Your Harley-Davidson motorbike may be altered in a variety of ways, including altering the foot controls, handlebars, front fairing, shocks, adding a fuel controller, updating the tyres, changing the foot controls, and more. If you were to ask the majority of motorcycle riders what the #1 modification they would make to the next bike they bought, there’s a good chance that the unanimous response would be to install a different exhaust. There are a few modifications that motorcycle riders generally prefer that Harley owners should do after purchasing a motorcycle.
Motorcycle exhausts have two fundamental purposes: they muffle (quieten) the engine’s exhaust air, and in the case of systems with a catalytic converter, they also eliminate certain pollutants. The majority of factory exhausts perform their intended functions well, but they frequently add unneeded weight to the motorbike and rarely emit the ideal exhaust tone that is heard with free-flowing aftermarket installations. The debate over whether exhaust system is better or worse for a particular motorbike typically comes down to personal choice and objectives because the most popular aftermarket exhaust configurations are supplied in a range of different metals and designs.
Replacing the exhaust system of your motorcycle can offer functional benefits and improve overall performance. Whether your bike is older, has high mileage, or has experienced previous accidents, it’s possible that there could be issues such as leaks in the pipes or unseated gaskets causing exhaust leaks. Defects like bent pipes can negatively impact airflow and hinder the motorcycle’s performance, necessitating the replacement of the exhaust system with a unrestricted and unobstructed pipe. Additionally, replacing the exhaust system reduces backpressure from the engine, resulting in improved performance. Moreover, aftermarket exhaust setups are typically lighter than the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) exhaust, enhancing the bike’s overall weight distribution.
Enhanced Visibility and Options for Replacement
Furthermore, for riders engaged in lane filtering or lane sharing, aftermarket exhaust systems provide added noise that helps increase their visibility to car drivers, contributing to their safety on the road.
Exploring Replacement Options
If you’re considering replacing your exhaust system, it’s important to understand the available options. Aftermarket exhausts are commonly offered in three ways: slip-on or muffler-only, full exhaust, and modular systems.
Slip-On (Muffler-Only) Option: Opting for a slip-on exhaust involves replacing only the muffler section of the exhaust system. This choice is ideal if you seek a different sound and appearance for your bike without prioritizing significant performance gains. Slip-on exhausts generally provide a modest increase in horsepower.
By replacing your motorcycle’s exhaust system, you can address potential issues, enhance performance, and customize the sound and appearance of your bike. Consider your specific needs and preferences when selecting the replacement option that suits you best.
When you replace your factory exhaust with a complete system, everything from the heads downstream to the tailpipe is replaced. If you want to change your engine, race your motorbike, or want your exhaust to perform significantly better, this is the best option for enhancing it. But in order for the ECM and engine to work ideally with the new system, replacing the factory exhaust with a complete system would necessitate tuning the engine and/or making changes to the fuel management system.
More exhaust manufacturers are starting to give consumers this as a sales strategy. Modular exhaust systems are essentially whole exhaust kits that are available for purchase and installation in individual pieces. Instead of trying to pay for a fully constructed exhaust setup, which may be expensive for some people, individuals can purchase the improvements and install them at a pace that suits them both financially and in terms of time.
How do I know which exhaust to buy, or what will work with my bike?
When it comes to selecting the ideal exhaust system for your Harley-Davidson, the abundance of options can be overwhelming. To make an informed decision, consider utilizing these valuable resources while keeping your search engine optimization (SEO) goals in mind:
- Online Forums: Tap into the wealth of personal knowledge and experiences shared by motorcycle enthusiasts on web forums. Visit popular platforms like HDForums.com, v-twinforum.com, or hdtimeline.com, which boast large and active communities. Utilize the forum’s search function to explore existing threads related to the exhaust system you have in mind. Take note of valuable information, forum etiquette, and user feedback from individuals who own motorcycles similar to yours.
- Local HOG Chapters: Engage with fellow riders in your local Harley Owners Group (HOG) chapter. Seek recommendations and firsthand experiences from members regarding specific exhaust brands. This approach not only allows you to gather crowd-sourced information on exhaust options but also provides an opportunity to connect with like-minded Harley owners. If you find someone with a similar bike sporting the exhaust system you’re considering, you can witness and hear it in action, offering a real-life perspective.
