There are many advantages and disadvantages to motorcycle exhaust wraps. If you’re considering purchasing a wrap for your bike, it’s essential that you consider all the information before making a decision. And, if you’re purchasing a bike that mentions it has an exhaust wrap you’re probably thinking: What are motorcycle exhaust wraps?
A motorcycle exhaust wrap is basically the same thing as wrapping your windows with bubble-wrap. It’s an added layer of protection, dampening & thermal insulation for the exhaust pipes.
There are many reasons why you might & might not want to buy motorcycle exhaust wrap. In this article, we will be exploring why the pros and cons of motorcycle exhaust wrap.
Pros and Cons of Exhaust Wraps on a Motorcycle
The pros of wrapping your pipes include decreasing engine temperature, lowering exhaust pipe temperature, increasing horsepower, protecting your bike from road debris & motorcycle exhaust wrap is relatively inexpensive when compared to the about of performance boost and the more power you get.
The cons of wrapping your pipes include horribly looking if installed poorly, a wrap can trap moisture shortening the life of your exhaust, not having enough space to install an exhaust wrap, mufflers getting clogged easier(when compared to the standard exhaust pipe), the durability of motorcycle exhaust wrap is questionable if you’ve got extremely powerful motorcycles & louder engines, they can give off bad smells & they are not interchangeable.
Let’s expand on these points so you can make an informed decision…
Pro: Decreasing Engine Temperature Results in Increased Engine Performance
By wrapping your exhaust system you can decrease engine & exhaust temperature and increase horsepower by as much as 15-20%. This is pretty significant if you’re trying to lower the amount of time it takes for a bike to climb hills, have the better top speed, or just want better engine performance on your next ride.
This is achieved in two ways. First, wrapping your exhaust pipe will decrease the amount of heat built up in the muffler(s). Even though it doesn’t look like much, remember to think about the fact that it is covering at least 1/2 of the pipe itself. For example, if you have a 2 into 1 exhaust then there are two separate pipes wrapped up so you are decreasing the heat in four pipes instead of two.
And, the second way is by preventing heat from escaping when it’s not being used. By wrapping your exhaust pipe or muffler you are creating an insulator that keeps excess heat in. This will cause less turbulence when it comes out & lower its temperature which means less energy is used to heat it up. This is what’s great about motorcycle exhaust wrap.
Of course, what exhaust pipes are made of is a completely different topic and you can find information about that on a different blog!
Pro: Exhaust Wrap on Motorcycle as Protect for your Pipes
If you live in an area where the roads are constantly being sprayed with salt or road debris then you might consider wrapping your exhaust pipes. Road debris can cause serious damage to your bike, especially to your exhaust pipes if they’re not protected. Wrapping them will greatly reduce the amount of wear and tear on your motorcycle exhaust system.
Pro: Cost of Wrapping Exhaust Pipes
For most people, it’s more of a luxury than an actual performance enhancement. Motorcycle exhaust wrap is relatively inexpensive when compared to the about of performance boost you get. For 100′ of piping it will cost you less than $100 to purchase and install motorcycle exhaust wrap (depending on your bike of course).
Con: Poorly Installed Exhaust Wrap looks Horrible
If you’re not careful when installing exhaust wrap, it can look really bad. You don’t want to have wrinkles or bubbles in your wrap, as it will look extremely sloppy and amateur hour. Make sure you take your time when wrapping pipes and use plenty of insulation tape to hold them in place.
The cost of getting a professional to install motorcycle exhaust wrap will cost you at least $100, but if done wrong it can cost up to $250 or more to fix! Make sure you have enough time to have the job done correctly & your exhaust pipes are wrapped by someone who knows what they’re doing.
Ultimately, this is only a DIY job for those with experience in pipe wrapping.
Con: Durability of Motorcycle Exhaust Wrap on Powerful Bikes
I’m not saying it’s impossible to wrap an exhaust pipe on a powerful bike, but it can be if you don’t know what you’re doing. And a lot of people get stuck here.
For example, on some motorcycles, the pipes get so hot that the adhesive melts right of the wrapper & sticks to your motorcycle! This just won’t do if you want something that is going to last & look great while providing you with all of the benefits listed above.
Of course, there are also other more “tactical” pipes that are designed for loud bikes, racing tires, etc… Some of these are not interchangeable at all. And some are only able to be used on one brand or model of motorcycle.
On top of this, not all pipes will fit the same way on each model of motorcycle. This means that if you get your hands on an exhaust pipe that’s slightly different than yours then you might have trouble getting it to work properly with your bike.
So really, this is why I recommend keeping it simple & just sticking with a 100′ roll of motorcycle exhaust wraps.
Con: The Smoke and Smell
For a few weeks to a few months after your wrap, your pipes expect a bit of smoke and some pretty bad smells. This will eventually disappear and is completely normal.
This is part of the curing process caused by any type of exhaust wrap. By curing, we are referring to how it reacts with the metal when heated up which releases fumes. It sounds worse than it actually is, but you can expect your motorcycle to smell pretty bad for a while so prepare yourself for this.
Sadly, there is nothing to do to speed this leg of the process up.
How To Install Exhaust Wrap On Your Motorcycle: DIY Style
If your motorcycle is a high-performance machine, you should take proper care of it. One thing you can do to make sure your bike looks good and runs well is to install exhaust wrap. It makes the pipe looks clean, neat, and shiny while providing great protection from rust or any other issues that may be present.
