This Blog relates to the 2021-23 fly-by-wire model BMW R9T, to read about upgrades for the 2014-20 model, please visit our Blog here.
Few modifications get riders as excited as an exhaust upgrade. We might have differing reasons for looking to change the original pipes - louder, more power, new aesthetic, weight saving - but I'm sure most would agree that fitting a new exhaust to their R9T is one of the most emotive of all the mods we can carry out.
We thought we'd run through a few things you might want to consider if you're looking at putting your pipes under the knife.
1. Which bits should I replace?
In an ideal world we would always go for a full system, i.e. replacing both ends of the exhaust. The BMW R nine T exhausts can be split into two main parts:
- the front manifold (also 'headers', the bits at the front that you see coming out of each side of the front of the engine, often referred to as the downpipes)
- the silencer (the bit on the back below the pillion seat, often called the muffler or end can).
The reason we prefer to do this is because you can add a few ponies and save a significant amount of weight by choosing to get rid of the catalytic converter in the original BMW exhaust manifold. Going for a full system will often give a better, throatier noise to your bike. The downside is the cost; you'll probably be looking at doubling the cost of your exhaust swap. Is it worth it? If you have the resources, then it's a no-brainer. For reference, all of the BMW R9T headers are the same regardless of model, so purchase with confidence. Our current favourite combo is the Unit Garage header set paired with a Unit Garage low level exhaust, or the G&G Low Box full system.
2. Can I just change the rear end can?
Absolutely, it's one of the easiest modifications you can do and can give great results and that super satisfying feeling of achieving. Before ordering, make sure you're adding a plug and play option, as opposed to a 'universal' option, as most plug and plays will be a very easy fit (all of ours are). By contrast, if you're ordering anything 'universal' then make sure you think about brackets and how the rear end can will attach to the bike. Ideally, go for something R9T specific as it'll save you time, effort and stress in the first place. Pay attention to the angle/direction of the exhaust clamps as you take the original off; you'll want to fit them in the same way when the exhaust goes back on.
3. Does it need to have removable baffles?
Loud exhausts can sound great and are amazing for 50 mile blats around country roads. If this is your sole intention for the bike, then I'd say that you can happily go for whatever floats your boat - just be careful of it being too obnoxious that you attract the attention of the authorities. For touring or longer journeys, I'd recommend finding something that you can mute a little. Specifically designed removable baffles are generally easy to extract and install again, and can save your hearing on a long ride - and your pillion's!
4. Do I need the exhaust flap?
Short answer, no, removing this flap will simply make the bike a smidgen louder all the way through the rev range. Other added benefits to removing it are that these flaps were prone to seizing on the GS/RT and were costly to replace, that it'll save you a tiny bit of weight and that some reckon it'll add a touch of power - I can't vouch for any proven data on that last one but it does sound good. Unfortunately, you cannot remove the flap separately on the 2021+ models because it is a solid part of the headers - you'll need to replace the headers to get rid of the flap.
5. Do I need to buy new brackets?
Most BMW R9T aftermarket exhausts, full systems and end cans come with the correct brackets to fit their products, however there are a couple of considerations to be made here. It sounds a bit obvious once you say it aloud (or read it here) but you need to make sure that the exhaust you are looking at fitting is going to work with your specific model. For example, the pillion subframe with exhaust mount bracket is different on the Scrambler to the other models of R9T. Some exhausts can be made to fit using different brackets, others are just never going to go (without some serious fab work). Check with the retailer (ideally us!) or the manufacturer if you have any doubts. Secondly, there are some great aftermarket brackets out there which are cheaper and significantly prettier that the BMW option - the best example of this is one of our favourite products, the Unit Garage low level exhaust mounting bracket. The round, powdercoated finish matches the frame and just looks so much better than the silver, angular design of the BMW - in our opinion.
6. Can I do this myself?
Yep, of course you can. Changing the exhaust isn't the toughest job, you'll come across on a BMW, not by a long way. All it requires is a sensible amount of prep work. Do you have the parts ready (all of them? are you sure?), the right tools for the job (grab a torx set from T20-T55 and a socket set for cover 10mm-17mm, just in case) and ideally a rear wheel (paddock) stand. The paddock stand isn't a be-all-and-end-all but it will make certain parts of the swap a lot easier. We would recommend have a set of exhaust gaskets to hand too, just in case. For all of the torque settings you're going to need along the way, refer to our handy Torque Setting PCC Blog.
7. Do I need a remap?
Most full systems are designed to naturally work with the bike with no extra work required, however they will be drawing more air from the engine that the OEM system so you might want to consider giving the bike a boost at this stage. For a quick fit at home, we recommend the RapidBike SMART as it can be fitted at home in around 1-2 hours (depending on how particular you are with tidying wires as you go). The SMART is d esigned to assist the bike in running a little richer which will make it feel smoother. Our preference is to use our remapping agents, RS2E in Germany, to add a whole host of power and goodies - you can read more about this by clicking here. This is without doubt the best mod for the 2021-23 R9T outside of a suspension upgrade. Alternatively, you could look into seeing if your local tuner can fit a Power Commander, this requires set up by a pro and a dyno (rolling road).