- Online Reviews: Leverage the honesty of online communities by delving into exhaust system reviews. Conduct thorough research on the brands you’re considering and pay attention to fitment, performance, and quality feedback from other Harley owners. This method is especially valuable when exploring exhaust systems from lesser-known manufacturers, as you can uncover unbiased opinions from riders who have already tried them.
- YouTube Videos: YouTube serves as an excellent platform for exhaust system reviews and experience videos. In addition to comprehensive reviews, you’ll often find sound comparisons between different exhaust systems. If you’re unable to find someone locally with the same exhaust, YouTube can offer audio samples for you to compare with your current setup. Keep in mind that video sound quality may not perfectly replicate real-life conditions, but content creators or commenters may provide insights if any discrepancies arise.
Below, we provide reviews of 2-into-1 exhaust kits for various Harley-Davidson models, encompassing different manufacturers and style options. Each exhaust system reviewed represents a complete system, excluding slip-on mufflers or modular alternatives.
By utilizing these resources, you can navigate the vast array of exhaust options available for your Harley-Davidson, making an informed decision that aligns with your preferences and motorcycle’s requirements.
1. VANCE & HINES BLACK 2 INTO 1 PRO PIPE EXHAUST – SUBTLE VISUALS, BUT IMPRESSIVE SOUND
Vance & Hines stands tall as a renowned and sought-after brand in the realm of aftermarket exhausts. With a rich heritage rooted in drag racing and flat track since 1979, they have consistently delivered exceptional products. Among their impressive lineup, the USA-made Vance & Hines full exhaust system shines bright with its 2-to-1 configuration, complemented by blue-proof black heat shields. Adding a touch of style, the CNC chrome machined end cap proudly showcases the iconic Vance & Hines logo on the tailpipe.
Crafted with meticulous attention to detail, this exhaust system features stepped headers and strategically positioned oxygen sensors that delve deeper into the system compared to stock options. According to Vance & Hines, this design enhancement provides superior feedback to the motorcycle’s ECM. To cater to individual preferences, the exhaust system offers a choice between quiet baffles and competition baffles, allowing riders to tailor their desired sound and performance.
While the Vance & Hines Pro Pipe is specifically marketed as compatible with touring models equipped with the Twin Cam 96 motor, it is advisable to verify fitment for your specific model. It is worth noting that a few users have encountered challenges during the installation process, describing it as unusually demanding. If you lack the confidence or expertise to undertake the swap independently, seeking assistance from a trusted friend or professional shop is recommended.
Upgrade your Harley-Davidson motorcycle’s exhaust system to the esteemed Vance & Hines Pro Pipe and experience the remarkable performance and style enhancements it offers. Don’t forget to conduct thorough research and ensure proper compatibility before making your purchase.
2. BASSANI ROAD RAGE II 2 INTO 1 CHROME EXHAUST – POPULAR CHOICE FOR DYNAS
Bassani is a major player in the aftermarket exhaust market and has been designing and producing motorbike exhausts for use in high-performance settings for more than 50 years. This chrome 2-into-1 exhaust system produces a rich exhaust tone and better airflow and has equal-length stepped headers. The Harley-Davidson Dynas from 1991 to 2017 with front controls and the Dynas from 2006 to 2017 with mid controls are both compatible with this system. The system is also advertised as being among the simplest to install because it includes all necessary installation hardware (apart from replacing gaskets). Other users also mentioned that there were fitting concerns for bikes with aftermarket foot controls added, and that the exhaust might not fit around footboards if they are mounted on the motorbike.
3. HANDMO 2 INTO 1 EXHAUST PIPES – GO LOUD, OR GO HOME
Unlock the potential of your Sportster with the Handmo exhaust kit, where minimalistic design delivers maximum impact. Experience a louder, unrestricted exhaust flow that not only adds a unique aesthetic to your bike but also comes at an unbeatable price point. Designed to fit Sportster engines from 2004 onwards, this kit ensures optimal performance with an engine tune as recommended by the manufacturer. Enhance the sound and power even further by incorporating air intake and fuel management modifications.
Choose from the sleek black or classic chrome options available, allowing you to customize your Sportster to match your personal style. The Handmo exhaust kit is offered in both pre-wrapped and unwrapped variations to suit your preferences.
Please note that this exhaust kit includes essential hardware and flange kits for seamless installation. However, due to its design, it does not provide additional options for baffling or silencing. Embrace the raw, unfiltered roar of your Sportster’s engine with the Handmo exhaust kit.
