Why buy an aftermarket bike exhaust? In a nutshell, to drop some weight, to go faster, to sound beefier, and to look good! While exhaust systems are necessary to muffle engine noise, channel combustion gasses away, and aid overall performance, aftermarket systems aren’t necessarily something riders need as much as want. And, aftermarkets directly impact the bike’s look, sound, and performance.
• Performance is the most common reason to install a new exhaust. Aftermarket exhausts typically increase horsepower and engine efficiency.
• Aftermarket pipes enhance the look of the bike. They can be chromed-out straight pipe or a full carbon race system.
• The sound of the bike’s throttle is a head-turner. A new muffler or exhaust improves the rumble. On the flip-side, dirt bikers/off roaders want to muffle their bikes to comply with regulations.
• Less is more when it comes to weight. Sportbike racers may opt for lightweight durable aluminum mufflers for more power and acceleration, which translates into faster lap times.
Before Purchasing, Consider …
Different brands and parts differ in resultant performance. Thoroughly research the exhaust change, parts, manufacturers’ specs, etc. before modifying factory performance.
Before buying any aftermarket mufflers or exhaust system, be certain the new system parts and overall modification achieves the desired result. Poorly-chosen parts do not work efficiently and adds cost.
Slip-on or bolt-on systems replace the muffler without changing the headpipe(s). Consider manufacturer slip-on systems if there is no desire to change the fuel delivery system. Installation is easy and the cost of the modification is minimized. The performance boost will not be as impressive as a full system replacement, however.
Full systems require everything be replaced, from the engine block to the fuel system. Failure to make fuel system changes results in a lean condition that can overheat the engine and cause poor performance and shorten life. More fuel must be added to compensate for the engine getting more air, thus requiring a fuel system change as well.
Here’s a good video explaining the difference between slip on and full systems.
Exhaust Pipe Selection
When trying to minimize costs, consider purchasing a slip-on muffler modular system an exhaust manufacturer offers. That way, factory headers can be replaced later without replacing the (slip-on) muffler.
A less expensive slip-on muffler may be a good choice to obtain more rumble immediately with the intent to replace headwork, carbs, camshaft, or full system in the future.
Some engine types work better with one configuration than another. V-Twins achieve better torque gains when 2-into-1 exhausts are used. A factory 4-into-2 exhaust will work better as an aftermarket 4-into-1 system. The exhaust can be moved just as fast through the less-restrictive system and the second muffler weight is eliminated.
Weight, cost, durability, and appearance affect material selection. Lightweight titanium and carbon fiber materials are popular, although costly. Aluminum is a better less costly alternative and stainless steel is equally durable and cost effective. Chromed steel lasts and is loved for its appearance. Maintenance may also impact the ultimate selection of material.
Outlet tips are interchangeable and can be fitted according to bike style and rider’s taste.
Drag Pipes v. Open Exhaust
A muffler is the minimum requirement for most vehicle inspections and bikes are not generally ridden with a wide-open throttle.
Engines release the most exhaust through open/unmuffled pipes, which
• make high horsepower (in the rev range)
• do not support good velocity (in the lower rev range)
• reduce performance (during street use)
• leave “flat spots” in the torque curve (erratic delivery).
Drag pipes on the contrary make tuning the bike more difficult.
Baffles quiet aftermarket exhausts without majorly affecting performance gains. A sport bike aftermarket muffler has a removable baffle in the tip (a dB killer). It may be inserted or removed to adjust the sound level.
All pipes discolor due to heating, cooling, contaminants, and the type of material the pipe is made of. Factors affecting exhaust temperatures include the type of camshaft, engine timing, carburetion, and other factors.
Stainless pipes normally turn gold and cruiser pipes blue near the heads according to how the bike is running.
To minimize discoloring,
• keep the bike tuned-up.
• purchase double wall pipes (a pipe within a pipe). High temps affect the inner pipe, leaving the outer pipe stain-free.
• purchase pipes with extensive heat shielding. A layer of cool ambient air between pipe and shield prevents the effects of high heat.
