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Regardless of the make or model, one of the first upgrades fitted to a motorcycle is an aftermarket exhaust.
Motorcycles come from the factory fitted with an exhaust system meant to meet various noise and emission regulations around the world. As a direct result, most new motorcycles on the market today come with big, quiet mufflers and heavy catalytic converters. Aftermarket exhausts, like those offered by Leo Vince and Yoshimura, are far less restrictive, resulting in more noise and less weight.
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.
Yoshimura Exhausts and Leo Vince Exhausts are two juggernaut aftermarket exhaust manufacturers. Both companies develop their product on the track and bring the lessons learned through the crucible of racing to their consumer products. Yoshimura has been dominating AMA Superbike racing and the World Endurance Championship with Suzuki, while Leo Vince has been working with numerous factory World Superbike Championship and MotoGP teams.
Yoshimura was started in Japan in 1954 by Hideo Yoshimura, who was an airplane mechanic during WWII and who made a name for himself by working on service men’s motorcycles. Yoshimura very quickly earned a reputation for making power, using and modifying existing parts to suit the task at hand. The next step was for Yoshimura to go racing, and they began their racing efforts in 1976 in the AMA Superbike series. In 1978 Yoshimura began a relationship with Suzuki that continues on to this day. Yoshimura is also very active in endurance motorcycle racing, most recently picking up the 2013 FIM World Endurance Championship.
OPINION: Both Leo Vince and Yoshimura take racing very seriously. Whether it is on-road or off, I am very hard pressed to find a race series where LeoVince or Yoshimura do not have a presence.
In a nice form of continuity, Leo Vince also got started in 1954 by Pietro Mollo when he created the parent company Sito Gruppo. Within a few years, company growth necessitated a move from Turin, Italy to their current location in Monticello d’Alba. As with Yoshimura, the next step for Leo Vince was to go racing. Leo Vince develops new exhaust designs and fuel mapping on racetracks around the world through partnerships with teams at the highest level of motorsports.
When it comes to manufacturing, Yoshimura uses Tig welded stainless steel for the header pipe and mid pipe on their full system exhausts. The mufflers themselves can be polished stainless steel, titanium, or carbon fiber, depending on the model.
Similar to Yoshimura, Leo Vince also uses Tig welded stainless steel for the construction of the header pipes and the mid pipe. Leo Vince does have the CORSA option for certain SBK Factory full system exhaust applications that use a full titanium construction all the way through the interior of the muffler. LeoVince mufflers can be carbon fiber or titanium in the SBK Factory lines and stainless steel or carbon fiber in the LV One line.
OPINION: When it comes to quality, Leo Vince has the best packaging I have seen from an exhaust manufacturer. Each part is wrapped individually, and is packed to make sure it cannot shift during shipping. It may sound silly, but I value a company that takes pride in how the product arrives to the customer.
Both Yoshimura and Leo Vince offer low-volume inserts for their slip-on and full system exhausts to bring the dBA rating down. One area where Yoshimura differentiates itself from the competition more than anywhere else is with EPA Noise compliant exhaust systems. Yoshimura has developed a line of slip-on exhaust systems that delivers the weight reduction of an aftermarket muffler, but is still quiet enough to pass inspection. The reason for this particular line for select bikes is because certain motorcycles will be too loud to pass EPA Noise complaints even with standard low volume inserts.
OPINION: I like the route Yoshimura is going with these EPA compliant systems. Some riders want the weight reduction of an aftermarket slip-on, but still want to pass inspection and don’t want to sound like racers.
The Leo Vince exhaust line up is fairly simple to decipher, you have three lines that are either a slip-on or full system exhaust, and two exhausts that a slip-on only. The SBK Factory and Factory R are the top of the LeoVince line. The Factory R is 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, with uses full titanium construction, something not offered by Yoshimura.
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.
Yoshimura’s exhaust line up is slightly more complicated to decipher, since the exhaust lines vary depending on the specified bike, and not every exhaust line will be available for your bike. To keep it all as simple as possible, please refer to the chart for a more detailed breakdown.
The R-77 and the R-55 are the top of the Yoshimura exhaust line. The R-77 and R-55 come with a straight baffle and a low volume insert. The R-77 muffler can be stainless steel, titanium, or carbon fiber, and the R-55 comes with a stainless steel muffler only. The R-77D is the top Yoshimura exhaust, but is only available for certain applications. It uses a dual outlet tip for higher exhaust flow, has no baffles or sound inserts, and comes from the Yoshimura Suzuki road racing bikes.
The mid-level Yoshimura exhaust lines are the TRC and TRI, and have no direct competitor from Leo Vince. The TRC comes with a baffle and sound insert, and like the R-77, there is a TRC-D exhaust that has a dual outlet and no baffles or sound inserts. The TRI is available as a full system only for a limited number of applications.
The entry level exhausts from Yoshimura that would most closely compete with the LeoVince LV-One are the TRS and RS-3. The TRS is basically a TRC without a cone end-cap. The RS-3 comes with a baffle, a low volume insert, and no cone end cap. Yoshimura also has a couple of options for undertail exhausts, the dual muffler TRC Undertail, and the single muffler RS-5. The TRC Undertail shares features with the TRC, and the RS-5 shares features with the RS-3.
Phew. Got all that?
OPINION: I like the simplicity of Leo Vince’s line up, it is very easy to navigate and I know a SBK Factory exhaust for one bike is comparable to another. Yoshimura will most likely have a product for any bike I want, but it might be an R-77 for one bike and a TRC for another.
All of this technical information about fit, construction and quality is great to know, but for most riders, one of the most important factors in the exhaust buying process is style and sound. If the exhaust does not look good, why would someone put it on their bike and ruin the looks? What is the point of shelling out a few hundred bucks is the sound coming out of it will be worse than the factory exhaust?
OPINION: I prefer the sound of Leo Vince to Yoshimura, at least on my bike. The Leo pipe has a lower frequency, more bass sound while the Yoshimura pipe sounds more high pitched. Personally, I am not a fan of polished mufflers, so a big selling point was that the Leo pipe is not a shiny finish, but is more of a “brushed” matte appearance.
Buying an aftermarket exhaust is an exciting and frustrating process. 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.
Both Yoshimura and Leo Vince are an excellent choice, and the final decision will come down to personal taste. Hopefully this information will highlight some differences between these brands, and help during the research process.
Perhaps most importantly, try and find photos of an exhaust mounted on your bike, as well as audio clips of the sound!