As motorcycle and car enthusiasts, a lot of us want to enhance our vehicle’s exhaust notes. It doesn’t really matter what we ride, motorbike nuts change exhaust systems on everything from a 110cc moped to a top-shelf machine like the Aprilia RSV4. Perhaps it’s just ingrained in our very nature, that a louder exhaust note means a better-performing machine. That being said, there are many ways to go about getting a better exhaust note—some more questionable than others.
One such route you absolutely shouldn’t go is hacking your muffler off completely and calling it a day. As you’d probably expect, doing so could have quite a few detriments to the performance and longevity of your machine. If you want a better-sounding exhaust note, there are several safer, legal ways of doing so. There are tons of legitimate aftermarket options which take emissions, engine performance, and noise level into account. Clearly, hacking off your muffler isn’t one of these. Let’s take a closer look as to why removing your bike’s muffler is a bad idea.
Premature engine wear
Contrary to popular belief, your motorcycle’s stock exhaust isn’t an afterthought. Many manufacturers, particularly for high-performance bikes, engineer their exhaust systems to offer the best possible balance between efficiency and performance. The result of this is that sound often takes a back seat. That being said, the temptation to unbolt, or worse, attack your bike’s stock muffler with an angle grinder is one that many enthusiasts find difficult to resist. Doing so, however, greatly affects back-pressure, or more technically, exhaust velocity, which relates to scavenging forces of the exhaust system. This results in your bike running extremely lean; symptoms of which include stumbling at low RPMs, and backfire on deceleration. Running lean also increases engine temperatures, inevitably shortening the life of your valvetrain, gaskets, pistons, and connecting rods.
Excessive fuel consumption
Poor fuel efficiency is also a result of the lean running condition we were talking about earlier. This doesn’t only include muffler deletes, but poorly engineered aftermarket exhaust systems, or full-systems fitted without the necessary ECU tweaks. Most modern bikes are equipped with O2 sensors on the headers which constantly monitor the exhaust gasses passing through the system. Fitting a free-flowing exhaust system can result in errors in the sensor, causing a check engine light. Oftentimes, the only way to rectify this would be to reflash the ECU, or reinstall your factory exhaust system.
Too much noise
A muffler’s job, as the name suggests, is to, well, muffle the noise coming out of your exhaust pipe. Now, removing the muffler of your motorcycle effectively allows the raw, unfiltered noise of your engine to pollute the environment causing unnecessary noise pollution. This noise is especially vexing when it comes from small-displacement single-cylinder motors, thanks to its tinny, high-pitched noise that can be heard kilometers away. On larger, multi-cylinder engines, the noise can be somewhat more bearable, but still loud enough to cause a disturbance, nonetheless.
Get a real aftermarket exhaust
So, what should you do if you want to marginally improve your motorcycle’s exhaust note? Well, the answer is simple, really. Go get yourself a real aftermarket exhaust system that has been engineered and designed for your specific motorcycle. Oftentimes, these exhaust systems come with silencers and catalytic converters which manage emissions and noise. They also look a lot better, with manufacturers focusing on style, fit and finish, and aesthetic elements. Yes, these products tend to be rather pricey, especially if you opt for genuine exhaust systems from the likes of Akrapovic, SC Project, or Leo Vince. However, the price you pay upfront is certainly worth it, as it will likely save you thousands of pesos and multiple trips to the repair shop following a hack-job on your stock exhaust system.