There are many reasons to buy an aftermarket exhaust system – to reduce bike weight, to increase speed, to sound beefier, and to look better. The best motorcycle exhaust systems will do all of these things, while others are purely focused on increasing the volume and aesthetics alone.
In this review, we’ll look at 10 of the very best motorbike exhaust systems currently available from across the price range, breaking down what we liked about each one. But before we get into the reviews, our handy buyer’s guide will help you identify things to look out for when buying an aftermarket exhaust.
- Best Motorcycle Exhaust Systems Buying Guide
- Best Motorcycle Exhaust Systems Comparison Table
- Top 10 Best Motorcycle Exhaust Systems 2020 Reviews
- 1 Yoshimura RS-5 Slip-On Exhaust
- 2 Universal Slip On Exhaust Muffler
- 3 Suzuki M4 GP Series Slip-on Exhaust
- 4 EMGO Chrome Shorty Muffler
- 5 Vance & Hines Shortshots Staggered Full System Exhaust
- 6 Akrapovic Titanium Slip-on Muffler
- 7 JFG RACING Slip on Universal Muffler
- 8 XMT-MOTO 4” Megaphone Slip-On Mufflers
- 9 Radiant Cycles Shorty GP Slip-on Muffler
- 10 Yoshimura TRC-D Slip-On Exhaust
- More Great Accessories For Your Bike
- So, What Are The Best Motorcycle Exhaust Systems?
Best Motorcycle Exhaust Systems Buying Guide
There are a number of things you need to familiarize yourself with when looking to buy the best motorcycle exhaust system.
It’s important to do your research when making changes to the original factory set-up. It’s essential to know the basic specifications of your bike to ensure compatibility with your new exhaust system.
What Is Your Goal?
Different manufacturers and parts offer very different performance results. Make sure your preferred exhaust system will achieve the desired outcome. The wrong choice can lower efficiency, adding extra costs to running the bike.
Slip-on or Full System Exhaust?
If you want to keep cost and hassle down to a minimum, then you can replace the muffler only. This is called a slip-on system. They are generally very easy to install and don’t require changes to be made to the fuel delivery system.
If you want more of a performance boost, then consider a full exhaust system replacement. This a more expensive option as the head pipes are replaced along with the muffler. Changes also need to be made to the fuel system to make sure that the engine is getting enough juice. If this isn’t done, you can significantly reduce the lifespan of your engine.
For reference, the vast majority of the products in this review are slip-on muffler replacements.
This will be dependent on what kind of bike you ride. Some bikes are only compatible with a certain type of exhaust set-up, so make sure you are familiar with your bike’s configuration to avoid making a costly mistake. There’s no shame in seeking professional advice if you’re not entirely sure. There are plenty of online biking forums where you can find the answers you need pretty quickly.
Many different materials used in exhaust manufacturing from titanium and carbon fiber to stainless steel, aluminum, and chromed steel. Each have different specs in terms of weight, expense, durability, and style. For example, Titanium and carbon fiber are very lightweight but expensive, while chromed steel is famed for its beauty and longevity.
- Avoiding pipe discoloration
All pipes discolor over time due to the extremes of temperature they are being put through. This can be mitigated in a couple of ways. Keeping your bike well-tuned in terms of spark plugs and fuel supply, will help to lower the temperature, therefore keeping your pipes cleaner. Buying double-walled pipes also helps. The outer wall stays much cooler than the inner wall, resulting in stain-free pipes.
Ease of installation obviously depends on the type of system you are installing, the type of bike you ride, and your level of mechanical expertise. Most slip-on mufflers can be installed with a minimal amount of mechanical knowledge and the help of an appropriate YouTube video.
However, you’d be well advised to seek out the help of a trained mechanic when installing a full exhaust system as there is so much more to take into consideration.
Hopefully, that’s made the buying process a little clearer, and we can dive into our review of 10 of the best exhaust systems for your motorcycle currently on the market.
Best Motorcycle Exhaust Systems Comparison Table
Yoshimura RS-5 Slip-On Exhaust
|(4.9 / 5)|
Universal Slip On Exhaust Muffler
|(4.4 / 5)|
|(4.7 / 5)|
EMGO Chrome Shorty Muffler
|(4.2 / 5)|
|(4.7 / 5)|
|(4.2 / 5)|
|(4 / 5)|
|(4.7 / 5)|
|(4.6 / 5)|
Yoshimura TRC-D Slip-On Exhaust
|(4.9 / 5)|
Top 10 Best Motorcycle Exhaust Systems 2020 Reviews
1 Yoshimura RS-5 Slip-On Exhaust
Yoshimura are one of the most recognizable brands in the market. They have over 60 years of experience producing some of the most widely appreciated exhaust systems on the planet. The RS-5 slip-on muffler maintains this reputation well.
