Can you use a slip-on exhaust with any motorcycle headers?

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Can you use a slip-on exhaust with any motorcycle headers?
Slip-on exhausts can be mounted to most headers with some modification. (Motorcycle exhaust image by Crisps 85 from Fotolia.com)

Slip-on exhaust mufflers are a popular item within the motorcycle community, allowing riders to easily replace a damaged muffler or enhance their machine's performance. These mufflers are designed to replace the motorcycle's stock muffler, slipping directly over or onto the exhaust header pipes. While most of these slip-on mufflers are purpose-built for a specific motorcycles, a few universal options are available for purchase.

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Basic Construction

Slip-on mufflers are available in a wide variety of forms and are made from materials ranging from aluminium, titanium, stainless steel and carbon fibre. Most slip-on mufflers are tailor-made for specific motorcycle models. The inner diameter of a model-specific muffler's inlet, where exhaust gases enter from the headers, is matched to the header's outer diameter. This allows the muffler to slip easily onto the headers, where it is secured by a worm-clamp or spring hooks. However, universal slip-on mufflers use a series of collars to adjust between varying header pipe diameters. These collars are placed over the end of the header pipes before the muffler is attached and secured by a worm-clamp. In most cases, the muffler is supported by a frame-mounted bracket to reduce stress placed on the header pipes.

Function

Performance-based mufflers usually incorporate a straight-through design, providing spent exhaust gases with an unrestricted flow as they exit the muffler. Steel or fibreglass packing is typically wrapped around the muffler's perforated inner steel core to absorb the sound of the exhaust to reduce noise levels. Conversely, a slip-on muffler intended strictly for replacement may employ a series of baffles or chambers to restrict exhaust flow, reducing noise levels.

Selecting a Slip-on Muffler

Determining which slip-on mufflers are available for newer motorcycles can be as easy as a quick search on the Internet, as most models will have at least two or three muffler options available to them. However, motorcycles built in the 1980s or earlier may require more research. Start by determining if your motorcycle's muffler and header pipe is a one-piece assembly. If the header pipe and muffler are permanently connected, the muffler will need to be cut off before continuing. Next, measure your motorcycle's header pipe outer diameter, as it is crucial to the muffler's connection to the headers. Determine how and where the muffler will be attached to the motorcycle. The muffler must have a bracket that can be attached to a point on the frame to prevent damaging the header pipes and to keep the muffler from falling off.

Installation

Installing a slip-on muffler is a relatively easy job. The motorcycle's muffler is unbolted from the frame and the clamp that attaches the muffler to the header pipe is removed, allowing the muffler to be pulled free. At this point, adjustment collars are applied as needed to the end of the header pipe and the muffler is slipped into place. The muffler is secured to the header pipe with a worm-clamp or with a set of spring hooks that pull the muffler into a tighter fit with the header pipe. Finally, the muffler's bracket is affixed to the frame.

Custom Fitment

While model-specific slip-on mufflers are intended only for use with that particular motorcycle, it may be used on a completely different model providing that the header pipe diameter is identical. At this point, the primary concern lies in securing the muffler to the header pipe and to the motorcycle's frame. Some fabrication may be needed to provide these mounting points if your motorcycle does not have them readily available.

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