In the custom motorcycle world, cafe racers and bobbers dominate. They have pushed out choppers which were really popular in the early half of the 2000’s with the likes of Jesse James and the OCC guys.
Cafe and bobber styles harken back to an older era of motorcycling. The 1960’s for cafe racers and even earlier for bobbers. Certain design cues stand out in relation to these custom looks. Removed sub frames, fat front tires and of course exhaust wraps.
In order to determine which exhaust wrap is best we need to quickly break down a couple things first. In this article we will determine what exhaust wraps are, what their purpose is and how they may apply to modern applications. Plus, we will see if any real mechanical benefits can be gained by their use. All this will help in determining which is the best for you. Why spend money on a wrap that claims to produce more power if those claims are unfounded? So let’s dive into it.
What Are Exhaust wraps?
Exhaust wraps are a woven, pliable material that is exactly what their name implies, a wrap. Think of medical gauze but for your pipes. Obviously not quite the same but you get the idea. They are meant to insulate your pipes from heat dispersion. They are typically made from a few different materials that offer different benefits. These materials are Basalt, also known as volcanic rock, Fiberglass, Aluminum and Silica.
What Exhaust Wraps Do
Exhaust wraps were originally designed for cars and bikes to keep header/exhaust pipes insulated. The theory being that the hotter the exhaust gases stay in the exhaust pipes, the faster it will flow. Think cold oil for example. Oil that is cold will flow more slowly than oil that’s been heated. That’s the basic premise. The benefit being that the faster flow of exhausted hot gasses creates pressure differences in the exhaust system that helps in what’s known as scavenging. Scavenging is extracting more of the trapped exhaust gases left over in the cylinder chamber after the combustion cycle. This helps with the efficiency of the cylinders and therefore increases power. So, regulating the temperature of the exhaust gases creates a more efficient flow that helps to better clear the cylinders of combustion gases therefore regaining some lost power. That’s basically the idea behind the wrap. In the car world wraps also helped in keeping the engine bay cooler therefore keeping the engine cooler but that benefit is obviously not as much of an issue on motorcycles.
More: Best Chain Lube
Uses On Modern Machines
To be blunt, Exhaust wraps on a modern bike are pretty useless as far as their intended purpose goes. Modern bikes have electronic valve timing and sophisticated exhaust design that handle scavenging of exhaust gases pretty efficiently. Adding some wrap to your pipes isn’t going to add a whole lot to your performance overall. Most people use wrap today for the aesthetics and for heat protection to avoid burning your clothing while on the bike. On some truly older machines you could gain some of the benefits that we mentioned earlier but your bike would likely need to be from the 60’s era or older for that.
Modern technology like ceramic coating and even some heat shield designs do a much better job of making headers and exhaust more efficient in heat management. Having said all that, there is nothing wrong with appreciating the looks of a wrapped pipe. They give a cool, garage build, rough aesthetic to a bike that is sure to turn some heads. If this is your motivation there is nothing wrong with that. Even if you want to cover some dinged up rusted pipes, wraps are a good option for that.
So what makes a good wrap? Basically it’s durability. Some lesser wraps will degrade rather quickly leaving your pipes looking like a ratty mess in no time. Wraps from reputable manufacturers using quality materials will keep your pipes looking better longer.
Luckily we did the research for you and have come up with the five most trusted wraps on the market. This is based on brand reputation and customer satisfaction. So here are the five best motorcycle exhaust wraps you can trust on your bike.
Heatshield Products Lava 1 inch
This is the most expensive of the bunch but with good reason. It’s a quality product from a manufacturer heavily invested in many aspects of the heat shield industry. It is made from lava rock. This super durable wrap has a trick looking carbon fiber type weave to it that makes it stand out from the rest. Heatshield Products claims a 1200 fahrenheit heat rating. It may seem low compared to others but they also claim this is real world testing. Some manufactures tend to overstate their claims. This product is easy to work with and will last years on your bike.
HM&FC Titanium Exhaust Wrap
Made from Lava rock woven into fiber, this product can withstand direct heat up to a claimed 1400 fahrenheit. This product is a bit messy on install but it will hold over time if you follow the instructions and wrap tightly. It has a pleasing bronze/tan color. Not as insulative as the best but will do a good job on all but the most extreme high temp needs. Not recommended for off road use. It doesn’t seem to stand up to excessive mud/water exposure.
LEDAUT Heat Shield Insulation
Another shield made from crushed volcanic rock. This product is for medium duty heat insulation with a direct claimed capacity of 1400 fahrenheit. Install is easy and clean. One common complaint though was the ties. Many felt the need to spend an extra couple bucks and purchase better ones. Overall the durability of the wrap is good and will last a few worry free years
Evil Energy 2 inch Wrap
Made from crushed volcanic rock, this wrap is for heavy duty applications as it can withstand up 1800 fahrenheit. Install is super easy and clean with no need to pre soak the roll like many other wraps on the market. Included in the package are quality ties. Better than most on the market. The instructions included are informative with quality color photos of each step in the process along the way.
ARTR Titanium Lava Fiber 2 inch
This stuff is the real deal in exhaust wrap. It’s made from crushed lava rock. It can withstand direct heat up to 1800 fahrenheit. It won’t suffer from vibration breakdown. It will last for many years without fraying. It is simple to put on and easy to work with. It has a nice bronze type finish that many find appealing
A couple things on closing here. Buying the wrong wrap can create a real mess and a real headache. To install them properly you should remove the header from the bike. Not something you want to do repeatedly. There are plenty of cheap, imitation wraps on the market. They won’t last a year without starting to fray and look like garbage. The cheapest is never the best. Stick to trusted products. Use this article as a guide. We researched these products and found that if installed properly, they will last. The other thing is to make sure you follow the instructions closely when using these products. It’s very important. Many feel that nothing could be easier than applying some wrap. Careful planning and patients are needed to do the job correctly. Most importantly, use proper PPE. Gloves and maybe even a mask is a must. Wraps are made with fibers that can be loose and cause bad irritation on your skin and lungs if breathed in too much. Treat the job with care. Take your time to do it right. The finished outcome will be something that will add a very cool aesthetic to your bike.