Best exhaust for the Yamaha YZF R3 - Ultimate Review

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The Yamaha YZF-R3, known more commonly as the “R3,” is a sport motorcycle that has been manufactured by Yamaha since 2015. A first on Yamaha twins, the R3 uses an offset cylinder design. The YZF-R3 got updated for 2019.

Table of contents:

  1. Why should you replace your factory exhaust?
  2. How do aftermarket performance exhausts improve the YZF R3 performance?
  3. What type of exhaust should I get?
  4. Best exhausts for YZF R3
  5. Will my bike pass inspection with an aftermarket exhaust?
  6. How loud will it be?
  7. I heard I need to change my fuel delivery setup, too – true?
  8. How do I keep my pipes from turning different colors?
  9. How hard is to install a YZF R3 exhaust?
  10. What about staying legal? What about C.A.R.B?
  11. What do I need to know before I order?

Before checking our recommendation, we need to tell you that your YZF R3 is fitted with an exhaust for few reasons:

  • They send combustion gases away from rider and passenger.
  • They muffle noise, making it reasonably quiet.
  • They help the engine perform better.
 

1. Why should you replace your YZF R3 factory exhaust?

Your YZF R3 probably came with an exhaust system already on it. So why would you change it? There’s a bunch of good reasons to replace the stock YZF R3 exhaust:

Make it faster: The YZF R3 is actually pretty fast, however manufacturers had to meet a budget. That means that they might have been unable to product the best motorcycle exhaust pipes for your bike.

Make it lighter: Replacing, for example a big, steel system with an aftermarket titanium unit with a single short muffler can yield 15 pounds of more of weight. That can be 5% of the total motorcycle weight. Dropping the weight can be as good as increasing horsepower.

Save money: Usually OEM exhaust systems costs a lot more than aftermarket exhausts. So you’ll have your OEM exhaust secured while you ride with your aftermarket one.

Make it scream: You can change your bike sound, like from a sewing machine to afire-breathing monster.

 

2. How do aftermarket performance exhausts improve the YZF R3 performance?

Your engine can be thought of as a pump, moving a precisely metered mixture of air and fuel into itself, and moving burned air and fuel (exhaust) out. Improving that pumping efficiency is the most affordable way to pick up a few extra ponies. An exhaust that flows better will reduce the work the engine must perform when it expels exhaust gases, especially when coupled with improvements to the flow of air and fuel on the intake side.

 

3. What type of exhaust should I get for my Yamaha YZF R3?

Motorcycle exhaust systems typically come in one of two types:

  • Mufflers only (also called slip-on or bolt-on systems). This type of exhaust retains the factory headpipe(s) and replaces just the muffler.
  • Full System. This type of exhaust replaces everything from the head(s) to the back of the bike.

4. Best Exhausts for YZF R3

5. Will my bike pass inspection with an YZF R3 aftermarket exhaust?

Some states have different requirements, our recommendation is to get an answer from your local police department, inspection station, state department or motorcycle shops.

 

6. How loud my bike will be?

Well, that depends on a few things. Nearly every aftermarket exhaust is louder than the factory exhaust. Some of the performance gain depends on not needing to silence the bike. If the exhaust is too loud, some manufacturers offer quieter baffles that you may install to bring the volume of the bike closer to stock.

Most of the YZF R3 exhausts often have a removable baffle in the tip of the muffler (commonly referred to as a dB killer) that can be removed or installed for similar manipulation of sound levels. Performance is usually unaffected by the presence or lack of these baffles.

 

7. I heard I need to change my fuel delivery setup on YZF R3, too — true?

The answer depends on a lot of things. What kind of exhaust you have, and how you want your bike to behave! As a general rule, most slip-on or “muffler-only” exhaust systems do not require alterations in the fuel delivery, but even a bone-stock factory motorcycle will benefit from fuel management changes.

If you are purchasing a full exhaust system, most manufacturers strongly recommend fuel system changes. Effectively, the exhaust helps the engine breathe better, but without adding more fuel to compensate for the greater ease with which the engine gets air, the ratio of fuel to air becomes imbalanced. That is known as a lean condition, which can make the temperature of the engine catastrophically high. Couple this situation with the fact that recent EPA regulations have been causing manufacturers to set bikes up quite lean from the factory, and a plan for poor performance and longevity is afoot!

Typically, “richening” the air-fuel mix (more fuel per amount of air) is done by purchasing a fuel controller for a fuel-injected motorcycle, or jet kits for carbureted bikes. A dyno run and tuning session is often in order, so if you are not an experienced tuner, consider these costs in your performance budget.

