Did you know, the US Patent for an “exhaust muffler for engines” was awarded to Milton O Reeves and Marshall T Reeves in 1897? Interesting fact about exhausts!
Whether you’re a novice and you’ve just bought your first motorcycle (or you’re thinking about it). Or if you have owned bikes for years – you can never know too much about them. This is why we’ve compiled a list of the important things you NEED to know about motorcycle exhausts.
What is an exhaust?
These days, the exhaust pipes on motorbikes are complex – with every component designed for a purpose.
Here are the basics:
An exhaust is designed to blow any carbon monoxide your bike creates away from you (or your passenger). It’s pretty simple really. Hot air blows out behind the bike, so you’re not breathing in any toxic gases. And most exhausts also help to convert that carbon monoxide into carbon dioxide. This means it’s better for the environment. Great news!
Exhausts can also take away some of the noise of the engine. Without a muffler, your engine can be terrifyingly (or thrillingly) loud. Try it out if you want by removing your muffler, or take our word for it.
And of course, they help the motorbike engine run better. Your exhaust pipe and engine are designed to run well together. And it ensures all the air your bike produces flows efficiently – the right way. It can get technical, but we’re sure you get the picture.
You can generally get motorcycle exhaust systems in chrome, steel, aluminium, titanium or carbon fiber. Although these days, manufacturers can do pretty much anything!
They come in three distinct varieties. Twin cylinder flows the gases into separate sections. Single cylinder flows into one section. While larger engines which you find on newer sports bikes (such as the Kawasaki ZX series or other superbikes) actually have four cylinders.
There are five main parts of a motorcycle exhaust:
Piping: Your exhaust pipes are made from stainless steel. They are designed to carry the carbon monoxide from the manifold of your exhaust to the rest of the system. You can get them in different shapes and sizes, depending on your bike model and the performance level you’re after.
Exhaust Manifold: This is a single part, or tubing, that moves gases from your engine to the pipe. There might be a number of cylinders for the gas to come from. Or it could be a header manifold, which operates on a singular cylinder. Usually, this is made of stainless steel, but they can be customized.
Catalytic Converter: This is basically the part of the exhaust that stops you from breathing in poisonous gas. It converts the carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and hydrocarbons into nitrogen, carbon dioxide, oxygen, and water. This is, of course, much less harmful to you (and the planet).
Muffler: As the word “muffle” suggests, the muffler is designed to eliminate noise produced by your engine. It’s not likely to reduce ALL noise (although it can get pretty close in newer style bikes), but it prevents sound escaping from the exhaust pipes. The downfall of mufflers is the more efficient they are, the less power your bike has.
Resonator: This isn’t always part of an exhaust, but it can help eliminate noise. Basically, it rejects sound waves, making your bike operate a lot quieter.
Exhaust Guard: This is an optional extra. An exhaust guard, or exhaust protector, is designed to do just that – protect. It protects your exhaust from dirt and debris and protects you from the heat produced by your exhaust.
When it comes to your exhaust on your motorbike, there are laws you need to abide by. Check with your local state law before you start any modifications or purchase a second-hand exhaust. And check the National Code of Practice for details.
Here are just some of the things you need to know:
- In July 2000 the Environmental Protection Authority introduced a new regulation requiring all motorcycles fitted with an aftermarket exhaust to carry a specific label on it or face a $200 fine.
- When it comes to modifications of exhausts, these can be carried out without certification if they relate to the following: Fitting a manufacturer’s optional component such as an engine, transmission, exhaust system or fuel tank for the particular make/model of the vehicle in question.
- Motorcycles manufactured from 1 July 1975 are subject to strict design requirements for noise emissions… Exhaust system should therefore not be replaced or modified if this is likely to increase the vehicle’s noise output beyond that of the unmodified system when in good condition.
Tips to clean your motorcycle exhaust
One of the most important things you need to know about your exhaust is how to keep it clean. It’s imperative you keep your motorcycle exhaust clean for longevity and safety. And thankfully, it’s not a difficult task. All you need is a sponge, scrubbing brush and pad, commercial-grade metal cleaner, metal polish, washcloth and an empty spray bottle with water. Here’s what you need to do:
- First, spray the metal cleaner on the pipes.
- Leave it to sit for a few minutes.
- Then use the scrubbing pad, brush, washcloth, and the sponge to wipe the cleaner (and most of the muck) off.
- Grab some water in a spray bottle. And use a cloth to wash any remaining dirt or cleaner off. Dry it off with a clean cloth and then use the polish. Job done!
Now it’s time to get out on the road and enjoy yourself.
If there is anything you need to know about motorcycle exhausts and exhaust pipes, what you can and can’t do, or if you have any questions about the type of exhaust you should get for your motorbike, get in touch. We have an experienced team available to answer any questions you might have!