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One of the more confusing questions we strive to answer at RevZilla is "Which brand exhaust should I buy?" Sometimes it's an easy one to field. Other times... well, other times we write articles about how to choose!
Rinehart and Bassani are exhaust systems that look and sound similar; we think it's part of the reason folks seem to want to figure out what differentiates them from one another. We're gonna attempt to break them down a little bit side-by-side, and see if we can make the difference between them a little more noticeable for someone who's unfamiliar with either brand.
Let's kick off by highlighting their similarities; after that we can parse out what differentiates one brand from the other.
Bassani and Rinehart, as companies, followed fairly similar paths. Both were started by hot-rodders who enjoyed experimentation with exhaust, and both became big-name brands because their exhaust worked well and looked great, too. Up until fairly recently, "performance" exhaust for HD products was simply drag pipes, which sacrifice a lot to get top-end horsepower numbers.
Both exhaust companies design and manufacture here in the USA, and both companies make a top-notch exhaust with premium materials and processes. Both are known for 'waking up' bikes that are not running at their peak, and externally, their systems have a similar, handsome appearance.
And that's about it. Other than that, the only things similar about these books are their covers.
OPINION:Daryl Bassani has been a motorcycle guy since way back - he's been making bike exhausts since 1969. This is a guy who is designing pipes for tinkerers who are squeezing every last bit of grunt out of their bikes.
His signature Harley system, the B1, is a marvel of engineering and experience. This system in particular is focused on riders pumping out 120 horsepower at a minimum. Most stock 96 inch Twin Cam mills put out somewhere in the neighborhood of 72 horsepower - this exhaust is not for the weekend warrior, nor is it for the folks who are on a budget; this is a no-holds-barred, all-out wolf in sheep's clothing.
The B4 system uses similar technology, but is scaled back a bit for bikes that are modified less heavily.
Bassani finds your bike's hidden power by focusing heavily on the collector design - the point where the head pipes join. By promoting smooth flow and keeping velocity up, Bassani makes the pipes perform by using each cylinder to help 'scavenge' exhaust from the other while helping to 'pull in' the incoming air/fuel charge.
Bassani full systems also have 12mm & 18mm O2 ports pre-welded, so if you are running any type of a wide-band sensor, further welding is not required. Port plugs are also included - it's a small - but crucial - detail that other exhaust manufacturers still can't seem to get right all the time.
Their mufflers-only systems devote a little less energy to performance, and more to switching up the sound and look of your bike. As such, they're considerably more affordable - if they sound right and look good to you, you probably will not be disappointed with a set of Bassani mufflers.
From an aesthetic standpoint, the pipes are 16 gauge steel, and many include heat shields. There are a few different finishes and endcap styles to choose from. The pipes are attractive and traditional, but definitely have a little dash of modern flair that a careful observer will spot.
OPINION:Gerald Rinehart, on the other hand, cut his teeth welding up headers for NASCAR teams. His approach to exhaust was a bit different - applying automotive experience to the Harley world, his pipes are geared for the more mildly-modified motorcycle. Rinehart pipes make power, too - but they do it differently than a Bassani system.
One of the terms Rinehart is redefining comes directly from the car world. The term is 'true duals'. In the HD world, traditionally, "true duals" has meant pipes that exit on either side of the motorcycle, rather than both on the same side.
However, any four-wheeled gearhead will tell you that true duals is two pipes (one from each side of the 'vee'), with no H or X-pipe linking the two (read: crossover).
What does this mean? Rinehart 'dual exhaust' is just that: Real dual exhaust. Rinehart maintains that properly-designed exhaust does not need a crossover; as such, there are no hidden crossovers, "power chambers" or collectors in their systems; the cylinders operate independently of one another with regard to their exhaust gases. It bears mention that discriminating ears typically prefer the sound of dual exhaust pipes that are isolated from one another. For this reason, their 2-into-1 offerings do not make any more power than the dual systems - an important point for anyone who has had to make the choice between aesthetics and power.
Rinehart pipes feature carefully placed and engineered 'steps' throughout them. As the exhaust gases move from one area to the next, they expand to fill the new space. That expansion creates negative pressure - scientifically speaking, vacuum - and helps suck the incoming air and fuel charge into the combustion chamber.
Rinehart also uses anti-reversion louvers. Similar to torque cones or 'lollipops', they are a device in the head pipe that prevents exhaust pulses from traveling back up the pipe to rob you of horsepower.
What's the upshot of all this? Rinehart exhaust produces power, and it also produces nice, grunty, low-end torque - the stuff that moves machines; the stuff that street riders love. They accomplish this in totally different ways than Bassani, but with exterior looks that are no less appealing.
I can speak from personal experience - a big part of what keeps a Rinehart exhaust looking good is the heat shields. They are big and thick, and finished immaculately - the finish pops. Their exhausts also come in several finish and end-cap styles, and the laser-etched logo the incorporate into the heat shields of select models is a nice signature accent.
Like Bassani, their full-system exhausts do include both size O2 ports and the related hardware, which really should be standard with a premium-priced exhaust system.
Hopefully this helps you get a better feel for what's inside both of these attractive exhausts, and who the target for each is. There are definitely a few riders who could do well with either system, but for riders with particular needs, one of these two brands really should stand out as the better value for your type of riding.