Few things feel as good as the rush of adrenaline and the wind whipping against your leather jacket as you cruise on your motorcycle. You can’t really hear that wind though, or even your heart pounding in your ears. All you hear is the deafening sounds of your bike.
Is there anything you can do to make the obnoxious noise quieter? Motorcycle exhaust silencers exist for just this reason. There are several homemade options you can choose, such as insulated motorcycle baffles or mufflers. These will effectively silence your bike at a much lower cost.
Are you ready to make your own DIY silencing solution for your loud motorcycle? If so, then read on, since I’ll give you all the tools and steps needed for the job.
What Is a Motorcycle Exhaust Silencer?
All motorcycles have an exhaust system. These are a series of pipes that go from the collector to the bike’s engine. There are also oxygen or lambda sensors as well as butterfly valves among these header pipes.
As you ride your motorcycle, the exhaust system will release gasses or exhaust. These pipes are also where the sound comes out. Every second, 1,700 feet of soundwaves are expelled from the motorcycle. It’s no wonder then that motorcycle exhaust systems can be so loud!
A motorcycle exhaust silencer is designed with two purposes in mind. The first of these is to add exhaust system back-pressure and the second is to cut back on exhaust pipe noise. The latter is especially important.
Not only are those loud revving and growling noises from your bike annoying for you and your crew to listen to, but did you know some states have laws about motorcycle noise levels? You would hate to be slapped with a nasty fine or worse because of a joyride on your motorcycle. That’s why you need an exhaust silencer stat.
Why Would You Make a Motorcycle Exhaust Silencer Instead of Buy One?
You love your motorcycle, but even you have to admit that it was quite a financial investment. You’ll be making monthly payments on it for a while, and so you want to save your money where you can, right?
That might be why you’re interested in making your own motorcycle exhaust silencer instead of buying one. It’s a pretty good reason, I must say. After all, if you poke around at the prices of replacing your entire exhaust system, you’re going to be gobsmacked. Some parts may start at $250, with the higher-end parts costing $500 and up. That’s not to replace the entire exhaust system, by the way. That’s for a single part.
When you do the math, then, it could cost several thousand dollars just to get a new exhaust system. If you bought your bike used, you might pay more to replace the exhaust system than you did for your motorcycle!
There are so many priorities you have in mind as you shop for a motorcycle. You want to ensure you choose a good brand, a durable model, and a bike that doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg. You might have gotten so distracted by the look of the motorcycle that you didn’t think of the exhaust system until now. It would be a major bummer to have to plunk down so much money for a simple, innocent mistake.
Another reason you might consider making your own motorcycle exhaust silencer is that you’ll know your solution works. Not all motorcycles are the same. If you buy a one-size-fits-all solution online, the box might arrive on your doorstep and only then will you realize the silencer doesn’t quite fit. By going the DIY route, you can ride with confidence knowing you have a working solution that quietens your exhaust system.
What Supplies Do You Need?
As I mentioned in the intro, you might make a motorcycle baffle or a muffler if your motorcycle exhaust is too loud. Depending on which of the two projects you decide on, you’ll need different supplies.
If you’re just insulating the preexisting baffle on your bike, then you should pick up some stainless steel wool. This roll from Amazon weighs one pound, so you’ll have plenty leftover for other projects. You’ll also need some wire to hold the steel wool against the baffle. Chances are, you probably have some already.
You might also elect to make a brand-new baffle. If so, then there’s what the job requires:
- Drill bit (3/16th inches)
- Electric drill
- Cold chisel
- Felt-tip marker
- Bench vise
- Steel tubing
Perhaps you’d rather make a muffler than a baffle. Make sure you have these items for your homemade muffler project:
- Empty paint can
- Pipe clamp
- Copper pipe fittings
- Metal screws
How to Make a Homemade Motorcycle Exhaust Silencer
Insulating the Baffle
If your baffle is new or you think wrapping steel wool insulation around it would solve your noise problems, then here’s what you have to do.
Step #1: Find your motorcycle’s fishtails and take these off. Depending on which model of motorcycle you have, this may be an easier job or a more difficult one. For instance, some fishtails can be disconnected via the exhaust clamps and a bolt.
Step #2: Using a baffle you made or already own, measure its length and width.
Step #3: Order your steel wool. Make sure it’s heat-resistant. Once it arrives, trim it down if necessary, so it covers the baffle.
Step #4: Wrap wire around the insulation to hold it all together.
Step #5: Put the fishtails back where you found them. You’ll likely have to bolt them in.
Making a New Baffle
Alright, let’s say you tried the above insulating trick and it still didn’t mute your motorcycle exhaust as much as you had been hoping for. Another option you can try is making a new baffle yourself. This isn’t as complicated as it may seem.
Here are the steps to follow.
Step #1: Find the tailpipe of your motorcycle. Get a diameter of the inside of the pipe. Hold onto this measurement for later. Keep in mind that the average length of a motorcycle baffle is eight inches.
