Editor’s Note: Mike McGuire is a tech chatter in the Destination Daytona SuperStore. He’s been with J&P since December 2010, where he started as a phone tech. A Harley-Davidson tech, Mike has a master of chassis certification from Harley-Davidson. Originally from Michigan, he graduated cum laude from Walsh College in Michigan, where he received his bachelor’s degree in business administration. He is also a graduate of the Motorcycle Mechanics Institute. Before joining the motorcycle industry, Mike worked in design and building of tooling and fixtures for the automotive industry.
Married to Kelly, the two like to travel to the Caribbean and take road trips on their 2009 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Classic. He’s currently in the market for another motocross bike because he raced motocross for years and is looking to get back into it. Outside of working and riding, Mike’s big fan of Detroit sports teams as well as University of Michigan football. He’s also been attempting to learn to surf – with limited success.
Your bike may sound great with new pipes, but are you really getting everything you wanted? An exhaust system is only one part of your engine’s breathing system. One of the most common tech questions we get asked is “Do I need to remap my exhaust if I add slip-on mufflers?” The honest answer, no matter what scare tactics your dealer tries to tell you, is no assuming you don’t make any other changes. The modern Delphi fuel injection system is a very advanced electronic device that can compensate for the slight change in flow as well as changes in altitude and temperature. Many people reading this would probably say the bike is lean from the factory, and while this is true, mufflers will not put your engine in danger. That only answers half of the question though. Consider this an engine is only an air pump. The more air you move through it, the more power you will make. Now, if all you do is add a less restrictive exhaust, you will still be limited on how much air the air pump can move as a result of the restrictive stock intake. That said, a set of slip-on mufflers on your new Harley-Davidson may sound like you are making a lot more power when in reality you are leaving a lot of untapped potential.
The question becomes, “How do I tap this hidden potential?” The single best way is a complete stage 1 kit. This includes a set of free flowing exhaust pipes, hi-flow air filter and a fuel management unit. Vance & Hines makes all three components for most modern Harley-Davidson motorcycles. One of the best ways to shop items from a single manufacturer is to use the “Shop by motorcycle” feature on the J&P website, and then narrow the search by manufacturer. This will ensure that you get components that not only will fit your motorcycle, but those that were designed to work together as a system.
You can pick the exhaust that you choose whether it is a set of slip-on mufflers or a complete system including head pipes. In most instances, a stock head pipe will flow just fine for a stage 1 set up. Keep in mind; however, that after the 2010 model year Harley Touring bikes come with a catalyst in the head pipe. This catalyst will not only negatively affect flow, but will diminish the sound level that your new slip-on mufflers would otherwise provide. V&H has many different styles and finishes of pipes to suit your personal preference. If you have a touring bike and would like to replace the head pipes, you can mix and match these with your choice of mufflers and get the style that appeals to you the most.
The next component after the exhaust is the hi-flow air filter. V&H offers two different choices to suit your needs. The first is the VO2 naked that replaces the stock backing plate adds a low restriction filter and maintains the stock air cleaner cover for a stealthy look. They also offer a VO2 intake kit with the DRAK cover. This distinctive cover, in either black or chrome let’s everybody know you mean business.
Finally to complete the system you will need a fuel management unit. In terms of ease of use, flexibility, and cost, the V&H FuelPak is tough to beat. This unit will plug into your factory connectors with no slicing or cutting of wires and is truly plug and play. V&H has provided numerous settings for different combinations of intake, exhaust and engine size. This unit will allow the fuel injection system to compensate for the extra air that your engine now has the ability to pump through itself.
These suggestions are by no means a one size fits all solution. If you plan on increasing the displacement of your engine, adding cams or making other radical changes in the future, these upgrades should be taken into consideration when you plan your stage 1 kit accordingly.