World’s Best Motorcycle Exhaust Brands, Past and Present
The components of every contemporary motorcycle all have a fascinating past, and the exhaust system is no exception. Every time you examine a part of any modern bike, it’s impossible not to look back at its origins, and the exhaust is no exception.
The internal combustion engine by its very nature needs a way to get spent gasses away from the cylinder, and the exhaust system is it. The design started out simplistically, being the easiest means of keeping the hot pipe away from the rider’s leg.
It wasn’t long though before the design of the exhaust received significant attention, thanks
mainly to racing. Lean angles increased as motorcycles became faster, and the once simple exhaust had to evolve too.
Greater speed and bigger engines also meant more noise, and simple straight through pipes were no longer acceptable. It was around the time that engineers realized the performance gains from different lengths and diameter of pipe and the addition of a can or silencer.
Best Motorcycle Exhaust Brands: Invasion of the Japanese Superbikes
Fast forward to the 1960’s and 70’s these were two of the greatest decades for motorcycles. The former saw British bikes ruling the roost, and the latter witnessed the Japanese invasion that would change the face of biking forever.
What this meant regarding bike exhausts was the formation of some of the most famous names in motorcycle exhaust brands. Legendary names such as Dunstall, Piper, Motad, Marshall, and Micron dominated the UK market.
While on the other side of the Atlantic who could forget Supertrapp, Jardine, Kerker, Yoshimura Vance and Hines and Paughco. Just some of the names whose aftermarket pipes and silencers created the soundtrack for a new generation of bikers.
The majority of exhaust systems today are being designed with performance enhancement in mind. Amongst the top names are two from our list of 70’s manufacturers and two comparative newcomers.
Best Motorcycle Exhaust Brands: Akrapovic – Cutting Edge Technology
From a one-man band to the world’s top brand exhaust in just 17 years, the success of the Slovenian company is down to one man; Igor Akrapovic. During the 1980’s Akrapovic liked nothing better than to tune engines and made performance enhancing mods to his own and friend’s bikes.
Akrapovic, seeing a gap in the market decided to concentrate on making performance exhausts. It wasn’t long before the quality, design, and use of innovative materials got him noticed.
Approaching the Kawasaki Germany race team to try out one of his exhausts, the German’s found that the Akrapovic system outperformed their own works exhaust. The rest, as they say, is history, and by the 1999 World Superbike Championship, every Japanese works bike sported an Akrapovic exhaust.
The company’s trademark intertwining pipes and use of exotic materials don’t come cheap though. The more complicated engines and ignition systems become, the more challenging it is making improvements, says Akrapovic. If you want the best though, you have to pay for it, R and D and the continuous search for top performance always comes at a price.
Best Motorcycle Exhaust Brands: Termignoni – The Sound Of Italy
The story of Luigi Termignoni, Italy’s most famous exhaust maker follows along similar lines as Akrapovic. A tuner of racing motorcycles, the bike-mad Italian bought his first Dyno machine n 1971. Focusing on the first Kawasaki Z1’s he soon developed handmade systems, going on to build the first aluminum silencer.
By the end of the 70’s Termignoni had joined forces with boutique ‘specials’ builder Bimota. Less than a decade later and increasingly recognized for the booming sound of their trademark silencers, the company began collaboration with Ducati, which stills continues to this day.
Termignoni also worked closely with Honda on their work’s race bikes. In 1988 an RC30 ridden by Fred Merkel took the World Superbike title for Honda, giving the Italians their first taste of success.
Since then Termignoni equipped bikes have won almost 30 world championships, including 10 Moto GP’s and 16 World Superbikes. Still every bit as passionate about racing as it was when Luigi started the company, the factory continues to sponsor riders from WSB to MotoX.
Best Motorcycle Exhaust Brands: Vance and Hines- Life In The Fast Lane
A shared love of drag racing was the reason behind one of America’s most famous exhaust makers. Terry Vance and Byron Hines teamed up in 1972 to chase glory down the ¼ mile, forming the company that bears their name, seven years later.
By the late 80’s Vance had won 14 Top Fuel, and Pro Stock titles and the company became firmly established. Former employees of drag racing legend, Russ Collins, Terry Vance and Byron Hines continued with their racing success, eventually branching out into road racing.
Their subsequent success in circuit racing led Yamaha to contract V&H to run the official Yamaha factory team, winning the Daytona 200 and 600 SuperSport titles on their first go.
As the old saying goes, what wins on the track sells on the street. Although famous on America’s race circuits for campaigning Japanese Multis, it was their twin exhaust and 2-1 systems for Harley- Davidson’s that made the company famous.
This connection with V- twins became cemented when contracted by HD to build and race a Screaming Eagle V-Rod drag bike and later when V&H became sponsors of the XR1200 race series.
Today, the company produces exhaust systems for US, British, European and Japanese motorcycles as well as producing fuel management systems that can be tuned by smartphone.
Best Motorcycle Exhaust Brands: Yoshimura – Legend on the Track and Street
Perhaps the most famous motorcycle exhaust brand of them all, Yoshimura has been a legend in the motorcycle-tuning world for the last five decades. Ex aircraft engineer, Hideo ‘Pops’ Yoshimura opened his tuning shop in Japan before moving to the USA in 1971.
Just one year later, taking advantage of the new big bore 4-cylinder bikes, he designed and sold the first commercially available 4-1 exhaust system for the Honda CB750.
Yoshimura’s tuning skills became the stuff of legend, especially when changing from Kawasaki to Suzuki brought many race wins in the US and Japan. It was due to this success that Suzuki became Yoshimura’s official sponsors, effectively turning them into the Suzuki factory race team for the USA.
Once again, success on the track was directly responsible for making the company one of the world’s largest sports bike performance exhaust manufacturers in the world.
Pops Yoshimura passed away in 1995, and son Fujio now runs the company with the same passion and love of racing as his illustrious father.
Due to increasingly stringent emission laws, OEM motorcycle exhausts systems are getting increasingly difficult to better. Thankfully, some of the best motorcycle exhaust brands are still out there, willing and able to push the envelope.