A motorcycle should sound like it has a hidden reserve of power just waiting to be tapped. There’s a reason why this machine earned the nickname of “crotch rocket,” after all. Trying to figure out a way to make your bike look clean and modern can also be a stressful task.
The last thing you want to do is to make your ride look stupid. If you ruin part of the motorcycle trying to improve it, then replacing the components can be an expensive mistake.
The pros and cons of a motorcycle exhaust wrap are one of those upgrade elements that enthusiasts love to debate in forums, chat rooms, or over a couple of beers. There isn’t a simple answer to consider with this subject. It’s up to you to know if your ride will benefit from this process.
List of the Pros of a Motorcycle Exhaust Wrap
1. It works to decrease the engine temperature on your bike.
When you can dissipate more heat away from the engine on your motorcycle, then the better your ride is going to be. Using exhaust wrap will help to keep the higher temperatures in the pipe instead of emanating throughout the entire system. That means you’re giving an assist to the system that’s responsible for pushing out the heat and smoke from the combustion process.
If you don’t have the wrap on the exhaust pipes, the heat inside transfers back into the engine through the metal. That reduces your horsepower since the hotter temperatures make the combustion less efficient.
2. An exhaust wrap can improve the aesthetics of the motorcycle.
When you place an exhaust wrap in a way that works for your bike, then it can improve the cosmetics of its visual appearance. The constant source of heat causes the area underneath the pipes to discolor, which doesn’t make your ride look very attractive over time. Placing the wrap in this area can cover up those blemishes while giving the motorcycle a look that some people enjoy.
The wrap will still be hot to the touch while the motorcycle is riding. You can burn your legs, ankles, or feet even when wearing boots with this product on your ride. When it is correctly placed, you’ll have a reduced risk of injury.
3. Almost anyone can install an exhaust wrap.
Most people who have a motorcycle and are familiar with its components can install an exhaust wrap in under an hour. There isn’t much you need to do to get the job done. Just make sure that you follow the instructions of the product’s manufacturer and any specific advice that may be out there for your bike. Then you can enjoy the positive differences that occur when you’re providing a layer of insulation around this critical area of your ride.
4. The cost of a motorcycle exhaust wrap is manageable.
This cosmetic change to your ride is fairly inexpensive, even if you have someone else do the work for you. The cost of a fiberglass wrap is about $20 for a 50-foot roll, and it helps to get a couple of them to make sure that you have enough to get the work done. If you want a thicker look, then you’ll need more wrap since the binding needs more overlap and tightness. The stainless steel zip ties go for about $5 at your local store, and a silicone spray will cost about $15.
That means your project will cost about $60 in parts. If you pay someone for an hour of labor to do the work for you, then the final expense should be less than $200.
5. You can paint the exhaust wrap if you want.
An exhaust wrap for your motorcycle can provide more durability to your ride, but it will also have its color fade over time. If you paint the wrap, you’ll want to use a high-heat silicone spray so that it can withstand the conditions that occur when you’re tackling the open road. You can expect some extra smoke while the paint cures on top of the wrap, but you won’t have the same odor issues that you had with the initial application.
6. Multiple color options are available for an exhaust wrap.
If you want to proceed with an exhaust wrap for your motorcycle, then you have multiple color options to consider. The standard kits that you’ll find online today come in tan, white, or black. There are titanium options to consider for some bikes as well.
One of the best ways to proceed with this work is to purchase a manufacturer’s kit that contains the silicone spray, locking ties, and enough wrap to complete the work without going after individual items. Look for rolls of 2-inch wrap to achieve the best possible results.
7. Correctly installed exhaust wrap changes the heat profile around the rider.
Some bike designs put the rider in close proximity to the exhaust pipe. The amount of heat that a high-performance engine can produce is extraordinary, so there is always the threat of a burn when riding. Even when you wear protective clothing and materials, there are riders who say that their pants have caught on fire because of this issue. By changing the temperature profile around where you sit, you’ll have fewer risks of injury while encouraging your motorcycle to retain its overall value.
8. You can choose the parts that you want to wrap on your bike.
You can decide to place the exhaust wrap on whatever components you prefer to maximize the benefits for your ride. You can put it on the header only or choose to wrap the entire exhaust system if that is your preference. It’s cheaper than putting on a ceramic coating over anything, and you can get back on your bike for a ride on the same day that you’ve done the work. That versatility is one of the primary reasons why this approach tends to be one of the most popular options around.
List of the Cons of a Motorcycle Exhaust Wrap
1. A poorly fitted exhaust wrap can make your bike look like trash.
Anyone can put on an exhaust wrap, but it does take a little practice to make sure that the end result looks good. If you don’t get the product on exactly right, then it can look really bad. Some might even say that it makes your bike look like trash. The danger of doing this work by yourself is that it can make your ride look worse if it is done wrong.
