:25 | #13

    Hey Scott,
    The system doesn’t come with the right mounts. I got lucky and was able to use the windscreen hardware (Windvest Windscreen). I would have used the Kuryakyn universal mounts (http://www.kuryakyn.com/index.cfm/go/Home.ProductDetail/catID/17/scID/44/IMID/931) if I hadn’t been able to do so.

    scott :
    I just ordered a shark 250w system and it didnt come with any installation instructions. I looked at the speaker mounts and there is no way to mount to the wind screen with the bracket provided. can anyone recomend the right clamps?

  14. Michael
    May 16th, 2010 at 05:23 | #14

    I hooked mine up to the electrical that feeds my brake lights, so the unit doesn’t drain my battery when I am not riding. By hooking straight to the battery, anyone having any issues with it draining your battery?

  15. Dave
    May 24th, 2010 at 14:48 | #15

    I bought the shark 250 watt system. Didn’t know about 150 watt sub woofer port setup on the box till now and I went and looked and sure enoght your right its there. I wont beable to use it tho and don’t think I’ll ever need a sub woofer on my 4 wheeler. I got the system on an ATV. And it bolted up perfect and plays great with the motorcycle brackets. Even running wide open I can hear it great. So now all my friends want one. I’ve had it for a month and a half and love it so far. I have see some bad post on this system. But I can’t say nothing bad has happened to mine (knock on wood) lol

  16. Paul
    July 8th, 2010 at 07:38 | #16

    I just installed the 250 watt system to my Triumph Rocket III Trike…I had an aluminum strip fabricated and installed the speakers and amp in the shell of my Corbin Fairing…we attached the strip to the top fairing bolts…the amp is protected from the weather where it sits in the centre of the fairing…THE SOUND QUALITY AND VOLUME IS GREAT! The FM on the other hand sucks…it keeps going out even when it trike is parked…waiting for an answer from good deals on that issue, I just sent them that question…one of the speakers had a cracked face plate when it arrived…gooddeals sent me another speaker IMMEDIATELY when I contacted them on that issue…I didn’t expect that the FM would be that great when I ordered it and am currently loading up my mp3 for a trip to California…I guess xm would be the best solution to live radio…ROCK ON

  17. Karl@twisttiegrip.com
    July 8th, 2010 at 15:19 | #17

    @ Paul,
    First, I totally want to see the R-III Trike! What an awesome ride that must be! If your California Trip beings you anywhere near Long Beach, please look me up. I’d love to ride out and meet you and check out the bike.

    On the audio system and FM. I found the wire antenna to be… well… crap. :-) I managed to hide it fairly well under my windvest windscreen and for the most part it works pretty well. Then again, in the canyons of Southern California I lose all signal.

    So you got the 250 watt set up. Did you add a sub-woofer to it too?

    Karl

  18. daryl
    July 12th, 2010 at 00:20 | #18

    i just purchased the shark model #km 2050a-k 100 watt system and love it.
    it is a brand new model it has a wireless remote built in internal fm antenna an sd card slot,a usb port and an aux port.
    the fm radio comes in excellent and the wireless remote controls all functions,i.e. volume,able to change radio stations,control all the mp3,usb,and aux port features.
    shark has made alot of improvments with this unit.
    i mounted mine with the kuryakin acc.mount for the amp and i mounted the speakers to the windsheild bolts on my memphis shades batwing fairing.
    the cost of this new unit is 108.93 and it is worth every penny.
    the sound is outstanding for a motorcycle system i get alot of compliments on it.

  19. vince
    August 3rd, 2010 at 20:39 | #19

    Hey Daryl … can you send me a link to the model you bought. Looking for a good source and the specs. Thanks!

