Swapping out your exhaust is one of the first things many riders do to improve their Harley’s performance.
But first, you’ll need to choose from an almost endless supply of exhausts and a range of styles, shapes, and sizes, each with its own signature sound.
Here are our top performance exhausts for Harley Davidson motorcycles.
Reviews of the Best Performance Exhaust for Harley
Vance & Hines Big Radius Exhaust
The Big Radius Exhaust from Vance & Hines has set the bar for awesome-looking custom pipes with the performance to back everything up.
Those who appreciate an aggressive noise from their Harley will love the serious growl the Big Radius produces.
The exhaust system features Vance & Hines PCX technology, which stands for Power Chamber Exhaust. This uses a chambered high-flow catalyst cartridge designed to increase torque.
Full-coverage heat shields offer the best protection you can get, so you can keep your trousers and legs from getting burnt.
If you’re looking for the ultimate exhaust system, one that oozes style and class along with boosting horsepower and torque, then the Big Radius could be the one for you.
- Improves horsepower and torque
- Applies PCX technology
- Comes with bags of style
- Choose from chrome or black options
- Suits a large variety of models from a Sportster to a Dyna
- Installation is straightforward
- Makes a great noise as you ride
Bassani Pro-Street Exhaust
Bassani’s Pro-Street exhaust systems are brilliant for riders who want to unleash greater low-end torque. For street riders, low-end grunt is right where you need it and where you can make the most use of it.
Bassani uses three pipes that stagger downward in diameter to effectively and smoothly increase low-end torque.
From head pipes that are 1 ¾ inches in diameter all the way up to a 2 ½ inch muffler, this system allows air velocity to stay up and clear the gasses out of your bike efficiently.
The pipes are available in black or chrome and are pretty conventional-looking straight pipes. They aren’t fancy, but some will prefer the more traditional simple clean lines and silhouette of the pipes, as well as effective performance over styling features.
What I like most about the Pro-Street Exhaust is the noise the pipes make. It’s a loud rumbling that you can’t mistake for anything other than a Harley Davidson motorcycle.
- Simple styling
- Impressive low-torque performance boost
- Best pipes for those who want everyday usable power
- Great thundering noise
- Easy installation
- Might lower ground clearance on some models
Bassani Road Rage III 2-into-1 Exhaust
Another great exhaust from Bassani is the Road Rage III 2-into-1 system.
This setup has a more complex design than the Pro-Street, with a 2-into-1 pipe system and a wide upswept muffler on the end.
The design is not just performance based, either. It also allows for greater ground clearance and improved fitment compared to many other types of exhausts, including the Pro-Street.
The Road Rage boosts both horsepower and torque, which is exactly what you want when buying a performance exhaust.
There is only a partial heat shield on this setup, and the unconventional looks won’t be for everyone, but if you want something a bit different then this exhaust might be for you.
The TIG welds are hand done and for this reason they are not seamlessly perfect to look at. On the plus side, though, the construction is solidly built from 304 stainless steel.
Installation of the Road Rage III is a bit more challenging than other systems since it fits around your foot pegs and air filter. However, with a bit of patience and careful maneuvering you will soon have the system set up and ready to growl.
- Upswept short muffler and increased ground clearance
- Boosted power and torque
- Standout design
- Robust construction
Cobra Speedster 909 Exhaust
Cobra’s Speedster 909 exhaust integrates classic Harley styling. Its modern, tried-and-tested performance will be sure to keep every rider happy.
Cobra claims the power gains from this exhaust are some of the highest in the industry. The 909 exhaust incorporates PowerPort technology, which is there to help increase overall power, from idle all the way up to the redline.
You also get full 222° heat shields to protect your trousers, legs, and boots while riding.
With the baffles in the exhaust, it’s not much louder than stock, but it does give a deeper, more aggressive sound.
In terms of styling, the 2-into-2 design is very much a traditional look with simple clean lines and a choice of black or chrome to match your bike.
- 2-into-1 gains with a 2-into-2 design
- Well made
- Traditional clean styling
- Black or chrome options
- Tricky installation
Two Brothers Comp-S 2-into-1 Exhaust
Two Brothers Racing, as the name suggests, focuses on producing performance and racing parts.
The Comp-S 2-into-1 exhaust is a unique system built to complement traditional Harley Davidson styling while producing impressive horsepower and torque gains.
This is a well-built system made of quality parts, including a carbon-fiber end cap, so quality won’t be an issue.