Instead of practicing on the motorcycle until you get it right, it may be helpful to let your mechanic, or a trusted expert, put on the exhaust wrap for you. It shouldn’t cost much, and then you won’t need to worry about making a mistake.
2. You can’t come back from this decision.
Once you decide to put an exhaust wrap on your motorcycle, then there isn’t any way to come back from this decision. Once the wrap cures, it leaves small checkmarks on your pipes that come from the fiber in the product. It creates a permanent result, even if you spray the exhaust with a layer of silicone first to see if you like or dislike this look. Some people claim that you can avoid this disadvantage with that step, but that isn’t a guarantee.
3. It can cause your pipes to corrode faster.
When you don’t ride your motorcycle often, then you’ll discover that water tends to find a way between the wrap and your exhaust pipe. Even when you correctly apply the product to your bike, this disadvantage takes place. Regular riding will eliminate this issue because the speeds you achieve work to dissipate the water. If you store your ride more than you’re on it, then the occasional startup is necessary to remove the residual moisture that builds up underneath your wraps.
If you don’t take proactive measures with this step, then you’ll discover that the prolonged exposure to extra moisture can cause your pipes to corrode faster. That rust can move outside of the system to the other components of your motorcycle, so consider this disadvantage carefully before proceeding with the project.
4. Your motorcycle will smell terrible after the wrap is on.
After you install the exhaust wrap on your motorcycle, you’ll notice that it will smell pretty bad for some time. This disadvantage is something that you cannot prevent. It is considered normal and part of the overall curing process. It will take several hours of riding to get the odor to disperse. The best way to get through this issue is to ride fast so that the breeze takes the smell downwind from you.
Most bikes will smoke more when you first apply the exhaust wrap. This issue is also part of the curing process and will disappear around the same time as the odor does.
5. Exhaust wrap doesn’t age very well for most bikes.
If you choose the black exhaust wrap for your motorcycle, then you’ll notice that the aging process isn’t very kind to it. The combination of UV exposure and heat from the engine produces a fading effect that eventually causes the color to mismatch with your ride. You won’t have that problem with the tan or white products, but they’ll look like trash once you get any dirt or oil on them.
That means your best option for a motorcycle is to run with the titanium wrap. You can wrap the product dry, keep it nice and tight, and it provides the all-around benefits without the aesthetic problems that you can find with the other items.
6. It could impact your ability to sell your bike in the future.
Most people who put an exhaust wrap on their motorcycle enjoy the results it can provide. It’s one of the primary advantages of this cosmetic investment. What you’ll also discover is that there is a passionate community of riders who do not like this product at all. That means it can impact the ability to sell your motorcycle if the need should arise in the future. You’ll also receive comments from other riders about how they dislike what you’ve done with your bike, but you can at least ignore the haters.
7. You can wrap the pipes too tightly with this product.
It is possible for you to crack your exhaust pipes if you place too much wrap on the product. The wrap will also leave marks on your pipes from the fiberglass fibers, so that can be problematic for some riders. If you encounter this disadvantage, it may be necessary to replace the entire pipe – and that can be expensive.
One of the alternatives you can consider for your motorcycle to avoid these issues is to get the exhaust ceramic-coated instead. It needs to be done by an expert, but then you’ll get all of the advantages of an exhaust wrap without needing to juggle the potential disadvantages you’ll face with this approach.
8. Lower temperatures in winter can cause your bike to underperform.
Having your bike operate at a lower temperature helps to produce more horsepower during the summer months, but it can adversely impact your ride in the winter. Your engine will struggle to achieve the right level of heat for proper combustion, which means your acceleration profile is going to change. Your catalytic converter is going to be doing more work on your bike at the same time since it seems more heat, so you’ll need to consider that replacement cost if you live in a state that requires frequent inspections.
A high-quality motorcycle exhaust wrap can reduce your engine temperature by almost 200°F on some bikes. It will also decrease exhaust temperatures while increasing the amount of horsepower you can achieve.
You can improve the aesthetics of your bike when you install a wrap correctly, but there is also the risk of making your motorcycle look like trash.
When you evaluate the pros and cons of a motorcycle exhaust wrap, you must consider the long-term implications of this decision. It can limit your resale options, increase corrosion risks, and cause other forms of unexpected damage. Some bikes benefit from this product, but a ride that already experiences low temperatures at the engine and exhaust may not see any improvements in performance.
Brandon Miller has a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a seasoned writer who has written over one hundred articles, which have been read by over 500,000 people. If you have any comments or concerns about this blog post, then please contact the Green Garage team here.