The unique trapezoid design has a very stylish and appealing look. It instantly gives any sports bike more of a racing look the moment it’s installed. Talking of installation, it’s very easy to set-up. Clear instructions, along with effective pictures, make the whole process a breeze.
It shouldn’t take the averagely skilled biker much more than 20 minutes from start to finish. It’s unlikely you’ll need professional help for this one.
The tailpipe is made from stainless steel with a carbon fiber end-cap making it lightweight and very durable. The exterior is covered by a heat shield to keep the exhaust from accidentally burning your leg.
If you live in a quieter area and want to keep the noise down, the RS-5 comes with a sound dampener. This can also be removed if you want to announce your arrival a good kilometer before you turn up.
The Yoshimura RS-5 slip-on muffler is the second most expensive system on our list. Even so, it still offers good value for money and a noticeable improvement in throttle response, which is really what we’re looking for at the end of the day. All this makes it definitely one of the best racing motorcycle exhaust systems around.
- Sleek racing look.
- Noticeable performance improvement.
- Simple installation.
- Optional sound dampening.
- Not street legal in every state.
- If your bike is lowered, there could have clearance problems.
2 Universal Slip On Exhaust Muffler
Near the bottom end of the price scale, the Universal Slip on Exhaust Muffler can work with a huge array of different machines from dirt, bikes, and scooters to street bikes and quads. This is down to the stainless steel adapter, which allows connection with any head pipe from 38-51mm diameter.
The stainless steel construction has clearly been made with durability in mind. The steel is coated with a carbon fiber vinyl finish, which rounds the look off very nicely.
As this slip-on muffler is made to fit many different bikes, it doesn’t come with a specific bracket. This means that the installation process will require a little welding, a job that will need the help of a professional unless you happen to be a welding whizz?
Volume levels can be adjusted by removing the sound dampening. This system gets very loud when fully de-restricted.
All in all, the versatility and extremely low price of this slip-on muffler make for an attractive all-round package and explain why the Universal made the list.
- Compatible with most bikes.
- Very affordable.
- Durable build.
- Requires welding to install.
- Maybe too loud when damping removed.
3 Suzuki M4 GP Series Slip-on Exhaust
Made to accompany their GSXR 600/750cc range of sports bikes, Suzuki have really pulled out the stops with the M4 GP slip-on exhaust to create a stylish look that pumps out a real MotoGP kind of sound.
It’s a massive improvement on the rather bulky stock exhaust that comes as standard on the GSXR 600/750cc range. It’s way smaller and lighter and really cleans the rear end up nicely.
The stainless steel, aluminum-clad construction looks to have been made to last, and because it is such a small unit, it only tops the scales at 4.25lbs, meaning GSXR owners can lose quite a lot of weight by upgrading to the M4-GP.
Installation is a breeze with very user-friendly instructions guiding the way. And it should take most bikers no longer than 15 minutes to get the job done. Once installed, the first thing you notice is the sound. With the baffle removed, it almost seems too loud, but once you experience the sweet growl to hum as you rise through the gears, you’ll soon change your mind.
Not sure your neighbors will appreciate it as much, but it’s too nice a sound to be baffled away all the time.
Performance-wise, it doesn’t necessarily add much in the way of horsepower, but the power seems to flow more easily with fewer stumbles and hiccups.
At a mid-level price point, this excellent upgrade is worth every cent if you happen to be a Suzuki GSXR owner. If not, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
- Amazing sporty sound.
- Small, lightweight design.
- Smoother riding experience.
- Good value for money.
- Only compatible with the Suzuki GSXR range.
4 EMGO Chrome Shorty Muffler
EMGO are an American company with over 50 years of experience manufacturing high-quality motorcycle parts, exhausts included. The Chrome Shorty muffler is one of their most popular exhausts as it can be fitted to so many different models of bike.
This beautifully chromed exhaust really brings out the beast in whatever you’re riding, translating to a lowering of tone and a big rise in volume. Yes, they get loud. You have been warned. If being the center of attention isn’t your thing, then you might want to look elsewhere.
However, if you like making heads turn, then this remarkably cheap exhaust could be what you’re looking for. With the removable baffle installed, it has a less aggressive, but still exciting sound.
And extremely cheap it certainly is. Comfortably the cheapest model on our list. That being said, due to the universal nature of the fit, extra money will probably have to be spent on welding or adapters to achieve a good fit. But that is the nature of universal motorbike parts.
Don’t expect any real performance improvement from the EMGO Chrome Shorty. This exhaust is more about sound enhancement than anything else. But if you want to beef up the sound without breaking the bank, the Shorty is well worth a look.
- Attractive chrome plating.
- Incredibly cheap.
