Motorcycle Exhaust Care: Bluing, Cleaning and Repacking
Preventing Your Muffler From Turning Blue
Thanks to heat cycles and pollutants, almost every exhaust will see discoloration. To give an example, heat will turn chrome pipes blue. There isn't a sure-fire way to prevent bluing, but chrome polish will keep it at bay. Stainless steel pipes turn gold from the heat cycles. Again, the best defense is a regular application of stainless polish. Aluminum and Titanium exhausts often turn blue, purple and gold. Sometimes, you’ll see all three colors in a spectrum. And just to be totally redundant, I’ll say that polish is a decent solution.
These processes are accelerated for motorcycles that run too hot. So, keeping your bike in good tune is a great way to prevent exhaust bluing. It also helps to pick an exhaust with double walls or heat shields. In both cases, the visible exterior of the exhaust is designed to stay cool. Thus, it won’t change color as much.
How to Turn Your Muffler Blue
Of course, some people love exhaust discoloration. Personally, I find it makes motorcycles look more raw and aggressive.
As mentioned earlier, exhaust bluing is the child of heat and pollution. Messing around with pollutants is a bad idea, and de-tuning your bike so that it runs extra hot is - to put it gently - moronic. The best way to encourage bluing is to never polish your exhaust, go for plenty of spirited rides, and be patient.
Many riders will detach their muffler in order to attack it with a blowtorch. And yes, artificial heating will probably turn titanium pipes blue. But if you try this trick with carbon fibre and chrome pipes, things will go really bad (for reasons that should be obvious to you).
Of course, this kind of thing will void every warranty in the history of mankind. And since each pipe, blowtorch and garage atmosphere is a bit different, I can't guarantee that it will even work. There's a real chance that your pipe will turn black, yellow, or some other unfortunate color.
As a final caution, beware of warping. If you dump the red-hot tip into a bucket of water, it's almost guaranteed to change shape. And even if you don't, the artificial heat cycle can still bend an exhaust pipe. So if you find that your sweet blue pipes won't fit onto your motorcycle anymore, don't say we didn't warn you!
How to Clean a Muffler
Muffler cleaning varies, depending on the material that you chose.
Cleaning Carbon Fiber Mufflers:
- Use mild dish-washing or motorcycle soap only. Harsher chemicals will damage the finish.
Cleaning Titanium Mufflers:
- Use mild motorcycle soap only. Abrasives and de-greasers will damage the finish.
Cleaning Stainless Steel and Aluminum Mufflers:
- Use polish to clean and restore the shine.
- To prevent rusting, use rubbing alcohol to remove road salt.
Repacking Your Aftermarket Motorcycle Muffler
Most aftermarket mufflers require repacking. Road mufflers are typically repacked every 11,000-16,000 kilometers. On the other hand, off-road mufflers require frequent repacking. For some models, it's as often as every 6-8 riding hours.
Signs of deteriorated packing include muffler discoloration, heat spots and unusually loud exhaust noises. Failure to repack your muffler can result in overly high temperatures, which can damage metal finishes and melt carbon fiber resins.