Contributed Tech Stuff - Citizen's Band Radio Thoughts

Contributed by F. Robert Falbo


Disclaimer: Information and ideas contained in this section are solely those of the contributor(s) and not those of Harley-Davidson®, Harley-Davidson® of Uica, H.O.G.®, or the Erie Canal H.O.G.® Chapter.



Citizen's Band Radio - The darling of the highly mobile in the 1970's - on life support by the 1990's - now relegated mostly to truckers. Harley installed CB Radios in some of their Touring bikes, and offered the option on others, slowly removing them as an installed item until eliminating them in the 2018 model year. Yes, Harley still offers an add-in CB Radio module, but the only antennas they offer are for bikes with a Tour-Pack and bikes that have the discontinued Dzus-fastened Bagger frame.

The Harley-Davidson® catalog says that the CB Radio module, known in the catalog as the Bike-to Bike Communications Kit, fits 2014 and up models with the Boom!™ audio system. Since I have a 2017 SGS with the 6.5GT Boom!™ system I thought I'd have a go at adding a CB radio to mine. After some research, here's what I found was needed:

Let me explain why the items listed are needed. The B2B Com. Kit is the CB module. Once you install it, which is plug & play, the fine print says that just like the button on a regular CB's microphone, you need one for this CB too. It shows up in the right handlebar switch pack, but unless your bike already came with a CB, the button is missing. (Rats!) In order to get that button, you need to buy the listed set of Left & Right switch packs which contains the required Push-To-Talk (PTT) button. It's not all bad news though - the new switches are lighted, which at night is a definite plus - and the switches are surprisingly easy to change.

The optional two items depend on if you want to use a corded headset with your CB. Installing these also allows you to use the Speak function on the left handlebar switch pack to control the Boom!™ Infotainment system and, if you connect your phone via Bluetooth, make and recieve phone calls through the system. If you intend to go with a wireless headset and the WHIM module, then you won't need them. If you decide to go wireless but choose the Sena™ Freewire™ system, you'll still need the Music & Communications kit. (The Freewire™ plugs into it.)

After installing the CB module you will have to have it enabled in software by your Dealer with his Digital Technician™ - that's non-optional.

Antennas - where do I start? This may not please H-D®, but I don't recommend any of the ones they sell - simply because they aren't easily tuneable, and you need to tune a CB antenna to get the lowest SWR, or Standing Wave Ratio, which gives you the best signal in and power out. I tried three of them (Get out the tissues!). The first was one that claims to be "tuned at the Factory" and hides in the front fairing. I couldn't get a signal past the end of my 50 foot driveway! (Opinion: bad idea) The second antenna I bought was Harley's frame mounted whip antenna that looks like the AM/FM that comes with the bike. The mounting plates were designed for older Baggers that used the Dzus-type bag mounting system, and had a steel rod frame. The antenna was designed to mount on to that rod frame, so I had to make my own mount to fit the newer, cast frame. I fabricated a mount from aluminum and tested the antenna. This one got me to the end of my block - maybe 1/4 mile or less, and the SWR measured at 3:1 with no way to adjust it. (SWR should be 1.5:1 or lower for best results.) I checked the instructions, I asked the Dealer, and nobody seemed to know how to adjust this antenna to get the correct SWR. So much for the Factory antenna. Next I bought a FireStik2™ antenna kit. It was cheaper than the other two antennas! I bought the 3' black model. It's designed to mount on the top arm of a Semi's mirrors, but I found by shaving a small amount off the mount that it fit into the space where an antenna should mount on my bike, and with a few holes drilled in the frame, it fit perfectly, and at the right angle & height. The FireStik2™ has an adjustment screw on the top, and after some adjustment we were able to get the SWR to 1.2:1, which is excellent. This antenna made the difference, and works great!

It's been a long time since I worked with CB's, and this was a re-learning experience. I'm glad I had a friend that had more radio experience I could count on for help, and I realized that cheap SWR meters are cheap for a reason. I also learned that as far as antennas go, you have to test them yourself. I'm here to help if anyone has CB problems with their bike. Here's a few pictures of the finished CB antenna install...

Here is the CB mount bolted to the frame - it fits right
through the original mounting hole in the fender.
And here is the finished product. The adjusting screw
is under that red cap.

I went back later on and tested the Firestik2 using a RigExpert AA-30 Antenna Analyser to see if I really had the antenna tuned to it's best parameters. We had originally tuned the antenna at the CB module end of the cable, but the best tune is actually right at the connection on the base of the antenna, and that's where I retuned it.


Initial reading at the base of the antenna. It's actually saying
that the antenna is tuned a bit below channel 20 (too long).
After tuning the antenna, it is now centered
on Channel 20.

CB INTERFACE PARTS

MANUFACTURER DESCRIPTION PART NUMBER PICTURE PRICE COMMENTS
HARLEY-DAVIDSON BIKE TO BIKE
COMMUNICATIONS KIT
76000486A $324.95 The CB Radio Module
& Mounting Kit
HARLEY-DAVIDSON HANDLE BAR SWITCH PACK
WITH PTT BUTTON
71500248B $249.95 Adds the Push-to-talk button
to the right control group.
(...and they're lighted!)
HARLEY-DAVIDSON BOOM! AUDIO MUSIC
& COMMUNICATIONS KIT
69200865 $69.95 OPTIONAL: Adds a wired 7-pin DIN
plug to bikes that didn't come from
the Factory with one installed.
FIRESTIK FIRESTIK II
3' ANTENNA KIT
FG3648-B (BLACK) $50.00 This is the full kit with mounting
plates, not just the antenna.
IMC MOTORCOM 1/2 HELMET OR NO
HELMET HEADSET KIT
HS H140P $89.95
IMC MOTORCOM 1/2 HELMET
HEADSET KIT
HS H170P $125.00 Connects to the installed H-D
Audio Music & Comm Kit's
7-pin DIN plug. (#69200865)
IMC MOTORCOM 3/4 HELMET
HEADSET KIT
HS S130P $129.00 Connects to the installed H-D
Audio Music & Comm Kit's
7-pin DIN plug. (#69200865)
IMC MOTORCOM FULL HELMET
HEADSET KIT
HS S110P $89.95 Connects to the installed H-D
Audio Music & Comm Kit's
7-pin DIN plug. (#69200865)
RigExpert Antenna
Analyzer
AA-30 N/L/A No Longer Available - Replaced by
model: AA-35 Zoom
About $270 online.
DON'T FORGET - CB MODULES MUST BE ENABLED IN SOFTWARE AT YOUR DEALER.









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