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Posts Tagged ‘Exhaust’

joining metal exhaust line components

Joining metal exhaust line components

In the exhaust business there are tradeoffs between looks and performance.  

We all know that an exhaust system design has a big impact on engine performance.  Header pipe diameter, bend radius, pipe length, muffler volume and design of the baffle all effect performance.

We’re seeing a lot of innovation in fabricating from lightweight stainless steel, carbon steel, aluminum, chromoly along with coated high temperature ceramic exhaust systems.

There is a French based company (Faurecia) in the small town of Dexter, Missouri that specializes in emission control technology and manufactures exhaust systems for the auto industry.  Through-out the years they’ve also made exhaust components for Harley-Davidson.

Faurecia - Dexter, Missouri

Faurecia – Dexter, Missouri

According to this reportthe company recently won a contract to manufacture exhaust systems for the newly designed Harley-Davidson – 2017 “Slingshot” series – which is currently in the planning stage.  This is an exhaust system for the next generation of Harley-Davidson’s motorcycles and Faurecia works closely with the Harley new product teams to get them industrialized at the Dexter plant.

Faurecia is an innovative company and has developed what amounts to “noise-canceling headphones” for tail pipes.  It’s not clear if H-D is looking to implement this technology on the 2017 products?

Faurecia engineering veteran, Phil LeBeau was quoted in the report saying; “The current series that we’ve been manufacturing for Harley-Davidson in Dexter has remained the same for about seven years,” he explains. “They just went through a re-design. What’s coming is the replacement for Harley’s FL series. 

I’ve seen reports in 2013 about Polaris developing a (side-by-side) trike called the “Slingshot,” but have no more information on the Harley-Davdison 2017 “Slingshot” series.  If I get additional data I’ll update this post.

Photos courtesy of Faurecia. 

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H-D Brake Light Switch

Harley-Davidson issues a recall notice, NHTSA Campaign ID Number 11V506000NHTSA, earlier in the week.  The component in question is the brake light switch.

According to the recall report excessive heat from the exhaust may cause the switch to not activate the brake lamp or activate the brake lamp when no brake is applied and/or cause a brake fluid leak at the brake light switch.  H-D is recalling certain model year 2009 – 2012 Touring, CVO Touring and Trike motorcycles manufactured from June 6, 2008 – September 16, 2011.
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The list of affected models is significant and the potential number of units is over 250,000.  H-D will notify owners and dealers will install a rear brake light switch kit free of charge.  The recall is expected begin on or about October 31, 2011.  Owners may contact H-D at (414)343-4056 or go to NHTSA for more information.
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Photo courtesy of H-D.
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Over the weekend a riding buddy had a dealer remove the stock exhaust system and along with some engine work he upgraded the bike to a Vance & Hines Pro Pipe 2-into-1 performance exhaust.  The Pro Pipe includes tuned length stepped headers with a highly efficient merge collector that feeds into the stepped megaphone design.  The new Pro Pipe is not a mellow sounding exhaust and although I didn’t measure the DBA’s, it likely pushes the limits on noise-emissions when you roll on the throttle.  The exhaust has no catalytic converter and missing from the new chrome are U.S. Environmental Protection Agency labels/stamps.

Speaking of the EPA…  On Monday the California Senate passed SB 435 by a vote of 21-16 and it’s now on Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s desk.

The bill makes it a crime to operate a motorcycle manufactured after Jan. 1, 2013, that fails to meet federal noise-emission control standards. Motorcyclists whose vehicles lack the proper U.S. Environmental Protection Agency label would be subject to a fine.

It’s not clear that this bill will do much to address excessive sound or reduce emissions, but it seems to unfairly target motorcycle owners.

For example, it’s not practical in a real world traffic stop situation to locate the federal label due to the inconsistent location of the lable and in turn may well result in unwarranted citations.  In addition, after-market exhaust systems (which are not always louder than stock systems) can be installed for a variety of legitimate reasons. A stock exhaust can wear out over time, be damaged, unavailable or prohibitively expensive.  Motorcyclists would be forced to purchase Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts, while automobile drivers will continue to be allowed to install exhaust components from non-OEM sources.

And what happens if you don’t live in CA and are considering a ride to the State.  Or maybe you’ll be passing through a small part of the state on the way to Reno Street Vibrations 2013.  Will you be unable to ride your motorcycle there because of this law or worry about being unfairly ticketed?

It’s important to note that the state of California often sets the tone for the nation in passing legislation where the other 49 states end up drafting behind.  This bill looks to drive up the cost of ownership and might be punitive for every rider while doing little or nothing to actually address the issue of excessive motorcycle sound.  Governor Schwarzenegger owns multiple motorcycles, but most believe he will sign this bill into law.

Then it’s only a matter of time for other states to follow…

Photo courtesy of Vance & Hines.

