I remember when I first saw a heat wrapped exhaust and went “Damn, that’s cool as hell. What are those?” I was so ready to do the same for my bike. But after some research, I no longer want it. Curious why?
Heat wrapping motorcycle exhausts are bad – it opens up many potential problems like exhaust corrosions, cracks and discoloration.
There is no performance improvement. All it does is make your motorcycle look cooler.
In this article, I will list all the potential problems from heat wrapping your motorcycle exhaust and also introduce you to better alternatives.
7 Reasons Why Wrapping Motorcycle Exhaust Is Bad
1. Exhaust Corrosion / Rust
Heat wrapping exhaust pipes trap moisture that can cause corrosion or rusting in the long run. Riding on bad rainy weather further accelerates this process.
Rain water that consists of other impurities get trapped in the heat wrap and can stay for a long time before they completely evaporate. (Think also other scenarios like going over a dirty puddle)
When an exhaust is rusted, there’s no saving it. Your only solution is to purchase a replacement – which can get pretty expensive! Especially full system exhaust.
2. Exhaust Cracks Or Discoloration
Continuous exposure to the heat over high temperature can lead to discoloration and cracks on your exhaust pipes.
Remember heat expands particles – have your exhausts expanded over a long period and it will crack.
This is the best case scenario. Your motorcycle can still run well with some discoloration. However, rusting is a big no-go.
I have a friend who heat wraps his exhaust for over a year. His exhaust looks great when wrapped but looks like sewage piping when unwrapped. Not cool.
3. Smells Horrible (Initially)
Expect some bad-smelling smoke on your first ride after completing the exhaust wrap. This happens only initially as part of the wrap curing process.
Exhaust wraps are typically made from fiberglass and you need to spray them with water during installation to ensure a tight wrap. The bad-smelling smoke I mentioned is produced by the water and burning off some fiber glass material.
The bad-smelling smoke should go away by itself after a couple of days (depending on how much you ride and how hot).
This is not a long term problem but still a nuisance nonetheless.
4. Void Warranty
In most cases, heat wrapping your exhaust will void your warranty. Not the entire motorcycle warranty – but just parts related to the heat wrapping.
Which means you will likely void warranty for your exhausts (header & midpipe), muffler and CAT. If your motorcycle is new, I suggest not to heat wrap it. The cons far outweigh the potential pros.
5. No Improvement In Performance
Heat wrapping will not gain you any additional performance or horsepower. Sure, the heat is trapped in exhaust and will not go back up to the engine – but this change is not significant enough to yield you horsepower.
If you are looking to heat wrap for performance reasons, then don’t. There are many other mods that can help you do that. Heat wrapping exhaust is not the go to.
Unless, you know what you are doing and you specifically need this heat-wrap to shave off a quarter of a second from your record lap time. Then sure, give it a go.
6. Can’t Reach Ideal Temperature During Winter
Heat wrapping exhaust keeps the engine temperature down. This is not great during winter because your engine will not be able to reach the ideal temperature during winter – where it’s extremely cold.
Typically, riders with heat-wrapped exhausts will simply remove it during winter and reapply when winter is over.
This seems like a nuisance to me because I am just lazy. What about you?
7. Re-wrapping required
Heat wraps are not permanent. They have to be replaced every few months – depending on the riding condition and how often you ride.
You typically have to eye-ball this. When the heat wrap looks loose, beat and disintegrated, you should replace it.
If this is your first replacement, don’t be surprised to see discoloration or marks on your sweet sweet exhaust!
Why Do People Wrap Their Motorcycle Exhausts, Anyway?
There are so many negatives when it comes to wrapping your exhausts – why do people still do it then? Surely the pros outweigh the cons?
Honestly, no. I don’t think the pros of heat wrapping exhaust outweigh the cons. Why don’t you decide for yourself.
People heat wrap their motorcycle exhausts to improve the bike’s looks and performance.
Heat wrapping exhaust keeps the majority of the heat within the exhaust pipe. This high temperature in the exhaust ensures exhaust gases move quickly and out of the exhaust.
Remember, hotter gasses have more energy and thus, they move a lot faster.
Some people also argue that by keeping the heat in the exhaust areas, the engine temperature will be lower. This is somewhat true, but the impact is so low that it’s not noticeable.
I have a couple of buddies who personally heat wrap their bikes. After speaking to each of them, I can conclude that they all agree on these same things:
- Heat wrapping exhaust does not produce enough impact to improve performance.
- Heat wrapping makes your bike look great and aggressive
- Heat wrapping exhaust protects any accidental heat touches on your leg
If you are a fan of the look and feel that your bike is quite hot while idling, then heat wrapping is a great solution.
If you expect performance gain out of this, then you will be disappointed.
Better Alternatives To Exhaust Wrapping
Since wrapping motorcycle exhausts is bad, here are some better alternatives that you might be interested in – be in for cosmetic or performance.
1. Ceramic Coating
Ceramic coating is a much better alternative to heat wrapping if you insist on retaining heat in the exhaust pipes and you love the looks.
Here are some of the many reasons why ceramic coating is better than heat wrapping motorcycle exhaust
- Ceramic coating is permanent – you don’t have to re-apply it every few months like heat wrap. There’s no cloth that will loosen up or disintegrate.
- Ceramic coating will not cause discoloration or exhaust cracking because it has lower heat tolerance. Ceramic coating will not retain as much heat as heat wrap but this is also less damaging to your exhaust.
- Ceramic coating has many color options. Black, blue, gold – whatever colors you want, they should have it. However, black is the best color to retain heat (if that’s your concern).
2. Pod Air Filters For Improved Air Flow
Pod air filters are a better alternative than heat wrapping exhaust when it comes to improving air flow and improving performance.
Compared to regular air filters, pod air filters are open and less restrictive. They allow much more air to come in – which helps a lot in creating combustion and more power.
Rather than using heat wrap to increase the exhaust temperature and hope that the exhaust velocity is significantly increased, pod air filters are a much better choice.
More information on pod air filters in my other article here – Are Pod Air Filters Worth It For Motorcycles?
3. Slip-On Exhaust For Cosmetic
If your concern is the look of your motorcycles, what about installing a slip-on exhaust instead?
A slip-on exhaust is an aftermarket exhaust that replaces only the end portion of the exhaust. Your bike will look and sound significantly better.
Slip-on exhausts are done generally for the look and sound. It will not give you any noticeable performance.
Here’s an article about slip-on if you want to know more. Are Slip On Exhausts Worth It?