If you’ve ever seen a particularly loud motorcycle passing by, chances are you’ve thought of them as being super obnoxious, because what is the point of veins so noisy?
We get it, you have a motorcycle, but being loud doesn’t make you cool at all. If anything, it annoys the entire neighborhood you’re driving through, and if it’s during the night or early morning, it seriously disturbs the peace.
So if you have your own motorcycle, you might want to make sure that you’re not that noisy, and the best way to do that is by having a motorcycle exhaust silencer!
That way you will elegantly drive past, without having to noisily flash what you’re driving. The cheapest way to go about a motorcycle exhaust silencer is to go down the good old DIY route and do it yourself.
And there are also different ways to go about it, so you can choose whichever suits you best! We’ll tell you all the basics and more, so let’s get started!
Before We Start: What is a motorcycle exhaust silencer?
Okay, so before we get started with how to make your own motorcycle exhaust silencer, it might be a good idea to clarify exactly what that is! The exhaust system of a motorcycle is a series of pipes that go from the bike’s engine to the collector, and there are many valves and bits and pieces within these pipes.
Gasses are released through this exhaust system, while the engine is in use, and they are accompanied by the sound produced within the engine, which comes out as soundwaves through the pipe.
And yup, it can get pretty loud. So, a motorcycle exhaust silencer is a tubular device that is inserted into the motorcycle’s exhaust system, in order to reduce noise, making the motorcycle a lot quieter to drive.
But that’s not the only thing it does. The exhaust silencer is also designed to add exhaust system back-pressure, which improves the entire system.
And while some people might enjoy the loud noise, because they think it helps them show off, most prefer their motorcycle to be as quiet as possible. But there are also legal reasons as to why you should have an exhaust silencer installed on your motorcycle.
Some areas, especially within cities, are low-noise areas, usually, because there’s a hospital or school nearby, and you’re not allowed to produce noise over a certain level.
Some states also have laws in place to control the levels of noise produced by motorcycles, so it’s always best to be on the safe side and have the silencer in place!
Pros and Cons of DIY:
Once you’re on board with the idea of getting a motorcycle exhaust silencer, because you’re aware of all the benefits of having one, you need to decide whether you’re going to buy one, or make one yourself.
This article is obviously about going down the DIY route, as we think it’s the better option. But you should take that decision for yourself, so here are some pros and cons that you can take into account when deciding:
- It will be cheaper:
Buying a motorcycle in and of itself is pretty expensive, so you might find that you’re needing to save as much as possible for a while after, and that includes saving on the exhaust silencer!
But regardless of that, getting a professional to install an exhaust silencer can get pretty pricey, and it will be way cheaper if you do it yourself, as you can get most of the materials needed for a more affordable price, and you don’t have to pay yourself for the time and effort.
- The process will likely be faster:
This is true with most professional services, as there will often be a waiting list, and you also need to add the amount of time it takes to get the motorcycle there and then retrieve it once the job is done.
A DIY process will be a lot faster!
- You can personalize the silencer:
There are different types of silencers for your motorcycle exhaust, and not all of them will be suited to your particular motorcycle.
A personalized approach will provide better results, and it’s easier to ensure that when you’re doing it yourself because you know your motorcycle best!
- It could go wrong:
This is the biggest con of going down the DIY route: it could go terribly wrong and you might end up making a mess of the exhaust system, and not ending up with a suitable and functional silencer.
If you’re inexperienced or know nothing about the exhaust system, then it’s probably best that you go straight to a professional, or at the very least you should ask someone that does have a clue for help.
- It might invalidate your motorcycle’s warranty:
If you DIY your motorcycle by adding tweaks or changes, such as installing an exhaust silencer, you might be invalidating your warranty completely.
So if anything fails in the near future, your motorcycle provider could refuse to cover it, as you will have tweaked with the motorcycle while not being a proper professional. So this is always something you should check beforehand!
What do you need?
Now that we’ve gone over the basic concepts of a motorcycle exhaust silencer and the pros and cons of doing it yourself, it’s time to actually get started with the process.
The first step is getting the tools and materials that you’re going to need, so let’s get into that! We’ll give you two lists of needed materials, depending on if you want to make a baffle or a muffler (the two main types of exhaust silencer).
What You Will Need for a Baffle:
- An electric drill
- A 3/16th inches drill bit
- A mallet
- A c-clamp
- A chisel
- A hacksaw
- A bench vise
- Steel tubing
- A felt-tip marker
What You Will Need for a Muffler:
- An empty can of paint
- A drill
- A pipe clamp
- Copper pipe fittings
- Metal screws
It’s worth checking if you have any of these items at home, or if you can borrow them from a friend or family member, as that would make it even cheaper for you. #
But when it comes to buying, you should be able to find all of these items in most general hardware stores, as well as online.
You can compare different stores and brands, and find the cheapest options. But remember to make sure they’re of good quality so that your silencer can be as good as possible!
Step-By-Step Guide for a Motorcycle Exhaust Silencer:
Once you have all of the necessary materials, and you’re confident enough in your abilities (or you have the right help to get you through the process), then you’re ready to get started with the DIY!
As we’ve been mentioning, there are different types of exhaust silencers that you can go for. The main courses of action are insulating the existing baffle on your motorcycle, making your own baffle, or making a muffler.
There are pros and cons to each, but ultimately it comes down to your personal needs and preferences, as not all will be suited to the same type of motorcycle. So make sure that you’re doing the one that better works for your personal motorcycle!
Adding Insulation to the Baffle:
If your baffle is brand new, it’s usually best to simply insulate it, so that the noise is significantly reduced, and your motorcycle is effectively silenced.
