The stock exhaust is probably the first thing to go whenever someone chooses to mod a motorcycle. The extra sound that you get out of it only makes you love your bike more. Sure, a few extra decibels can be quite invigorating, but is it really worth the money that you have to fork over?
Here’s the thing, we’ll be talking about all three types of exhausts that you can buy nowadays, from the replicas to fabricated, all the way to the bespoke and expensive systems. We’ll also cover the different styles of exhausts, from slip-ons to full systems.
What’s your budget?
Whether or not it’s worth it will depend on how much you pay for your system. If you’re going for a generic or fake exhaust, then chances are you’ve accomplished getting some extra noise, at the expense of less quality. You can also go the fabricated route, opting for a shop with experience will cost you a little more, but you can create a system or a muffler that you want with quality that can match higher-tier brands. Perhaps, you want something a little more special, and you want yourself an imported and high-quality brand name for your motorcycle, it’ll cost you but the attention to detail is second to none.
The thing is, you can buy an exhaust, or you can have one made. At higher prices, expect better levels of workmanship, materials, and looks. It’s only natural that you get a better quality item the more you pay, but is that quality worth it? That depends on your tolerance.
Is it worth it for the sound?
Some extra decibels never hurt anyone, or could it? Well, as long as you don’t overdo it, yes, some sound could help you feel better on your motorcycle. While not all exhaust systems will allow your bike to produce more power, it does make a ride more enjoyable regardless.
Either way, the point is to not overdo it. Think about it this way, you’ve already paid for your exhaust so it shouldn’t cost you more money to use it. Chances are, you may get flagged down by a traffic enforcer if your pipe is loud enough, which means that you will get a fine.
As long as you’re within the legal limit, it’s well worth the enjoyment as long as you enjoy the sound.
Is it worth it for the aesthetic?
For us enthusiasts, it’s well worth the price to get a system that speaks to you and enhances the look of your motorcycle. The only issue is just how good-looking is your muffler? No doubt that a good fabrication shop can make you a nice-looking system, and no doubt that the top-tier brands can deliver in the aesthetic department.
Also, make sure to get the appropriate style of exhaust for your motorcycle. If the bike has a more modern look, try and shop around for modern examples of exhaust systems. If you’re running a cafe racer or a retro naked bike, then shop accordingly.
However, generic or counterfeit mufflers may leave something to be desired. One can argue that a good fake can match an original article well enough to be indistinguishable, but you might have to pay a higher price for something like that, which means you could have saved up that money and put it towards an original system.
Is it worth the problems?
Some motorcyclists have experienced problems with their bikes after fitting an aftermarket exhaust. Whether it’s a check engine light (CEL), the bike gets stuck in limp mode, or refuses to start it can all be remedied with a little more fine-tuning—literally.
By changing your exhaust, you make the bike breathe easier, however, your engine control unit (ECU) might not know that and might throw a code and subsequently a CEL. For carbureted bikes, it’s highly likely that slapping on a new exhaust system will cause your bike to run either too rich or too lean, depending on what system you have installed or what baffles are set in place.
If you’re looking to upgrade your stock system to something more free-flowing, then you may want to do some research on the options available and look up reviews to see whether the new system will cause a CEL.
Carbureted bikes are easier to modify because it doesn’t involve a computer. All you need to do is take the bike to a shop and have it carb-tuned by someone that knows what they’re doing. For fuel-injected bikes, you may have to get their ECU reflashed and remapped to accommodate the increased airflow.
Just make sure that you’re ready to address any engine or fueling issues if ever. Carbureted bikes will be easier and cheaper to tune, but fuel-injected bikes might cost a bit more to retune.
So, is it worth it?
If you’re looking for an exhaust system for your motorcycle, you have to look at one last thing, and that is resale value. Ideally, you’d want an exhaust system that isn’t too invasive. Ideally, you want something that is bolt-on and bolt-off so you can still retain the stock system and reinstall it if you do decide to sell the motorcycle down the line. Try and stay away from options that will cut up the stock system.
To us, at least, getting an exhaust system is generally worth it if you love your motorcycle. If you don’t, however, try not to spend on it as much if at all. Remember to try and get the right parts for your bike, then remember to pick quality over quantity so the system will last you a long time. On top of this, make sure that you’ll be able to see yourself with the mods you’ve installed in the long run, as constantly changing will cost you more.