Find out which pipes work best on your bike

What’s usually the first thing riders ditch on a stock bike? The pipes! Out of all the custom aftermarket accessories, a new exhaust is the quickest way to add both character and performance. Nowhere does this ring more true than in the cruiser motorcycle segment. Problem is, with the sheer number of aftermarket brands available, it can be difficult to choose the right one. That’s where we come in with our Harley-Davidson Sportster Exhaust Shootout.

We contacted five leading exhaust manufactures – Akrapovic, Bassani, BUB, Screaming Eagle and Vance & Hines – and asked each to submit a pair of slip-on mufflers for fitment on a current generation Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight equipped with a 1200cc (73.4 cubic inch) Evolution V-Twin engine from the Sportster family. For our test, we specified that the pipes had to bolt-on with no modifications.

Akrapovic sent over its Akrapovic Slip-On Mufflers, while Bassani enters the fray with a set of Bassani 3″ Firepower Series Straight-Cut Slip-On Mufflers. BUB shipped over its 7 Slip-On Muffler Set whereas The Motor Company will be represented in this battle by its Screamin’ Eagle Slip-On Shorty Dual Mufflers. And don’t forget Vance & Hines, which provided its Vance & Hines Twin Slash Round Slip-On Mufflers for our motorcycle exhaust shootout.

Our testing procedure consisted of a number of different criteria, including how easy the pipes were to install. After that, onto the dyno they went to see how much power each setup added. Next was a visit to our stationary sound test laboratory for decibel testing. We then logged miles on the street to get a feel for how the engine ran and to sample how the various pipes sound when you’re on the throttle. Each exhaust was then scored based on five subjective categories: Appearance, Character / Exhaust Note, Ease of Installation, Fit-and-Finish, Preference. We also rated each based on impartial data such as horsepower, torque, weight, sound (decibel reading) and MSRP, thereby revealing a winner. So let’s get busy swapping out some pipes to find out who the victor of our Harley-Davidson Sportster Exhaust Shootout is.