Should I Use Motorcycle Exhaust Wrap?

Our expert weighs in on this trend

exhaust tape wrapped around pipes

Question: Now that bobbers have displaced choppers as our leading form of custom, I see more and more motorcycle exhaust wrap being used. I suppose some people dislike the way chrome or stainless steel exhausts turn blue, although I love the brownish-blue color of my Triumph Speed Triple's pipes. Considering that the hottest area of a motorcycle engine is the exhaust valve/port area of the cylinder head, it would seem to me that wrapping pipes all the way up to that area will reduce the head's ability to cool. Am I missing something, or can this lead to issues down the road?

Joe Hutton

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Answer: Pipe wrapping comes from NASCAR, where its purpose was to cheaply reduce temperature in well-filled engine bays. Its current use on custom bikes is a visual theme that builders apparently like, but it has no function. If you walk through racing paddocks at MotoGP or World Superbike events, you will see no woven fiberglass tape wrapped around pipes.

Some years ago John Wittner (builder of Battle of the Twins Moto Guzzis) warned against the use of such wrapping on titanium pipes, which overheat, react with oxygen, and transform into a mass of loose yellow flakes. During the two-stroke era in 500cc Grand Prix, bikes appeared for the Japanese GP with pipes insulated by various means. This was done to meet new noise regulations. Later, it turned out to have undesired tuning effects so its use was discontinued.

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