Slip-on exhausts are pretty popular – they are a lot of enthusiasts’ first “major” mod. But are they really worth the money? Some enthusiasts say yes while others swear it’s a complete waste of money.
In this article, we clarify all about the slip-ons – so you can decide whether they are worth the investment or not!
For the busy people, slip-on exhausts are worth it only if you want better sounds and aesthetics. Slip-ons will not give you any additional performance – installing them for horsepower will disappoint you and is not worth it at all.
Now that’s out of the way, let’s get into more details.
Recap: What Are Slip-On Exhausts?
Slip-on exhausts are aftermarket exhaust systems that replace only the end portion of your motorcycle – also known as the “end can”.
Slip-on exhausts usually include a less-restrictive performance muffler and better looking exhaust tips. They are meant to provide you with better sound and appearance – not power!
The performance muffler included in a slip-on exhaust is more hollow. They allow sound waves to travel easily, without much interruption. This results in a much louder and aggressive sound every time you rev.
Slip-on exhausts do not replace any critical components like Catalytic Converters (CAT) or O2 sensors – which means you won’t risk any warning indicators on your dashboards.
This also means you won’t require any tuning to maximize the potential of a slip-on exhaust. Simply install it and enjoy the new aggressive sounds and looks.
Will Slip-On Exhausts Be Worth It For You?
Every person is different – some crave absolute for power, while others are more concerned towards how cool the motorcycle looks.
In this section, I will cover slip-on exhaust for each category. Are slip-on exhausts worth it if you want a better sound? What about aesthetics or power? Read on.
1. Sound Improvement
Aftermarket slip-on exhausts are absolutely great if you want a louder and more aggressive sounding motorcycle.
Generally speaking, the smaller and more hollow the slip-on exhaust is, the louder your motorcycle will become. This is because sound waves generated from the combustion engine can travel and exit into the environment much more easily and quickly.
If you cut open a muffler or its baffles, you will see that they all work relatively the same way. They are designed to either absorb sound waves (using fiberglass) or make sound waves bounce into each other and cancel out.
Smaller mufflers have lesser areas to work with. They cannot absorb as many sound waves and they also cannot bounce as many incoming sound waves – causing the majority to escape outside and be heard.
This is of course, just a general practice. When purchasing a slip-on exhaust, make sure you know how it will sound like. Research the exact brand and model on YouTube and various forums. I am sure you can find a before and after video highlighting the sound.
I recommend not getting a slip-on exhaust that’s extremely loud. The sound is awesome when you first hear it but it gets old and annoying quickly. Your neighbors will not appreciate you and you can barely hear it when on the road at high speed.
2. Aesthetics Improvement
Slip-on exhausts are definitely worth buying if you want a better looking motorcycle. They come in many brands, shapes and even colors.
There is nothing much to say here. A fresh slip-on exhaust can definitely up the look on your motorcycle (and also your confidence).
Just make sure to first decide how loud you want your motorcycle to be and then pick the ones that look the best. Keep in mind – larger slip-on exhausts are usually quieter.
3. Power Improvement
Slip-on exhausts are not worth it if you are buying it for performance. At most, they can provide an additional 2-3 horsepower.
Nothing significant – you will barely notice the difference.
Slip-on exhausts do not impact anything major to provide any significant horsepower. Some enthusiasts would argue that a slip-on improves exhaust flow and is significantly lighter than stock – which means extra horsepower.
Those two points are true. However, they are not impactful enough to add any significant horsepower.
If you care about horsepower and don’t mind spending, I recommend you look into full system exhausts. They replace the entire exhaust systems including the midpipe, catalytic converters (CATS) and mufflers.
The pipes that come with performance full system exhausts are wider throughout. Which means, exhaust gases can flow out quicker starting from the header till the tailpipe.
I cover more about full system exhausts and their horsepower gains in my other article. How Much Horsepower Does Exhaust Add To a Motorcycle?
Do You Need To Tune After Installing A Slip-On Exhaust?
A slip-on exhaust does not require tuning – it does not change the air-fuel ratio enough to the point where you need tuning.
There are usually two types of enthusiasts when asking this question. First is the enthusiast who is worried that their motorcycles will run lean, so they need a tune to get their bikes running properly.
If you are this guy, then don’t worry about tuning. Your motorcycle will be running just fine. Even if it runs a little lean, you will likely not notice a difference. Just ride on and enjoy the improved sound and looks.
Second is the enthusiast who wants to squeeze more horsepower out of their slip-on exhaust and thus, bring their motorcycles to a tune.
If you are this guy, then I suggest you save the money and get a full system exhaust instead. It provides a much better exhaust flow – giving you a much bigger potential for horsepower gains.
Once you have the full system, then bring your motorcycle for a tune. Adjust the air-fuel ratio, remove the rev limiter and improve the throttle response. Your motorcycle will be transformed into a best.
If you agree with me, then now is the time to learn more about tuning. I have another article here where I talk about tuning, different types of it and how much they cost.
You will learn some stuff. How Much Does It Cost To Tune Your Motorcycle?
How Much Does Slip-On Exhaust Cost?
Slip-on exhaust generally ranges from $200 up to $500 without any installation fee. This is significantly cheaper when compared to full system exhaust that ranges from $800 to $2,000.
Installation fee should cost around $100 – $150 and takes about an hour or two. Though, I recommend you install it yourself – it’s quite easy and most slip-ons come with installation manuals!
All you need are screws and some WD40 (depending on how old your bike is). The installation steps usually involve unscrewing the stock exhaust and slipping on the new exhaust into place.
Here’s a YouTube video showing you how it’s done. Jump to 1:39 for installation.
Cheap Vs Expensive Slip-On Exhausts
Like all things, there are cheap and expensive versions.When it comes to slip-ons do they matter? What’s the difference between a cheap and expensive slip-on?
To be frank, cheap and expensive slip-ons don’t differ much when it comes to output. The cheap and expensive can both give great sound and looks.
The only differences are usually material used and welding quality. More expensive exhausts use more expensive materials that should last longer and weigh lighter.
Also, more expensive exhausts tend to not rattle as much as the cheaper ones.
I recommend you to not skip on a slip-on just because they are cheaper or more expensive. Look into both types and see the reviews.
Things To Know Before Buying Slip-On Exhaust
As a summary, here is a list of things you should know about slip-ons before buying one.
- Slip-on exhausts are great install for sound and visual improvement
- Slip-on exhausts do not provide much horsepower
- Slip-on exhausts generally cost $200 – $500 and you should install it yourself.
- Slip-on exhausts don’t require tuning to work
- Cheap and expensive slip-ons do not differ much in sound output. Expensive ones use better material and are lighter
- Slip-on exhausts can be illegal if they get too loud
- Slip-on exhausts that are too loud get boring and annoying quickly – avoid it!
- Smaller slip-on exhausts are usually louder and more aggressive
If you are a beginner enthusiast and do not care so much about performance and you are driving your motorcycle as a daily, then slip-on exhaust is a great choice.
Get one that costs about $300, install it yourself and enjoy the great sound wherever you go. Don’t bother tuning it – you will just be wasting your money at this point.
If you are serious about horsepower gains, then skip on the slip-on exhausts and look into a full system exhaust instead. Once you install it, bring your motorcycle for a tune.
Adjust the air-fuel ratio, throttle response and rev limit and you should have a powerful beast on your disposal! There are of course more things to be tuned, but these are the most common ones.