- Compatible with most bikes.
- Will make any bike growl.
- Will likely need welding.
- Won’t thrill your neighborhood.
5 Vance & Hines Shortshots Staggered Full System Exhaust
If you are the proud owner of a Harley Sportster (2014-18) and you want to give your bike the sound it deserves, then Vance and Hines have created the pipes to do just that.
The stock pipes on a Harley Roadster really don’t do the bike justice. Not only do they lack style, they simply do not convey the power that the bike possesses. Swap out the whole set-up for the Shortshots Staggered full system exhaust, and all of that changes in an instant.
A sleek matte black finish is complemented by a beautifully contoured design and what a transformation in sound awaits once installed. The kitten you left at the mechanics has been transformed into a roaring lion; the difference is that remarkable. A removable baffle can be inserted to quieten things down if it’s all too much.
Heat shields cover the whole system giving you ample protection from accidental burns.
Installation should probably be done by a qualified mechanic at the local Harley Davidson dealership unless you are extremely confident in your abilities. It’s not hugely complicated, but there are extra bits and pieces, such as the oxygen sensors that need to be mounted. Any changes in the fuel system can also be easily completed at the dealership.
Considering this is a full exhaust system, the price is very reasonable. It is at the higher end of the price scale of products featured here, but considering the transformation, it bestows on your Sportster, you won’t regret buying the Vance and Hines Shortshots Staggered Exhaust for a minute.
- Sleek and stylish.
- Thrilling Harley sound unleashed.
- Reasonably priced.
- Improved performance.
- Compatible with Harley Roadster only.
- Need to be installed by a pro.
6 Akrapovic Titanium Slip-on Muffler
Akrapovic have developed a solid reputation since the early nineties for producing some of the best aftermarket bike exhausts for serious racers on the market. Their Titanium slip-on muffler has been designed specifically for the Yamaha YZF-R6 range of racing bikes.
It offers an immediate weight saving of 3.5lbs over the factory exhaust, and as any racer knows, every last pound makes a big difference to lap times. And your lap times will also be aided by noticeable increases in power and torque across the whole rpm range. Tests have shown a 1.2hp increase at 14,500rpm, which is not to be sniffed at.
The main construction material is titanium, which has a proven track record when it comes to the lightweight durability needed for racing. Installation is also rendered very simple by the fact it’s designed with one bike in mind. With the right tools to hand, a trip to the mechanics should be easily avoidable.
The distinctive megaphone design really gives it that MotoGP look and sound. When you want to tone things down a little, you can insert the noise dampener to lower the decibels a little.
Unfortunately, the Akrapovic titanium slip-on muffler can’t be legally used on the highway due to not meeting emission requirements. But if you’re a Yamaha YZF-R6 owner who rides on the track regularly, this would make a great and reasonably priced upgrade to your steed.
- Power and torque boost.
- Light high-quality titanium design.
- Very easy install.
- Baffles are effective.
- Not street legal.
- Only compatible with Yamaha YZF-R6.
7 JFG RACING Slip on Universal Muffler
Heading back to the cheap end of the price scale is the JFG Racing Slip-on Universal Muffler. As the name suggests, this exhaust is compatible with any motorbike sporting 38-51mm pipes. This does mean that welding will be involved in the installation process, so you’ll have to factor in the cost of a trip to the mechanics if buying the JFG.
It must be said that for such a cheap exhaust, the design department have done a very nice job. The hexagonal design is quite attractive and wouldn’t look out of place, even on more expensive machines. It’s an aluminum construction with a stainless steel pipe adapter.
Weighing in at a mere 3.46lbs, the JFG Universal Muffler will most likely save you a few pounds regardless of the bike you’re riding.
Well, it certainly manages to crank the volume up. With the damping removed, things get very loud, possibly too loud if we’re honest. Not a problem on the track, but in town, you’re likely to get unwanted attention from the authorities if you remove the baffle. Minor improvements in power and torque were just about noticeable but don’t expect any huge leaps in overall performance.
To be honest, you can’t go to wrong at this price, but there are better sounding universal exhausts on this list at around the same price, which also offer a step up in performance — the Universal Slip-on Muffler springs to mind.
- Super cheap.
- Attractive design.
- Too loud without baffle.
- Negligible performance boost.
8 XMT-MOTO 4” Megaphone Slip-On Mufflers
This set of twin-muffler exhausts from XMT are specifically designed to fit Harley Bagger touring bikes (1995-2016). The stock exhausts that come with most Harley’s really dampen the full-blooded sound of the engine. Fortunately, relatively cheap upgrades like the XMT can bring out the deep rumble that lurks within, giving your Harley the kind of sound it deserves.