Before you purchase your exhaust, you might want to consider a few things:

  • Engine modifications work with each other. The sum of carefully selected parts usually leads to greater performance gains than any part offers individually.
  • Modifying your engine is very personal choice. Changing your bike to perform differently than the factory intended is possible and often desirable, but the changes must be made thoughtfully.
  • If you do not want to change your fuel delivery method, you may be best served by a simple slip-on system made by a manufacturer that does not require a fuel system change.

8. How do I keep my YZF R3 pipes from turning different colors?

The honest answer here is that you don’t. All pipes discolor to some degree, due to heating and cooling, the presence of environmental contaminants like tar, oil, and road debris, and the material the exhaust was created from. Stainless pipes, for example, turn gold. There is nothing wrong with this. It is a property of the alloy. Cruiser pipes often “blue,” especially near the heads. “Bluing” is a result of how the bike is running, not a defective finish. Camshaft choice, engine timing, carburetion, and other factors all affect exhaust temperature, the biggest determinant in keeping exhaust the color it was intended to be.

These are some of the best ways we at ZLA know of to keep exhaust looking brand-spankin’ new:

Make sure your bike is in a good state of tune. Properly gapped spark plugs and proper jetting go a long way to keeping pipes looking great.

Buy double wall pipes. Effectively a pipe within a pipe, the outer visible pipe never achieves the high temperatures the inner pipe does, thus leaving it stain-free.

Buy pipes with extensive heat shielding. Some brands of exhaust come with heat shields so voluminous, they appear to be the exhaust pipe. However, since there is a layer of cool ambient air between pipe and shield, the shields never attain the temperatures the inner pipe is subject to.

A word about wrapping your pipes with fiberglass tape: Originally seen on the dragstrips to keep exhaust temperatures high to improve exhaust velocities out of the exhaust, pipe wrapping has become popular on the street, due to its unique look. It can and does tend to hold moisture near the metal, thus speeding the oxidation process. Most manufacturers consider wrapping pipes to be “abuse” and typically do not warrant problems stemming from wrapped pipes. Do it at your own risk!

9. How hard is it to install a motorcycle exhaust on a YZF R3?

Well, it depends. How good a “wrench” are you? What kind of system are you installing?

The answers vary greatly. We’ve put bolt-on exhausts on a bike and gone riding on it in under 20 minutes. Consider your mechanical aptitude and understanding of the exhaust system and the related systems requiring disassembly to access the exhaust. Take stock of your tools on hand, and your ability to follow directions.

If any of these seem like obstacles, don’t be afraid to go to the mechanic and have a professional job done. Sometimes, an install from a competent shop for a fair price can give you peace of mind, while relieving you of any possible problems from an exhaust job that was tougher to tackle than originally estimated.

10. What about staying legal? What about C.A.R.B.?

Staying legal can be tricky. Ultimately, it’s up to each rider to follow the laws of the countries, states, and municipalities we live in, ride through, and visit. C.A.R.B. is the California Air Resources Board, and while not all riders fall under its jurisdiction, the laws it promulgates frequently have far-reaching effects for nearly all North American riders. 

 

11. What do I need to know before I order?

Before you order your exhaust you need to know a few things:

  • Year, make, model, and engine displacement are imperative. Guessing leads to the wrong parts being sent out.
  • An exhaust system usually includes just the pipes. Re-using gaskets works sometimes, but not every time. Fresh gaskets are always a good idea.
  • Hardware is another component that often suffers, as are oxygen sensors. Typically made of mild steel, hardware can rust, bind up, or break due to the heat cycling it receives over the course of its life, and oxygen sensors are often damaged to the point of unusability upon removal. Be prepared to find or purchase parts that may break while you are working, or purchase them beforehand. A word of caution: Oxygen sensors can be removed with normal wrenches, but specially designed sockets and wrenches exist and they typically extract sensors unbroken with a much higher degree of reliability than standard hand tools. Consider one!
  • Once an exhaust shows signs of being mounted, it is not typically returnable. We do not send out exhausts that have previously been installed. Consequently, we cannot take a return of one in such a state.
  • You need to know how an exhaust will work with your bike. An exhaust system is an aftermarket modification. They are usually made for stock motorcycles, so if your rig deviates from stock, the onus of responsibility for determining if two components will “play nicely” together must rest with you. If you have a question or concern, call us. If we don’t know, we’ll find out.
  • In a similar vein, some exhausts require modifications to your motorcycle. You may need to relocate components such as oxygen sensors, and possibly remove componentry like high-mount centerstands. Sometimes, directions can be less than explanatory, and light fabrication work can be required.
  • Finally, parts often must be reused. Brackets, side stand bumpers, flanges, and clamps are often pieces that need to be pressed into service once again. If yours are missing or damaged, you may need to obtain them from your dealer prior to your exhaust installation.