Motorcycle Exhaust Pipe Heat Wrap: Why Do People Do It?

Motorcycle Exhaust Pipe Heat Wrap: Why Do People Do It?

When it comes to motorcycle exhaust wraps, there's a lot of misinformation out there. Because of this, it's normal to feel confused about whether to use them or not

Many motorcycle enthusiasts believe that wrapping your exhaust pipes can actually increase the horsepower of your engine while others strongly disagree with these bold claims and have their own opinions.

In this guide, we’ll give our take on pipe wraps in the form of the benefits and drawbacks they bring to your bike. Hopefully, this information will help you to take a calculated decision.

Motorcycle Exhaust Pipe Heat Wrap

Wrapping your exhaust pipes might really boost your engine's horsepower. Even if they don't work, they do offer certain advantages. Many riders are aware and agree that there will be little to no power boost, yet many choose to install exhaust wraps regardless. Another advantage of exhaust wrap is that it may enhance the appearance of your motorcycle.

Why Do People Wrap Their Motorcycle Pipes? The Logic Explained

Think of exhaust wrap like a fire-blanket. It's basically a glass weave cloth that insulates heat. Wrapping your exhaust pipe with this cloth helps it to retain all the heat. Why would you want to retain heat within the exhaust? For two reasons:

  • It improves exhaust scavenging
  • It lowers engine temperature

One interesting thing about any kind of gas is that it travels in waves of high pressure and low pressure. The speed of the high pressure wave is directly proportional to the temperature of the gas. In simple terms; hotter the exhaust gas, the faster it leaves. Therefore, the faster it leaves, the more gas it carries along with it, effectively emptying the combustion chamber a lot quicker.

By this logic, using an exhaust wrap and retaining the heat within the exhaust pipe should help to recover the power that's lost due to poor scavenging.

On paper, this seems fantastic. But in theory, the actual power difference isn't really noticeable.

Heat wraps were originally designed for turbo applications because turbochargers rely on the heat and pressure produced by the exhaust gases. More heat = more pressure = higher boost.

Motorcycle Pipe Wrapping on a Black Harley Davidson

Benefits of Motorcycle Exhaust Pipe Heat Wraps

Even though they don't really work, they do have some benefits. Many riders know and accept that there will be little to no power gain and still decide to go ahead with exhaust wraps anyway. Some of their reasons include:

Helps Decrease Engine Temperature

One of the main reasons why motorcycle owners wrap their exhaust systems is that it helps minimize engine temperature.

If you ride a Harley or a cruiser where the exhaust pipe is uncomfortably close to your or your pillion rider's leg, using an exhaust wrap will help to dissipate some of the heat away from your body. Pair that with a good pair of riding boots, and you probably won't even notice the heat.

If this is the sole reason why you want an exhaust wrap, go for it. Alternatively you could get your exhaust pipe ceramic coated. That way you'll get only the pros without the cons. The only con being the expensive price tag.

Improves Aesthetics

Another top benefit of using the best motorcycle exhaust wrap is that it helps enhance the looks of your motorcycle.

We can all know that the bike pipes are always under exposure to a lot of heat. This tends to discolor them with time and make them look horrible.

Luckily, wrapping your exhaust pipes helps cover these flaws and improve the look of your motorcycle.

What’s more, these wraps come in various color options to let you choose one that gives your bike more customized looks. The most common colors include tan, white, and black.

Recently, the market introduced titanium wraps, which gives you even more color options.

How to Wrap a Motorcycle Exhaust

Another fantastic benefit of motorcycle wraps is that they’re incredibly easy to install on your bike.

This is unlike most aftermarket parts of your bike that might give you a hard time figuring how to install if you don’t have prior experience or skills.

You can easily put these wraps around your motorcycle wraps without any special skills or experience. Even if you’re an absolute beginner, you DON’T need to hire a motorcycle mechanic to do it for you.

Harley Pipe Wrap

The whole process can take you roughly 30 minutes or slightly longer, depending on your experience.  First things first; make sure you buy enough wrap. If your motorcycle houses a V-Twin, you won't need a lot, but if you're sitting on a 4-cylinder engine, you're going to need twice as much exhaust wrap.

When working with wrap tape, be sure to wear gloves or things can get really itchy and uncomfortable thanks to the fiberglass treatment that this fabric gets.

  • Remove your exhaust pipe and clean it thoroughly
  • Soak the wrap in a bucket of water
  • Clamp down one end of the wrap at the pipe outlet and start wrapping. Make sure to pull the wrap tight with every turn and overlap the previous layer halfway with each wrap.
  • When you're done, clamp down the wrap at the exhaust inlet and bolt the pipe on with fresh gaskets.

Pipe Wraps Don’t Cost You an Arm and a Leg

One more thing…the wraps aren’t the most expensive aftermarket products for your bike.

You can get a 50-foot roll of fiberglass wrap for as low as $20, which is enough to get the job done in most cases. Additional parts you need for this project, such as stainless steel anchors, silicone spray, are also relatively cheap.

The whole process should cost you approx. $60, which is quite on the lower side of the price spectrum.

Drawbacks of Motorcycle Exhaust Wraps

Like all good things in life, sport bike exhausts wraps come with their own, extremely annoying, set of disadvantages.

These include:

Exhaust Wrap Problems

Poor Wrap Job Has Consequences

When you decide to wrap your exhaust pipe, then you have to make sure you do it right. You’ll need to ensure you obtain a nice looking end product.

Otherwise, doing it poorly can seriously affect the look of your motorcycles. As some bikers like to put it, poorly wrapped exhaust pipes make your bike look like trash.

The Wrapping Doesn’t Last Forever

That’s right! The nice-looking wrap you just installed on your motorcycle won’t last forever. The best wraps tend to last for a few months only.

To ensure your bike continues looking good, you’ll have to do a regular rewrapping job as well as invest in new wraps after every few months.

How To Wrap Motorcycle Exhaust

Wrapping Your Exhaust System Can Cause It to Corrode Faster

This is the biggest drawback of getting your exhaust wrapped is that heat fabric retains water. Every time it rains, or you ride over a puddle, your exhaust wrap is going to accumulate dirty salt water.

If metal pipes had nightmares, a saltwater blanket would be numero uno on that list.

Your exhaust pipe is going to rust and corrode a lot faster when that happens. Not to mention the redundancy involved in this process; the whole point was to retain heat. A cold wet wrap is going to lower the exhaust temperature which is the exact opposite of what you want.

Our advice? Get your pipes ceramic coated or buy an aftermarket exhaust system that is ceramic coated.

Get Ready for Lots of Smoke and Bad Odors From Your Bike

Part of the curing process of motorcycle exhaust wraps involves the production of lots of smoke accompanied by bad smells.

However, this effect lasts a couple of hours only, and it’ll be gone for good. Nonetheless, it’s nothing pleasant to have on your motorcycle.

Motorcycle Pipe Wrapping: Our Verdict

Now that you know the main benefits and drawbacks of using motorcycle exhaust wraps, deciding on whether to do it on your motorcycle should be easy.

Analyze all the benefits and downsides we have discussed above to get a clear picture of the good and ugly sides of motorcycle wraps. This way, you’ll be able to make the final decision quite easily.

joshua mattie

Joshua D. Mattie

My motorbike addiction began with 50cc at 5 years old. I rode motocross as a teenager & into my 20's when I worked as a mechanic. This helped me to see the light—sportbikes & cruisers became a passion. Now I'm building BikersRights to be the #1 resource for everything on 2 wheels!