Is Riding Without A Muffler Bad For Your Motorcycle?

What are you risking if you cut off that stock can?

Today’s stock exhaust systems are far too quiet for most riders’ preferences, and word on the street—or forums—is that you don’t need to spend $500 on a slip-on to make your bike louder. That’s because your bike will sound sick if just yank off the stock muffler and run an open pipe. But is riding without a muffler bad for the engine, or is it just bad for humanity? We’ll get to the bottom of things in this MC Garage.

Why You Should Not Remove Your Muffler

It might be tempting to break out the wrenches and yank off your stock muffler, but the only thing that you’re going to be doing is making your bike louder and possibly damaging engine internals. By removing your muffler you increase your chances of burning your exhaust valves, melting plastics or your boots due to the change in heat distribution, and possible backfiring. Why risk harming your engine to make your bike louder? Are there any performance gains from removing your muffler? Probably not.

Removing Your Muffler For Performance

Stock exhaust cans are heavy and by removing them you are shedding some weight, but are you gaining any horsepower from taking the can off? Louder might make it seem like your bike is moving faster, but it’s not. After testing a Yamaha YZF-R3 with and without the muffler, we found no negligible difference between the two in terms of horsepower. The only thing that changed was the sound. The YZF-R3 is equipped with an underbody catalytic converter, that traps most of the exhaust sound. If your bike is not equipped with one and you remove the muffler, it will make your bike obnoxiously loud. Don’t be that guy.

I Want Sound And Performance, What Should I Do?

If you’re looking to take off your muffler, you can always opt for an aftermarket slip-on or full exhaust system. This will not only make your bike look and sound better, but it can also increase the power output. You won’t see a huge increase with a slip-on alone, but with the right adjustments to the fuel-air mixture, you can see a nice bump. The price of aftermarket slip-on mufflers and full exhaust systems vary, but they will be cheaper in the long run compared to the cost of the damage you’ll do to your engine by just pulling the stock muffler off. So keep your ears and engine safe and invest in some aftermarket parts if you want a change.