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Whether or not to use motorcycle exhaust wrap during your rebuild is a decision you’ll need to make as your bike comes back together.
If you’re trying to restore the bike to stock, skipping the exhaust wrap is probably the right call.
However, if you’re going for a custom build or a resto-mod, exhaust wrap might be a good choice.
Keep reading to learn about some of the positive aspects of exhaust wrap as well as some of the drawbacks.
If you decide to add it, you’ll find some tips on doing it correctly.
What is Motorcycle Exhaust Wrap?
Motorcycle exhaust wrap is just that – a wrap that goes around your bike’s exhaust and headers.
It comes in a variety of different colors, and when done properly, can add a unique, custom look to your motorcycle.
Exhaust wrap is typically made from fiberglass composite and is designed to control heat around the headers and exhaust pipe.
The purpose of exhaust wrap is to dampen heat on the outside of the pipes and keep the headers hotter internally.
Contrary to popular belief, exhaust wrap does not really provide a significant increase in power.
How Hot Does a Motorcycle Exhaust Get?
Motorcycle exhausts can put off some serious heat.
Combustion gas can sometimes exceed 1,000°F, however, the outside temperature of the exhaust and closer to the muffler will be cooler than this.
Most motorcycle exhausts will typically reach temperatures of around 500-700°F, and will be hotter at the headers.
Keep this in mind when looking for any high-temp motorcycle paint for your engine or exhaust.
Exhaust wrap can help to keep these temperatures down and help protect your skin if you accidentally touch the pipes while you’re riding or working on your bike.
Pros & Cons of Motorcycle Exhaust Wrap
Still trying to decide if you want to add some exhaust wrap to your build? Consider some of the motorcycle exhaust wrap pros and cons here.
There are some valid arguments and reasons on both sides of the exhaust wrap debate.
You’ll need to consider your bike and the nature of your build to determine if it’s right for you.
Pros: Is motorcycle exhaust wrap good?
Many new motorcycle builders are drawn to exhaust wrap for the look and seemingly easy installation.
Some of the benefits of exhaust wrap:
- It gives a custom look to your bike.
- It protects your skin from pipe burn.
- It lowers the external temperature around the headers.
If you’ve picked up a project motorcycle with a rusty or dingy looking exhaust that has seen better days, exhaust wrap can help make it look a lot better.
Cons: Is wrapping motorcycle exhaust bad?
The drawbacks of exhaust wrap:
- Rough on your pipes in that it keeps them hotter and can shorten their life.
- Wears out and gets dirty after a bit.
- Looks really bad if not installed properly.
- Can cause your pipes to rust and corrode by trapping moisture.
- Will smoke upon initial installation.
- Will eventually need to be re-wrapped.
Many motorcycle exhaust manufacturers consider wrapping the exhaust a void of warranty.
In many cases, it can shorten the useful like of your pipes.
One of the biggest issues with exhaust wrap is that it can trap moisture, which will begin to corrode your exhaust.
Also, it’s important to remember that once you wrap your exhaust, there’s no going back. The exhaust wrap will cure and leave a residue is you decide to remove it.
How to Wrap Your Motorcycle Exhaust
If you’ve decided on adding exhaust wrap to your pipes, here’s some tips to get the job done right.
To install wrap on your motorcycle exhaust, you need to first remove the exhaust from the bike.
You want to wear gloves to protect yourself from the fiberglass in the wrap.
To install motorcycle exhaust wrap:
- Get a bucket and soak the wrap in some water.
- Start at the outlet of the exhaust and move towards the headers.
- Secure one end of the wrap to the exhaust.
- Pull the wrap tight and begin wrapping.
- Try to overlap each layer about halfway down the wrap each time.
- Secure the end of the exhaust wrap with a safety wire.
- Finish it with some high-heat finish.
- Install new exhaust gaskets.
- Reinstall your headers.
Step 1: Prep the Exhaust Wrap
First, you’ll want to remove your exhaust wrap from its packaging and soak the roll in water.
Note that the initial start up and ride with new exhaust wrap will likely produce some smoke and nasty smells.
Doing the exhaust wrap yourself will generally cost you about $20 to $50 and take a few hours to complete.
This will allow you to stretch and wrap the fiberglass composite a little more easily in order to achieve a tight, uniform wrap along the length of the exhaust.
While the wrap is soaking for a few minutes, it’s a good time to remove your exhaust and get your clean workspace organized if you haven’t already.
Step 2: Secure the End of the Wrap
Fold the wrap over itself to hide and frayed strands and secure it to the end of the header with a steel zip-tie or safety wire.
This will keep the wrap secured and give you a cleaner line at the beginning.
Step 3: Start Wrapping
Begin wrapping the pipes tightly and overlapping each layer about halfway.
Aim for the same amount of overlap on each progressive layer.
Once you reach the end, secure it with another steel tie or safety wire.
After you’ve completed wrapping the exhausts, you can finish them with a hi-temp coating to better protect from moisture and keep the exhaust wrap looking good for longer.
Step 4: Reinstall Your Pipes
Once your exhausts are wrapped and you’re satisfied with the job (remember, there’s no going back), you’re ready to reinstall the exhaust.
Be sure to install new header gaskets if necessary and tighten everything down properly.
Upon the first start up, you can expect some smoke and smell as the wrap burns off and cures.
Are exhaust wraps worth it?
By now you should be familiar with the pros and cons of motorcycle exhaust wrap and the process for installing it yourself.
You’re going to have to make the call whether it’s the right addition for your bike.
If you’re going to do it, be sure to take the time to do it right, and be aware of the potential problems you may run into.
A well done wrap job can make a restored motorcycle look really slick.
Finally, be aware that changing anything that alters the performance or running conditions for your bike may require you to retune other components to get it to run properly again.