Wrap pipes in fiberglass tape at your own risk. Wrapping tends to hold moisture which accelerates oxidation. Most manufacturers will void the warranty if the pipes have been wrapped. Dragstrip riders often try to keep exhaust temperatures high to improve expelled exhaust velocities. It has also become street-popular due to its general appearance.
Installing the Muffler or Exhaust System
The ease of installation depends on what type of bike the muffler or exhaust system is being installed on, what kind of system is being installed, and how proficient the installer is. Although the manufacturer or uTube may indicate or show a less complicated installation, first consider:
• your own mechanical aptitude,
• your understanding of the type of exhaust system,
• the systems/panels that need to be disassembled to access the exhaust,
• tools you have on hand, and
• your ability to follow instructions.
While some bike bolt-on exhausts may take less than 30 minutes, other muffler or exhaust system installations may require considerable time to remove the body panels necessary to gain access to the existing exhaust. It is recommended to contact manufacturer customer service for specific bike/pipe combination questions. When all else fails, consider hiring a competent motorcycle shop/dealer to install the system for you at a fair price.
Have All Bike, System, and Hardware Information Before Ordering
Before ordering, know the bike’s year, make, model, and engine displacement. This is essential and will minimize guessing and ordering the wrong parts.
An exhaust system does not usually include gaskets. It generally only comes with the pipes. It is not recommended to try to re-use gaskets. They tend to warp over time with changes in temperatures. Getting a good seal with the new part after having been removed from the old part may not work either. New gaskets and sealants are always recommended.
Hardware and oxygen sensors also deteriorate with time, temperature, and use. Hardware is typically fabricated from mild steel. It may rust, bind, bend, or break due to heat cycling. Oxygen sensors generally become damaged and are unusable once they are removed. Oxygen sensors can successfully be removed and not broken using sockets and wrenches specifically designed to extract them. Oxygen sensors can be extracted using normal wrenches, but with less chance of preserving the sensor.
If possible, purchase replacement parts you anticipate needing before you begin the install. Or be prepared to find or purchase parts while you are working on the project.
Because the exhaust system is an aftermarket modification, you must know beforehand how compatible the system is and if it will work once installed on the bike. Exhaust systems are generally made for stock motorcycles. If the motorcycle the system will be installed on is not stock, the manufacturer places the responsibility for successful installation on the customer. Remember, once an exhaust shows signs of being mounted, it is not typically returnable.
On the other hand, some full-system exhausts will require you make modifications to your motorcycle. Certain components such as oxygen sensors may need relocated. Other components such as high-mount centerstands may need to be removed. Occasionally instructions are unclear and some light fabrication may be required.
In any case, some parts must be reused. Brackets, flanges, side stand bumpers, or clamps may need to be used again. If they are broken, damaged, or missing they must be replaced. If possible, obtain them from your dealer prior beginning the installation.
M4 Exhausts has been a regular feature in AMA Pro Racing for many years. The company’s research and development is a result of their race track success. It is the chief sponsor of the M4 Daytona Sportbike and AMA Superbike Racing Team, with winners and champions that exclusively use M4 exhausts. M4 is also the maker of street performance exhausts (GP and Street Slayer systems) as well as racing exhausts.
M4 specializes in full exhaust systems and slip-ons/bolt-ons, which are precision dyno-tuned for optimal performance and sound.
It specializes in bike exhaust parts for Suzuki-brand bikes. It also makes exhausts for:
M4 high-quality dirt bike and sportbike exhaust systems are easily installed, and perform and sound great. M4 products are designed and intended for closed course competition use only. The company includes a one (1) year limited warranty for defects in workmanship and materials.
Vance & Hines
For more than 30 years Vance & Hines has drawn upon their racing heritage to produce full exhaust, slip-on, and fuel and air systems for American V-twins, Japanese metric cruisers, dirt bikes, and sportbikes.
Vance & Hines is a leading name in V-Twin performance delivering style and maximizing quality, performance, and sound. The company offers a competitively-priced, easily-installed, full exhaust product line and new innovations such as the Bluetooth-enabled FP3 Fuel Tuner.
The Yoshimura company (established in Japan in 1954) is one of the largest manufacturers of aftermarket exhausts in the US due to its unmatched research and development. It also sponsors the Yoshimura Suzuki Road Race Team, Team Yoshimura Suzuki’s motocross and supercross team, and collaboration with Factory Honda Racing and GEICO Honda Racing and won more than 30 AMA, WORCS, and GNCC titles since 1999, as well as the previous championships.
