Best performance exhaust for Harley Davidson

Written By Higgins Cooper1
Last Updated

The Best performance exhausts for Harley Davidson

After having ridden Harleys for almost a decade, I can’t help but feel that the bikes are just a tad underpowered. Harleys have always been more about the comfort, durability, and overall style of the motorcycle rather than performance. 

As such, you would be hard pressed to find another motorcycle that offers the same level of comfort, classic styling, and excellent sound. But say you want the bike to be quicker off the line. Or faster in top gear. 

A great way to extract more performance from your engine is to add an aftermarket exhaust. So, let’s take a look at some exhausts that will improve your Harley’s performance. 

Bassani Road Rage III 2-into-1 Performance Exhaust

Overall best

The Bassani Road Rage III is our top pick for a high-performance Harley exhaust. Made from premium stainless steel, the exhaust has a 2-into-1 style and is mounted higher than stock pipe, giving it that classic cafe racer look. Another benefit of the higher mounting position is improved road clearance, allowing you to lean the bike further. 
 
You will also be more confident while leaning the bike and even in daily riding as the exhaust reduces the bike’s weight quite a bit. Coupled with decent power and torque increases, the lower weight makes your Harley feel so much more powerful. 
 
The full system exhaust gave us an additional seven pound-feet of torque and an astounding 12 horsepower more than the stock power figures in our testing. The added torque makes the bike pull harder and respond better, even in higher gears. The HP boost is similarly noticeable, giving the bike a slightly higher top speed. 
 
A lot of this improvement comes from the free flowing design of this exhaust. That same free flowing design makes the bike sound better as well. While this isn’t the loudest pipe we have ever heard, it is a huge improvement over stock and sounds fantastic. A low, aggressive exhaust note gets even louder at speed and fits in well with the more powerful bike. 
 
Pros

  • Made from premium 304 stainless steel
  • Louder than stock and more resonant
  • As much as 10 HP and 6 ft-lb are added
  • Reduces weight of bike
  • Easier to maneuver
  • High mounting allows for more lean angle

 
Cons

  • Not as loud as some other exhausts 
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  • Vance & Hines Pro Pipe Exhaust For Harley

 

Vance & Hines Pro Pipe Performance Exhaust For Harley

It was only a matter of time before we mentioned Vance and Hines. Vance and Hines has always made some of our favorite exhausts that look and sound unlike anything else on the market. It is only natural that they would have a performance oriented offering as well.
 
The Vance and Hines Pro Pipe is the company’s high-performance exhaust that cranks up the torque and horsepower of your Harley. With a similar design to the Bassani, this 2-into-1 is an excellent addition to your bike. 
 
The main attraction is a significant increase in power and torque, noticeable from the get-go. Our testing showed a decent spike in power, but what had us grinning was that the power is distributed evenly throughout the rev range. That makes for a genuinely different riding experience that we are just enamored with. 
 
Performance improvements are accompanied by a new soundtrack as well. The stainless steel muffler produces an aggressive, meaty noise that is amplified by the megaphone style pipe. The result? A motorcycle that has the bark to precede its bite. It is plenty loud and puts the stock pipe to shame. 
 
Vance and Hines are also compelling, thanks to its price tag. Significantly cheaper than its competition, it gives you more bang for your buck, and who doesn’t like a good deal?
 
Pros

  • Great design
  • Amplifies sound 
  • Quality stainless steel construction
  • Gives a very nice boost in power and torque that is usable at all rpms
  • More budget friendly than other products in the segment

 
Con

  • The free flowing exhaust may not be legal in some regions

 

Vance & Hines 4″ Round Twin Slash Slip-On exhaust

Worthy consideration

Don’t worry, touring fans. We haven’t forgotten about you. We know a performance bagger is one of the most excellent machines in existence. But how do you extract that performance out of your touring bike?
 
Don’t worry, touring fans. We haven’t forgotten about you. We know a performance bagger is one of the most excellent machines in existence. But how do you extract that performance out of your touring bike?
 
Allow us to introduce the Vance and Hines 4″ Round Twin Slash Slip-ons. These unassuming slip-ons from everyone’s favorite exhaust manufacturer come specially designed for all your touring bikes. And what a glorious piece of engineering they are.
 
Stainless steel construction that features straight through louvered baffles for that crisp, meaty Vance and Hines growl. Integrated heat Shields to prevent discoloration and degradation of the precious chrome finish. Signature Vance and Hines slashed ends that fit perfectly well in the bike’s aesthetic. 
 
These slip-ons do more than just add some volume to your engine though. They come with serious gains in power and performance. A lightweight build reduces overall weight, a welcome subtraction on a notoriously heavy bike. The improved gas flow means better engine response. Put it all together and you get a big touring machine that has no problem hanging with the Sportsters and Softails.
 
Pros
Lightweight stainless build keeps weight low, even on a full fairing bike
Improved exhaust flow means more power and torque
Sounds a lot better than stock but still quiet enough to let you enjoy your cross country trip in peace
Slash cut ends are a great design detail 
No need to modify saddlebags to make these pipes fit
 
Cons

  • Only really available for the big touring models
  • If power is a priority, a full system will always be more useful

 

Cobra 4″ Neighbor Hater Slip On exhaust

With a name like that, it is evident that these pipes are making some very bold claims about their sound output. Bold claims that are surprisingly backed up by our very own testing. Suffice to say. The Cobra Neighbor Haters are not to be trifled.
 
If extremely loud exhausts with some performance improvements to accompany them is what you want, Cobra’s Neighbor Hater 4″ Slip-ons are the perfect match for your touring bike. Few slip-ons succeed or even dare to produce this kind of thick, juicy, bone rattling exhaust sound. Fewer still actually make your bike perform better while doing so. The cobras pull double duty and achieve both. 
 
These stainless steel mufflers come in a 4″ configuration with a subtle rounding at the end that just looks exquisite. Moreover, they add a nice three ft-lbs and as much as four extra horsepower (as per our dyno runs) to your motorcycle. 
 
All this, from a product that was designed and manufactured with performance in mind. Just one ride on a bike with Cobra’s installed, and we knew it was a great product (the second and third rides were purely for our enjoyment). 
 
Pros

  • One of the loudest slip-on style mufflers we’ve seen for the touring models
  • Design is clean and simple but with a characteristic rounding at the ends to differentiate from others
  • Decent power upgrade over stock pipes
  •  

Cons

  • May be too loud for everyday use

 

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Author
Higgins Cooper1

Cooper Higgins is a motorcycle enthusiast who’s been riding for the last 10 years. He’s passionate about all things motorcycles and started BikesFuture to help out riders make the right motorcycle moves. He riders a pimped out white Kawasaki Ninja 400, and also enjoys adventure riding when out of the City.