Restoring a motorcycle or embarking on a custom build brings many challenges to the builder. One of the big challenges is the aesthetics of the motorcycle. That is where exhaust wraps fit in.
Will the exhaust wrap look good? What are the benefits of an exhaust wrap? What are the disadvantages of exhaust wraps?
The question of whether to get an exhaust wrap or not is a highly debated topic. There really isn’t a right answer. However, We’ll go over the pros and cons of wrapping the exhaust, and what wrap material to use.
Motorcycle Exhaust Wrap Pros
First off, what is a motorcycle exhaust wrap? An exhaust wrap is a heat resistant material that is “wrapped” around the exhaust. It can be done for aesthetics or for heat protection. Ultimately its a personal choice whether or not you want your ride to have one as its not a necessity. So what are the actual benefits?
- The exhaust wrap decreases the motorcycle’s engine temperature: Have you ever ridden an air cooled motorcycle on a hot summer day and had to sit in traffic for awhile? Its not fun. The heat from the engine can really cook your legs depending on the bike you have. That’s where an exhaust wrap can be a great benefit to your ride. The exhaust wrap actually allows the engine to dissipate its heat out the end of the exhaust away from your legs. It also means the heat isn’t dissipated right by the engine. This actually allows the engine to run slightly cooler. A cooler engine can operate more efficiently and possibly make more horsepower.
- The exhaust wrap can reduce burns: Whenever I carry a passenger I always point out the hot exhaust and the chain. Thankfully nobody hasn’t gotten burned on a ride with me. However, I have occasionally touched my leg to the side of the exhaust and it was not fun at all. An exhaust wrap will still be hot, but not as hot as a stainless steel exhaust pipe.
- Cosmetic Affects: Probably the most popular reason that somebody puts an exhaust wrap on their motorcycle is so that it enhances the bikes appearance. A well done exhaust wrap can take a motorcycle to the next level. If the exhaust is still functional but has been discolored or just isn’t very good looking to begin with, an exhaust wrap can be a great solution!
4. Easy mod: If you like customizing your ride, an exhaust wrap is an easy project to undertake. In fact most people can install one in an hour or two.
Motorcycle Exhaust Wrap Cons
There are a few cons to motorcycle exhaust wraps that you need to consider before embarking on this customization. The first one is that the exhaust wrap has to be done right with an attention to detail. Otherwise it could make the motorcycle look worse than when you started. So if you do go forward with an exhaust wrap, have patience when installing it.
The second con is that once it goes on and the wrap has cured to the exhaust, there’s no going back. If you remove it, you will find little checker marks over the pipes. These marks come from the fiber on the wrap and they are permanent.
Another con is that exhaust wraps can stink for a while. After its installed it can smoke and smell unpleasant. This is considered normal as its part of the curing process, and it will fade after several hours of riding.
In the summer making the engine run cooler is a good thing as your bike will have no problem reaching an optimal temperature, however if you ride in colder weather this could be a con. If the engine is too cold and the exhaust wrap causes it to have trouble reaching its operating temperature, an exhaust wrap could actually hurt your bike’s performance. Since most of us ride in hot weather instead of frigid cold, this usually isn’t problem for most riders.
The last con, and this is probably the biggest one, is that water can find its way between the pipe and wrap. This can make your exhaust rust. If ride a lot, this might not be a big deal as the heat from the exhaust will evaporate the moisture that gets trapped between the pipe and wrap. However if you don’t ride very often, then it can cause problems for you. In fact you may want to start your bike up ever so often to evaporate the moisture even if you don’t take it for a ride.
What Materials Do You Need?
Okay so you want to install a motorcycle exhaust wrap, but you don’t know what materials you need? Don’t worry I have you covered.
- Exhaust wrap that works up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit (Check out this one from Revzilla.)
- Metal ties/clamps to hold the wrap on
- New Exhaust gaskets (these should be replaced since they are being disturbed on the install)
- Socket set
- Needle noise pliers
- metal cutters
- penetrating oil
- brake cleaner
- shop rags
- torque wrench
How Much Wrap Do I Need?
Another common question is how much wrap do I need for my motorcycle? The length of wrap that you need will depend on the exhaust length, exhaust diameter, bends in the exhaust, and the width of the wrap that you are using. I recommend using a 3/4in to 2in wide exhaust wrap.
Thankfully there is an easy way to calculate the amount of exhaust wrap that you need. Just plug in your exhaust diameter in inches, length in feet, and number of 45 degree bends into the exhaust wrap calculator at heatshieldproducts.com’s calculator, and it will give you a print out of the amount of feet of exhaust wrap that you need for each exhaust wrap width.
Motorcycle exhaust wraps are a great way to customize your bike. It can help it run better in the summer and keep you from getting burned. However, if you do decide to wrap your own exhaust its important to ride your bike regularly so that any trapped water does not rust out your pipes. Its also important to do a good job on the install as an exhaust wrap is a semi-permanent modification.