Getting the right stainless steel muffler for your café racer, scrambler or bobber.
Purpose Built Moto has an ever-expanding range of mufflers to help our community of riders and garage builders achieve the custom bike of their dreams. With a custom café racer or scrambler though comes a lot of grey areas for guys with little experience with building bikes but willing to give it a go. Exhaust size and Muffler selection is one of those grey areas. What size headers are right for your bike? How long do they have to be? What is back pressure and do I need it? What type of muffler do I need? All questions I will try to explain in this article.
So you’ve purchased the bike and cut it to pieces and thrown out the old muffler with a pea shooter hole in it that makes it sound like the Jetson’s mobile. What now? If you want to get the best finish possible you’ll choose to replace the headers with a custom system, if you’re going as far as an oversize piston kit + upgraded carbs it may be well worth it. The rule of thumb here is that output has to match input and vise-versa. If you have better air/fuel flow, higher compression and/or bigger capacity, you need an easier outflow ie. A custom built system or an off the shelf upgrade if it’s available.
When it comes to modifying the exhaust it can affect different engines to varying degrees. Some can breathe wide open with next to no back pressure, as long as it’s tuned right – Harley engines are good examples. Other engines if left wide open crumble in bottom end power and have nothing until you’re peaking in the rev range, 4-cylinder 4 strokes are another example.
The logical aim in modifying your exhaust would be to open up the power curve to its full potential and match any intake upgrades you’ve done all while achieving the desired growl you want. I won’t go into much more detail as I’m not a complete expert, but here is a more common example I see a lot.
The desired bike you’re working on, say its an air-cooled 4-cylinder. It’s had the airbox removed, A set of K&N pod filters fitted and the carburetor upgrade or re-jet with an oversize piston kit. If you were to leave the stock exhaust system as it was, chances are you won’t gain nearly the potential benefit you could. A good analogy is to imagine water trying to pass through a funnel. You’re pouring water into the funnel slowly and it’s passing through fine (standard engine and exhaust), as you speed up pouring water in the funnel it reaches a point where it will start to pool up as it can’t flow any faster (upgraded carb, piston kit, standard exhaust). The water coming in is the fuel/air from your carburetor, and the flow out is your exhaust. If the flow out is too restricted it will choke up the engine and you lose power. The only way to get the flow right is to increase the size of the outlet so you can achieve the right amount of flow ie. New exhaust system. This works in the opposite direction too, not enough fuel/air and too large an exhaust. You want to hit the middle ground here. If you want a well-rounded bike you don’t want to go too large either.
So you see now that each mod you make on the intake will have to have an equal modification on the exhaust.
Once you have you’re header pipes sorted and chosen the configuration
• 4-into-2-into-1 (my personal favourite)
I could go on. But now you need to choose your muffler.
I am a little Biased I’ll admit but often the cheap Emgo pipes you can buy from nearly every parts store and on ebay are very underwhelming. They tend to give your bike an overly loud and hollow sound, desirable for some but hardly ideal on the performance scale. Exhaust builders will normally relish the opportunity to build you a complete system with matching mufflers but you’re going to need deep pockets. The middle ground is to find a good slip-on muffler suited to your bike’s engine size and have the headers made to suit. In some circumstances, you can even get a pretty decent result just with a good slip-on muffler added to your standard headers.
Let’s get into some muffler details. A muffler has 2 primary purposes,
1. To provide backpressure to your engine by slowing down the exhaust gas flow, and also to give some anti-reversion properties to support the headers (if you want to go deep on this google “anti-reversion 4 stroke engine”
2. Muffle the sound coming from the engine and smooth the noise out.
A lot of the cheaper mufflers you’ll find will provide purpose 1, but fail at purpose 2. They achieve back pressure through an open hollow can and a baffle. Normally a fixed set of circular steel pieces in the centre of the muffler or a removable perforated tube. If you remove these you’ll get an overly offensive and crackly sounding engine. Not great for performance either. Whatever muffler you choose, If its overly different from your stock set-up tuning will be needed.
