MOTOCROSS ACTION PRODUCT TEST: VANCE HINES KTM 450SXF XCR SLIP-ON EXHAUST
WHAT IS IT? The cheapest high-performance motocross exhaust you can buy for the KTM 450SXF.
WHAT’S IT COST? $299.00.
WHAT’S IT DO? You might be too young to remember Terry Vance as one of the greatest motorcycle drag racers in history. Terry and tuning-genius partner Byron Hines turned their attention to their Vance Hines exhaust pipe company full time when Terry’s racing career wound down. Two years ago, Vance Hines absorbed the White Brothers offroad exhaust business.
It wasn’t a perfect match at first. The White Brothers had built their fame in motocross, while VH specialized in road racing (as Yamaha’s official factory Superbike team for almost a decade) and drag racing. But after the wrinkles were ironed out, Vance Hines elected to go whole hog into the motocross performance business.
Unlike many of their competitors in motocross, Vance Hines decided to focus on building affordable slip-on exhaust systems for Yamahas, Kawasakis, Hondas, Suzukis and KTMs. Vance Hines believes that the stock OEM head pipes, often made from titanium, are more than adequate for the job, so they focus on what happens after the head pipe (although they do make head pipes and complete systems, MXA focused on the KTM 450SXF slip-on).
The MXA wrecking crew decided to equip our 2010 KTM 450SXF with a Vance Hines XCR slip-on to see if an under-$300 exhaust could deliver the performance we were looking for.
WHAT STANDS OUT? Here’s a list of things that stand out with the Vance Hines XCR slip-on exhaust system.
(1) Installation. Nothing could be easier. When you don’t have to mess with the exhaust flange or head pipe, a lot of the hassles of changing pipes disappear (especially on the KTM, where removing the pipe often means removing the shock).
(2) Dyno numbers. On the dyno, it produced less than one horsepower more at peak, but it was one horsepower stronger from 5000 rpm to 7000 rpm, and produced two to three more horsepower from 9500 rpm to 11,5000 rpm.
(3) Performance. The stock KTM 450SXF is a unique motocross bike in that it builds power slowly off the bottom and then magnifies it tenfold as it turns into a midrange monster. Every MXA test rider felt that the Vance Hines pipe added a decent layer of power off idle into the midrange and really cooked on into the top (from 9000 rpm to sign-off).
The VH XCR slip-on actually enhanced the weakest part of the KTM’s powerband by pumping up the low-to-mid transition, and that got the big Katoom into the meat of the powerband quicker and let it pull harder on top.
(4) Options. We tested the XCR slip-on, but VH also make a stainless/aluminum system (with stainless head pipe) for $499.00 and the Ti Pro titanium system (with titanium head and canister) for $849.95.
(5) Slip-ons. The KTM is the hardest pipe to build a slip-on for. Why? KTM’s stock head pipe is a one-piece unit with its midpipe.
Thus, an aftermarket slip-on only gets to change about six inches of midpipe length and the muffler’s length, core size and volume.
(6) Sound. It was very quiet at 94.5 dB (although the stocker was actually quieter). VH is very conscientious about making quiet pipes.
WHAT’S THE SQUAWK? We expected a bigger power gain, because the VH slip-ons that we tried on CRFs, KX-Fs, RM-Zs and YZ-Fs have produced power gains that rival many complete systems. KTM’s unique one-piece head/midpipe cuts down on the tuning options.
Although not a stump puller of a pipe, at $299.00 the horsepower gain is nothing to sneeze at. It improves the feel of the 450SXF’s powerband and is an affordable way to gain power.
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