Few mods turn heads quicker than an aftermarket exhaust system. Whether you need to replace a beat-up muffler, improve the fuel efficiency of your ride or simply project your bike’s power and authority, it’s time to pick up a new exhaust system. For many bikes, the easiest way to accomplish this task over the weekend is to convert your stock pipes into slip-on’s. Get started with this easy guide.

Slip on vs. Full Exhaust Systems

First, take some time to get to know your bike. Every motorcycle has a slightly different exhaust system. Even the most universal kit can only be used with a select range of bikes. Find out whether you already have a slip-on exhaust or a full exhaust system.

Replacing your exhaust with a slip on for the first time usually requires a slip-on exhaust conversion kit. Once you have the right kit, you’ll find out how much easier it is to work with slip ons. Premium kits simply slip into place with little muscle or bolts required. Others take a little bit of work, but still offer a faster alternative to replacing your entire system.

Slip-on exhausts are common with sport bikes and off-roaders. Thankfully, you won’t have to worry about buying a new mid-pipe or header. However, that could also be a downside if you need a total exhaust overhaul.

Choosing the Right Fit

Before setting your eyes on the best slip on exhaust system on the market, be sure you have a slip-on conducive setup. A slip-on exhaust can require a specific tool or trick to get it to fit properly.

Some slip-on exhausts, despite the name, are bolted together. Your new exhaust may not fit perfectly with your old gasket. In that case, you’ll need to replace that gasket in order to get a proper seal.

Don’t let any of that discourage you. The latest aftermarket slip-on exhausts boast a wide range of advantages. Even if your stock muffler isn’t corroded, cracked or leaking, you’ll still enjoy the following benefits:

Awesome sound
Decreased weight
Affordable alternative to full exhaust replacement
Improved horsepower

Of course, you won’t see your horsepower improve in leaps and bounds. It’s a common myth that aftermarket exhausts lower your gas mileage. There are two reasons this myth exists. First, many riders expect to see dramatic improvements from a single part. Aftermarket exhausts are great, but they aren’t magic. Second, if you’re like us, you probably hit the gas more often to impress passersby. Hammering that throttle is going to lower your fuel efficiency more than any benefit that a muffler will provide.

Removing Your Exhaust

Now that you’re sure you know what you’re getting into and are determined to try out the power and performance of a slip on, it’s time to get your hands dirty. Setup is straightforward. Make sure your bike is completely cool. Working on a hot exhaust pipe is a great way to find out what third-degree burns feel like, and can also damage the finish of your pipes.

Once it’s all cooled down, double check your tool kit. Depending on your current setup, you’ll likely need your socket wrenches, crescent wrenches and a few clean rags to make sure you keep your paws off your pipes. Oils on your hands can harm the finish of your muffler, mid pipe and head pipe. There’s nothing worse than greasy fingerprints showing up on your brand-new exhaust system.

Loosen all your exhaust clamps and remove your entire exhaust. This is a great time to clean your exhaust, particularly if it’s beginning to show signs of rust.

If this is the first time you’re taking it apart, keep track of where each exhaust clip is positioned. Putting it all back together again is harder than taking it apart.

Installing Your Slip-on Exhaust

After you remove the entire stock system including the mid pipe and header,  it’s time to slide that aftermarket exhaust on. The most important thing to remember is that you should never ram it on or hammer it together. Many slip-ons require some elbow grease to get them to fit properly, but you may be surprised how easy it is to bend it out of shape.

Some slip-ons use springs to hold them in place, while others use bolts to firmly grasp the pipe. Either way, be sure it’s fully in place. You may need to replace the gasket to ensure a leak-free fit.

Now it’s time to put it all back together again. Wipe it all down to make sure you haven’t left any grubby fingerprints on your exhaust system. Assemble it and attach it with all the same exhaust clips and hangers. Loosely attach the head pipe first, then tighten the rest of the bolts as you make your way back up to the head pipe. Then you can ratchet it down for a snug fit.

Rev that engine and check for any exhaust leaks. This may take a few minutes. After you’re sure it’s sealed properly, take your bike for a spin around the block and check again. The first few ride could loosen any bolts that weren’t completely tightened, so keep an eye on your new exhaust.

Emissions: Louder Isn’t Always Better

A word on emissions: just because you can find a louder exhaust doesn’t mean you should. While we all notice the loudest bike to go flying by, that isn’t always a good thing. For one, local laws typically include noise regulations. Even the sickest ride doesn’t look so great with flashing lights tailing it.

It’s far better to choose a slip-on exhaust based on measurable performance. Improved efficiency, lightweight design and an awesome look are all better ways to find the best new exhaust.

Hit the Road

Now it’s time to show it off. Whether you’re preparing for a race this weekend or going for a cross-country ride, let your engine sing. A slip-on exhaust system is an easy way to ensure increased performance and an awesome new sound. Whether you’re completely retooling your entire ride or looking for a single, affordable DIY project to tackle, shop for a slip-on exhaust today to hear what your bike is capable of.