The intention to write this article is to help our readers be aware of how to choose performance upgrades for their bikes. This blog is also to make the readers aware of how this system works and how to select an engine performance upgrade and not be fooled into buying something that does not work.What comes to the mind first, when you speak of a performance upgrade?A cool sounding exhaust system that let’s people know you are arriving even before you reach, followed by performance air filters, remapped EFI’s and upgraded carburettors, weight reduction to improve “Power to Weight” ratios and so on. Most of us are less aware of how and why these changes contribute to the enhanced power of the engine. Let us take you through the assumptions and misconceptions and share little bit facts so you know that all it takes to make a right decision is awareness and common sense.For easy understanding we’d like to compare the functioning of the Internal Combustion (IC) engines to the human body’s digestive system as both do a similar function of “Intake – Generate – Expel” and as a by product of this function creates energy for a variety of uses.IC engines are heat exchange systems where the power generated by the combustion of a fuel and air (oxygen) mixture in the engine’s combustion chamber is used to propel the vehicle for the desired work. The similar task in the human body would be intake of food and water to the stomach (chamber) where acids and bile juices undergo a chemical reaction to generate energy and heat.The gases or exhausts fumes are sent out from the combustion chamber, just like the digested food waste is expelled from the stomach once all energy is derived from the food. We are sure you are getting the point of why we compared the IC engine to the digestive system.When one wants to get into good shape, one needs to have both (good food intake and good workout). Just by doing either one good results would not be achieved. Similarly, for an engine to increase in performance it needs good intake (air & fuel mix) and good combustion that is result of proper engine tuning coupled with an exhaust that helps the combustion process. It is interlinked and inter dependent wherein either one alone would not yield results.Then a question comes up to be answered. “Just by replacing the stock parts with performance aftermarket parts does the engine not increase in power?” To some extent the answer is “Yes!!”, the aftermarket parts that are designed for higher efficiency when replaced from stock allows the engine to perform at its optimum capacity that the stock parts were restricting it from delivering. One more important stuff to be noted here is that the motorcycle manufacturing companies have to go by the law of the land in designing a motorcycle that conforms to the (power to weight) ratio to be called street legal, hence most of the aftermarket parts that enhances the power delivery of the engine may lead to make the motorcycle not street legal.We as humans are very different from one another and do want the same with our automobiles as well. We end up doing all these extra add-ons since some of us need touring specs, some need racing specs or just want to have the motorcycle sound and look unique. There maybe more than 1000 ways of doing these, and each choice is specific to the requirement of the rider.Let us talk about the common myths around performance upgrades (exhausts in particular)
We are sure you must have seen at least one Dyno Chart about the performance exhaust systems that are available for sale in the market. Yes, we agree that the Dyno charts show power delivery at different RPM’s of the engine, however there are a lot of false claim about the same with a promise to increase the power to specific BHP. Mostly the customer who is a normal rider doesn’t understand what the chart means, how to read it and comprehend and what are the assumptions of the readings on the dyno chart. All that is shown in the DYNO Charts is two readings with one having a significantly higher arc than the one which is to represent the stock readings. The dynamometer is a device to measure the force, torque or power produced by an engine and not about an exhaust/air filter or similar accessory. The dyno charts confuse the buyer to think that it is the exhaust that delivers the power which is incorrect. None of the information is revealed such as what is the engine capacity (350 cc or 500cc), Air filter used, Carb Re-jetting, high performance spark plugs, Catalytic converter present or not and so on. It’s sad to see how these tricks fool the consumer.Remember the “Fair & Handsome” ad?? Fairness cream is sold with these types of tricks where they simply show a guy who is already fair, look like he is dark and ugly and then just by applying the cream for a week he becomes a westerner. We all laugh at these type of false claim but somehow fall prey to it.On a Lighter note : We would also like to share a Dy(i)no Chart with you to tickle the funny bone in you 🙂 lol..
The engine constraints as mentioned earlier (possibly due to RTO norms on sound and pollution), do not allow the engines to run at it’s best capacity and hence would be performing little lesser than its optimum capacity. Changing and adding few aftermarket products that are linked to the engine’s performance make the engine breathe better and deliver the power it is supposed to if not with restrictions. Unless the capacity of the engines are altered with increasing the bore or altering the Carb jets and make it a fuel guzzling unit it is very unlikely to expect to see a huge shift in performance.
Power to Weight Ratio
An easiest method to increase your bikes power delivery is by reducing the weight of the motorcycle to arrive at a better power to weight ratio. The result by making your motorcycle light will mean that the engine now has lesser dead weight to carry with the same force it has been generating and hence will be easily able to deliver better pickup, better top speed and so on.Let us look at an example for simple understanding:Let’s assume a motorcycle weighs 100 kilos and engine delivers output of 20BHPs, meaning for every 10 kilos of the bike there is 2 BHPs equally distributed. If you increase the weight of the motorcycle by let’s say another 10 kilograms then the power distributed for every 10 kilos is 1.8 BHP which is negligible for a people who don’t race. But similarly if you decrease the weight by 10 kilos the power distributed for every 10 kilos is 2.2 BHP. Now if you increase the power of the vehicle by 3 BHP by keeping the weight of the motorcycle same as before i.e. 100 kilos you have 2.3 for every 10 kilos of the motorcycle. Which is almost the same as increasing/decreasing the weight of the motorcycle?
Most of these so called performance parts come with a disclaimer which no one tends to carefully read i.e disclaimers such as 1. All the above readings are all subject to controlled environmental conditions. 2. Along with the use of XYZ air filter 3. With recommended high octane fuel and so on. Hence what is claimed would not be what you get in most cases unless the so called “conditions apply” is taken into consideration.
Heat wraps / Exhaust wraps
Another product that is available in the market claiming to increase horsepower is the Exhaust Heat wraps. We would like to throw some light on this product too with the learnings we gathered partly from experience and partly from reading online. The Exhaust wraps that are mostly sold in India are made up of Glass Fiber strands. These are made with the materials that hold extreme temperature and still are fire resistant.The purpose of the exhaust wraps are :Trap the heat from escaping from within the bend pipe.Aesthetic appeal.Let’s look at the first reason in detail as the second one does not need any explanation.
Why do we need to trap the heat within the bend pipe and how does that help in performance?
Most of us have this question but few know the answer. Exhaust wraps does make a very marginal improvement to the performance that is only important for racers as .01 second lead may decide winning or loosing. The power enhancement achieved with exhaust wraps is negligible or irrelevant to a normal rider who uses the motorcycle for day to day commute or pleasure rides. Now let us see how does it make that small difference in performance and why.The exhaust wrap does not allow the heat from the bend pipe to escape or dissipate to the atmosphere and this ensures the exhaust gases that exit from the combustion chamber (engine) does not drop in temperature. The hotter the air is the lighter it is (we all know hot air is lighter than the cold) and the easier it is for the engine to push the gases out of the system and make way for more fresh mix of air fuel mixture for the next power stroke. This ensures that there is optimum mix of air fuel mixture from the carb or EFI and the explosion delivers more power that is transferred to the crankshaft and to the wheels. This is the science behind the wraps increasing the performance however the increase is very marginal and not easily noticeable.Mostly the wraps are sold and bought for aesthetic purpose or avoiding a burn from accidentally coming in contact with the bend pipe when it is hot. These wraps over time and due to wear and tear look ugly so we came up with something in stainless steel that would make it look cool forever called the “T Bone” (seen in the pic above).We at Barrel Exhaust make sure we always tell the customer only the truth and don’t sell them something with false claim.
That’s is one of the main reason our customers love us cos they know we follow very high standard of ethics.