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What Does a Marine Certification For Motorcycle Audio Actually Mean?

What Does a Marine Certification For Motorcycle Audio Actually Mean?

by Cliff John September 14, 2018

We get asked every day by our Harley-Davidson® customers if our Sony Plug & Play Bundles are waterproof. In the words of our owner, Chris Rutter, the only thing that's waterproof in this world is a duck’s ass. 

Now, while that's probably true, audio equipment does exist that is considered waterproof, but mostly in the boating world. That being said, I stumbled upon some motorcycle audio equipment on eBay this morning that claims to be waterproof - who knows, maybe it is. 

Waterproof Motorcycle Audio

And, for only $45.99 it must be good. Okay, enough jokes for now... 

I think at this point it's important to define waterproof - according to Merriam-Webster

WATERPROOF: impervious to water; especially : covered or treated with a material (such as a solution of rubber) to prevent permeation of water. 

Now, let's use it in a sentence:

A duck’s ass is waterproof

Sorry, I told you I was done with jokes. 

There are very few actual receivers calling themselves waterproof that you can put on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Do we like any of them? No. Interestingly, most of them come with pretty decent warranties in which rain damage is covered. Makes me wonder whether they're actually waterproof to begin with. 

That being said, a lot of motorcycle audio manufacturers make excellent products for Harley-Davidson's that are marine certified, in most cases, by ASTM International


Marine certified audio is put through hours of very intense testing in environments riders may endure on their bikes. For starters, this includes placing the systems in a chamber that simulates years of UV sun exposure as well as another special chamber that exposes the audio to the equivalent of years of coming in contact with a saltwater environment. 

I know what you're thinking. Why does saltwater matter for riders? The fact is it kind of doesn't. Marine certified audio was developed for the boating industry and is also somewhat applicable to the motorcycle environment.

Lastly, and probably the most important to riders, in the marine testing process the audio systems are targeted with blasts of pressurized water and submersion procedures to make sure every seal, button, port and cable is as moisture proof as a scuba diving suit. 

All components of a marine certified system are also coated a special conformable material to ensure the integrity of the system. 


Marine audio carries three key characteristics that you can be sure of when purchasing a system with a marine rating:

  • Water Resistance: Yes, resistance - not waterproof - however, depending on the product specs, some manufacturers enable their marine audio to be completely submerged in water. 

  • UV Resistance: Definitely relevant to riders. This characteristic makes sure the audio equipment can withstand the most extreme sun environments on your bike for years to come. 

  • Corrosion Resistance: This really has to do with the saltwater environment boats encounter every single day, but it certainly can't hurt to have a system on your bike that can withstand a harsh saltwater environment. 

Interestingly, it's noted on many forums and blogs across the marine audio industry that a non-marine head unit is expected to last, on average, around one-year+ on a boat - and I would have to guess that's mostly due to the saltwater corrosion. I would stretch that much further for motorcycles since we encounter intermittent rain, some very heavy of course, and sun exposure - but rarely saltwater. That is unless you enjoy ghost-riding your bike into the ocean. 

Whether you have a marine rated head unit and speakers or not, there are a few simple things riders can do to ensure their audio equipment lasts:

  1. Do not directly spray your head unit with water when washing your bike.

  2. Have a garage? Store your bike in it when not riding. 

  3. Don't have a garage? Cover your bike when not riding. 

  4. Hit a massive rain storm while riding your bike? Turn off your audio equipment until you make it through the storm. Even better - wait 30 minutes or so after making it through the storm to turn your audio system back on. 

I know these sound like simple, common sense suggestions - but they are worth noting and even easier to follow. Follow these consistently and any audio system will sound great, and actually work, longer than if you don't. It's that simple. 

At Fat Head Cycles we have access to many marine rated receivers and speaker systems for your Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Take a look at our online audio inventory for more details. If you don't find what you're looking for - we can most likely still get our hands on it for you.

Have a question about audio equipment for your Harley-Davidson motorcycle? Give us a call in the shop, 301.825.9007, or submit a contact form below and we're happy to address all your questions so you can make an informed decision about your bike.

Cliff John
Cliff John


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