Perfect Custom Can for the FZ8
As soon as I first saw this exhaust in a picture on the FZ8, I knew I had to have it. Grainy 30 second videos of the sound at redline only fueled my desire.
I am not at all surprised that V&H are having trouble meeting demand for the Blackout. To my eyes (and ears), it is just the obvious choice for the FZ8, and even at the higher price it is definitely worth it.
- Style. The softly angled, triangular/trapezoidal shape and swept-back tip of this exhaust combined with the absolutely gorgeous matte black finish make this thing just beg to be stared at. It was obviously designed custom for the FZ8, and it just couldn't match the bike's own style and attitude any more perfectly. Other pros include the fact that it's angle/height make the cool-looking and previously obscured aluminum swing arm much more visible on the right side of the bike.
Also I have to mention that the style of the Blackout is a perfect match for my full suite of luggage for this bike from both a design and functional standpoint. I have the Givi semi-soft luggage kit, and OGIO tail bag, tank bag, and no-drag backpack. All of these pieces along with the CSOne honestly look as though they were custom designed to go with each other and with the FZ8. They all have injection-molded, soft angled, tapering, aggressive, raven black design elements that match the bike and the exhaust to a tee. And while I was worried that I would have trouble fitting the exhaust and the Givi luggage rack both to the passenger foot rest mount, all I had to do was get rid of a spacer, and everything fits together absolutely perfectly.
- Fit & Finish. The satin/matte black paint looks SO sweet, the rest of the bike's painted parts look almost cheap by comparison. I installed a center stand, so the cat and the unfinished part of the exhaust system are not very visible (which is good), but now I am actually considering painting the exhaust headers AND the tank/tail matte black to match the CSOne (think matte R1, but jet black). A few hi-viz yellow/green highlights or racing stripes, and this thing would be untouchably hot. ...
Anyway, the gold etched V&H logo is sweet, but I wish it were just a LITTLE bolder and more consistent in color. The build quality appears to be excellent, although there is a SLIGHT mismatch between the tip section and the main pipe that is only noticeable because everything else is so flawless. I know I sound a little too excited about this can, but it really is a work of functional art or sculpture in my eyes, unlike the blingy and ubiquitous (and overpriced!?) slip-ons I see for the FZ8 from more racing-oriented manufacturers. V&H obviously pride themselves on attention to detail, and it shows on the CSOne Blackout.
- Sound. I have still not seen a high-quality, outdoor, comparison video online with the CSOne and the stock can sounds (or any other slip-ons) compared, but perhaps there is one out there now that the pipe has been out for a while. Obviously it is an improvement over the stock can from a volume standpoint, since the stock can (in addition to being ugly and heavy, although well made) was very quiet (though it did produce a nice sound at higher revs). I do not have a good basis for comparing this can to other slip-ons, but I can say that it is considerably louder than stock (with the standard db killer pre-installed) without being obnoxiously loud, which is what I wanted. I live in a townhome complex, so firing up early in the morning under my carport right below my neighbors windows I have to be at least somewhat considerate. It's not at all quiet, and I try to pull out as quickly and quietly as I can, but it is definitely not so loud at idle that it would give anyone sufficient cause to complain. When I was calibrating my PCV, I had the bike in my patio and I had to rev it up to the limiter to set the voltage limits, and while it was mad loud (for a second), my neighbor didn't have to interrupt her cell phone conversation on the adjacent patio. So while it's loud, it's not deafening in any circumstance, and it's not obnoxious around town.
As for the sound itself, it gives the bike a much lower-pitched growl than it had before, and makes the bike sound a little bit wild and angry, which I think is how this bike ought to sound. The stock pipe makes it sound clean, refined, and subtle, but the FZ8's looks (and in some ways it's demeanor as well) are sending a street-stunt-getoutofmyway message. It's nice to have the acoustics to back that up.
Deceleration popping is absolutely increased with this slip on vs the stock can, and if you shut the throttle from mid-range at all abruptly, you will pretty much backfire, then crackle and pop all the way down. This can be reduced by simply rolling the throttle back gently at first, or by blocking your AIS, altering the ECU, and other means. On the one hand, it would be kinda nice for the sound to be cleaner upon closing the throttle, especially since the growling-humming-roar it makes during hard engine breaking is one of my favorite sounds in the world. On the other hand, the crackle and pop do add to the sort of unhinged, chained-beast vibe of the bike, and I've grown to kind of like it. It takes some getting used to though, especially if you think it means something might be wrong with your bike or your exhaust (which it does not).
- Performance. Last but not least are the performance benefits of the exhaust. First off it is clearly lighter than the stock can, but I don't know how much. At first when I installed the slip-on, after a thousand miles or so I started to feel like I wasn't getting as much power down low as I used to, especially off the line. Not that the bike was lugging or felt UNDERpowered per-se, but it just seemed to require more throttle off-idle and may even have been revving up more slowly. Looking at forums I realized that this is not uncommon for stock bikes with slip-on exhaust, as the increased airflow through the engine resulting from the more free exhaust can cause the bike to run even leaner on fuel than the already lean stock configuration (primarily for emissions and fuel economy reasons). So while you may feel a little more power at high revs with a slip on, down low you can actually lose some punch if you don't take steps to correct it. I was surprised to learn this, but it makes intuitive sense, and it was definitely born out by my own experience. I would have thought the ECU would have adjusted for the change over time, but if anything I felt like it was getting worse.
So I purchased and installed a Power Commander V fuel-injection module, and even running a map designed for the Two Brothers exhaust, I notice a large improvement in power and delivery throughout the band, and especially down low. The exhaust note is also improved; while the bike used to sound and feel a little out-of-breath, now it's more like the snorting and rutting bull it wants to be. I'd even say the bike sounds and feels a bit more powerful than it actually is, and it's no slouch in reality either. I'm looking forward to finding a CSOne-specific map or just taking it to a dyno and getting it custom tuned. A bit overkill maybe for a slip on, but the already huge improvement from using the "wrong" fuel map has piqued my interest in how much more can be wrung out of this one upgrade.
All told, this exhaust is definitely worth the money (and time, if it's back ordered) in my book if you are looking to upgrade your FZ8. I've never been a big modding or performance enthusiast by any means, but I have been very pleasantly and repeatedly surprised by the wide range of significant benefits this one upgrade has provided. If you haven't figured it out, I highly recommend this product.