You can't keep a dirt bike in pristine condition unless of course it sits in the garage unridden so outside of that expect scratches, dings, stains and general overall wear and tear.

But that doesn't mean throwing caution to the wind and neglecting parts of the bike that need some protection.

Dented exhaust pipes visually age a dirt bike but more than that can affect the overall power because of the confined space. A few dings here and there probably won't amount to much but significant depressions and/or multiple dents can decrease horsepower and obstruct the full expulsion of air from the engine.

Two-strokes with a pipe that looks like a well-fed snake bulging out front and to the side of the engine case carries the most susceptibility to damage and dents. But the head pipe on 4-strokes also succumbs to damage if not properly protected, and replacing doesn't come cheap.

Most riders who race Motocross don't bother with pipe guards though installing one on a 2-stroke pipe offers a sure defense against bar-banging and hitting the dirt. However, off-road and trails riders shouldn't leave home without one. Boulders, logs, and tree trunks would love the opportunity to dent, crush, or smash some metal. And don't think you can avoid it all. Even a digger into a berm could result in significant damage to the pipe.

Eventually, the pipe on your dirt bike will meet face-to-face with one of the aforementioned obstacles and emerge a little less than complete. Thus, a pipe guard protects the delicate balance of power the exhaust pipes produce and keep you not only riding but from spending that evening on looking for replacement parts. See, we do try and save you money.

2-Stroke Pipe Guards

Two-stroke pipes can take a beating and keep on ticking and most unprotected warhorses have numerous minor dents from ground debris that don't impact performance all that much. Sooner or later though, especially with more aggressive riders, attempts to circumnavigate on or around large rocks and fallen trees results in a direct hit that crushes the side like a Coors Light can.

Even in Motocross ,the pipe protrudes enough to get in the way of other riders and a fall on hard pack can result in extensive compression of the pipe. Once damaged to the extent of inhibiting performance you either buy a new one or pay to have the pipe refurbished. Either way, both equate to time off the bike and an installation job. After it happens a second time most riders finally realize the need for protection.

4-stroke Head Pipe Guards

Head pipe guards primarily come in the carbon fiber style (some aluminum and steel versions exist) which also functions as a heat shield to your legs. Head pipes don't have the susceptibility to the minor damage from rocks that kick up off the ground that routinely pepper 2-stroke pipes, but bar-banging and impacts to boulders and logs can severely damage these smaller exhaust tubes.

Head pipe guards give a custom look to your ride, install quite easily and weigh little so a Motocross application certainly applies. These guards offer a pretty inexpensive investment to the long term life of a head pipe especially those made of titanium which cost more than traditional stainless steel.

Aluminum pipe guard

Installing a Pipe Guard

Installing a pipe guard to your 2-stroke or 4-stroke exhaust system takes very little effort. You can choose between an aluminum pipe guard (2-strokes) like the one from Moose, a carbon fiber pipe guard (2- and 4-stroke pipes) from either E-Line or P3 and the new stainless steel silicone blend guard from Polisport (available soon!). All types mold around the applicable 2-stroke pipe or 4-stroke head pipe. The aluminum guard and the silicone blend strap around the bulk of the 2-stroke pipe bulge while the carbon fiber style custom fits around the entire 2-stroke pipe or 4-stroke head pipe.

The stiffer aluminum pipe takes a little more effort to install and stands out much more than the carbon fiber version, but costs much less. The Polisport silicone blend conforms around the pipe easier than the aluminum guard and comes in brand colors allowing it to blend in better with the bike.

The carbon fiber pipe guard custom fits, offers a bit of aftermarket style and excels in strength and damage control better than the other versions. It also weighs less. Brackets and/or clamps securely hold the guard in place.

Keep in mind the need to occasionally remove the carbon fiber type guard for the 2-stroke for cleaning. Sometimes sticks, rocks and other debris work their way in between the guard and pipe causing cosmetic damage.

Whatever route you take, installing a pipe guard on your dirt bike especially if you regularly ride off-road saves you the cost and hassle of replacing exhaust parts later and time off the bike.