Harley Davidson motorcycles are known for their very unique exhaust notes; other than their stunning good looks, in terms of which they stand head and shoulders above other cruisers in a class of motorcycles their name has come to be synonymous with, their distinctive sound is music to the ears of cruiser enthusiasts. However, in recent times increasingly restrictive noise and emissions laws have meant that Harley Davidson cruisers roll off of the factory floor as pretty quiet motorcycles, with a rather subdued exhaust note. The quickest and cheapest way for an eager owner to unleash the sound of the true beast that beats in his Harley is to fit a slip-on muffler.
Quick Review: Best Slip On Mufflers for Harley
Top Choice: Vance & Hines Straightshots HS Slip Ons
Vance & Hines Straightshots are some of the most popular slip-ons for Harley Softails, and for good reason. They add a thunderous but crisp note to your sound while enhancing overall riding experience and performance.First Checkpoint
Best For Touring
Softail and Dyna
Value For Money
Reviews: Best Harley Davidson Slip-On Mufflers
Vance & Hines Straightshots are some of the most popular slip-ons for Harley Softails, and for good reason. They add a thunderous but crisp note to your sound.
Vance and Hines Straightshots are some of the most well-known and popular slip-on exhausts for Harley Softails, and for a very good reason - a few very good reasons, actually. The level of workmanship on these pipes is fantastic, and they’re unmatched in terms of quality. The sound improvement over stock pipes is immense. Straight shots come with removable baffles, but even with the baffles in the sound is deep and raw, yet crisp. All of this quality and great sound does come at a price, though; these aren’t the cheapest pipes around. That said, there are more expensive pipes out there.
- Improvement in sound over stock is very impressive
- Beautiful chrome finish
- Extremely high quality
- Not the cheapest slip-ons but worth the price
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Vance and Hines have always been a popular favorite for Harley riders around the world when it comes to slip-on mufflers. They offer some of the best slip-ons for cruising on a HD Heritage Softail, and they are classically known for great-sounding, good-looking options at an excellent price.
If you want to improve the sound of your stock Harley but are feeling a little apprehensive about shelling out, their slip-ons won't necessarily break the bank either. You can expect the same top-notch quality as the rest of their products, and as for sound, there’s a very noticeable improvement over the stock setup. So for all Harley riders looking to spice up their ride, Vance and Hines slip-ons are a great option.
- Great price
- Sounds really good compared to stock
- Quick and easy sound fix
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If you’re looking for some seriously loud sound – about as loud as you can legally go – the name “Neighbor Haters” should tell you all you need to know about these slip-on pipes from Cobra.
Few slip-on pipes are more aptly named, in terms of what they achieve, than Cobra Neighbor Haters. Now, whether you hate or love your neighbors, with these slip-ons on your Hog, you can bet that the people in your street will know every time you leave your house or come home. They’re about as loud as you can legally go, but the sound they produce isn’t obnoxiously loud, and you can even hear your music over it. They’re not the cheapest pipes, but they’re far the most expensive too; they represent a good mid-range price. The manufacturing quality is really good for what you’re paying for them as well. The main thing about these, though, is the sound you get: deep, rolling thunder.
- Adds a deep, thunderous rumble to your bike at idle and a roar at revs
- Not so loud that it’s completely obnoxious or illegal
- High-quality pipes, very well-made
- May be too loud for some riders
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When it comes to performance slip-ons, Rinehart Racing is, many Harley enthusiasts believe, the gold standard. Their 4” slip-on mufflers are peerless in quality and give a fantastic upgrade in sound.
A lot of Harley enthusiasts consider the gold standard against which other slip-ons are measured to be Rinehart Racing pipes. This is especially true for those "big twin" engines like Harley-Davidson Milwaukee 8.
The quality of Rinehart Racing pipes is almost unmatched, and these made-in-America pipes have earned their reputation through their workmanship. The sound they add to your cruiser is a perfect mix of aggressive volume, rumbling “potato potato” thunder, and a deep bark when you rev the bike, all without being excessively loud; you can still speak (instead of yell) over these when the bike is idling beneath you. Of course, all this quality does come at a price, and these pipes are pretty expensive, yet worth it.