Upgrade your Sportster today and relish the exhilarating combination of enhanced performance and distinctive aesthetics. Experience the perfect balance of form and function with the Handmo exhaust kit, where less truly becomes more.
4. SHARKROAD 2 INTO 1 EXHAUST – AFFORDABLE STRAIGHT PIPES WITH EXCELLENT SOUND
If you’re in search of a cost-efficient 2 into 1 setup for your Twin Cam 88 or Twin Cam 96 motor, look no further than this exceptional system. Available in sleek black matte finish or chrome, the exhaust system offers versatility and style. Moreover, it boasts replaceable end caps, ensuring you’re covered in case of damage or loss of the originals.
Featuring a triple stepped header, this exhaust system delivers optimal performance. The package includes a heat shield and installation hardware, providing everything you need for a seamless installation process. Customers who have previously purchased the Sharkroad exhaust have expressed satisfaction with the exceptional sound it produces after installation. However, it’s worth noting that a few buyers have encountered minor fitment issues and required additional parts like bolts and clamps to complete the installation.
Should you have made modifications to your foot controls or if your saddlebags have unique features, some DIY fitment might be necessary to ensure a proper fit for this specific system. Rest assured, with a little adjustment, you’ll enjoy the remarkable performance and aesthetic enhancement this exhaust system offers.
Upgrade your motorcycle with the affordable and high-quality Sharkroad exhaust system, designed to meet your Twin Cam 88 or Twin Cam 96 motor’s demands. Don’t compromise on style or performance when you can have it all in one reliable package.
5. BASSANI ROAD RAGE III 2 INTO 1 STAINLESS STEEL EXHAUST – LIGHTWEIGHT, LOUD, AND LOOKS GOOD
The stainless steel system with stepped headers on the Bassani Road Rage III, a favourite in the bagger/touring family from 2007 to 2016, will provide a welcome performance boost following installation and an accompanying engine tune. Owners of this exhaust system have reported that the stainless steel will change colour with wear, and that it is noisier when riding than comparable exhaust systems offered by Vance & Hines. The Bassani Road Rage III is the priciest exhaust system choice under consideration, but if you enjoy Bassani exhausts and own a bagger, this price will likely be reasonable.
6. BASSANI GREG LUTZKA LIMITED EDITION STAINLESS 2 INTO 1 EXHAUST – ONE FOR THE COLLECTORS
Similar to the Bassani Road Rage III, this exhaust system is available in a limited-edition model with a muffler that is a few inches shorter than the Road Rage III, adding sound when driving. This system includes detachable baffles and end caps, as well as the hardware required for installation. The headers are equal-length stepped headers. The limited-edition set also includes stickers, a cap, and a collector’s poster. For $999, you can get the Bassani Greg Lutzka Limited Edition exhaust, which is designed to fit Dynas from 1991 to 2017 with mid controls and Dynas from 2007 to 2017 with front controls.
7. COBRA EL DIABLO 2 INTO 1 CHROME EXHAUST SYSTEM – THE UNDERDOG SYSTEM WITH UNIQUE SOUND
This Cobra exhaust system is suitable with Dynas and Sportsters and has equal-length headers and a strategically located collector that the manufacturer claims will produce the finest mixing of exhaust gases. The exhaust pipes are made of chrome and have an aluminium tip with the Cobra emblem powder-coated in black on them. Reviews of the El Diablo exhaust are generally excellent, with compliments on the sound and quality; the main installation issues were noticed because this exhaust system had to fit with a very little clearance..
Below is a quick-reference chart reviewing each of these exhausts, with some high-level detail on each.
|Things to Remember
|Vance & Hines Pro Pipe
matte black design
improved O2 sensor location
|Installment may be challenging depending on skill level.
Fits motorcycles with Twin Cam 96 motors.
|Equal length headers
ease of installation.
|Possible fitment issues with relocated/aftermarket controls.
Fits most motorcycles in Dyna series.
|Handmo 2 Into 1
comes in matte or chrome as well as pre-wrapped options
|Pipe is very loud, with no option for baffles.
Fits Sportsters from 2004-present.
|Sharkroad 2 Into 1
comes in black and chrome
|May have fitment issues if aftermarket bags or controls are installed.
Fits Twin Cam 88/96 motors.
|Bassani Road Rage III
|Fits newer touring/bagger models
|Pipes have been reported as turning blue after regular use.
