Should I upgrade the exhaust on my dirt bike?

There is nothing wrong with stock exhaust.

There isn't. But so many riders feel the need to upgrade the exhaust first-thing after bringing home their new ride. Why?

For a couple of reasons.

We won't deny it - an aftermarket exhaust looks cooler, sounds cooler and if it adds an ounce of confidence, even if mostly titular, then why not? Most riders don't have the skills needed to take advantage of any power gains an aftermarket exhaust systems provides so don't think upgrading to a throaty new muffler (or silencer or slip-on depending on how you roll) or a complete exhaust system will help take you from outside the Top 10 to the podium. However, replacing the stock exhaust might offer the bump needed to scrub those perpetual fourth- and fifth-place finishes for a Top 3 even if it is all in your head.

Let's run down what an aftermarket exhaust on your dirt bike provides then you can decide whether the time and money involved in such an endeavor makes sense.

Spark Arrestor

The need for a spark arrestor probably ranks #1 as the reason why you would upgrade to an aftermarket muffler. If you trail ride, especially on public lands, you probably need a spark arrestor - by law. Stock exhaust systems typically don't offer a spark arrestor option though it might come pre-installed on legit trail bikes.

You don't need to change the complete exhaust system to add a spark arrestor. Just replace the slip-on. And don't get confused if you hear the muffler or slip-on referred to as the silencer. A dirt bike silencer does not work for firearms nor does it reduce the decibels emanating from the engine, at least enough to allow for lawful riding in areas requiring sound suppression. However, some spark arrestors incorporate lower decibels because public lands might also require lower noise pollution so you get a 2-for-1 type thing here, if necessary.

Therefore, if you ride trails or plan to ride trails and have stock exhaust, take the effort to review the implemented restrictions on dirt bike riding in your area and start saving your pennies because you just might need to upgrade before heading out.

Check out our stock of spark arrestors for 2-strokes and 4-strokes.


OEM exhaust doesn't sound out-of-tune, mind you, but don't expect the symphony higher-end aftermarket exhausts transmit. If that doesn't bother you the piercing noise might. Even if you don't ride trails the noise level from stock exhausts borders on the absurd. It's loud and removing that tin can keeps many riders sane. A new muffler reduces decibels but for a bigger impact replacing the entire exhaust system can make a big difference in not only the sound quality but intensity, too.

Not a bad looking stock exhaust

Increase in Horsepower

Now we get to the reason why everyone thinks you need to replace the stock exhaust on your dirt bike. Yes, expect a boost in horsepower but don't expect so much you need to gently roll the throttle until you get used to the punch. It's not like that.

In fact, don't expect an across the board increase in power where it feels like you have a new dirt bike. You also won't get the same effects from bike to bike. Each manufacturer has their own engine design and aftermarket exhausts tend to accentuate the strengths while helping compensate for any weaknesses. For example, a Honda CRF250F more or less offers substantial higher-end power while the Yamaha YZ250F provides lower end power. An aftermarket exhaust helps fill in the gaps for both bikes.

Decrease in Weight

The other benefit to stripping off the stock exhaust for an aftermarket exhaust comes with the drop in pounds. However, if you trail ride or race casually, replacing the stock exhaust for this reason alone makes little sense as you don't need it nor carry the necessary skills on the Motocross track to compliment the weight loss. Those who race seriously and tinker with their dirt bike for optimum performance gains and ways to shed weight would certainly benefit from a new exhaust system.

Don't get us wrong. We fully understand the joy that comes with replacing the mostly simplistic looking stock exhaust with the eye candy you get from FMF, Pro Circuit and Bill's Pipes. Ride long enough, you probably will replace the exhaust even if "just because." But if your budding Motocross career begins to blossom then start looking for new exhaust because everyone else lined up at the gate probably has one installed.

Now get out there and shop! Click the link for all 2-stroke exhausts and 4-stroke exhausts.

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