Road King detachable fairings
American motorcycling has come full circle from the days when a “real” biker’s ride of choice was a kickstart rigid that offered a torturous ride. Comfort is no longer a four- letter word and baggers are no longer merely tolerated but actually embraced as a part of the two-wheeled brotherhood. And comfort goes well beyond memory foam-embedded seats or vibration-dampening, rubber-mounted motors. Welcome to the world of aural comfort—Road King style. While initially these fiberglass offerings may appear identical, it’s the small innovations of each that create a classy and individual statement.
Dead Center Cycles
Dead Center Cycles utilizes a patent pending, push-button latching system that can be locked for positive security. It attaches to the stock rubber grommets that are used to mount the windshield on the bike’s triple clamps. The locking mechanism uses a barrel-type key and is inaccessible when the steering head is cocked to the left and the bike is locked, providing an even greater level of security. The quick-detach mounting brackets were exactly as stated and proved to be the easiest of the fairings to install.
Dead Center recently switched over to the Jensen MP6312i CD receiver due to its ESP function (Electronic Shock Protection) that eliminates skipping by reading ahead on the CD and storing the data electronically. The Jensen unit is used in conjunction with a pair of 6 1/2″ Polk db651 speakers providing 60 watts of continuous and 180 watts of peak power capabilities. The Polk speakers are marine-certified, basically waterproof and designed to handle the toughest of environments. The sound character is first rate.
The wiring harness features Deutsche DT Series connectors, the same as those used by Harley-Davidson. A female connector is permanently mounted on the right side of the bike’s neck, using the factory clip that secures the throttle cables with the harness being threaded under the fuel tank tunnel and wired to the battery under the seat. A male DT connector comes off the right side of the fairing. Although this dangling wire is not the cleanest setup, once the fairing is removed, no evidence remains it was ever there. A nice feature is the MP3 connection that comes standard.
But there can be clearance problems. With my unit, the right speaker grill hits the banjo bolt fitting on the front master cylinder. This apparently only occurs with stock handlebars and the only suggested solution is to slightly rotate the bars toward the rear to provide a gap between grill and fitting.
The Dead Center Cycles fairing comes with a 30-day satisfaction guarantee and a one-year limited warranty. The price as installed was $2,249, which included $500 for painted inner and outer fairing shells and a $50 12-volt power socket.
Hoppe Industries has a long history in this business, being one of the very first manufacturers of aftermarket Harley fairings. Their QuadZilla is well known as a standard in the industry. Founder John Hoppe believes in a safe ride first, and to attain that goal he does not use the factory Harley rubber grommets to mount his fairings. He feels the additional weight of a fairing along with the increase in wind buffeting can cause too much deflection if using rubber mounts. Instead of the stock grommets, Hoppe provides four sets of stepped steel washers that capture and pinch the fairing’s mounting brackets firmly once torqued and provide not only greater stability but also added security (Hoppe fairings are only quick-disconnect if you have a 1/2″ socket wrench). The initial installation of the Hoppe fairing took a fair bit of twisting and jockeying due to the unit’s tight tolerances, but after a two-week ride to Sturgis and back, the hand-laid fiberglass had shaped itself to my bike’s unique configuration and was a cinch to install and remove.
Hoppe uses Eclipse CD receivers exclusively, with the CD1200 as the standard unit. I received the CD3200 satellite upgrade featuring a fully motorized face that comes at an additional $75. Whatever your receiver needs are, all your tunes are broadcast through four, 5-inch, 200 watt, marine-grade, coaxial speakers by Pro-Spec Electronics (the QuadZilla) that provide excellent sound quality at all speeds and conditions. And despite several nasty thunderstorms on the way up to and back from Sturgis this year, no problems with the receiver/player or speakers were encountered.
The wiring of the Hoppe unit is the cleanest once the fairing is installed. I routed the wiring through the left side of my handlebar riser clamp cover, around the neck of the frame and under the gas tank to the battery connections. Hoppe uses a Beldon cable connector, a quarter turn accessory that is invisible when the fairing is installed. Once the fairing is removed, the Beldon connector is visible, which is its only drawback.
The standard cost of the QuadZilla as tested is $2,284 (including the gloss black painted inner and outer shell, three-piece pouch set, 12V power socket and MP3 mini jack). The additional Sirius satellite box brought the total package to $2,483.
Dragonfly Cycle Concepts
When I opened the Dragonfly box, I was surprised. It’s a kit! The instructions state that it’s only a two-hour assembly job. My Texas columnist, Shine, boldly volunteered to handle the assembly and completed it in a comfortable three hours (she would have most likely only needed two hours but I was constantly checking on her and asking annoying questions). She did an excellent job despite my worrying.
Dragonfly uses machine-stamped, injection molding to form their fairings, a process they claim is superior to hand-laid fiberglass. During installation, the stock rubber grommets on the bottom triple-clamp are used but two flat steel washers are substituted on each side of the top mounts. This is done to make certain no one simply unplugs the unit and lifts it off to pawn for beer money. If your spotlights are in the rear position on their perches, they will have to be relocated to the forward mounting holes to allow for clearance. Stabbing the slots of the fairing’s top bracket in between the two washers can be a bit tricky, but once installed, the unit is rock solid.
Dragonfly has adapted a Kenwood model KDC-MP435U CD-Receiver as their choice for supplying the goods. And it does so through a set of 6″ x 9″ Kenwood KFC-6972ie oval speakers that produce a whooping 450 watts of peak power through a woofer, midrange, tweeter and super tweeter. These babies crank out a massive sound. Additionally, the speakers are mounted internally, presenting a factory appearance.
The wiring is much the same as for the other two products, although once the fairing is removed a large connector plug must be hidden in the headlight cowl.
The fairing I tested had a few extras on it including a painted inner and outer shell, chrome windshield trim, a 100th Anniversary look-alike stripe and chrome bezel. This ran the total package to $2,597. If you catch these guys at a rally and decide to purchase on the spot, they will assemble and install the unit for free—a great incentive program.
All three fairings utilize a storm door to protect the stereo from moisture, come with a remote control, and have 12-volt auxiliary power source and MP3 connection options. They are all wired with an inline fuse and tied into the ignition/accessory switch to prevent play when the switch is not activated. All use stainless steel mounting brackets, have concealed internal antennas and are satellite “ready” with Sirius or XM boxes available at an additional charge. Upgrades and accessories vary between the simple and the sublime (the latest from Hoppe is a JVC unit with a 3.5″ color screen, GPS navigation, Bluetooth, voice guidance and DVD capabilities—movies anyone?). The three fairings each measure 38″ from batwing to batwing and weigh between 20 and 25 pounds with impeccable fit and finish. The first windshield is included free with height and tint determined by the purchaser. Electronic warranties are carried by the individual radio manufacturers.
While the addition of a fairing takes a little getting used to during riding, the benefits far outweigh the learning curve. But beware: You will drive faster—especially when one of your favorite songs comes blasting through at highway speeds. And take my word, it’s difficult to blame your speeding on Willie and Waylon while attempting to talk your way out of a ticket on a deserted stretch of Wyoming backroad.