Fits 2007-2016 touring motorcycles.
|Bassani Greg Lutzka Limited Edition
|Equal length stepped headers
comes with baffles and collector’s items
|Muffler length is slightly shorter than the similarly-built Bassani Road Rage III.
Fits most motorcycles in Dyna series.
|Cobra El Diablo
equal length stepped headers
|Fitment may be tight (and installation may be tough) depending on your application.
Fits Dynas and Sportsters.
Frequently Asked Questions
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF A 2 INTO 1 EXHAUST? HOW ABOUT A 2 INTO 2 EXHAUST?
The debate between 2 into 1 exhaust systems and 2 into 2 exhausts continues to spark interest among motorcycle enthusiasts. Proponents of the 2 into 1 design assert that the merging of pipes creates a slight increase in backpressure, leading to enhanced motorcycle performance and increased torque. This effect is achieved through an optimized airflow facilitated by the single combined pipe, setting it apart from the 2 into 2 exhaust counterparts.
When comparing 2 into 2 exhausts, the reduced back pressure in this configuration results in higher power at top-end higher RPMs. However, it does come at the cost of diminished low-end torque, which might not suit the preferences of some riders.
Beyond the performance aspects, the choice between 2 into 1 exhaust systems and 2 into 2 exhausts often comes down to the visual appeal on the specific motorcycle they are installed on. Some riders favor the sleek and unified appearance of a 2 into 1 design, while others prefer the distinctive look of 2 into 2 exhausts.
In conclusion, the decision to opt for a 2 into 1 or 2 into 2 exhaust ultimately depends on the rider’s priorities, with performance, torque, and visual aesthetics being essential factors to consider when customizing their motorcycles. Whichever option is chosen, it’s crucial to understand how each system affects the bike’s overall performance and tailor it to individual riding preferences.
WHAT’S A STEPPED HEADER AND WHAT WILL IT DO TO MY PERFORMANCE?
You may see or hear the term “stepped headers,” which refers to the process of gradually increasing the pipe diameter from the head to the collectors to enable gases to flow more rapidly and eliminate an exhaust limitation source. If your engine also has a big bore kit, stepped headers are advantageous since you can get a bigger performance boost from the combination of the big bore kit, stepped headers, and an engine tune. The pipes of an exhaust system without stepped headers are all the same size and do not increase in diameter as they exit the heads.
WHAT ABOUT EQUAL OR UNEQUAL HEADER LENGTHS?
Assuming that the exhaust installation is once more accompanied by an adequate engine tune to augment the improved airflow, equal length headers can provide a higher performance boost than uneven length headers. The majority of regular motorcyclists may not notice much of a difference between equal and uneven headers, however; those who are performance-oriented and who own race motorcycles will.
WHY ELSE IS REPLACING AN EXHAUST NECESSARY? NUTS AND BOLTS ALONE WON’T DO…
For the majority of slip-on exhausts, there is a model year compatibility window where a certain type of exhaust is accessible for a given generation from the perspective of bolt-on compatibility. Usually made and supplied expressly for your motorcycle’s year and model, complete exhaust installations replace the whole exhaust system, including the heads and tailpipe. However, since the exhaust kits are made using factory geometry, it’s possible that they won’t take into consideration any changes you make to the foot control placements. Aftermarket exhausts may provide a problem if you change your motorcycle’s stock mid controls to forward controls (or vice versa), as they are often built with the assumption that the rider’s foot controls are in a different place. The majority of new exhausts will benefit from an engine tune, and a fuel controller may be helpful in select high-performance applications.
When it comes to enhancing the performance and riding experience of your Harley-Davidson motorcycle, upgrading the exhaust system is a highly recommended modification. However, it’s crucial to ensure proper installation alongside a tune to fully unlock its potential. Not only does an upgraded exhaust system improve performance, but it also offers a unique and distinctive sound characteristic to each brand’s system.
For optimal results, consider opting for stepped headers or full systems, as they deliver exceptional performance when paired with an engine tune or fuel management system. It’s worth noting that each exhaust system offers its own set of advantages and visual appeal. To determine your preference in terms of appearance and sound, seek insights from fellow Harley-Davidson owners who have experience with the specific exhaust system you’re considering.
If you’re unsure about which exhaust system to choose, refer to the comprehensive list provided above and explore the options that catch your eye. With careful consideration and successful installation, you’ll soon have a new exhaust system ready to unleash its power and provide an exhilarating experience during your future rides.