Here is how to do it:
- Start by identifying the fishtails of your motorcycle, and taking them off. Some fishtails are easier to remove than others, depending on the motorcycle model, so this step will be different for each person!
- Next, take the baffle that you already own, and measure both its width and its length.
- Now you can order some steel wool, taking the measurements into account so you have enough. You should double-check to make sure that the steel wool is completely heat-resistant.
- Once you have your steel wool, double-check the measurements and trim it down if you have to. Then, use wire to wrap around the insulation, so that everything can be held in place.
- Put the fishtails back on the motorcycle, making sure that you leave them just as they were, and ensuring they are secure!
Making Your Own Baffle:
Making your own baffle might sound super complicated, but if you follow the steps carefully it shouldn’t be much of a struggle at all.
This option is best for when you don’t have a baffle, so you need to make your own, or for when you insulated a baffle and it didn’t quite work, in which case you want to make your own to see if it works better.
Here is how to do it:
- Start by identifying the tailpipe of your motorcycle, and measure the diameter of its inside. On average, the length of a baffle is 8 inches long, but you will need the exact measurement of the tailpipe of your motorcycle to better personalize yours.
- Next, you need to purchase some steel tubing. It should have a smaller diameter than that of the tailpipe of your motorcycle, so it can be fitted into it. We recommend it being around 1/16th inches smaller in diameter.
- Once you have the steel tubing, cut it down with the use of a hacksaw so that it is as long as needed in order to be a suitable baffle. As we mentioned, 8 inches is the usual length for this.When cutting, you can use the felt-tip market for precision, and you should perform a crosscut when using the saw.
- With the use of c-clamps, attach the baffle onto your workbench, making sure that the cuts are visible. With the use of the cold chisel, cut through the marks. The edge that is cut should fold into itself, all the way down to the middle of the baffle. Repeat this for every cut you made!
- Now you should put the baffle back into the vise, making sure there are 3 inches protruding out at the end.
- To continue, make a one-inch hole at the end of the baffle, using the drill. This hole should go through the two walls of the baffle.
- Next, you can connect the baffle to the tailpipe, using the hole.
- Use the nut, lock washer, and the stainless steel bolt, and this should properly secure the baffle in place so that it’s finished! (You could also insulate this baffler that you’ve made, to reduce the noise even more!)
Making Your Own Muffler:
A muffler is the second main type of silencer that you can opt for, and it’s quite simple to go about if you follow the steps carefully!
However, you will first have to remove the pre-existing muffler in your motorcycle, so that you can make and install your own silenced version.
Here is how to do it:
- You need to start by removing the existing muffler from your motorcycle, and this might take more or less time depending on the model of the motorcycle and how the muffler is attached.
- Once you’ve removed the muffler, measure it. This way you will know how big a pipe you need for the muffler that you’re going to make.
- You can use an empty can of paint to construct the outer casing of the new muffler, but make sure it is heat-resistant before using it! Take into account that the muffler should be at least 10 inches tall, and that’s for a small one.
- Using the drill, cut off the can’s bottom (and keep it for later!) Then, you need to cut a hole through the new bottom and the top, with the holes being about three-quarters of an inch each.
- Make a few more holes along the can, making sure they are all the same size.
- Apply the insulation. This will ensure that there’s a noise reduction and that the muffler can act as a silencer.
- Now, you can fit the new muffler you’ve created into the rattle can.
- Using the pipe clamp, place the bottom of the can that you removed back onto the muffler. You could cut slits into both pieces so that the bottom slides back on, into place.
- As an optional step, if the muffler is bigger than the one you had on your motorcycle before, you can use the copper pipe fittings, soldering them on, so that they’re connected to the exhaust pipe. This will help everything fit better and more securely.
- To finish the job off, attach the metal screws, along with a metal plumber’s strap, onto the frame of the bike, and place the muffler there. Now you should be done, and the exhaust pipe should be effectively silenced!
Those are three main approaches to DIY a motorcycle exhaust silencer, and as we’ve said, you should use the method most suited to your motorcycle, so that you can obtain the best results possible!
But if you notice anything going wrong at any point, then it’s best to cut your losses and ask for some proper help to finish it off.
Warnings, Tips, and Tricks:
If you have some level of expertise, and you’re well prepared, then making your own motorcycle exhaust silencer shouldn’t be that much of a struggle or that much of a complicated issue.
However, it’s very important that you do it properly, or else you could cause your motorcycle some problems, and end up having it be a risk with the possibility of something going wrong when you drive it.
So to ensure that you take some time to think about it beforehand and that you know exactly what you’re getting into, here are some important warnings, as well as some tips or tricks to help you along with the process.
- You’re going to need to use a drill and to work with metal. So if you’ve never done this before or have no idea how to do it safely and properly, then you might as well give up on getting a silencer the DIY way. It will be better to just go straight to a professional, despite the expense.
- The most important part, to ensure that the exhaust pipe is properly silenced, is the insulation. So we recommend you spend a little extra on guaranteeing a higher quality when it comes to the steel wool insulation material, as in most cases, that is what will determine success or failure!
- Don’t be afraid to ask! If you know someone that has worked with metal, or someone that is good at motorcycles, or even someone at the hardware that has experience with the materials and tools you’re purchasing for the job…just ask for advice! Everyone has a tip or trick, and it’s well worth knowing as many as possible!
- Preparation is key. Spend extra time preparing the DIY job and getting the right tools and materials.
So, to summarize this article: having a motorcycle exhaust silencer will make your life, and the life of everyone you drive past, a lot more peaceful.
Making your own will be a lot cheaper, so if you have some basic knowledge, and you’re willing to give it a try, you can go ahead and go DIY!
The main three approaches to making a silencer yourself are to insulate a pre-existing baffle, to make your own baffle, or to replace the muffler with one of your own creation.