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Motorcycle Exhausts: A Guide on the Important Things to Know

Approximately 457,000 new motorcycles get sold each year. That’s hundreds of thousands of people looking to embrace their new bikes and give them a custom touch. Of all motor vehicle owners, motorcyclists are the most well-known to routinely customize their rides with aftermarket parts. 

One of the most common mods done is the changing of motorcycle exhausts. This quick guide will help you learn about your bike’s exhaust and what you need to know to change yours. 

What’s the Purpose of the Exhaust? 

Your exhaust system does three things. 

  1. Muffles your engine noise.
  2. Helps your engine perform better.
  3. Directs combustion gases away from the rider. 

If you’ve never heard an engine without a muffler, you don’t realize how seriously loud motorcycles can be. This is why states have laws about requiring exhaust systems on all motorized vehicles. 

This is why you see motorcycle straight pipes deemed illegal in most states. These exhaust systems have the muffler portion of the exhaust system removed. They are LOUD and can potentially damage your motorcycle’s engine. 

What Is a Slip-On Exhaust?

When you start shopping for an aftermarket exhaust system, you will see two options, muffler only or full system. If you’re looking for just the muffler, you may hear it referred to as a slip-on or bolt-on system. This is because you leave the factory headpipe(s) and replace only the muffler. 

The other system is called full because you’ll replace everything behind the heads. These systems are more expensive but can offer a greater improvement in performance and sound. 

What Is the Best Aftermarket Motorcycle Exhaust?

There is no one best motorcycle exhaust. Instead, focus on finding the best exhaust for your type of bike. A rider on a fully dressed Harley is going to want something completely different from someone on a literbike. 

The best thing to do is consider the type of bike you own, the type of riding you do, and your budget. You can then narrow down your options from there. 

What You Need to Know in Order to Buy

It doesn’t matter if you’re buying SC-Project sportbike pipes or a Vance & Hines system for your cruiser; there are a few pieces of information you’ll need to know. 

You need to know the year, make, model, and engine displacement of your motorcycle. The exhaust you buy needs to be compatible with all of these things. Keep in mind that motorcycle manufacturers can make several versions of the same year and model of a bike, so you need to know exactly what you’re riding. 

Pay attention to the other hardware you may need, such as gaskets, oxygen sensors, and any other accessories. Always double check before you buy; once your new exhaust shows signs of installation, it’s typically no longer returnable.

Shop Motorcycle Exhausts Today 

Now that you’ve taken our crash course in the basics of motorcycle exhausts, you’re ready to upgrade your bike. Remember, start with the basics about your bike and ride style. Then check your local laws so you know what’s legal. 

Then you’re ready to start comparing system specs and their sounds to find the perfect exhaust for your bike. 

Be sure to browse our other articles for the latest advice on gear and bikes.