Running a motorcycle without its baffles is not bad for the engine. It will not cause any engine damage. Worst case scenario is that your engine runs lean and you lose minor performance.
To get the most out of baffles removal, make sure to rejet or tune your motorcycle afterwards. This ensures you still have the right air / fuel ratio – allowing you to even gain some performance in the end.
That was the short version. Now let’s go into more details about baffles. I will discuss how baffles work, why removing them won’t cause engine damage and also some pros and cons.
After this short article, you should be all clear about baffles and can decide whether you should ride with or without them. Excited? You better be!
The Function Of Motorcycle Baffles
Motorcycle baffles AKA exhaust baffles are specially designed tubes – inserted into a motorcycle’s exhaust to quiet down the engine sound.
Engine sound (any sound really) travels in waves. The walls surrounding a baffle tube are made to bounce sound waves – causing them to reverse, crash into each other and cancel out.
You could also find baffles that are surrounded by fiberglass packing. Fiberglass absorbs sound waves as they pass through – making the engine sound even quieter.
This works great when new but as you ride, the fiberglass packing will wear out (shatter) – reducing the noise cancellation.
“Motorcycle engines sound great. Why are they even being silenced?” That’s what I thought too, but turns out, only enthusiasts like us would appreciate this sound.
Majority of people don’t and the government in many countries even pass laws to restrict how loud a motorcycle engine should be.
Will Removing Baffles Damage Engine?
Removing baffles from a motorcycle exhaust or muffler will not damage its engine. Doing so will only make your engine sound louder and reduce restriction in your motorcycle exhaust (back pressure).
Removing baffles only requires you to work with the end portion of your motorcycle exhaust – AKA “end can”. There shouldn’t be anything important located in that area.
Crucial things like oxygen sensors and catalytic converters (CAT) are located in the mid-pipe and will not be impacted. Which means you won’t see any warning indicator in the dashboard either – if you are worried about that.
Reducing this restriction is actually good. Most enthusiasts look to reduce their exhaust restriction to improve performance. However, reducing restriction is just half of the equation. To improve performance, you also need a tune.
Without tuning, your engine will likely run leaner and you might lose minor performance instead of gaining. Confused? Good. Let’s discuss performance now.
Do Baffles Affect Performance?
Baffles can impact performance output because they play a part in defining how restrictive a motorcycle exhaust is. Removing baffles will make exhaust less restrictive, whereas leaving them on makes exhaust more restrictive.
Before we continue on the performance talks, let’s first discuss how a motorcycle engine generates power. A motorcycle engine is a combustion engine – which means they use a mixture of air and fuel to generate combustion and deliver power.
If you want more power, you need bigger combustion – which means more air and more fuel. Note that a combustion is an explosion that generates power and exhaust gases.
These exhaust gases must leave the combustion chamber quickly to allow fresh air to enter for the next combustion cycle.
If your motorcycle exhaust is restrictive (has high back pressure), exhaust gases will not want to leave the combustion chamber. Remember, air particles always look to travel to lower pressure areas.
By removing the baffles from your motorcycle exhaust, you reduce the pressure in the exhaust – causing exhaust gases to want to flow quicker. Thus, giving more space for fresh air in the next combustion cycle.
However, this is just half of the equation. You also need to make sure more fuel is available in the combustion chamber.
Without the extra fuel, there will be an excess of air in the combustion chamber – causing your engine to run lean and lose power instead. This is where tuning comes in the picture, let’s talk about it now.
Do You Need To Tune After Removing Baffles?
If you are looking for more horsepower, then you should tune your motorcycle after removing baffles. Without tune, your engine will run lean and cause you to lose horsepower.
However, If you are removing baffles just for the sound improvement, then tuning is not required. You will only lose minor horsepower. For non-performance riders, this change is insignificant.
Let’s talk a little more about tuning. Why is tuning required to prevent the loss of horsepower?
I am assuming you already read my explanation above, where I talked about how removing baffles can increase the amount of air in the combustion chamber.
I mentioned that increasing the amount of air in the combustion chamber is just half of the equation. For more horsepower, you need more air and more fuel!
More air with the same amount of fuel will cause your engine to run lean. To fix this, you need to tune your motorcycle engine to provide more fuel in the combustion chamber.
With more fuel and air, you will definitely gain horsepower. Though, if you are serious about horsepower, I recommend you look into a full system exhaust instead of just removing baffles.
Here’s an article I wrote about tuning. In it, I cover more about tuning and the horsepower gains you can expect. Do You Have To Tune Motorcycle After Installing Exhaust?
Running Without Baffles: Pros
- Louder engine sound. By removing the baffles, you are reducing your motorcycle’s sound suppression. Which means your motorcycle will be extremely loud. This is subjective. Could be great if you are into that sound.
- Reduce backpressure. Without any baffle in place, your motorcycle exhaust will be less restrictive – which means potential for more horsepower! Read this article if you think backpressure is good for you (It’s not). Is Straight Pipe Bad For Your Motorcycle?
- Engine runs cooler. Now that your exhaust is less restrictive, exhaust gases can pass through with a breeze. This means your engine internals can shed heat more quickly.
- More horsepower if tuned. If you get a tune after removing baffles, you could gain a minor boost in horsepower – about 2 to 3 horsepower, nothing significant though. If you want power, look into aftermarket exhaust instead. I cover that here – How Much Horsepower Does Exhaust Add To Motorcycle?
Running Without Baffles: Cons
- Extremely loud sound. Without baffles, your motorcycle engines will be extremely loud. It’s a nuisance to your surroundings. Plus, it’s only cool for a couple of weeks! The noise gets old quick and you might regret.
- Could be illegal. Depending on where you live, the loud sound could be illegal. Expect to see more traffic tickets – especially if the motorcycle is your daily.
- Runs lean if not tuned. If you care about horsepower, then you cannot remove baffles without getting a tune. This will mess up your air / fuel ratio – causing your engine to run lean and you losing horsepower.
Running a motorcycle without baffles has its pros and cons. If you are into that super loud sound, then removing the baffles could be a great choice for you.
Otherwise, I don’t recommend you to remove the baffles at all. There are too many cons and the louder sound really gets annoying rather quickly.
For an improved sound, look into getting a slip-on exhaust. For power, look into a full system exhaust instead.