> > Slip-on vs Full System Motorcycle Exhausts


Slip-on vs Full System Motorcycle Exhausts

Ah yes, the exhaust. Every bike enthusiast's favorite aftermarket upgrade. That rumbling of the engine is pure music to our ears. Of all the upgrades a biker makes to his beloved possession, the exhaust system is perhaps the only one that can deliver both performance gains and an improved look and sound (and, some might argue, joy).

There are many considerations to be made when choosing the perfect aftermarket motorcycle exhaust for your bike. It's not a cheap upgrade after all! You want it to buy one that works well for your bike, not just any one because it sounds good on your buddy's. So let's make sure we understand the workings of an exhaust system and the different models available. We'll also offer some suggestions as well.

Benefits of an Aftermarket Exhaust

A motorcycle exhaust has three parts: the header, the midpipe and the muffler. The header collects the exhaust gases from the cylinder while the midpipe runs the fumes towards the motorcycle?s rear. The muffler modifies the engine sound with the help of baffles and interior diameters.

Motorcycles comes fully ready to ride with an exhaust system already in place. And yet, replacing the stock exhaust is often the first thing a bike owner will do. Though this is somewhat of a costly upgrade, it offers the most value for improved performance. Let's go over the benefits:

Improved sound: Yep, there it is - the number one reason for aftermarket exhausts purchases! Mufflers do just what their name suggest - they muffle the engine sound by trapping sound waves inside a series of baffles. An aftermarket exhaust has less baffles, which will translate into a better sound, as well as better performance. And this brings us to our next point:

Performance gains: An aftermarket exhaust reduces the backpressure created by the typical stock muffler, which will improve the airflow in the engine, therefore letting the fuel burn more efficiently and increasing the bike's power.

Less weight: Stock exhausts are usually clunky heavy ol' things. Today's aftermarket exhausts are much more slimmed down and constructed with much lighter materials. Depending on your bike, you can be shedding as much as 20 pounds! Simply put, less weight = faster and more power.

Better material and aesthetics: Let's face it, most stock mufflers are not winning any awards in the looks department. Aftermarket exhausts are commonly made from titanium, stainless steel, or carbon fiber, which all offer strength while still being lightweight. They all have very distinctive looks that will lend some individuality to your bike. Whatever style you're looking after, there will be a design to suit your taste!

Slip-ons vs. Full System

Exhaust systems for motorcycles have two categories: the slip-on and the full system. While the former connects at the place where the stock muffler is, the latter connects to the head of the engine. Let's look a little closer to understand the differences between the two and the advantages that they each bring to the table.

Slip-on Exhausts

Pros: the cheaper alternative, great value, easy installation
Cons: less performance gains, less weight shed

Slip-on systems are the cheaper option and offer great value for the amount you spend. They basically just replace the stock muffler of the bike and are a popular upgrade for sportbikes. This is a good option for those who want that rumbling sound without having to install the jet-kit or fuel controller. The installation of this system is simple since it is literally "slipped-on" in place of the stock muffler.

Considerations: Slip-ons are great for improving the look and sound, but understand that there won't be a significant improvement to the performance of your bike. Also, the weight isn't substantially reduced since the midpipe and the headpipe remain stock, which also means that there will not be a very noticeable horsepower gain. But that said, a slip-on will still be better than the one that came on the bike.

On an average, the slip-on can increase your horsepower by 5% while reducing the weight of your bike by pounds. Different applications will vary.

Solo's Recommendations:


M4 Performance Exhaust designs and manufactures one of the highest quality exhaust systems available in today's market. The products are developed through racing experience, extensive research, and fine tuning on and off the track. Many systems eliminate the infamous stock 'exhaust box' which makes way for more power and a deeper, meaner sounding motorcycle. They also look crazy cool!

Competition Werkes

Competition Werkes Grand Prix-style slip-on exhausts are some of the industry's bests with their sleek aesthetics, super light weight, and positive effects on performance. They're made of stainless steel and come in a range of colors to suit anyone's taste.

Full System Exhaust

Pros: great performance gains, significant weight shed
Cons: More expensive, more hassle to install

Full exhaust systems replace the entire stock exhaust from the header to the muffler. This is the more expensive option. Aside from the superior sound and look, it is the performance gains that you pay for when opting for a full system. This option is great for drag racers, long distance riding, or those who like to run their bikes on full throttle.

Considerations: The installation of this system requires more time and body work than the slip-on version. It's also highly recommended that you get a professional tuning after installation in order to reap the maximum benefit. We also suggest that you also install a corresponding fuel controller, such as a Dynojet Power Commander. A full system heavily changes the characteristics of your bike and it will be necessary to optimize fuel delivery, in order to avoid harmful side effects.  See our article here for a more detailed explanation.

Solo's Recommendations:


Yoshimura was founded in Japan in 1954, and since then has been consistently in the forefront of the aftermarket exhaust industry.  Yoshimura has been associated with Factory Honda Racing and GEICO Honda racing for quite some time, and so their products are tested in the harshest environments possible. Yoshimura exhausts are designed to the highest standard of craftsmanship, quality, and aesthetics.


Akrapovic is widely recognized as a highly innovative materials technology company. Akrapovic Exhaust are synonymous with the highest level of design, performance enhancement and the creation of an unmistakable deeply resonant 'Akrapovic' sound. Over 80 world champions have already relied on Akrapovic exhaust systems. Furthermore, the company has been blessed with numerous Best Brand awards by readers of the most prestigious motorcycle magazines.

Some considerations for purchasing an exhaust

Be familiar with your State's inspection/legal requirements. Aftermarket exhaust manufacturers are generally not subjected to the same regulations imposed on bike manufacturers. The products are not tested for sound level or emissions control. You can find out your State's requirements from your DMV, inspection station, or bike shop. 

Play it safe and also replace gaskets and hardware. This stuff is pretty cheap to replace, so it's a good idea to just get it done when installing a new exhaust in order to prevent leaks.

Consider also installing an air filter and fuel controller. Modifications often work best in combinations. An aftermarket exhaust improves the airflow through the engine. An air filter will increase the amount of air entering the engine to match the air leaving it, and a fuel controller will ensure that air and fuel are mixed in the right ratio for optimal performance. This is particularly recommended when opting for the full system. 

Once mounted, consider it sold! Typically, retailers will not take back an exhaust once it has been mounted and fired up. This is to protect both us and you, the buyer. You can be assured that any exhaust you purchase from us is brand new and never been used. 


An aftermarket exhaust, whether it be a slip-on or full system, will always be an improvement over the stock exhaust. The slip-on is the better option for those on a budget and only looking to enhance the sound of the bike while shedding some weight and increasing the power slightly. The full exhaust system, if you have the cash to spend, will deliver significant performance gains as well as a powerful sound. Either way, an aftermarket exhaust is one of the best value upgrades for a bike. We carry tons of motorcycle parts and accessories for modern bikes. It's no problem ordering online through our website even!

If you have any more questions or need help choosing the perfect exhaust for your bike and riding style, feel free to ask below, call us, or hit us up on our Facebook page!

By Daniel Relich

[^] comments powered by Disqus