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South_Park

South Park Episode 12 - Harley Hatin'

Life imitates art or is it the other way round?  It turns out the “inconsiderate douche bag’s on Harley’s” are creating noise as they ride up and down the street wrecking everyone’s quite time on South Park.

It’s a protest movement in Season 13, episode 1312, where Cartman calls out a pack of bikers whose loud Harleys prove most irritating for the height challenged, truth-blurting, foul-mouthed characters. As the motorcycle noise escalates, the so-called “kids” take the matter into their own hands with graffiti and lobbying to have the dictionary definition of the term “f*g” changed to “annoying, inconsiderate Harley riders.”

There’s been plenty of Harley hatin’ on this blog comments section about raucous exhausts and loud bikes.  And regardless of your stance on the noise debate as to whether or not loud pipes do anything for safety, you’ll likely find humor (or irritation) in this episode that’s become rather controversial.  So much controversy in fact, that the New York Times has reported a gay advocacy group is protesting the episode.

Watch the 22-minute show here.  The show adds a new dimension to the anti H-D stance and I’m sure someone in the motor company is reevaluating advertisement placements.

UPDATE: 12.18.09 — Viacom has pulled down the YouTube versions of the episode under copyright issues and now the South Park site states “Due to pre-existing contractual obligations, we cannot stream this episode until 12.05.09”… It’s all about $$.  If you can’t wait then do a Google search as there are versions of it out on the internet.

Photo courtesy of Comedy Central/South Park.

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Catalytic Convertors

Catalytic Convertors

Motorcycles are regulated under section 202 of the Clean Air Act.  It stipulates that the EPA needs to achieve equivalent emission reductions from both motorcycles and other vehicles as much as possible.

It’s not a well known fact, but according to the EPA many of today’s motorcycles produce more harmful emissions per mile than driving a car or even a large SUV. The current federal motorcycle emission standard for hydrocarbon emissions is about 90 times the hydrocarbon standard for today’s passenger cars.  And the current California hydrocarbon standard is about 20 times the current federal passenger car limits.   Harley-Davidson has had catalytic convertors (called “cats”) on all California and international (Euro III) models for a few years.   In fact, 87% of all motorcycles sold in CA., during 2008 were equipped with catalytic converters.

However, Harley-Davidson has now put precious metals — catalytic convertors — in all 2010 models shipped.   This is designed to help them meet the EPA specs and get them through 2011.

Cats have 3 main functions.  Turn hydrocarbons into water and carbon dioxide; the nitrogen oxides into nitrogen and oxygen; and the carbon monoxide into carbon dioxide.  To do so either one or a combination of three precious metals, platinum, palladium or rhodium is used. Conventional automobile cats are made from ceramics, but motorcycles use converters made from nickel and other metals that can better withstand vibrations.  The weight of the devices and the high price of the metals has previously limited them to larger and more expensive motorcycles.  However, a company in Japan (F.C.C. Co.), whose leading share holder is Honda has devised a catalytic converter made from paper and they hope to commercialize the product next year at a price point that enables them even on scooters.  See HERE (in Japanese – .pdf).

LOGO - EPA B&WWe all know that modifying or customizing your ride is an integral part of owning one, but removing cats for performance purposes may no longer be an option.  Many States prohibit exhaust modifications that increase emissions although they don’t have specific laws about removing catalytic converters.  There have been attempts to mandate motorcycle “safety” inspections, but they have failed as it’s seen as a vail attempt to monitor motorcycle owners and any modifications to the exhaust systems.  In the auto world there are a number of “aft-cat” exhaust systems.  I haven’t seen as much (for example slip-on’s) for motorcycles, but for cars its basically an aftermarket replacement for your car’s factory exhaust, “after” the catalytic converter.  Bassani is a major player in this space.

I believe the H-D 2010’s went out with a four-wire O2 sensor which is sometimes referred to as a narrow band. They switched to a heated narrow band sensor on the 2010s, which is why there are extra wires.  Previously you could do exhaust mods on your ride and not trip the check engine light or set off a trouble code. I’m curious if anyone has completed mods on a 2010 model or if they’ve had issues with tripping the check engine light?  I imagine there are or will be new maps, but all of these variables makes it more difficult and expensive to obtain high-quality performance exhaust tuning.

More information on motorcycle hydrocarbon etc., at: EPA (.pdf).

Photo courtesy of EPA and of BHLJ (Beihai Huihuang Langjie).

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DenverColorado.  Well known for its magnificent scenery of mountains, rivers and plains.

Harley-Davidson management determined that the Rocky Mountain region with 53 peaks above 14K feet was the perfect place to hold the Summer Dealer Meeting in the Gold Rush mining town of – Denver. Later this week (July 25th) dealers will get revved up to ride the new 2010 models and discuss next year’s sales strategies.  At the same time Denver merchants will all be smiling as they enjoy a big boost from the ~1000 H-D reps and company personnel attending the meetings who will open wallets and infuse significant $$ into the local economy.

