All the performance for much less money
We all want performance exhaust systems for our track machines. They sound awesome, increase power and save weight. Unfortunately, these parts are very expensive and you’re almost sure to damage or destroy them if you crash. Here at TrackdayMag.com, we’ve been wishing for years that some company would offer an inexpensive solution to this problem.
DanMoto Exhaust is a Chinese company that has been selling performance systems on EBay for practically any sporting machine that you can name. The price for their products is almost unbelievably low. Could this be the answer to our prayers? Time for a test!
When a motorcycle’s exhaust is designed, the most important part is the header. If the engineers get this right, their machine’s engine will be a screamer. Once that’s been accomplished, mufflers and perhaps also a catalytic converter are added to make the system compliant with applicable laws for the countries where it will be sold. As competitive as the sportbike market is today, no motorcycle manufacturer is going to produce a poorly engineered original-equipment header pipe and subsequently get beaten in all the comparison tests. Case in point: Kawasaki has come right out and publicly claimed in their press releases that with the addition of an aftermarket slip-on muffler, the stock exhaust of their 2011 ZX10R makes power that rivals the best full-race systems. You’d best believe that every other manufacturer is building their equipment to the same standard. What this means to track riders and racers is that aside from weight savings, the factory header on your motorcycle is absolutely up to the task of zooming around a racecourse. All that is required to release the performance potential of most bikes is to unbolt the restrictive stock muffler, then replace it with a high performance aftermarket slip-on can. Newer machines equipped with catalytic converters will also need an eliminator pipe for best results.
Most aftermarket slip-on systems are advertised as requiring no fuel recalibration following installation. This sounds great but is not completely accurate. We’ve found that when subjected to dyno testing, such exhausts usually produce powerbands that improve in some areas and suffer in others. This can lead to drivability issues. To get the most from such a modification, a fuel injection reprogrammer and some dyno time is required. The other issue is cost. You can spend a fortune fpr a slip-on exhaust. For example, the second-hand Leo Vince twin muffler carbon fiber and stainless steel slip-on system and catalytic converter Y-pipe that we acquired for our Literbike Lust 2008 GSXR1000 would have cost $759.00 plus $269.00, for a total of $1028.00 if new. No doubt, this is a gorgeous looking exhaust, manufactured to perfection from the highest quality materials. Still, a grand and change at retail price? Yikes! That’s a lot of money for something that you can destroy the first time you make a mistake while riding. The biggest drawback of this system is that with twin mufflers, you’re going to cause damage to it no matter which side you fall on.
The DanMoto solution
How would you like a titanium-sleeved performance muffler and a stainless steel cat-eliminator pipe shipped to your door for $172.00? That’s the price for a DanMoto system to fit our Gixxer Thou. Mufflers for other bikes cost a bit more or a bit less, depending on model. For our application, the DanMoto unit sells for less than 25% of the price you’d pay for the top-spec Leo Vince twin muffler system we’re testing it against.
Chinese products have received plenty of criticism in the motorcycle community. The main issues have been quality control and intellectual theft. If the part isn’t capable of safely doing its job, then who cares how low the price is? Even worse in our minds, if some overseas company has flat stolen the design of their product and is producing cut-rate clones, then hard working people elsewhere in the world are being robbed. These are legitimate reasons to avoid such items. DanMoto is not doing either of these things. The company gives you a choice of three mufflers that don’t copy any other product on the market, along with extension pipes to fit them to a wide range of machines. You can select a hand-welded titanium trumpet style that is reminiscent of what’s seen in MotoGP or choose a more conventional, can-type silencer with stainless steel guts and a titanium or carbon fiber body.
Under $200? Is it any good?
