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The Best Exhausts for Harleys

When you've got a Harley, you know that aesthetic is equally as important as performance. After all, Harleys are all about that image. That rebel, carefree lifestyle. Usually you can hear a Harley before you even see it. That rumble of the V-twin engine is iconic.

Give your Harley some love with a sweet pair of aftermarket exhausts. Exhausts for Harleys come in all different styles with varying benefits, depending on what you want out of it. Often, it's a trade off between looks and performance. Choosing the perfect exhaust for your Harley can be very confusing.

Today, we'll go over some of the most popular and favorite exhaust brands for Harleys.

Harley Exhausts

First, let's very briefly summarize the types of Harley exhausts you're likely to encounter:

- Slip-ons: Slip on mufflers replaces the stock mufflers while the stock pipes are kept in place. This option is always great for a good balance of budget, slightly increased performance, and of course, a more desirable sound.

- 2-into-1: This is when the 2 head pipes flow into a single collector. This kind of system improves exhaust scavenging, which typically gives better performance and have a broader power band. You'll find the most power increase in the low-mid RPM range. The downside is that some people may not like the style (this is dependent on your opinion) as you no longer get the drag pipes look.

- 2-into-2 (dual pipes): The 2 head pipes flow into 2 separate mufflers. The benefit of this (besides the attractive classic drag pipe styling) is that each pipe and their internal baffles can be tuned to achieve the most optimal backpressure. Keep in mind that overall, the power is not going to be a great as a 2 into 1. But the plus side is that the sound is better as you have two mufflers producing volume.

- Short vs long pipes: Shorter pipes have less backpressure, which means that power is decreased in the low-mid RPM range, while upper-end performance is improved. You'll have to think whether you really will ride in that range most of the time. Longer pipes will perform better in the low RPM range.

- Small vs large diameter: Pipe diameter affects the how fast the exhaust gas exits the pipe. A smaller diameter will provide more low-end power. On the other hand, a pipe whose diameter is too large will have less exhaust gas velocity, which means loss of power. Larger diameters will optimize power in the top-end range, so again, consider what range you'll ride in the most.

Usually, people find that 1-3/4" diameter fits that sweet spot. It's generally not recommended that you get pipes 2" or more in diameter, unless you have a huge machine over 100 cubic inches.

Vance & Hines

Vance & Hines, an American manufacturer founded in 1979, is well known in the aftermarket exhaust market for their products for big twin cruisers. Created by drag racers, their exhausts have helped many other racers win championships over the past three decides. The founders are constantly pushing the boundaries of design, engineering, and technology to create better products. 

Vance & Hines exhausts come in many styles (full system, slip-on, 2 into 1, or 2 into 2) and finishes (shiny chrome or matte black) for your Harley, so you can really achieve a customized look. 

One of the most popular items from Vance & Hines is their Twin Slash Rounds Slip-on Mufflers.  These are a great easy way to customize your Harley while increasing the performance. The price is favorable too compared to competitors. Vance & Hines exhausts produce a deep rumble sound without being obnoxious. However, these slip-ons come with a bit higher weight compared to similar products.

If you want to replace your whole system, Vance & Hines is also know for their high-quality 2-into-1 exhausts, with some of the top performing systems on the market.

Vance & Hines also introduced their new Fuelpack FP3 for use with their exhausts. It's highly recommended that if you install new exhaust pipes, you also get a fuel management system.

Shop Vance & Hines Motorcycle Exhaust


Since being founded in the early 80's, Cobra has become one of the leading aftermarket cruiser products manufacturer. They offer a full line of performance parts and accessories and are one of the few companies that work with each of the major OEM motorcycle manufacturers. Their high quality exhausts include popular favorites such as the Speedsters and the new PowerPro 2-into-1.

The Speedster is Cobra's premier line of full exhaust systems. They come with a PowrPort that connects both exhaust pipes from the front and rear cylinders. This crossover improves the exhaust scavenger and acts more like a 2-into-1 system. This is a great option if you like the look of a traditional 2-into-2 system, but don't want to sacrifice the power.

The Cobra Slip On Muffler is high performing, sounds great, and reasonably priced for the quality of its build. Coming in pairs of either chrome or black, owners get a easily customizable exhaust that delivers a deep, rich volume as it roars down the road.

Cobra was extra considerate, and also included stainless-mesh velocity baffles in order to protect your ears (and your neighbor?s sanity). Double bonus, that same mechanism also boosts the power increase that the slip-ons add to your cruiser.

Shop Cobra Motorcycle Exhausts.


Dating back to 1969, Bassani has been recognized as a leader in specialized exhaust component for over 40 years. They have a reputation for offering cutting edge technology to both professional racers and casual street riders alike. Bassani has truly mastered the trade. Their exhausts are often tested to have more horsepower and torque than the competition.

Bassani makes a great 2-into-1 system - the Road Rage Type 3 2-Into-1 Exhaust. It features a parallel 2-into-1 stainless header system with an upswept short megaphone muffler. As far as horsepower, the slick system increases the exhaust speed with bigger performance power.

Since its a full system, installation could vary in difficulty, but shouldn?t take too much effort to get things equipped smoothly. Bassani has a rep for being one of the loudest muffled exhausts available, so if volume is what you?re after, you?ll be very pleased with the volume it pumps out. 

Bassani also offers a 3" Firepower Straight-Cut Slip-On Muffler, which enhances torque performance and can increase horsepower by as much as 20% horsepower. Simple in look and design, this slip-on is far more focused on performance than aesthetic. With the low price tag, ease of installation, light weight, and incredible performance, this slip-on is almost a steal.

Shop Bassani Motorcycle Exhaust Systems.

Final note: make sure you check your State's requirements. Not all exhausts are legal in all States.

Phew! That was an exhausting summary! (See what we did there?). If you have any more questions, leave a comment below, call us, or hit us up on our Facebook page!

For more exhausts for your cruiser, shop Solo for:
Cruiser Motorcycle Exhausts - Slip-ons & Partial Systems
- Cruiser Motorcycle Exhausts | Full Systems

*All photos courtesy of Vance & Hines, Cobra, and Bassani

By Daniel Relich

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