Typical Stock Harley Cracked Head Pipe
No I’m not talking about drugs, I’m talking about cracks in you exhaust system. Any motorcycle exhaust system can develop fractures, stress cracks, and fatigue related failure due the tremendous heat and vibration created by the Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Many, if not most, experienced (say wise) motorcycle riders perform routine inspections on their two-wheelers as a matter of habit.
Checking your exhaust headers on a regular basis will allow you find the little problems before they become big problems. A perfect example follows; a 2001 Harley-Davidson Road Glide FLTRI with stock head pipes arrived at the Samson shop. The owner had removed the heat shields a few years prior. At that time the exhaust looked perfectly O.K.! Now, as the rear heat shield was removed for inspection, a large crack was noticed at the juncture of the right-side pipe, and the cross-over pipe coming from the rear cylinder head. This specific location is well known for cracks and other failures with the stock Harley-Davidson head-pipes. Why….? Because this location as you can see in the photo is constantly subjected to high exhaust temperatures at almost twice the volume of a single right-side pipe. Although it may be a pain in butt to remove the hardware to get a few heat shields off for a proper head-pipe inspection! It is well worth the effort as evidenced in the photo shown here. Hiding behind that beautiful chrome was a performance robbing crack. This particular crack was not only causing the exhaust gases to leak, it also created the potential for cold-air to be sucked into the pipe with the possibility to cause warped exhaust valves. What are the symptoms of a cracked head pipe? You may at first notice an occasional back-fire, or popping noise when decelerating. Or maybe the chrome heat shields have begun to discolor. If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s a good idea to remove the heat shields and perform a thorough inspection of the head pipes, stock or otherwise.
The owner of the cracked head pipe seen here, replaced his exhaust system with Samson Exhaust part number FL-325 (FL-224 head Pipe set, and M-159CB slip-on mufflers). Problem solved …more ponies, and head turning Samson sound!