Yoshimura Race Series Alpha Taper Exhaust for the Suzuki GSX-R1000

A look at the features, design, and story behind Yoshimura's excellent exhausts.

Hideo "Pops" Yoshimura arrived in the US in 1971 with a desire to win at Daytona. After putting the factory Superbike teams on notice in '76 and '77 with a Kawasaki KZ1000 piloted by a wild-riding Wes Cooley, Pops switched camps and developed a Suzuki GS1000. The results were immediate (they won), and "Suzuki and Yoshimura have been married ever since," says Yoshimura R&D America's Sales Manager Tim Welch, who was previously the company's R&D manager.

"Pops was one of those individuals that just didn't stop," Welch continues. "He was never satisfied, and good was never good enough. That's an attitude we try to maintain today. For the previous GSX-R1000 [2009–2016] we changed the spec on the production pipe several times because we kept making improvements. As we find gains, we'll supersede the parts—it drives our dealers and distributors crazy, but it's what lets us give the customer the best product.

“We look at the work that’s been done by the factory and we try to improve it. We’ll take standard dimensions and start modifying them, changing tube lengths, step locations, tapers, and other parts until we get gains. There’s a team of guys whose full-time job is to do R&D for our race teams. For a bike like the GSX-R, the pipe we sell to consumers will have begun its life as a works design like this one here.

2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000 Yoshimura Race Series Alpha Taper Exhaust
2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000 Yoshimura Race Series Alpha Taper ExhaustMotorcyclist

"This exhaust is super skunk works. In the past, we wouldn't see a bike until the later stages of development, but with this generation of GSX-R, Suzuki was in communication with Yoshimura Japan from day one.

"Yoshimura R&D America and Yoshimura Japan have separate development teams and, with Yoshimura Japan's help, we were able to build and test prototypes based on their early work with Suzuki Japan. So this pipe is really a global collaboration, built by hand using all the technology we have available. As the season progresses, we'll continue to develop the works system in an effort to improve our Superbike team's performance, and we'll take all this experience and knowledge and build it into the production-spec exhaust. It's our responsibility to come up with the production pipe for the American market.

“When you see the production exhaust in March, it will be slightly different. We’ll offer it in a full titanium model—the only steel parts will be the flanges and springs. This pipe has machined aluminum flanges, but they’re not durable enough for production so we’ll use steel. It’ll sell for just north of $2,000, but we’ll offer a stainless-steel option for around $1,200.”

a. Materials
Over the course of a year, Yoshimura manufactures approximately 40,000 exhaust systems. That means going through about 100,000 springs and nearly 5 miles of 50-inch-wide carbon-fiber sheeting for muffler production.

b. Muffler
The Alpha Taper muffler was developed for the 2015 MotoAmerica Superbike race team, with horsepower rather than sound attenuation as the driving force behind the design. Weight, cornering clearance, and style were also big factors.

c. Joints
Yoshimura's four CNC pipe benders use electric servos and hydraulic boosters to turn 10-foot lengths of tubing into identical components. Slip joints are set to a tolerance of 0.003 to 0.005 inch.

d. Titanium Yoshimura only uses Japanese titanium, which, it says, has better consistency and higher tolerances than what is made in mainland Asia or the US. "Titanium is incredibly fickle material," Tim Welch says.

e. Welding
Machines are used to rotate pipe sections, but all welds are laid by hand. This exhaust is the handiwork of Juan Lizama, a 25-year veteran of Yoshimura's Superbike R&D team.

f. Intersections
Where and how the pipes intersect affects power. While the stock pipe has crossover tubes between the headers to scavenge power, the race exhaust doesn't need them. "Trust me," Welch says, "we tried it."

g. Color
Titanium exhausts are famous for the lustrous blue they develop during use. Exhaust gases—which can reach 1,700 degrees Fahrenheit—imbue the alloy with its stereotypical hue.

h. Lambda Sensor Bungs
Lambda sensors on each header allow Yoshimura's Superbike race team to tune the GSX-R's engine one cylinder at a time. The production pipe won't have them, though Yosh offers custom bung placement for consumers who want them.

i. Manifolds
The manifolds are an extension of the exhaust ports, and there's power to be gained via small changes in size and shape. The production pipe will have more durable, cast stainless-steel flanges.