The installation of exhaust wrap on your motorcycle may seem hard and it can be if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Before you begin make sure you have the following on hand items:
- Latex Gloves: Wear gloves through the entire process
- Heat Wrap: Preferably a 100′ roll, but it’s your choice
- Heat Gun: A heat gun is used to heat wrap
- Silicone Spray: Silicone spray is used to coat the pipe
- Rags/Paper Towels: For oil spills so you don’t wreck your own garage
- Stainless Steel Locking Ties: to tighten down the wrap steel zip ties are needed
Pipe wraps is the same whether it’s one pipe or two pipes. You just repeat the process. Just make sure that you have enough wrap, really the more wrap the better.
Exhaust Heat Wrap Tips Before Starting
- Wrap pipes as tightly as possible
- Start wrapping from and don’t stop until you finish the entire pipe
- Consider buying an exhaust heat wrap kit
It’s really easy to do if you get the install down pat and follow these steps:
- Make sure your exhaust pipe is not obstructed by anything. Get rid of any parts that could get in the way of your installing the wrap.
- Wear rubber gloves while you install the wrap to keep from getting little sores on your hands. Don’t forget to take off the plastic sleeve before you begin to wrap it around your pipe. You can wash off all residue in soap and water when done.
- Take a damp cloth and wipe all dirt or oil from your pipe. Make sure they’re absolutely dry before applying the wrap.
- Take all of the wrap out of their plastic sleeves and soak them in water for approximately five minutes. It will stretch some, making it tighter on your pipe when you install it.
- Place one end of the wrap around your pipe and start wrapping it around the exhaust, wrap tight for the best results. Overlap each wrap about three inches or so and use a stainless steel zip tie to fasten it down.
- Wrap the other pipe and use another zip tie to secure the end of that pipe also. Use a stainless steel zip tie on all ends of your pipes.
- If you want to prevent the wrap from staining your headers, you can spray them with a high heat silicone coating before applying the wrap.
Now that you know the process for an easy installation of a motorcycle exhaust wrap, it’s time for you to go out and do it for yourself. You’ll be happy with the result and it’ll make your bike look great!
Of course, my recommendation for anyone who has not wrapped a pipe before is to go get it done by an expert and ask if you can watch them do it to learn. That way next time you can do it yourself with confidence.
The Cost Of Exhaust Wrapping a Motorcycle
DIY Cost = $60-100 for a complete wrap
Professional Cost = $400 to $800, depending on quality & customization
The cost of wraps will vary depending on what you want. We can get into specifics later, but there are three types of wraps: fiberglass wrap, titanium, and ceramic.
For most people, I would suggest using fiberglass which costs around $20-30 for a 50-foot roll. This stuff tears easily so it’s best to have two rolls on hand as well as stainless steel zip ties.
You’ll also need spray paint and high heat adhesive, both of which will run you about $15.
The issue with a DIY install here is that you really don’t get a second chance with an exhaust wrap. As it cures to your bike’s pipe the process becomes irreversible. Meaning you need to make it perfect the first time.
If the idea of this scares you, or if you just don’t have the time or patience to get it right the first time, then by all means pay for a professional to do this for you.
Professional wraps are usually ceramic and cost around $400-800 depending on quality and customization. The benefit here is that these wraps can be taken off without having any adverse effects on the heat mechanics of your bike’s exhaust.
What Is The Best Exhaust Wrap For A Motorcycle?
The idea of whether or not to use exhaust wrap on your motorcycle is a debate in itself. As a side debate, many wonder whether fiberglass wraps or titanium exhausts are better. I personally find them both to work about the same, but the fiberglass wraps are a little less expensive so that’s what I usually go with.
The Best Exhaust Wrap Material
There are three different types of Exhaust Wraps:
- Fiberglass Exhaust Systems
- Titanium Exhaust Systems
- Ceramic Exhaust Systems
The best exhaust wrap in my opinion is the fiberglass. The reason for this is that it’s cheaper than the Titanium and Ceramic wraps yet still provide great protection for your headers and mufflers.
There are many companies that sell exhaust wrap, but I’d suggest you use only one that sells compatible size wraps to go with your model/size of motorcycle.
Pros and Cons of Fiberglass
The Pros are that it’s the cheapest material out of the three so you don’t have to break your wallet to get them. The Cons are that it’s not as thick, doesn’t retain heat nearly as well, and has a tendency to crack if you’re overaggressive with putting on your exhaust. You must be very careful when installing fiberglass wraps.
The Pros and Cons of Titanium
The Pros are that it’s the best material to retain heat while you’re riding and is the thickest out of all three materials. The Cons are that they cost more than Fiberglass and Ceramic, but it does provide better protection against corrosion and damage from rocks hitting your motorcycle pipes.
You must be careful when installing Titanium wraps because it’s very easy to put a hole in the wrap from going over the throttle body too much, which is a common mistake. It can also make small holes in your exhaust if you’re not careful while putting them on.
The Pros and Cons of Ceramic Exhaust
The Pros are that it’s the thickest out of all three materials and can hold more heat. The Cons are that they’re a lot more money than Fiberglass or Titanium, but you need to remember this is a one-time investment since Ceramic wraps don’t crack or break like fiberglass or titanium ones do. It will last almost forever if you install it correctly.