When it comes to getting more performance from your Harley-Davidson, we first have to ask: “How do you plan to ride your bike?” Performance can mean better fuel economy, better braking, better handling, faster off the line and/or faster top end speed.
Today we are focused on ways to increase horsepower.
A combustion engine is simply an air pump. The faster you can pump air in and out the more you will increase the performance. Efficiency is the key in the mixture of fuel and air to get that added torque and horsepower. If you open up the intake without any filtration, sure there is smooth inhale, but you also risk debris getting in the intake. Same with the exhale (exhaust), adding restrictors slows down that air pump. Although an open exhaust manifold isn’t what you want either. Engines rely on a bit of back pressure to increase torque. Torque is what you feel when you roll that throttle back.
Here are three things to do to get that maximum torque.
1: Increase intake by reducing restriction of airway.
Aftermarket filters and airbox’s are designed to create a more efficient flow to the intake. You can start with just replacing the filter with a less restrictive one. If you really want to add some hp’s then go for a complete airbox replacement. Some products offer a scoop style to grab that cool air as you are carving up the twisties.
For even more performance you might consider “power-adders” like turbo or supercharge systems.
2: Dial in the mixture.
You can do this in different ways depending on if your bike is carbureted or injected. With fuel injection bikes re-flashing the ECU or using an aftermarket tuning chip is suggested. The stock chip is factory-programmed to comply with emissions and fuel requirements. They can usually be re-flashed or mapped to open up performance. Aftermarket tuners like a Power Commander adjust the stock settings. The aftermarket tuners come in either pre-programmed for stock or slightly modified engines or more complex tuners where you can dial in settings at different ranges to increase performance at low, mid, and/or upper powerbands.
For carbureted engines, changing out the jets to dial in the right fuel/air mixtures. Most of your stock carburetors have jet kits available with a selection of jets for both main and pilot, a new needle, any needed shims, springs and a set of instructions and jetting guidelines.
3: Feel the roar with performance exhaust.
Usually one of the first modifications someone takes on their bike. We caution you to have some restraint. Going back to the beginning of this article. “How do you plan to ride your bike?” Not all aftermarket exhaust systems are the same. From cruising to drag racing the exhaust for your bike may take different turns. Also, if you plan to ride it in restrictive areas, a loud exhaust is becoming more and more a citation.
“Loud Pipes Saves Lives” OR DO THEY? I say not necessarily. Recognize that the notes of the exhaust are moving back behind you, where the people you need to be concerned with are in front of you and most likely have their windows rolled up and stereo or phone distracting any muffled sound outside.
When considering an aftermarket exhaust, the simplest form are “slip-on” mufflers or tail pipes which give a slight increase in the lower end of the powerband, look better and sound better. A full system will help dial in the right increase in performance. Do you go with a full dual exhaust, add a cross-over pipe, or a two-into-one system? Call the manufacturer of a pipe design you are considering. At Burns Stainless we are here to make sure you get the right pipe for the right purpose.
Burns Stainless CEO/Chief Engineer Vince Roman has dedicated his career in building performance exhaust systems for race teams from NHRA to Vintage Race Series. The Burns team has developed the X-Design Parametric Exhaust System to carefully gauge how your engine expels gasses and can enhance your performance. Where they do carry off the shelf slip-on mufflers, the power comes in a unified custom system built specifically for your needs.
We suggest you consider ALL of these suggestions together to get the most out of your bike. Airbox, ECU Tune/JET Kit, and full performance Exhaust kit. Call us first to help guide you through this awesome adventure and we will get you on the right path. Ride safe, ride often and ride with a smile!
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