How Hot Does A Motorcycle Exhaust Get?

If you are curious about how hot your motorcycle exhaust gets, we’ll be looking at all the facts about motorcycle exhaust temperatures. 

Different motorcycles run at different temperatures, and the level of heat an engine can withstand varies greatly. However, one thing that is true for almost every bike is that the exhaust is the hottest part of the entire bike. 

This article will discuss factors that dictate how hot a motorcycle exhaust can get. We will go over why your engine may be running too hot, what you can do to fix it, and of course, how hot your motorcycle’s exhaust actually gets. 

We have been riding and working on motorcycles for the better part of 20 years. We know our experience can help  answer any burning questions you might have and fix any problems you might be facing. 

Keep reading for more details about motorcycle exhaust temperatures. 

Factors Behind Exhaust Temperatures

When it comes to motorcycle exhaust temperatures, tons of factors affect them. Some are entirely normal and others might signal that something is not as it should be. Let’s look at some of the main factors that determine how hot your motorcycle’s exhaust gets. 

Engine speed

This is pretty self-explanatory. If your motorcycle’s engine is revving higher, it will produce more heat. That heat will transfer to the exhaust, where high pressure dramatically increases temperatures. 

Ambient temperature

Generally speaking, the hotter the day, the hotter the bike will run. If the ambient temperature is higher, engine cooling will be less efficient. In such cases, the engine, and consequently the exhaust, will become a lot hotter. 

Air-fuel ratio

The air to fuel ratio in the engine plays a huge role in how hot a motorcycle engine and exhaust get. If the bike is running too lean, i.e., there is too much air and not enough fuel being combusted, you will experience hotter temperatures. In fact, a lean bike’s exhaust can get so hot that it starts to discolor from the sheer heat of exhaust gasses passing through it. 

Exhaust type and length

Many riders don’t realize that the type of exhaust a motorcycle uses can change how hot it gets. As a rule of thumb, the shorter the exhaust, the hotter it will get. The exhaust gasses have less area to work within shorter exhausts, so less heat is lost to the surroundings. 

Moreover, an exhaust’s thickness plays a role in how hot it gets. Generally, the wider the pipe, the more area it has for heat dissipation and the lower its operating temperatures. 

How Hot Do Different Parts Of An Exhaust Get?

Despite what you might think, the temperature of a motorcycle exhaust is not constant all along the pipe. It varies significantly at different points on the exhaust. 

And while different engines, exhausts, and cooling setups will yield different exhaust temperatures, here is a general guide to how hot a motorcycle’s exhaust gets. 

Header pipes

Your motorcycle’s exhaust will be pretty hot at the headers. In most cases, the temperature at the headers will be at least 1000 degrees Fahrenheit or just under 540 degrees celsius. Realistically, the temperature could go as high as 1600 F or around 870 C. 

Mid pipes

Exhaust gas temperatures could range anywhere from 850-1000 F or 450-540 C at the mid-pipe. That is still pretty hot as the mid-pipe is a narrower portion of the exhaust where the gasses are moving at extremely high pressure and velocity. 

Catalytic converter

When exhaust gasses get to the catalytic converter, they will still be pretty hot. In some cases, exhaust gasses can shoot up in temperature because of the chemical reactions at the catalytic converter. Expect anywhere from 600-1200 F or 300-650 C. 

Muffler 

As the muffler is situated at the very end of an exhaust, gasses have had plenty of time to cool down by the time they get there. Mufflers also tend to be wider than the rest of the pipe, so temperatures start to drop here. Heat dissipates more readily, and temps start coming down. You can expect exhaust gasses to be at around 400-500 F or 200-260 C. 

How Hot Is Too Hot For A Motorcycle Exhaust?

The above-mentioned exhaust gas temperatures are just a general estimate. In reality, depending on the climate, ambient temperatures, state of tune, load on the engine, speed, etc., the exact temperatures of an exhaust could range from 300-1600 F or 150-870 C. 

But the fact is that motorcycle exhausts are designed to withstand even more heat. No matter how hot the exhaust gasses get, you won’t have to deal with melting motorcycle exhausts any time soon. 

That said, different heat levels do have some interesting effects on the motorcycle exhaust. 

Red Glow

Exhaust pipes start to glow red when they reach around 900 F or 500 C. The exact temperature will depend on the type of metal and other factors surrounding the exhaust gasses themselves. 

Yellowing Effect

Your motorcycle’s exhaust starts to yellow as the exhaust gasses become hotter and hotter. Typically, the metal begins exhibiting a yellow color as you get into the 1000 F or 540 C range. As the exhaust gets hotter and hotter, this color will change to gold. 

Bluing Effect

If you notice your motorcycle exhausts discoloring to a blue-ish color, that results from temperatures above 1200 F or 650 C. It is important to remember that this exhaust discoloration is perfectly normal and nothing that should concern you. 

If you aren’t a fan of the blue look, check out this article where we recommend how to remove the bluing effect from motorcycle exhausts. 

Is Your Motorcycle Exhaust Too Hot? 

So, we’ve seen just how hot a motorcycle exhaust can get. If you are worried about your exhaust getting too hot, know that exhaust pipes can take a beating. 

Depending on the type of bike you ride and the specific engine, even very hot feeling exhausts could be perfectly normal. If you are worried about the engine overheating, check the engine temperature gauge. Those things are pretty accurate. 

Furthermore, keep up with regular motorcycle maintenance to ensure that the bike runs at optimal temperatures. 

Conclusion

Motorcycle exhausts can withstand some high temperatures. How hot your particular motorcycle exhaust gets depends on various factors. Moreover, the temperature of a motorcycle engine differs all along the pipe. 

If you think your exhaust is too hot, don’t worry. It probably isn’t. However, suppose you notice engine temperatures going up. It is best to get the bike checked out to avoid any issues down the line.

Author
Higgins Cooper1

Hi, I'm Hugo, I'm a motorcycle enthusiast who’s been riding for the last 10 years. I'm passionate about all things motorcycles and started Bikes Future to help other riders make the right motorcycle moves. I ride a white Kawasaki Ninja 400, and enjoy adventure riding on country roads when I get the chance.