Harley Davidson Exhaust System: Unleash the Roar of Your Ride


Updated on:

When it comes to customizing a Harley Davidson motorcycle, one of the most popular upgrades is the exhaust system. The right exhaust can transform not just the sound, but the performance and aesthetics of your bike. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive into everything you need to know about Harley Davidson exhaust systems. From understanding the different types to exploring the benefits, and providing tips on installation and maintenance, this article covers it all. So, buckle up and let’s ride through the world of Harley Davidson exhaust systems!

Harley Davidson motorcycles are iconic. They’re not just a mode of transport; they’re a statement, a lifestyle, and a piece of Americana. One of the most defining characteristics of a Harley is its exhaust note – that deep, throaty rumble that turns heads and sets hearts racing. If you’re a Harley enthusiast looking to enhance your bike’s performance and sound, upgrading the exhaust system is a must. But where do you start? What should you consider? And how do you ensure you’re getting the best bang for your buck? Let’s find out.

Types of Harley Davidson Exhaust Systems

Before you rush out to buy a new exhaust, it’s essential to understand the different types available. Each type offers unique benefits and considerations:

1. Slip-On Exhausts

Slip-on exhausts are the most straightforward upgrade for your Harley. As the name suggests, these exhausts slip onto your existing exhaust pipes. They’re a great option if you’re looking for an easy installation and a moderate boost in performance and sound.


  • Easy to install
  • Affordable
  • Improved sound


  • Limited performance gains compared to full systems

2. Full System Exhausts

A full system exhaust replaces everything from the headers to the tailpipe. This type of exhaust offers the most significant performance improvements and customization options.


  • Maximum performance gains
  • Complete customization of sound and style


  • More expensive
  • More complex installation

3. 2-Into-1 Exhausts

The 2-into-1 exhaust system merges two exhaust pipes into one, providing a balanced look and sound.


  • Improved performance
  • Balanced sound
  • Sleek look


  • Can be more expensive

4. Dual Exhausts

Dual exhaust systems keep the exhaust pipes separate, running from the engine to the tailpipe on both sides of the bike. This setup is traditional for Harley Davidsons and offers a classic look and sound.


  • Classic Harley look and sound
  • Good performance gains


  • Heavier than other options

Benefits of Upgrading Your Harley Davidson Exhaust System

Upgrading your exhaust system isn’t just about making your bike louder. There are several key benefits to consider:

1. Enhanced Performance

A new exhaust system can significantly improve your bike’s performance. By reducing backpressure and improving exhaust flow, your engine can breathe easier, resulting in increased horsepower and torque.

2. Improved Sound

One of the most noticeable changes with a new exhaust system is the sound. Whether you prefer a deep growl or a throaty roar, there’s an exhaust system out there to match your taste.

3. Aesthetic Appeal

Let’s face it; a Harley Davidson is as much about looks as it is about performance. A custom exhaust can give your bike a unique, personalized look that sets it apart from the crowd.

4. Weight Reduction

High-performance exhaust systems are often made from lighter materials, such as stainless steel or titanium. This weight reduction can improve your bike’s handling and overall performance.

How to Choose the Right Exhaust System for Your Harley

Selecting the perfect exhaust system for your Harley Davidson can be a daunting task, but considering a few key factors can help narrow down your choices:

1. Budget

Exhaust systems can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. Determine your budget beforehand to avoid overspending.

2. Desired Performance Gains

If you’re looking for maximum performance improvements, a full system exhaust is the way to go. For a moderate boost, a slip-on exhaust might be sufficient.

3. Sound Preference

Do you prefer a loud, aggressive roar, or a more subdued growl? Different exhaust systems produce different sounds, so consider what matches your style.

4. Aesthetic Considerations

The look of the exhaust system should complement the overall design of your bike. Think about how the exhaust pipes will look from different angles.

5. Installation Complexity

If you’re comfortable with DIY projects, you might opt for a full system. If not, a slip-on exhaust with a simpler installation process might be better.

Installation Tips for Harley Davidson Exhaust Systems

Installing a new exhaust system can be a rewarding project. Here are some tips to ensure a smooth installation process:

1. Gather Your Tools

Ensure you have all the necessary tools before you start. This might include wrenches, sockets, and a torque wrench.

2. Read the Instructions

This might seem obvious, but always read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. Each exhaust system can have unique installation steps.

3. Take Your Time

Don’t rush the installation. Take your time to ensure everything is fitted correctly and securely.

4. Check for Leaks

After installation, check for any exhaust leaks. You can do this by running the bike and feeling for any escaping air around the connections.

5. Tune Your Engine

Depending on the exhaust system you choose, you might need to tune your engine to optimize performance. Consider consulting a professional for this step.

Maintenance Tips for Your Harley Davidson Exhaust System

Once you’ve installed your new exhaust system, proper maintenance is crucial to keep it in top condition:

1. Regular Cleaning

Dirt and grime can build up on your exhaust pipes, leading to corrosion. Regularly clean your exhaust system with a mild detergent and a soft cloth.

2. Inspect for Damage

Periodically inspect your exhaust system for any signs of damage or wear. Look for cracks, rust, or loose fittings.

3. Tighten Connections

Over time, the vibrations from riding can loosen the connections on your exhaust system. Regularly check and tighten these connections as needed.

4. Avoid Short Trips

Short trips can lead to condensation building up inside the exhaust, which can cause rust. Try to take longer rides to ensure the exhaust heats up and evaporates any moisture.

5. Store Properly

If you’re storing your bike for an extended period, consider removing the exhaust and storing it in a dry, cool place to prevent rust.

FAQs About Harley Davidson Exhaust Systems

Q1: How much does it cost to upgrade a Harley Davidson exhaust system?

The cost can vary widely depending on the type of exhaust system. Slip-on exhausts can range from $200 to $600, while full system exhausts can cost between $600 and $2000 or more.

Q2: Will a new exhaust system affect my bike’s warranty?

It depends on the manufacturer and the specific terms of your warranty. Always check with your dealer before making modifications to ensure you don’t void your warranty.

Q3: Do I need to tune my engine after installing a new exhaust system?

In many cases, tuning your engine is recommended to optimize performance and ensure your bike runs smoothly. This is especially true for full system exhausts.

Q4: Can I install an exhaust system myself?

If you have some mechanical skills and the right tools, installing an exhaust system can be a DIY project. However, if you’re not confident, it’s best to have a professional handle the installation.

Q5: How do I know which exhaust system is right for my bike?

Consider factors such as your budget, desired performance gains, sound preference, and aesthetic considerations. Research different brands and read reviews to make an informed decision.


Upgrading your Harley Davidson exhaust system is a surefire way to enhance your bike’s performance, sound, and aesthetics. Whether you opt for a slip-on, full system, 2-into-1, or dual exhaust, the key is to choose a system that aligns with your needs and preferences. Remember to consider your budget, desired performance gains, and installation capabilities. With the right exhaust system, you’ll not only unleash the roar of your Harley but also elevate your riding experience to new heights.

Authoritative Links

Here are some authoritative links for further reading on Harley Davidson exhaust systems:

By following the tips and insights shared in this article, you’ll be well on your way to finding the perfect exhaust system for your Harley Davidson.