It isn’t the easiest system to fit, so if you aren’t super confident, get a Harley technician to fit it for you.
If you’re looking to make the most out of your Harley in-line with race specs then the Comp-S is one of the best you can get.
- Good value
- Quality construction and materials
- Impressive performance gains
- Fitment can be quite difficult
Considerations and Costs
When it comes to buying a new exhaust system, you need to know what to expect. After all, exhaust upgrades don’t come cheap and you want to make the right investment from the get go.
So we have put together a short buying guide explaining everything you need to think about before you take the plunge.
Here are the key things to consider when buying a new exhaust for your Harley:
Reasons to Change Your Exhaust
There are a few key reasons why you might want to change your exhaust:
Fortunately, manufacturers have got pretty good at producing exhaust systems that will tick all these boxes.
With personal preferences still being the main motivator behind your purchase, you want to be sure you know what you’re getting into.
An exhaust might look amazing, it might suit the particular custom look you’re going for on your Harley, but if you’re looking for extra performance, you need to be sure it’s up to spec.
Equally, your new setup might sound cool, but is it really doing its bit to boost your bike?
What to Look For
So, essentially your exhaust has one important job: to remove dirty air from the engine.
Replacing your stock exhaust with a performance-based exhaust system simply means that it will do this job more effectively. It boosts your bike’s ability to breathe in cleaner air and get rid of dirty air more efficiently and quickly. This in turn should have an effect on your bike’s overall performance and, in the right circumstances, boost your horsepower.
Fancy, pretty chrome exhausts might look the business, but if it’s performance you are after, make sure they are up to the task. Styling should come second to the exhaust’s one job!
Mufflers – side note
It is worth pointing out here that just swapping the mufflers on your exhaust system will not improve performance.
You need to swap to a full-performance exhaust system in order to receive the benefits of modifying your exhaust.
Although slightly boring, you do need to think about the law when it comes to modifying your motorcycle.
Some exhaust systems will meet all the necessary (mainly emissions) laws required to be used on the street and others won’t.
The exhaust systems that don’t will be sold as “Closed-circuit use only.” These systems are only legal on your bike for the track—not for street use.
While there are plenty of riders who choose to ignore the law in this regard, you need to be aware of it. Heavy fines can result if you are caught with an illegal exhaust.
It’s best to check individual state guidance on the laws around modifying your motorcycle.
Make Sure the New System Will Fit Your Bike
It sounds so simple, but it is always worth pointing out.
Be sure to check the exhaust system you’re looking at is compatible with your model. What fits a Street Glide will likely not work on an Iron 883.
You May Need to Upgrade Other Parts
When you switch your exhaust, you may need to make a few other modifications. For example, replacing your air-intake system along with your exhaust will improve your bike’s performance more significantly than switching out one component alone.
If you’re just replacing the bike’s mufflers, your bike won’t need to be tuned and will operate very similarly with little to no boost to its performance. If you’re replacing the whole exhaust system, including the head pipes, you should get your bike tuned and fit a new high-flow air-intake system.
A performance exhaust will remove dirty air quicker than a stock exhaust, so swapping your exhaust and fitting a new air-intake system is a really good idea. The new high-flow air-intake system will take in cool, clean air at the same rate that your exhaust expels the dirty air.
When making performance modifications to your Harley, it’s worth investing in an auto tuner to map your bike. Properly tuned air/fuel ratio and ignition timing are essential to keeping your bike running in optimal condition. If you don’t re-tune your bike after making performance mods, you run the risk of things going wrong internally.
If you don’t want to do this yourself, you can take your bike to your local Harley tech, who will give you advice and get your bike tuned properly.
Keep Your Stock Exhaust for Resale
With personal preferences dictating so much of why we buy a motorcycle, it’s worth keeping hold of the stock exhaust and any other components you swap on your Harley so that you can turn it back to stock when it comes time to resell.
Riders want to put their own touch on a bike when they buy it, so it should be easier to sell a stock bike than a custom one. Having your old exhaust system handy if you do decide to sell the bike is a nice touch for prospective new owners.
You will also be surprised at how little value custom mods, whether they are performance based or not, add when it comes to resale.
There it is—everything you need to know about buying a new performance exhaust for your Harley.
The Vance & Hines Big Radius is a firm favorite. It looks awesome and most importantly is performance focused to improve your Harley’s overall horsepower and torque.
Second to that, we love the Bassani Pro-Street system because it focuses on producing low-end power, which is perfect for the everyday street rider.