How to: Install a New Motorcycle Exhaust System
You've got some bite, so you want your motorcycle's bark to match. The best way to turn
your motorcycle from sounding like a kitten to a pit bull is by throwing on some new
pipes. Plus those pieces can really change up the look of your ride; chrome, stainless
steel, nickel and so many more materials to make your monster look the part. So why
keep those puppies stock? If your pocket book is the problem, grab a shiny new exhaust
system from BikeBandit.com to get some for a heck of a lot cheaper and throw them on
your bike yourself. Don't know how? Let us show you.
Switching out the exhaust can be a very different process from bike to bike. Cruisers tend
to slap on full exhaust systems while sport bikes and off-road rides are commonly fitted
with slip-ons. How you're going to install your exhaust is very dependant on the type of
bike you ride and what type of exhaust you're sticking on it.
So you think those slip-ons are for wimps. The only thing you'd ever put on your bike is
a full set of chromed out pipes. And when you get that package with your bike's new set
of lungs, it's like Christmas morning. But before you can mount them on your bike, be
sure to take an extra few minutes inspecting the exhaust system right after it gets out of
the package. You'll want to make sure that there are no scratches, dents or blemishes. It's
the worst when you get those things on your ride and notice a ding. You'll also want to
make sure that the pipes are going to fit well on your bike without getting in the way of
other parts such as passenger foot pegs.
Look good? Great! Now bite the ego bullet and read the instructions. Yeah, we know
how hard this may be for some people, but this isn't a road trip. You're about to play with
some very expensive parts that would be a bummer to mess up. And while we may rock
at telling you the best way to generally mount your pipes, it's no surprise that all sets vary
depending on the style, manufacturer or your type of bike. We'd like to be able to point
out all of these differences and explain how to work with them, but not only would that
take forever, no one would actually want to read it. So do a quick once over of the
instructions for your new exhaust system (don't worry, we won't tell your friends) and
get familiar with them before trying to set them up on your bike.
In order to get the new pipes on, you'll need to remove the old ones. To do so, remove
any parts that are between you and your exhaust system. A lot of cruisers will require you
to take off the floorboard or a fender first. If your bike has an oxygen sensor, you'll need
to detach any sensors that are plugged into the wiring harness and remove the cable ties
to free it up. There may be both a front and rear sensor. The front is typically plugged
into the inside of the plastic box that is above the regular. The Rear, however, is plugged
in under the oil tank on the right side of your bike. Don't know if your bike has them or
still can't find them? Check your owner's manual.
To remove the pipes, start with the two nuts holding the header in place. This is the piece
attached directly to your engine. There should be two bolts holding it on. Remove these
and set them aside. Then you'll need to remove the two bolts (or nuts) that are holding
your exhaust mounting brackets to the frame of your motorcycle. Some bikes will also
have studs that will need to be removed.
If you had to detach some oxygen sensors earlier, you'll also want to remove them from
the old pipes in order to reinstall them on the new ones. Some models may also have a
bracket on the right side of the lower transmission cover. After you've removed this, you
should be able to carefully slide the exhaust pipes from their ports and lift them off of
your bike. We recommend hanging on to them even if you have no intent to use them
again. You may find yourself on the wrong side of a noise law that requires you to
change your pipes back or you might find it easier to sell you bike later on with the stock
pipes. You never know.
Finally, use pliers to remove any snap rings or flanges from the pipes or your bike and set
them aside. You'll probably be using them again with your new pipes so inspect them for
damage. Any bent or corroded parts should be replaced.
Now comes the fun part: putting the new pipes on your bike. But first, whatever you do,
do not scratch them during the install. You've already done the inspection of them so
those puppies should be pristine. Let's keep them that way.
Hopefully you picked up a few extra crush gaskets. Anytime you switch out your pipe, no
matter how long it has been, it's a good idea to switch out the gaskets as well. We
recommend using crush gaskets such or these K&L Exhaust Gaskets
because they'll give you a great seal and keep you from
having any leaks in your exhaust system.
If you had removed any oxygen sensors, reinstall them into the new pipes as well as any
snap rings or flanges. Then go ahead and slip the pipes up to the cylinder heads. Carefully
place the pipes into their ports while being sure to not damage the new gaskets. With the
new pipes in place, tighten the bolts of the head pipe enough to hold the exhaust pipes in
place then tighten any other bolts starting from the back and working your way forward
until you reach the head pipe. With all the bolts cinched down, replace any parts that you
had to remove to get to your pipes such as foot pegs.
Fire her up and listen to that rumble. Let your engine run for a few minutes and check for
any leaks in the system. And be sure to check your bolts after the first few times you ride
to make sure that nothing comes loose.
Slip-on exhaust systems are much more common with the off-road and sport bike variety.
But with so many different types of these bikes comes a million different types of exhaust
system set ups. Depending on what yours is, it could severely alter the way you need to
change out your exhaust. For instance, you may only need to remove one or two parts to
get to an off-road exhaust system whereas some sport bikes require you to take off the
entire seat and rear end. Either way, don't be discouraged, it's a whole lot easier than it
Start simply by removing everything in the way of you getting to those pipes. For
specifics on all of the parts in between you and you r exhaust system, check your owner's
If it's the first time that a slip on system is being put on your bike, you might have to
convert your stock pipes into slip on's. This means that you will need to buy a slip on
system that comes with a mid pipe and head pipe that is more slip on conducive. When
putting one of these systems on you'll need to remove the entire stock system including
the mid pip and header. Start with the bolts at the back and work your way up to the
engine. Be sure to replace that gasket in order to get a proper seal.
Once you've got the old system off, loosely attach the head pipe and tighten it just
enough to keep it in place. Then, attach the mid pipe and secure it with the clamp. Last
but definitely not least, slide on the slip on and its clamp and tighten it down. Check the
way the pipe sits to make sure that it's not in the way of any important parts that you had
to remove such as the passenger foot peg. Some systems will actually have mounting
hardware that will attach to the actual foot peg but since each can be different, check with
the instructions to see how this should be done.
If the new system is looking good, tighten down all of the clamps and bolts and let your
engine roar. Once again, check for leaks in the connections and be sure to check your
bolts and clamps after the first few rides to make sure nothing dislodges itself.
Bike already have the mid and head pipe that are rearing and ready to go? Switching out
the slip on is so easy, you'll wonder why you didn't do it sooner. All you'll need is the
actual slip on portion of the pipe. Simply remove any mounting hardware, loosen the
clamp and slide the old exhaust system off. Then just slide the new slip on onto the mid
pipe and bolt down its hardware and clamp. And presto! You've got a whole new look
Still somehow confused? Check your installation instructions for some clarity or watch
Steve Matthes do the job on an off-road bike in this video:
You may love the roaring of your motorcycle but that doesn't mean that your neighbors
will. And while you may not care if their car alarm goes off every time you blow past, it's
quite possible that the state has already put laws into effect that limit how loud your bike
can be. Be sure to know what the laws are in your area or you may end up having to do
this whole process again while being really glad that you kept those stock pipes. If there
aren't any laws, keep it that way. Try not to irritate the neighborhood too much so that
they don't start a petition to shut you up.