If you’re looking for a higher quality component, you’ll want a muffler that consists of the outer can, an inner perforated tube and packed with fibre or stainless steel wool. This construction provides better flow, smoother sound reduction and if sized correctly for your bike the right amount of back pressure. This is how your high-end mufflers are built, the Akrapovic, Yoshimura, and FMF among others all use this technique.
So does Purpose Built Moto’s muffler range. I looked around for a muffler that looked right and had the performance qualities I wanted for my pride and joy but I couldn’t find one. So I started making them. With an all Stainless steel construction, Fibre packing, and sized to universally fit most if not all bikes with little modification. As with all things I do I aim for a simple, clean and functional aesthetic. Also supplied is a removable conical baffle, made from perforated sheet, this can be installed or removed and trimmed down to achieve your desired noise reduction and also back pressure. These can be installed either at the coupling where the muffler meets the header, or welded into the end of the muffler.
You can see the full range of our mufflers for bikes anywhere from 200cc up to 1200cc in any shape and size. Available in 1.5″- 38mm, 1 5/8″- 43mm, 53mm and 2″ 51mm Dia. Inlets. If you have any questions please send through an email.
I hope this has shed some light on the art and science of your café racers exhaust system and allowed you to make a better-informed decision. Happy bike building!
Im after a pair of stainless 18″ reverse cone mufflers for my KZ750 twin.
Can you help?
Thanks for getting in touch.
The mufflers we have in stock are closer to 12″.
We can help out with a custom solution but it is a lot more costly.
Please shoot me an email- firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any more questions.
Hello. Anything for a CB650 four? (1981)
It has 2-1 stock each side. Wanted 4-4 like the CB 650c but aftermarket
Check out our muffler category in the online store.
Really great info Tom! I’m building a BMW R1150R twin and looking for a rear can, any recommendations?
The good thing about BMW’s is there is a mountain of bolt on parts.
The one BMW Ive built we used a set of 2 x 43mm PBM mufllers it sounded great!
Thanks Tom, Ive just picked the bike up, I’m based on the GC, I will be looking at your other items too, switch gear and headlamps are ++ cheers for the advise!
Just read your explanatory notes on Exhaust Systems which I found very interesting.
I recently took delivery of a Royal Enfield Continental GT 650Twin.
I have been studying exhaust systems / mufflers that people are fitting to them but am yet to find that inbeween overly loud and just loud deep drone noise. The Red Rooster slip ons seem to get close but only heard on YouTube so could be misleading. Basically I want to get away from that cracking noise if possible.
I have a CBR 1000R fitted with a Yoshi slip-on and a slightly less “deep burble” noise is what I would like. .
Can you give me any idea if this is achievable from a 270 degree twin and if you have such a thing. If so what is the price range and cost to ship to Perth WA.
Its a little more difficult to defeat that “popping” sound out of a tewin and get closer to an inline 4.
Your best option would be a 2-1 header pipe, our PBM 43mm torpedo muffler with the DB killer we supply installed.
That gives a smooth deep note, but wont have the coppers pulling you over because your bikes too loud.
Check out the mufflers below
Great guide, on an XSR700 would I require any additional pipes for your mufflers to be mounted?
As from what I can see on the bike the whole stock assembly is in one piece and I would like to get the same clean look as on your video.
The video I have is sent in from a customer. I beleive he had an aftermarket mid pipe.
That’s all the detail I have.
Hey Tom, I have a stock mercury 250 apart from customisation with your pbm range. I’m wanting a discreet muffler so I’m looking at the 35mm torpedo. A few things: will this be a straight forward upgrade and coupled with one of your $99 air pods will this be fine for both back pressure and performance? The existing header is looking a bit sad so I’d like a stainless steel header too which I could get done locally. I recently rode a modified harley 883 iron and loved it but I’m still happy tinkering with my cafe racer
Hey Rich, Chances are if you upgrade the exhaust and Air filter you’ll need to re-jet.
Hey mate I have a Mutt
Motorcycle looking at a slip on muffler.
Have you done anything for them before?
Plenty of 250 singles, no specific Mutt Motorcycles.
the 38mm torpedo will fit most 250cc bikes standard headers.