Design-wise, the XMT has a classic look with the muffler expanding to 4 inches at the end, hence the megaphone tag. This obviously helps with boosting the sound, but it also looks very cool. The attractive lines and finish are sure to improve the look of your Harley. High-quality cold-rolled steel makes for a very strong and durable construction that, with the right treatment, shouldn’t need replacing for years.
A removable baffle is included if you really want things to get really loud, although even with the baffle inserted, there is a big improvement in tone and volume over the stock exhaust.
Price is also an area where the XMT is very competitive, costing two to three times less than more expensive brands with basically the same results. If you want your Harley Bagger to actually sound like a Harley, the XMT will get you there without costing you an arm and a leg.
- Classic design.
- Value for money.
- Awesome sound.
- Durable design.
- None spring to mind!
9 Radiant Cycles Shorty GP Slip-on Muffler
Another slip-on muffler that has been designed specifically for the Yamaha YZF-R6, the Radiant Cycles Shorty GP Muffler, will also fit on any bike with a 45mm head pipe.
If you’re looking to recreate that MotoGP sound, but don’t quite have the budget for the Akrapovic Titanium slip-on, then this would be a good cheaper option worth looking at. The Radiant doesn’t boost the performance level of your bike in the same way as the Akrapovic, but it certainly changes the audio profile completely, delivering a far more satisfying sound.
Design-wise, the radiant is a small, lightweight unit that will help reduce overall weight and improve the look of the bike. At 2lbs, this is the lightest of all the aftermarket exhausts reviewed here. The matte black powder-coated finish also has a level of sleekness that the stock exhaust really can’t compete with. If bikes could talk, your Yamaha YZF-R6 would be eternally grateful.
Installation is remarkably simple as the radiant is designed to fit straight onto the OEM header. It’s hard to imagine anyone needing help with the process; it’s that straightforward.
In short, the Radiant Cycles Shorty GP provides an instant improvement to both the look and sound of your bike at an extremely low price. A bargain.
- Compact and lightweight.
- No help needed with installation.
- GP style sound improvements.
- Sleek finish.
- Value for money.
- Negligible performance improvement.
10 Yoshimura TRC-D Slip-On Exhaust
The Yoshimura TRC-D is by far the most expensive item on our list of best motorbike exhaust systems. It’s a dual muffler slip on exhaust with performance enhancement at the forefront of its design. Increasing the volume of your bike isn’t the aim of the game here. Although the sound is an improvement on stock exhausts, decibel levels are not given priority.
The tri-oval shape of each muffler and it’s under tail positioning really serve to catch the eye and can’t fail to be an improvement in looks over any stock set-up. The carbon fiber dual-outlet end cap not only looks great but helps lower volume whilst refining the overall performance.
Primarily designed to fit the Yamaha YZF-R1 racing bike, installation shouldn’t be a problem for your average Joe. Instructions are easy to follow, and most should be able to complete the job in 30 minutes or so.
But, to be honest, only those looking to gain a competitive advantage on the race track should consider purchasing the Yoshimura TRC-D Slip-on Exhaust. Improvements in sound can be achieved for a far lower price if that is your main concern. Nope, this is strictly one for the boy racers out there who are chasing after incremental performance improvements and an improved aesthetic.
And to finish up, it’s also by far the coolest design on our list of best exhaust systems for motorbikes.
- Outstanding aesthetics.
- Noticeable performance boost.
- Simple installation.
- Superb yet refined sound.
- Relatively expensive.
More Great Accessories For Your Bike
Installing a quality exhaust system could well improve both the sound and performance of your ride, but there are some other great accessories available as well. So, check out our reviews of the Best Motorcycle Chains, the Best Motorcycle Brake Pads, the Best Motorcycle Exhaust Wraps, the Best Motorcycle Tire Changers, and the Best Motorcycle Chain Lubes currently available.
Looking for a new funky helmet? If so, take a look at our reviews of the Best Vintage Motorcycle Helmets, the Best Star Wars Motorcycle Helmets, and the Best Predator Motorcycle Helmet, or how about one of the Best Dog Motorcycle Helmets for your best furry friend?
So, What Are The Best Motorcycle Exhaust Systems?
Normally we would attempt to pick an overall winner in this section, but as each exhaust system is designed for different needs and different bikes, we are not comparing like for like, and so this would be a rather fruitless task.
Suffice to say that all the systems featured on this list offer improvements over the majority of stock pipes, and it will be up to you to select the appropriate exhaust based on you’re on requirements and the type of bike you own.
What can be said is that if you’re looking to improve racing performance, then the…Yoshimura range of aftermarket exhausts
…should be your first point of call. Unbeatable on style and performance boost, you really can’t go wrong. If your main concern is beefing up the sound of your engine, then there are far cheaper ways to do that, and you should look at one of the budget options on this list.
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