Vrooom! Braaap! Budda-Budda! Riiiing-ding-ding-ding! No matter what sound your motorcycle makes, it defines a large part of the unique relationship between man and machine.
As EPA, noise, emissions, and other vehicle requirements tone down those gorgeous sounds we used to hear stock from our motorbikes, aftermarket exhausts are becoming a more and more popular investment. Of the dozens and dozens of motorcycles that TeamZilla rides, I would challenge you to find more than a handful that haven’t slipped-on or swapped out their exhaust system.
If you are looking at premium solutions to this problem, you have probably already stumbled upon both Leo Vince and Akrapovic and are wondering which you should choose. If you haven’t, then you definitely need to be introduced to these hard core brands as they contribute a large part of research and development to the science of exhaust systems.
Before we jump right into the key differences between these manufacturers, we will start off with a very brief overview of exhausts. For a more detailed lesson, check out our Motorcycle Exhaust 101 Class.
Aftermarket exhausts are offered in a slip-on system that is meant to replace just the stock muffler(s) and is designed to work with the stock air intake and fuel mapping. Exhaust manufacturers also offer full exhaust systems - which are usually restricted to off-road and track use only - that feature a lighter weight header pipe, a mid pipe that eliminates the stock catalytic converter, and come with a less restrictive muffler. Unlike slip-on exhausts, a full system exhaust is meant to be used with some sort of aftermarket, adjustable fuel controller and will require a different fuel map to run properly due to the increased exhaust flow out of the engine.
OPINION: In my experience, a slip-0n exhaust will work fine without any adjustments to the fuel mapping, but the engine can run a little lean and backfire on the overrun in high revs. A fuel controller is not required for a slip-on, but it can help smooth out the power and torque curves.
Looking at their pedigree, Leo Vince has been around for much longer, dating back to 1954. You’ll see their products used on a vast array of bikes, and they make plenty of appearances in motorcycle racing through WSBK, MotoGP, and other divisions. LeoVince is a subdivision of the largest powersports exhaust manufacturer in Europe, Sito Gruppo Industriale. Leo Vince develops new exhaust designs and fuel mapping on racetracks around the world through partnerships with teams at the highest level of motorsports. Leo Vince has seen great success in expanding into the dirt world, and Leo Vince X3 off-road exhausts can often be seen flying first over the finish line.
Akrapovic, on the other hand, has only been around since 1990, but has quickly stashed quite a smattering of championship titles under its belt. In 2012 alone, Akrapovic has won a combined 75 world championships in automotive and motorcycle racing series. In fact, this early success with manufacturer teams like Kawasaki, Yamaha, Suzuki, Ducati, and Honda is largely responsible for their quick growth.
Akrapovic was started by Slovenian motorcycle racer Igor Akrapovic. Mr. Akrapovic was sick and tired of so-called performance exhaust systems that did not deliver the gains he was looking for. As an accomplished motorcycle tuner, he began creating premium-quality exhausts that were bike-specific and fit better than anything else on the market at the time. In short order, Akrapovic exhausts took to the track, and started winning on an international level. Akrapovic’s first World Superbike Championship race win came in 1997, followed by their first World title in that series in 2000. By 2002, Akrapovic began working with MotoGP teams, and by 2004 they began working with the automotive racing industry in both Formula 1 and Endurance Racing.
Akrapovic has been continually expanding, and now makes exhausts for dirt bikes, custom choppers, Harleys, scooters, and cars. Akrapovič exhaust systems are some of the finest high-performance systems available on the market and the results they deliver have been validated in dozens of independent tests carried out by motorcycle magazines worldwide.
Opinion: Both Akrapovic and Leo Vince take racing very seriously. Both have multiple motorcycle championships on-road and off. Akrapovic have applied their expertise to the automotive world and have won LeMans with Audi.
The Leo Vince exhaust family is fairly simple to decipher; you have three exhausts that are either a slip-on or a full system, and two exhausts that are slip-on only. The SBK Factory and Factory R are the head of the Leo Vince exhaust family. The Factory R is only offered for certain bikes, and is tuned to beef up the power curve, boosting power where there are dips with the stock setup. The SBK Factory R system comes straight from factory World Superbike teams. The Factory and Factory R systems are available in a Corsa version for certain bikes, which uses a full titanium construction.
The LV-One exhaust is an entry-level slip-on or full system exhaust, and the GP Pro and GP Style are exclusively slip-on options. Leo Vince also offers underbody exhausts available for certain bike that come stock with underbody exhaust systems. Depending on the application, the Underbody exhaust could be a slip-on or a full system. All Leo Vince exhausts have a removable EVO II sound insert, and are designated by the EVO II added to the end of the product name
OPINION: Akrapovic and Leo Vince both make high quality exhausts. Akrapovic exhausts though arguably deserve a display at MoMA. Don’t believe me? Take a look at the Evolution exhaust for the Ducati Panigale.
When it comes to exhaust fitment, Akrapovic is even more straight forward. Akrapovic exhausts come in three flavors: Slip-on, Racing, and Evolution. The Slip-on range is exactly what it says on the box, an aftermarket muffler that replaces the stock silencer and slips right onto the stock mid pipe. This is the easiest way to get an aftermarket exhaust because of the relatively low cost of entry and simplicity of the installation. Akrapovic Slip-on exhausts come in either Titanium or Carbon Fiber.
The next level up from a Slip-on is the Racing Line. This is a full exhaust system that uses stainless steel construction for the headers and mid pipe. This significantly reduces the weight of the exhaust compared to the stock setup, and unlocks more power when combined with a fuel controller or ECU remapping. Each Racing exhaust is designed to be bike-specific to deliver the best exhaust flow, and a signature sound. The muffler that comes with each Akrapovic full system exhaust can be either Titanium or Carbon Fiber.
Taking the pole position for Akrapovic is the Evolution Line. This is the flagship Akrapovic exhaust and is similar to the Racing line in every respect except the materials used. The Evolution exhausts, like the Leo Vince Corsa systems, are made entirely of Titanium with the muffler available in Titanium or Carbon Fiber. These titanium exhaust system are the be all and end all when it comes to extreme light weight.
OPINION: You know a company takes pride in their product when they go out of their way to make sure it looks gorgeous, even though it will not be visible most of the time. When it comes to super-premium exhausts, Akrapovic gets my vote.
Buying an aftermarket exhaust is exciting, but can also be frustrating and daunting. The most important thing is to take your time and do the research. Take a look at what exhaust will fit your bike. Take into account any support modifications that may need to be done - a fuel controller to go with a full system exhaust, for example. Also, try and find photos of an exhaust mounted on your bike, as well as audio clips of the sound!
Both Akrapovic and Leo Vince are an excellent choice, but the final decision will come down to personal taste. Personally, I prefer the look of Akrapovic exhausts, but the sound of the Leo Vince is still my favorite. The new Akrapovic titanium silencers with the laser-etched Akrapovic logo are absolutely gorgeous, but I cannot get enough of the deep growl I get with Leo Vince pipes on my bike.