Pros: Better sound; Better performance; Better looking than factory pipes
Vance & Hines Big Shots Staggered Mufflers
Vance & Hines are aftermarket manufacturers that make mufflers that fit several brands of motorcycle; in my case Harley-Davidson motorcycles and there are separate lines available for each model. These pipes are for Softail cruisers like my Harley Heritage Classic, but they also make them for metric bikes like Yamaha, Honda, Suzuki, and Kawasaki.
Why would a person want to change mufflers on a brand new motorcycle? Wouldn't he just want to take it out and run the snot out of it? Yes, but - the reason lies in the way motorcycles come factory tuned. Due to EPA regulations (no thank you to the government) the motors are set very lean in the air-fuel ratio; hence the bike runs much hotter because this reduces the emissions that have become a driving force in engine design. A byproduct of this leaner running is lesser performance and lower noise level, too. So the three good reasons you replace the factory pipes are 1) they run cooler; 2) they make more power; and 3) they sound much better.
To recap: unless a new vehicle meets the EPA emission standards it cannot be sold so the bikes are sold with very restrictive exhaust systems and tuning that ensures the emissions are low enough to pass the standard. There are also noise standards and these standards include not only exhaust noise levels but mechanical noise levels from motor parts clashing like cams, lifters, and valves so bikes are built to much tighter tolerances today than ever before. A byproduct of all this lean tuning and tight parts fit is heat - more heat than an air cooled engine should have to take.
The buyer wants to restore the performance that lurks just below the surface of one of these powerful cruisers, reduce the high temperature, and get a bit better sound, too. Thankfully the owner can do that simply by replacing the standard mufflers and in some cases pipes, using an unrestricted air cleaner, and tuning the bike to provide a bit richer fuel air mixture. All these changes will make the bike cooler running and unleash the performance that is hidden underneath the stock tuning.
Vance & Hines have been making performance exhaust systems for Harleys long enough to have earned a solid following and repeat customers like yours truly. The pipes I chose for my Heritage Softail Classic are the Big Shots. The pipes give the Harley a deeper more satisfying sound than the factory mufflers and about ten more horsepower that can be felt in the seat of your pants when you twist the throttle. The sound is louder than standard and makes the bike sound very nice but may be a little loud for some so try listening to a few Harleys with Big Shots before you make your decision. From a rider perspective the extra ponies give the bike a better throttle response around town and help you accelerate to pass when on the road.
The pipes are chrome plated and have a power chamber baffle design with two into one racing performance while maintaining an exterior look of two individual pipes. The pipes are covered by a 2 ½" chrome plated heat shield with billet slash tips to make a very impressive looking addition to your motorcycle's appearance. Because of the chambered design, the hot gases never hit the exterior skin of the pipes thereby preventing them from bluing, making them look great for a long time. The open ends of the pipes are slash cut and staggered for good looks.
You can install these yourself using common hand tools or have a local independent motorcycle mechanic install them if not your local dealer. The pipes will cost around $625.00 for the part and the installation will take about an hour if you are paying for it; probably more if you do it yourself. Note that the two pipes are different with one for the front and the other for the back cylinder.
To take full advantage of the better breathing the bike will need tuning which is best left to a dealer or independent cycle mechanic to adjust the Electronic Fuel Injection control map.
As a rider, I think the performance gain is worth the trouble and expense of changing the pipes and air cleaner and tuning the bike. The Harley Softail runs a lot better and is more enjoyable to ride with the new changes!