- Some of the best-made slip-on pipes on the market
- Stunning chrome finish
- Deep, throaty sound, and aggressive roar at higher revs
- Not excessively loud
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The Bassani 3" Firepower Series Slip-On Mufflers For Harley are a popular choice for those looking for a sleek and powerful upgrade to their bike's exhaust system. Made in the USA from high-quality materials, these mufflers are designed to provide maximum performance and a deep, aggressive sound.
The Firepower series is a great addition for any Harley Davidson - especially riders on a budget. They're super easy to install and sound amazing. It takes most people between 30-45 minutes to install the slip-ons. The Bassani Firepower has a loud aggressive grunting sound capable of triggering car alarms as you ride past. Some might say that they are nearly the same as neighbor hater pipes - meaning they're a bit too load under load but sound great at an idle or lower RPMs.
The mufflers are constructed from 16-gauge steel and come with a show-quality finish that is resistant to scratches and discoloration. They also feature a removable baffle system that allows riders to adjust the sound level to their liking, making them suitable for both street and track use.
- Amazing deep sound at idle
- Easy installation
- Excellent fit
- Classic chrome look
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The SHARKROAD 4.0 Inch Slip On Exhaust is a top-quality upgrade for Harley-Davidson motorcycles. This slip-on exhaust system is constructed from high-quality materials and offers significant improvements in performance and sound.
One of the key features that sets the SHARKROAD 4.0 Inch Slip On Exhaust apart from other exhaust systems is its innovative design. The four-inch muffler provides a deep and throaty exhaust note that adds an aggressive tone to your ride. Additionally, the high-flow baffle design maximizes exhaust flow and improves engine performance, providing a noticeable increase in horsepower and torque.
Another important factor to consider when upgrading your exhaust system is durability, and the SHARKROAD 4.0 Inch Slip On Exhaust delivers in spades. The stainless steel construction ensures that this exhaust system is built to last, withstanding high temperatures and harsh riding conditions. Additionally, the black powder-coated finish adds a sleek and stylish touch to your bike.
Installation of the SHARKROAD 4.0 Inch Slip On Exhaust is quick and easy, with all necessary hardware and instructions included. This allows for a hassle-free installation process that can be completed in just a few hours, making it a great DIY upgrade for any Harley-Davidson enthusiast.
- Great price
- Look and sound very good
- Lovely growl
The SHARKROAD 3" Slip-on Mufflers are a great replacement option for 2014-2022 Iron 883 and Sportster 1200. These are low-cost options that both look great and sound great! With these come a noticeable increase in grunt sound of the exhaust system, however they are not too loud and obnoxious as the "neighbor haters".
Installation is quick and easy - no sweat here. You can even use the same standard factory screws and clamps for mounting. You'll probably find like with most slip-ons your bike is going to feel a bit different after installation. Most riders have positive feedback in a smoother and less snappy ride.
These are a really fantastic bang-for-buck option that'll take your Harley from sounding like a choked-up lawn mower to a possessed wild bear.
Our Related Harley Davidson Performance Guides:
Exhausts, Mufflers and Engine Sound
Why does an exhaust affect the sound a motorcycle motor makes? Well, everyone knows what a firework sounds like when it explodes nearby. There’s a really loud bang – and this sound is caused by a sonic boom from the rapid expansion of gases in the explosion. They’re so loud because there’s nothing around them to absorb the sound waves. Inside your bike or car motor, a similar thing is happening every time your spark plug fires. The difference between the sound of an explosion in your piston and a firework exploding is that the explosion inside your motor has its sound waves absorbed and modulated by your exhaust.
The function of a muffler (or silencer) is to literally muffle the sound of explosions within your motor. It does this by getting the sound waves produced by the motor to cancel each other out, and regulating the pressure of the exhaust gases emitted by the motor. Motorcycles are generally louder than cars because they have much shorter pipes and less room for large mufflers.
Both stock mufflers and aftermarket mufflers generally have baffles too. These are small inserts that are installed near the exit of the muffler, and they also aid in noise reduction by causing gases and sound waves to bounce around more, and thereby be absorbed by the packing material in the muffler.
