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 (the bits at the front that you see coming out of each side of the front of the engine, often referred to as headers or 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 Remus header set paired with a Unit Garage low level exhaust.
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 100 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. Between the headers and end can/link pipe, BMW fit a mechanical flap in order to keep the noise levels down on the bike. 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. Do bear in mind that if you fully remove the exhaust flap then you will need a small link pipe and, more importantly, the bike dash will ping up a fault code because it can't find a servo flap sensor reading, to eliminate this simply plug in a Servo Buddy.
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?
Realistically, remapping isn't going to be a necessity. If you're only going to be fitting a new end can then it really wouldn't be worth the effort or additional cost. Most full systems are designed to naturally work with the bike with no extra work required, however if you do want to maximise your new addition then you may want to consider giving the bike a boost at this stage. We recommend the RapidBike EVO as it can be fitted at home in around 2-4 hours (depending on how particular you are with tidying wires as you go) and uses an adaptive system which monitors the bike sensors and redelivers the signals to the ECU, which works with the bike to produce a stronger power delivery akin to the newer liquid cooled boxers. 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). Lastly, you could look at a RapidBike Easy or a Booster Plug, both of which are designed to assist the bike in running a little rich which will make it feel smoother but it's only a halfway house and not as good as the other options.