Refined rumble and pumped-up power
One of the first things most new bike owners do after arriving home with their cherished ride is to look at that fabulous machine sitting there in the garage and start thinking about what they can do to improve it. The most common changes are performance and exhaust and I have to admit that I found myself in that part of the rider population almost immediately. The newer the motorcycle, the leaner the engine and it didn’t take long for me to find myself annoyed with the sound of my stock bike. As a matter of fact, the sound sucked.
Wondering if my engine was even running was a common head scratcher and I set about figuring out what would work best by shopping around with custom exhaust companies. It took quite a while for me to decide on which brand because let’s face it, there are a bunch of great exhaust companies out there. I was concerned about several factors, not the least of which was keeping my warranty intact, but finding the decibel level I was comfortable with also had me concerned because there’s nothing worse than having a bike so loud that nobody wants to ride with you. I did want to be heard by cagers when lane sharing in California traffic, however.
I was already pretty smitten with my 2012 Street Glide’s performance, so that wasn’t really much of a factor but I did read up on which options would add how much horsepower. Appearance was also important to me, of course. I discovered right away that prices were daunting and the warranty issue turned into a research headache. Cost was a huge factor since finding something in keeping with my meager budget was a priority, but with a name like “The Beast,” I felt my bike had a certain image to live up to and some anemic-looking whisper of a hog pipe was not gonna cut it.
I just wanted a simple, bolt-on sound solution that wouldn’t involve an entire day of down time and slip-on pipes seemed to be just what the doctor ordered. With a great sales pitch that included the lines, “We tuned these mufflers to provide an exhaust note with some extra deep bass. You get the rumble you want and enhance that famous Harley sound, while preserving the peace with your neighbors,” I zeroed in on the Screamin’ Eagle Street Cannon Performance Slip-On Mufflers, decided on the Screamin’ Eagle Stage I air cleaner kit and checked into a tuning kit, then made arrangements for an install with my favorite Arizona-based Harley-Davidson dealership. The guys at Buddy Stubbs in Anthem took me right in and got busy.
The Harley-Davidson Screamin’ Eagle Stage Kits are broken down into four categories of performance enhancement. Stage I is the foundation for all the kits and is meant to move more air and fuel by enhancing intake, exhaust and tuning. These are simple bolt-on performance upgrades. Stage II is about giving the engine a lift through cam upgrades. Stage III is about stepping up the Stage II kit with boring cylinders and upgrading pistons. Stage IV tops off the other three stages with upgrading cylinder heads and the throttle body. All I was looking for was a little more sound, but the added benefit of a bit more torque and horsepower in the process was right up my alley so the Stage I air cleaner and SE Pro Tuner made sense.
These days, an exhaust change like this is a relatively simple process and just a matter of remove and replace. The old pipes came off easily as did the air filter. I did not have the header pipes changed, though that is an option, but by skipping the headers costs were cut by almost half. And because of that decision, I did not have a dyno tune, either. But I did have the bike ECM mapped. With the Pro Street Tuner, gone are the days of physically rejetting a carburetor. The tuner is connected to a digital technician (i.e. computer) which does all the work of automatically mapping the fuel-injected engine to the new equipment, providing reliable engine calibration. The Stage I air cleaner comes with a one-piece back plate with breather and the included synthetic washable air filter requires no oiling.
The Stage I promised more torque due to the kit providing more airflow, which renders a freer-breathing engine and pumps up the power. I chose the chrome cover, though painted covers are available. The end caps of the pipes also included cosmetic decision making. I selected the slash tips and chose to have them installed with the slash cut in. What I discovered immediately with the first ride is that the Street Cannons are longer than stock pipes, requiring an adjustment in parking close to curbs.
Anyone handy with a wrench could certainly change out the pipes themselves. And though you could do all this without the Pro Tuner, it’s a bad idea if you like having a well-running machine. You can find online how to map your bike after the Stage I kit; you’ll just need to purchase the cables to connect the tuner, bike and computer. Personally, it was worth the peace of mind of having professionals handle my baby and keep my warranty intact so turning the chore over to the capable guys at Buddy Stubbs made sense to me.
After a couple of hours the Beast and I were jamming down the road with sleek new pipes and a bath to boot. I noticed the change in tone immediately, but the longer I’ve run the Street Cannons, the deeper and richer they’ve gotten. When I’m slicing rush hour traffic in California, I no longer worry that cagers don’t hear me coming. As for horsepower and torque, well, let me say this: torque is the measure of the amount of work an engine can perform, horsepower is the measure of how quickly that work can be done. With that in mind, I have to say, I have no trouble hitting 110 mph while passing trucks on an uphill climb. So that’s good enough for me.