  20. Frank W
    August 26th, 2010 at 10:28 | #20

    I bought the 250W unit. Was able to use it for one week on my bike. before the unit took a crap out. I work at a motorcycle shop,and I would not EVER!!!! Stock this garbage unit in my shop. Looked all over hell and half acre to find a contact number to the manufacturer. Absolutely nothing on the box or papers or on the unit for tech support. I kept the speakers. Atleast they hold up to the weather. which is more then I can say for the unit. Cheap oriental garbage.

  21. Karl@twisttiegrip.com
    August 26th, 2010 at 13:30 | #21

    @Frank, I understand the sentiment. And I’m actually sorry that you have had troubles. Mine has been just fine (although really dirty). I’m still using it and I know it does well because in Long Beach, the local police are constantly telling me to turn it down. :-)

  22. September 28th, 2010 at 23:20 | #22

    Hey Karl, I’m looking to put the 250 watt system on my Harley but a little skeptical. You said you live in Long Beach? would like to check out system on your bike and what it sounds like.@Karl@twisttiegrip.com

  23. Stephan
    October 13th, 2010 at 00:55 | #23

    I just installed the 100 watt version and I really like it. The only problem I have is with the remote. Anyone know if there is another remote that can change the FM channels as well?

  24. rvcycleguy
    January 27th, 2011 at 17:51 | #24

    I found a guy selling the 250w system on a suzuki website. Got it in the mail and installed, Sounds good. Did not come with the remote. Anyone have any idea where to buy the remote. I have asked the seller due to the post indicated the wireless remote, but if he cannot locate, is it available?

  25. Bob
    April 21st, 2011 at 11:04 | #25

    Just got done putting the 100w system on my shadow. The mounts that came with the speakers worked well under the mirror stems. that seperated the speakers a bit and helped with the sound

  26. Karl@twisttiegrip.com
    April 21st, 2011 at 11:13 | #26

    @ Bob… I never thought about the mirror stems! I’m going to try that out and see how it works out! Thanks for the tip!
    Karl

  27. ed gergel
    May 2nd, 2011 at 17:00 | #27

    i got a shark mss-2050ca,
    played great with 512 sd they sent with some music on it, however my downloaded music would not play at all, i may have to buy a new sd card and try it……..hold my breath–huh,,,,,ha/ha

  28. Bill Butler
    May 19th, 2011 at 18:18 | #28

    I just got Shark 250watt system today. I did a bench test with my battery charger. The fm radio is plenty loud and not bad sound. The problem is with the MP3 volume. At full volume I would not be able to hear the music at an idle. I have a SanDisk Sansa Clip if it makes a difference. Anybody know a fix for the low volume?

  29. Karl@twisttiegrip.com
    May 19th, 2011 at 18:54 | #29

    @ Bill Butler… I don’t know about your MP3 player but I use an iPod. Mine has a sound output setting that I have turned almost all the way up. That makes the output volume from the speakers loud enough to hear good music at highway speeds without a problem. Hope that’s helpful.
    Karl

  30. Bill Butler
    May 20th, 2011 at 05:11 | #30

    Karl, thanks for the reply. I will try to borrow one from my granddaughter and see how it works. Bill@Karl@twisttiegrip.com

  31. Warren
    September 7th, 2011 at 17:03 | #31

    Iam thinking of buying the shark 250 watt. Can someone tell me which one is better the 100 watt or the 250 watt. I want the one that when you turn the music up as load as it goes I can hear it clear and with no distoration.

  32. Warren
    September 8th, 2011 at 18:17 | #32

    Warren :Iam thinking of buying the shark 250 watt. Can someone tell me which one is better the 100 watt or the 250 watt. I want the one that when you turn the music up as load as it goes I can hear it clear and with no distoration.

  33. L Boogie
    December 11th, 2011 at 18:10 | #33

    Great post. My problem is that I’m not a mechanically inclined and I’m looking at this shark mirror speaker and amp system and can’t figure out where to even start. Can anyone take a look at this and help me with some step by step, since they don’t send with a manual. Very confused. What do I do with that wire with the fuse? Am I supposed to cut it? Please help.

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