Hell On (Two) Wheels 6 – Scaled Down

Hell On (Two) Wheels 6 – Scaled Down

Today, we return to the Hell On (Two) Wheels series, in which we’re building the most unique Kawasaki Vulcan 2000 on the planet.

Last week, we covered the arrival of the narrow-glide front end, along with its installation and subsequent alignment. With the alignment out of the way and all the corresponding measurements written down, we plugged our data into both CAD and the mapping software for the CNC 3-axis mill. If you’re unfamiliar with the screen we’re going to show, it’s basically a live map of how the drill bit will mill the axle spacer. Each of those lines represents a path that the drill bit will take; yes, it’s a lot. So we’ll just leave that with one picture and move on to something a bit more fast-paced.


We’ve showcased a good amount of welding this week, and today’s going to keep that alive. You guessed it — today, we’ll be covering the initial stage of the construction of the Vulcan’s new FMU custom exhaust. You didn’t think we’d just grab something off the shelf, did you? Either way, it’s time to begin. And, like most time we build exhausts, we’re starting at the source of the noxious fumes — Keller. Er, um, I mean, the motor.


We’re expanding the diameter of the piping by 0.25″ (to 1.75 from 1.5) and merging the two banks together via Y-pipe. Now, the OEM setup of the exhaust is two separate pipes running to two separate mufflers with an H-pipe in the middle. In our opinion, it leant a rather high-pitched exhaust note to the car, which we found unbefitting of a wide-rear cruiser like this will be. Therefore, the Y-pipe merge will allow for a bassier, refined sound that gives it more of that proper motorcycle sound. As always, we’re starting with tape to hold together the pieces as we plan the routing of the exhaust, followed by small tacks to hold everything in place as we finalize the setup before heading to the welding table.


The relative size of the piping means a smaller Y-pipe, as well. So, as the title of the post says, we’re scaling down our exhaust build in terms of size (but definitely not in terms of quality). Small or large, we’ll still have a well-crafted Y-pipe with no crevice too small to avoid the tip of the tig welder. As for the rest of the welds, well, you know how it goes — and if you don’t, we’ve provided plenty of pictorial evidence to give you an idea of how we do things.


With the main runners of the exhaust welded together, we placed them back on the bike. Our goal when running these pipes was to keep them as far away from the riders’ feet and legs as possible. Thankfully, there are some good locations where the exhaust can be relatively tucked up in the engine without coming out towards any errant legs. That being said, it will be receiving a Jet-Hot coating once we’re done with it, so that should help keep temperatures on the pipe as low as possible, too. There’s no one step that will completely rid the pipe’s exterior of its heat, so it’s a matter of mitigation more than anything else.


With the Y-pipe connected, we started building the exhaust past the merge, which will be a single pipe all the way back to a muffler. We’d love to run open muffler, but this bike is excessively loud at that point. While it wouldn’t be an issue with us if it was ours, the customer doesn’t want to wake the neighborhood, and we don’t blame him. So many homeowners are up in arms over motorcycle owners already, and it’s good to have a positive rapport with those living next to you. Loud pipes save lives, that much is definitely true, but loud pipes also make your neighbors write hastily-and-poorly-written Facebook statuses about the noise, as well.


We’ll be back with our normal assortment of blog posts after the weekend! In the meantime, if you’re local to the Naperville, Plainfield and Joliet area, Saddle Up Saloon is having a car show on Sunday, and we are the platinum-level sponsors. So come out to the show and hang out with us! We’re pretty friendly, we promise. If not, have a safe and fun weekend!

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