Can’t I Just Remove the Baffles from My Stock Pipe to Get A Better Sound?
A cheap solution, touted by DIY mechanics, to a bike that’s deemed too quiet is to simply remove the baffles from your stock exhaust. Why buy an aftermarket muffler if you can make your bike louder simply by removing the baffles? Proponents of baffle removal also claim that by removing baffles you’re allowing your exhaust to flow more freely and thus increasing performance. So why not just do this?
Increasing engine performance isn’t a simple science. Some back pressure from the exhaust is necessary, and without it you’ll likely lose torque and low-end power, and some horsepower across the rev range, even if you do gain a little at the very top of the rev range – which you won’t be using for the majority of your riding anyway. And while removing baffles can make your bike louder, that doesn’t mean it’ll sound better. Often, bikes with baffles removed simply sound obnoxiously loud. A good aftermarket muffler, however, will give your bike a much more pleasing sound, as well as increasing the volume, but not to an annoying degree.
Does A Slip On Exhaust Increase Horsepower?
In short, no, a slip-on exhaust probably won’t increase horsepower. When you put a slip-on muffler onto your bike, you’re changing the airflow and the back-pressure from the exhaust gases a little, so you might see a tiny increase in power and notice a very minor difference in power delivery, but generally what you’re making a major change to is the way sound waves exit your exhaust. The makers of slip-on mufflers know that the vast majority of motorcyclists who buy these items are looking for a more aggressive sound from their bikes, and they have designed their products to provide maximum gains in that area: sound.
There’s also the aesthetic factor, of course; while stock Harley mufflers look pretty good, a high end aftermarket slip-on muffler will generally look pretty damn amazing, and will add visual appeal to your already attractive ride.
What Are Slip On Exhausts?
Why are slip-on exhausts called “slip-ons”? The answer to that question is that the name comes from the fact that you’re able to quite literally slip them onto your bike’s existing exhaust; generally, installation of an aftermarket slip-on is a very easy task, even for the most mechanically inept motorcyclists. You only have to have a very basic grasp of mechanical knowledge to install an aftermarket slip-on exhaust. To put one on, you simply remove your stock muffler, loosen whatever nuts, bolts, and fixtures hold in in place, and then slip the aftermarket pipe into place, and tighten everything up. If any gasket paste is required, it’s generally supplied with the aftermarket pipe.
When installing a performance exhaust, you might want to consider optimizing your air/fuel ratio with an auto tuner for Harley Davidson motorcycles.
Does A Slip-On Exhaust Void Warranty?
All right, so you’ve just ridden your Harley home from the dealership, and it’s brand spanking new, and still has that showroom shine…and you can’t wait to start modifying your new toy. The first thing on your list is the same thing that’s at the top of most red-blooded bikers’ mod lists: an aftermarket muffler, to unleash that rolling thunder sound you know the stock pipe is holding back. There’s one little problem though: are you going to void your Harley’s warranty by doing this?
While it might be an official policy that modifying your brand new motorcycle in any way technically voids the warranty, in most cases this is not enforced in practice, especially when it comes to a modification that’s as common as aftermarket mufflers. A slip-on exhaust really won’t change or affect your motor much, and is extremely unlikely to cause any sort of engine problems at all. Ask your local HD dealer though, but because they want to retain your business and keep a good reputation as being attentive to their customers’ needs, they’ll likely tell you that it’s absolutely fine to put on an aftermarket muffler, and that it won’t void your warranty.
Ride Loud and Proud With the Best Slip-On Muffler for Your Harley
If you don’t want to get into complicated retuning and engine modification, or the generally intensive labor involved in swapping out your entire OEM exhaust system, and all you’re really looking for is a better sounding Harley, perhaps with a smidgen of increased performance, then fitting a slip-on muffler is probably going to be a perfect mod to do. It won’t break the bank (unless you really go all out for a set of Rinehart Racing pipes), and it’s easy to do with only a bare minimum of mechanical knowledge. Your bike is guaranteed to sound better afterwards, and that alone will keep you smiling for many happy miles.