Having installed and tested the DanMoto system on our GSXR, both at the track and on the dyno, we’ve become convinced of the product’s build quality. These parts are soundly put together and did not fail under the stresses we put them through. How can they be sold for so little money? In a word, “cosmetics.” What we have here is a stone-simple exhaust that makes very little attempt to be beautiful. The DanMoto connector pipe for our GSXR is made from automotive grade, seamed stainless steel. Tooling marks are evident in places and the curves, while appearing to be mandrel-bent and quite functional, do not equal the flowing perfection of a high-end exhaust. The muffler is an uncomplicated piece, consisting of end caps and a baffle, riveted into a round body. There’s nothing oval, conical, milled or pressure-formed going on here. In short, a DanMoto exhaust is functional, not fancy. Think back to the early Eighties, when companies like Kerker and Vance & Hines were making similar exhausts for the bikes of that era. Those pipes weren’t motorcycle jewelry like the modern stuff is but they sure worked, didn’t they? DanMoto is taking a page from sportbike history here. Remember when the performance exhaust industry was focused completely on making power and hardly cared if what they were selling was pretty? That’s what a DanMoto system is about. It’s raw, sturdy and unapologetic. The parts are so strong that they likely would survive a mild crash or two. Were you to destroy this exhaust, you’d have only lost $200 or so. At this price, it would be pretty easy to justify the purchase of a second DanMoto to keep with your spares.
Does it work?
Our first concern was how loud this muffler would be. From the saddle, neither system seemed louder than the other. JenningsGP has a 104db noise limit and the sound police didn’t kick us out, so we assume that the DanMoto exhaust will be fine for track use almost anywhere you ride. Otherwise, there were a few minor issues with our test system. First off, while track testing at Jennings last December; we immediately managed to melt the insulating rubber for the muffler hanger. We contacted DanMoto about this and were informed that this material is sourced from an outside contractor, who’d supplied a bad batch. A replacement would be sent immediately. Our other concern was that while the pipe fit the bike nicely, our tester’s size 13 boot touched the extension pipe occasionally while riding. Honestly, we’ve seen this same problem with many higher-end exhausts as well. Still, it’s notable that this was not an issue with the Leo Vince, even though it featured twin mufflers. We cured both problems in the same way, by wrapping a bit of header insulation around the offending areas.
With just a single muffler to breathe through and selling for less than a quarter of the price, the DanMoto exhaust can be forgiven if it falls a bit short on horsepower compared to the Leo Vince system, right? Guess what? After a series of dyno runs to let the Bazzaz Auto Tune feature calibrate the air-fuel ratio for each, the results were a dead-even tie! That’s right. Our GSXR1000 made 165 hp with either system. In the words of Brian Conly, Valley Racing’s tuner extraordinaire, “The Leo makes an extra horse or two in the midrange but honestly, you’d probably be too concerned with off-corner traction there to even use that bit of extra power. In the top end, the two are equal. You’d need a dyno to tell because they’re so close that you’d never feel it while riding the bike.” He added, “The DanMoto exhaust costs $850 less than the Leo, which is savings enough to pay for a top-of-the-line Bazzaz reprogrammer with traction control. To me, the choice seems pretty easy to make.”
Everybody has their own taste in motorcycles. For many, a fine racing exhaust system made from the best materials is the ultimate motorcycle accessory and a status symbol for all to see. If you feel that way, the Leo Vince system will not disappoint and is worth every penny. Of course, someone who is that concerned with his bike’s looks would probably prefer to avoid risking it at the track. For those of us who accept the occasional crash as a part of the game, the DanMoto is a very attractive alternative. It’s sturdy, offers great performance and can be had for about the same price as a 190-series race tire. Truly addicted track riders build their bikes to survive crashing. Frame sliders, clip-ons with replaceable bars, billet engine covers, sturdy racing rearsets and fiberglass bodywork are all popular because they act as sacrificial parts that wind up protecting the core motorcycle in a fall. Like it or not, due to its fragile nature and exposed location, the muffler is also likely to be ruined in a crash. DanMoto has built a racing exhaust that makes excellent power and will withstand the rigors of racetrack riding, which sells at a price low enough that you won’t be heartbroken if you destroy it. What we have here is a sacrificial exhaust. Why didn’t somebody think of this before?