When it comes to exhaust, the typical Harley owner is interested in sound, followed by looks, with performance being the third criteria. But the XR1200 is anything but a typical Harley and neither are the owners. XR owners seem most concerned with performance, which makes sense since the bike is an all around performance oriented bike, and while sound is important the XR owner seems to be more focused on quality of sound. Additionally there are concerns that you don't normally hear from Harley owners like weight and lean angle. A quick look on XR1200Ownersgroup.com uncovered pictures of stock head pipes that have been scraping the ground and discussions of weight versus power.
Patriot Top Fueler
We decided to round up as many complete exhaust systems that we could find and put together a comparison. Unlike most comparisons this is not just a power shootout as we also intend to address the factors discussed above. In our quest for XR systems we found that many manufacturers of sport bike exhaust systems that aren't known for Harley pipes have entered the market, names that aren't familiar to most Harley riders like Termignoni, Tsukigi, and Remus. We ended up with those three brands plus SuperTrapp, D&D, Vance & Hines, and BUB/Storz.
The stock Harley pipes come in at a heavy 36 pounds and the lightest in the test weighed in at just under 12 pounds, a substantial drop. Don't forget weight wastes power. We also measured lean angle to look for cornering improvements and measured the sound output with our decibel meter at both idle and 4,000 rpm. Lastly we looked at the fit and finish as well as the subjective appearance of the pipes on the bike.
PiperCross Air Filter
To prepare our test bike and make sure we were getting optimum performance we added a couple of other items to the bike that we believe the average XR owner will do as well. As with most new bikes, the XR comes fairly lean from the factory and a more efficient exhaust will only add to that problem. To address that our fuel injection system needed an upgrade that would allow us to adjust the air/fuel mixture appropriately. There are many different "fuelers" on the market and they range from around $200 to over $1,000. Both Vance & Hines and Remus market fuel injection modules that are designed to work with their pipes but we selected the Patriot Top Fueler from PerTronix Performance to make a level playing field. PerTronix has been in the Electronic Ignition and Performance Exhaust business for over 40 years and their Top Fueler is a plug and play type unit that takes readings from the O2 sensors and the load on the injectors to modify the fuel curve. What we liked about this unit was ease of installation and the ability to adjust it without having to be connected to a computer like many other brands. It is very user friendly and made our job of testing so many different pipes a breeze. The Top Fueler is available in a California legal version to keep your bike emissions compliant or in a race only unit. We also decided to add a little more airflow in the form of an air filter upgrade. The standard Harley filter is a paper unit that does an OK job of filtering but does not flow all that well and must be replaced when it gets dirty. Pipercross is another sport bike company that has entered the XR market with their twin foam element for the XR. Calsportbike is the US importer and they supplied us with a direct fit element that went in just like stock. These filters carry a lifetime warranty and are easily cleaned and reused.
In a marathon session, we installed seven different pipes with 11 different configurations and strapped the XR to the Super Flow CycleDyn at Dyno Dave's in Orange, California, and ran back-to-back tests making a minimum of two runs per exhaust system. The Super Flow Dyno is considered by many to be state of the art with its Eddy Current Absorber module that offers the most reliable power measurements. We also tested the decibel readings with a decibel tester. The dB ratings we took were done at 2 feet from the exhaust tip using the 'C' scale inside the shop which pushed the numbers higher than had we tested outside. Finally, we checked the lean angle after each exhaust system was installed by marking the centerline of where the tires meet the road and then measuring up to the lowest portion of each pipe in inches from the ground, which was then converted to degrees with CAD program software. But before we installed any of the aftermarket pipes, we baselined the XR in its stock configuration.