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Drill the Stock Exhaust (stage 1, 2, 3)

Written by Fatbike   
Friday, 11 June 2004

Reprinted by Permission from FatBike

The Stages of Pipe Drilling

Drilling the stock pipes is the most popular modification among ‘Star owners.  The stock pipes are very restrictive and quiet, primarily in order to meet the strict guidelines in some of the states that the bikes are sold.  Of course, we all want sound and performance.  Aside from investing several hundred dollars in a quality set of aftermarket pipes, this is the most effective way to get there.  “Staging” will also allow you the flexibility to tune the sound to your liking.

Below are the stages and how they are done:

Stage 1


Stage 1 involves removing the cone from the back of the muffler, or “slip-on” portion of the exhaust system.  This exposes the plate that holds the final exhaust tube in place.  holes in this plate frees up the system and significantly changes the tone and volume. This is the idea behind Stage 1.

It is best to perform the following procedures with the muffler set removed from the header pipe and taken off of the bike.

1. Use a ‘Dremmel’ type tool to cut the weld that holds the tailpipe cone to the exhaust pipe.  This will completely free the cone.  The cone can now be removed from the muffler.  This can be tricky.  If you like, tap a sheet metal screw into the surface of the cone, which gives you a grab point.  Once removed, the cone is useless, so looks aren’t important, however you will want to minimize the damage to the center pipe, because with stages 1 & 2 the pipe remains where it is.
2. Once the cone is removed, use a punch to mark where your holes will go.  Start at 12:00/3:00/6:00/9:00 and drill ½” holes.
3. Reinstall the mufflers and start the bike.  If you are happy, you are done.  Most will probably want to drill additional holes at the mid-point between the holes you just drilled, giving you a total of 8 holes in the baffle plate.  This tends to reduce the “fluffing” sound that only 4 holes will give you./user/Drill_ustration.jpg

Click on picture above to enlarge

Stage 2


Stage 2, as this is generally referred to, is the process of drilling “blindly” into the lower baffle plate.  This is accomplished using a long drill bit and drilling through the holes that you drilled in the first baffle plate and into the second baffle plate.  The effect is a slightly louder exhaust.

Again, it is recommended that you remove the mufflers from the head pipe, and take them off the bike.

1. Using an 18” long drill bit, enter the holes that you drilled for Stage 1.  Find the second baffle plate and drill random holes in the plate.

*Note... The effect that stage 2 has is minimal.  Generally speaking, if Stage 1 has grown old, or if it does not provide the desired sound, you should skip Stage 2 and go to the Stage 3 modification.

Stage 3


The Stage 3 modification seems to be the most popular.  In fact I have done 3 sets of Stage 3 pipes without ever stopping at Stage 1 or 2.  The process essentially defeats the 1st and 2nd baffle chambers and uses only reduction and re-direction as the means of baffling the sound.  The modification is reasonably simple and once Stage 1 is complete, you’re half way there!

1. Using a 1” hole saw, drill out the first baffle plate in an overlapping fashion, essentially eliminating the baffle plate entirely.  You will leave jagged edges, and a center pipe that is no longer supported.
2. Using a hammer and chisel (or comparable tool) push the jagged edges that are attached to the center pipe back out of the way.
3. Using the same method, push the jagged edges back that are around the outside edge (attached to the inside wall of the exhaust) of the muffler.  You can also grind or cut them off, although this is time consuming and the net effect is the same.
4. Insert something sturdy into the center pipe.  Whatever it is, it should fit inside the pipe tightly, and give you a firm area to grip.  You will then twist and turn the center pipe, using as much force as possible, until you feel the weld in the bottom of the pipe give way.  Continue working the pipe until it comes completely out of the muffler.
5. All that is left is to clean up the inside of the pipe by working with the leftover edges and using some flat black spray paint.

It is strongly recommended that you re-jet the carburetor at Stage 3.  A Dyno-Jet kit using a 165 to 170 main should be sufficient.  You do not want to run too lean and because the stock setup tends to run lean already, allowing exhaust to exit easier tends to exaggerate the condition.

The end result will be a better running, better sounding bike, no matter which stage you choose.






Questions should be asked in our forum (Use discuss link below). The forum is very active and you stand a good chance of getting your questions answered there. If you would like to leave feedback for the author, or have additional information you think will benefit others, please use the comment section at the bottom of this page.

Discuss this article on the forums. (191 posts)

DISCLAIMER: This information and procedure is provided as a courtesy and is for informational purposes only.  Neither the publishers nor the authors accept any responsibility for the accuracy, applicability, or suitability of this procedure.  You assume all risks associated with the use of this information.  NEITHER THE PUBLISHERs NOR THE AUTHORs SHALL IN ANY EVENT BE LIABLE FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, PUNITIVE, SPECIAL, INCIDENTAL, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES, OF ANY NATURE ARISING OUT OF OR IN ANY WAY CONNECTED WITH THE USE OR MISUSE OF THIS INFORMATION OR LACK OF INFORMATION.  Any type of modification or service work on your motorcycle should always be performed by a professional mechanic. If performed incorrectly, this procedure may endanger the safety of you and others on your motorcycle and possibly invalidate your manufacturer’s warranty.

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  Comments (10)
sounds better then stock
Written by Quesnelguy74, on 05-30-2016 16:53
Did the stage 1 and it sounds much better thank you for the know how!!!!
Written by dbruce56, on 05-04-2015 13:17
Has anyone done the stage one on a trike? Looking for a bit more sound but cutting the pipes will move the outlet under the body. Also, in the case of the inside pipe it will be significantly shorter due to champion using an extension on the pipe outlet to even the pipe length. Any help is much appreciated. TIA
Written by banjoman, on 01-27-2015 19:28
Can these mods be done on a 2012 model with fuel injection?
Written by andy32, on 05-26-2014 03:09
Do pipes for 2004 1600 Xv road star fit xv1700 of the same year
I did stage three on mine.
Written by questor, on 04-19-2014 09:53
I'm thinking about eliminating the crossover.
Do I have to re jet
Written by questor, on 11-23-2013 14:06
at stage 3 mods to my exhaust???
Would be nice
Written by jberenyi, on 11-11-2013 13:20
Would be nice if someone did some decibel rating tests on each stage mod.
oooooo kay . . . . .
Written by questor, on 05-22-2013 16:05
so I need to rejet after going to stage 3 ???
Written by Checkpoint Chicky, on 03-07-2013 19:52
Can't one just drill 4 holes in the back of the muffler to get a deeper tone? All the other stuff is way too advanced for me.
Written by Bowtie, on 01-12-2013 19:11
You can go one step beyond to stage 4. I did like the results I got after the modifications but decided I wanted more. The cat converters can be removed with a bit of time and effort leaving the stock pipe straight through. Still not real loud and definitely need to jet up or install tuner. Very deeeeeep! Thunderous!!!! Not annoying.

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