Drivers can operate cars without much knowledge about its inner workings, but it is recommended that any motorcycle driver have a basic understanding of the engine and how to perform minor repairs. Motorcycle engines have a higher tendency to break down and most bikers customize their engine and install performance parts. Having some knowledge of a motorcycle can lead to a temporary fix until a mechanic can perform a more thorough job.
After a century of progress in combustible engines, motorcycles still make use of exhausts, pipes and mufflers to reduce noise emission and to steer exhaust gas away from the engine. Several types of exhausts are manufactured for specific motorcycle models and carbon fiber materials are available to create custom exhausts.
The exhaust system includes mufflers, cylinder heads, exhaust manifolds, turbochargers and catalytic converters. These parts act together to move exhaust gasses away from the engine, keeping the engine cool and quiet, and the driver safe from poisonous fumes in the process.
Exhaust and drag pipes are always located behind and slightly underneath the rider’s seat and pointing away from the motorcycle. Many bikes allow the height of the exhaust to be adjusted, such as racing bikes. Raising the exhaust on the bike allows tighter turns to be performed.
The most common exhaust types are two-in-one and four-to-one systems. Two-in-one systems guide expelled gases into a single section. Four-to-one systems are recommended for larger motorcycles as it is a full method exhaust.
There are several problems that can occur with the exhaust system of a motorcycle. The gasses emitted from the exhaust can reach extremely high temperatures and can burn riders. Overheating pipes can cause a bluing effect on the tips. This color variation may only seem like a cosmetic issue at first, but over time the heat can cause deterioration in parts, leading to toxic gasses being released in different directions.
Heat is the major concern with exhausts. Heat shields are used by many bikers and are designed to fit most standard pipes. These shields provide an extra layer of protection and decrease the damaging effects from the extra heat.
Another option is to periodically rotate the pipes on twin pipe motorcycles. Gas does not always distribute evenly in the pipes and rotating the pipes will moderate the damage it causes. Checking all engine parts on a regular basis is critical to achieve high performance but controlling the heat from the engine is one of the primary concerns.
Other ways to cool motorcycle exhausts are to install cooling clamps and use a cooling system in the engine. Carbon fiber exhausts are another option as carbon fiber heats up much slower than metals.
Commercial motorcycle manufacturers are limited to what types of exhaust systems can be installed to stock bikes. Luckily, several high quality aftermarket exhausts can be found. Many bikers choose to swap the stock exhaust with either a full system or a slip-on exhaust to obtain increased performance. There are state laws limiting vehicle noise decibels so knowledge of these laws are recommended before replacing any exhaust. Fines vary depending on the state. The most common complaint against motorcycles is that loud exhausts can set off car alarms. Riders who race on tracks or have designated areas for driving should not have a problem with loud exhausts.