Step #2: Now, shop around for steel tubing, whether in a store or online. Whatever the measurement of your tailpipe’s diameter, this steel tubing should have a smaller diameter, approximately 1/16th inches smaller.
Step #3: With your steel tubing at the ready, go to your garage or workspace and put it in your bench vise. You’ll also need your hacksaw for this step. What you’ll want to do is cut the steel tubing down until it’s baffle length, so eight inches.
Your felt-tip marker will be helpful here, as you can use it to make marks for cutting. Go three inches from the first end of the steel tubing. This is where an offset will be. Then, move one and a half inches down for your next offset. Finally, your last offset should be three further inches down.
Step #4: Now that you’re done the measuring, it’s time to cut! You want to crosscut and do so horizontally using your hacksaw. Keep going as needed until you have an eight-inch baffle.
Step #5: You should have a crude baffle by this point. Using several C-clamps, attach the baffle back to your workbench. The cuts you made should be visible. If not, roll the baffle around until they are.
Step #6: Next, you want your cold chisel. Where you see a cut from the hacksaw, move the cold chisel through that cut mark. Make sure you have a mallet to hammer the cold chisel in. The cut edge should sort of fold into itself until it’s midway down your baffle.
Step #7: Do this for every cut.
Step #8: Put your baffle back in the vise, but make sure the baffle’s end (which should be three inches) is protruding.
Step #9: Connect the drill bit to your drill. At the baffle’s end, make a hole that’s one inch. You want to make sure the hole goes through the two baffle walls as well. When the baffle is finished, this will be what connects it to the tailpipe via a stainless steel bolt.
Step #10: Now that you have those holes, you can hook up your tailpipe to your baffle. The hole should be 3/16th of an inch for the tailpipe to fit.
Step #11: Finally, connect your nut, lock washer, and stainless steel bolt (with a diameter of ¼ inches) and you should have your baffle.
You can then go back and insulate the homemade baffle if you’re so inclined. Just follow the instructions from the last section!
Making a New Muffler
Before you can get started making a new muffler, you have to take care of your old one. Here are all the steps for both jobs.
Step #1: Remove the current muffler from your motorcycle. Like with the baffle, this may be fast because the muffler is easy to take out or it may take longer. It all depends on the design and model of your motorcycle.
Step #2: It’s time to do some measurements. You want to measure your current muffler or research the specs online. This will inform you of the size of the pipe you need. For instance, a smaller muffler might be made of pipe that’s about one and a half inches. You could use a ¾-inch pipe to make the new muffler.
Step #3: After doing all that math, you can start constructing the muffler’s outer casing. You might use an old, empty paint can for this. It should be at least 10 inches tall for smaller mufflers and even taller for a bigger muffler. Make sure it’s heat-resistant, too.
Step #4: If you are going to use a paint can then empty it of all pressure. Then, using a drill, you’ll want to slice off the can’s entire bottom. Hold onto it for later. You also want to cut a hole through the new bottom as well as the top. The holes should be ¾ inches each.
Step #5: Continue making holes along the can that are the same size as above.
Step #6: Apply insulation to your muffler.
Step #7: Fit the new muffler in the rattle can.
Step #8: Now, with your pipe clamp, you’ll want to put the bottom of the can back onto your muffler. You might have to take the true bottom of the muffler and make slits in it, so everything fits.
Step #9: This is optional, but if your muffler turns out to be a little bigger than the one you used to have, then you can use your copper pipe fittings and solder them. The fittings should be ¾ inches.
Then, connect them to your motorcycle’s exhaust pipe. The fittings should be able to go around to the frame and, finally, settle beneath your bike’s back fender. This will help with fit issues.
Step #10: Lastly, attach metal screws and a metal plumber’s strap to your bike’s frame and then put the muffler there.
If all else fails, try something a bit different. Of course, this video is just for humor but I found it entertaining.
Considerations and Cautions
Before you begin these projects, I encourage you to consider the following:
- Tinkering with your motorcycle like this will almost certainly void your warranty. If you have a new motorcycle that’s a year or two old, then maybe it’s not worth the risk. That’s up to you to decide.
- Some of these jobs require drilling and even some metalworking experience. If you’re not comfortable with those duties, then it’s better just to buy a muffler or even a baffle.
- If there’s one area you should spend more money on, that’s quality insulation. Whether you use a homemade muffler/baffler or you buy yours from a store, you’ll be glad you wrapped it in insulation when you hit the road.
The exhaust system of your motorcycle isn’t just for releasing gas. This system also makes a lot of noise. Some states have legal requirements on motorcycle noise levels, plus it’s just nice to other passersby to not be the most annoyingly loud rider in town.
By making your own baffler or muffler, you can create a homemade motorcycle exhaust silencer that should cut back on all that unwanted sound. Good luck!