Yoshimura adapts its technology to quality consumer products, including those for scooter, ATV and UTV as well as dirt bikes and streetbikes that achieve the highest performance and competitive advantage. The company designs its products with integrity and low maintenance in mind and includes a one (1) year limited warranty for defects in workmanship and materials.
Two Brothers (TBR)
Two Brothers Racing (TBR) has 30+ years of AMA racing, National Championships, and exhaust system expertise. TBR is a leader of American-made aftermarket exhaust systems and a globally-known performance for Sport and V-Twin machines. The company’s research and development turns on precision, aesthetics, and performance, from its sportbike S1R system to its H-D Comp-S systems. Its racing heritage has transformed its consumer products and race-ready performance products that maximizes output.
Two Brothers Racing provides peak Kawasaki performance exhaust systems and the same dyno-tuned, top-end horsepower performance the straight-back style slip-on Harley-Davidson exhaust offers. TBR provides a one (1) year service warranty on its exhaust systems.
Slovenian manufacturer Akrapovič, established in 1990 by Formula-1 and World Superbike champion racer Igor Akrapovič produces innovative motorcycle exhaust systems. Akrapovič is a global motorcycle racing exhaust supplier used in MotoGP, Superbike, Supersport, Supermoto, Motocross, and Enduro.
Akrapovič exhaust systems are some of the finest high-performance systems available on the market due to their durable, high-quality, lightweight (stainless and titanium) performance and sound. stainless, rather than steel, and titanium. The Akrapovič signature is its hexagonally-shaped motorcycle muffler. The next gen Akrapovič exhaust is its conically-shaped muffler which provides faster acceleration and a “sharper racing sound.”
International distinction is supported by leading race teams and Kawasaki, Yamaha, Suzuki, Ducati, Honda, and Akrapovic partners, as well as off-road bike manufacturers KTM and Husqvarna.
The defining feature of nearly four decades of Bassani Xhaust is its ability to make power and sound great. Each exhaust pipe is hand-built in the US from quality welded steel construction with aluminum end-caps.
Bassani Xhaust offers a full line of performance parts and accessories including 2-into-1 performance exhaust systems, Pro Streets featuring a shotgun design available in slash and straight cut styles and a control version for Sportsters®, and Power Curve (true-dual H-D crossover) direct bolt-on for stock head pipes. The Bassani Xhaust patented Power Curve improves low-end torque, appearance and exhaust tone. Slip-on Mufflers for Road King®, Road Glide®, Dresser, and Twin Cam88® touring models in slash cut, straight cut, slice cut, slant cut, and megaphone styles.
Bassani Xhaust warrants it’s motorcycle products to be free from manufacturer defects for one (1) year from date of purchase. Proof of purchase is mandatory. other than mentioned herein
For 40 years Cobra has been one of few companies that works with each major OEM motorcycle company. This has led to the creation of custom accessories for most metric cruisers and H-D models as well as to a large range of custom motorcycles.
As the leading aftermarket cruiser product manufacturer, Cobra offers a full line of performance parts and accessories including 2-into-1 Systems, traditional Dragsters, Streetrods for smaller displacements, and Slip-on Mufflers. It also continues to innovate and lead with its Fi2000 digital fuel management system and newer exhausts as the Speedsters full exhaust with PowerPort and high-end line of H-D Baggers mufflers.
Cobra exhaust systems are competitively-priced, install easily, sound great, exhibit outstanding performance, and have flawless styling. The company includes the industry’s only limited lifetime warranty covering its Cobra Speedsters, Cobra Streetrods, Cobra Dragsters, Cobra PowerPro, Cobra PowerPro HP, Cobra GL 1800 Goldwing Mufflers, Cobra Dresser Mufflers, and Cobra TrueDual Exhaust systems.
Exhaust upgrades are done for numerous reasons, mainly for more horsepower. The only thing better than better performance and looks is sound. A new muffler or exhaust system enhances the rumble. Of equal interest is weight. Less weight means more power and faster acceleration.