Wait!  Wasn’t Denver the city that passed one of the most unfriendly ordinances against motorcycle noise?!  Sure enough the city leaders passed a stringent ordinance (Chapter 36 of municipal code) to keep motorcycle “noise” at or below 82 decibels.  Most non-stock Harley’s idle at about 102 decibels with aftermarket exhaust pipes!  I’m not advocating obnoxious noise, but the ordinance also requires motorcycles made after 1982 to carry an EPA compliance seal or sticker displayed on the exhaust pipes verifying that the pipes have not been modified and are in compliance with the ordinance.  Essentially it’s stock exhaust or literally pay the consequence.

Not to worry — the Denver police have gone through extensive “exhaust sound training” to enforce the new ordinance.  Sure enough, 9News.com reported that an officer will make the determination if a motorcycle is louder than what motorcycles “should sound like” based on their experience and training and will initiate a traffic stop to inspect for the EPA compliance stamp.  Good grief –  reading that made me take a moment of pause and reflect on the legal system…  I could rant on about boom boxes, helicopters flying over neighborhoods, trash/waste trucks at 4:30am, high-pitched exhaust on imports, construction noise and festival events with loud music, but won’t.  It’s common knowledge that a lot of bikers (many who are affluent business people) have voiced opposition and totally avoid Denver now…and taking their $$ with them to other biker friendly locations.

The ordinance clearly is an attempt to limit one specific group in the motorcycle community and I’m sure there may be some quieter neighborhoods as a result.  But, how ironic that Harley-Davidson would compensate a city that obviously finds motorcycles just plain intolerable.

Photo courtesy of Flickr

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I’m not from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or the California Air Resources Board (CARB).  I know very little about the Federal Clean Air Act emission standards.  But, I do know enough about marketing to be suspicious when I see “spin” coming from Harley about noise abatement and that “good” mufflers absorb and attenuate noise levels from the motor.  Now I’m being told how I should drive while in my neighborhood or further risk increased regulatory measures to control motorcycle noise.

This all started a while ago, but I started to be suspicious a couple years ago when Harley discontinued manufacturing ‘Screamin’ Eagle’, non street-legal exhaust pipes and then started the subtle campaign against loud exhaust pipes. The first effort was directed at/through dealers, with posters and literature that attempted to educate dealers and riders about the negative consequences of loud pipes.

For me the Harley riding experience is the sum total of the Harley `Look,’ ‘Sound’ and ‘Feel.’  And one of the biggest parts of the riding experience is the classic sound of the bike.  Harley’s challenges related to noise and emissions regulations may seem inconsequential to you as a rider, but more stringent European (EEC) noise limits and the development of future motorcycles need to meet lower future regulations and the end result of this debate, however, will directly affect how you shop or what you buy.  Whatever technology manufacturers use to reduce noise emissions, it is likely to affect the power and price of equipment you will purchase in the coming years.  The cost of compliance is high and in order to comply, all riders may have to sacrifice something in power and should be aware that the new regulations will inevitably lead to tradeoffs.

The primary business of the Harley Motorcycles segment is to design, produce and sell premium heavyweight motorcycles.  Most all of the recent 96/96B motor displacement and transmission redesigns have been to maintain regulatory compliance in ALL markets.   That’s a big deal as approximately a third of all new motorcycle sales are outside the U.S., with Japan, Germany, and Canada, in that order, representing the Company’s largest export markets and account for approximately 51% of export sales.

The U.S. allows higher noise levels for motorcycles than in other regions and countries.  As a result, the ever so subtle marketing campaign Harley initiated about riders being “courteous” in neighborhoods and down playing the significance of 3rd party exhaust pipes.  In fact they are discouraging 3rd party exhaust pipes.  Are they doing this because they care about your neighborhood?  No!  They know government regulations have a materially adverse impact on their capital expenditures, earnings, or competitive position.  Harley will have to make the lowest common denominator bike.  Meaning they will have to comply with the most stringent noise emissions and sale that across the U.S.  For example, last year Denver, CO passed legislation using label match-up enforcement.  The police can ticket a motorcyclist if a bike made after 1982 has a muffler lacking a mandatory factory U.S. Environmental Protection Agency noise certification stamp.

Do you think Harley is really monitoring the growth of anti-noise ordinances that target motorcyclists or is this another way of gaining market segment share in the $2.8 Billion after market muffler, accessories and riding apparel market?  The day is coming my friends where an enjoyable ride will sound like an idling Toyota Prius and people wondering if it’s running.

Exhaust photo courtesy of West Coast Choppers

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