Sunday, 22 January 2012

Arrow Exhaust

Hi - just a bit of an update - the Arrow exhaust I ordered from ebay finally arrived a couple of weeks ago.  The address of the site I used, if you are interested, was here.  Got the alloy one myself to save a bit of money, but they also have titanium.  Anyway, figured I would probably put it on myself, but when it arrived in the mail it all looked a bit intimidating so asked a mate to help and we installed it Saturday.  Pipe is very pretty and well made - mechanically minded mate was deeply impressed with all the welds.  The difficulty for me was that there were no instructions at all, just a parts schematic, which helped, but was a little more cryptic that someone of my mechanical abilities would need to attempt it myself - as it turned out I wouldn't have had enough tools or hands to manage it on my own anyway.

We started by removing the stock pipe (obviously) and discovered that the two bolts that attach the header onto the rear cylinder were going to be a drama.  Apart from that it was all pretty straightforward.  But those two bolts are a bitch to get to - at one point it looked like we might have to remove the suspension to manage it but in the end we came up with a different solution for each of the two bolts involving various combinations of extension bars, universal joints, all four hands and a lot of swearing.  Have included photos of the spanner set up we needed to get into them - if you are going to attempt to remove the pipe yourself make sure you have enough bits in your socket set to allow you to construct something like this, otherwise you won't be able to manage it.  When we finally pulled it all off I was shocked at just how heavy the stock pipe is compared to the Arrow system - the difference would be even greater if you shell out for the titanium muffler.

Putting the new pipe on was pretty straightforward apart from the same two bolts in reverse - it all slotted together nicely.  The only slightly tricky bit is whether to bolt it inside or outside the bracket on the frame at the base of the engine - ultimately it will only fit one way, but it is not obvious when you are putting it together which would be best - it turns out it is supposed to go on the inside - again, have attached a photo so you don't waste time figuring that out yourself if you get one.

We fired it up with the baffle in which sounded ok, then pulled it out, which sounded lovely.  The baffle is held in by a clip and a tiny little bit of spot welded metal (which I guess is there for legal reasons) which popped off with a light tap from a screwdriver.  Sounds very fat and nice without the baffle but is not obnoxious.  My mate took it for a spin and by the time he got to the end of the block I couldn't hear it anymore - but could hear a couple of HDs blocks away - so the Arrow is solid and deep without being ear-shattering.  To ride with it is fine - at cruise or idle it is not noticable - you hear it when you crack the throttle, which was what I wanted.  Picking my way through slow moving traffic I am now noticing people checking in their mirrors as I come up through the cars - as used to happen with the Tenere and Staintune.  Which means that the pool of people who might kill me by doing something stupid has shrunk a bit because a few more of them know I am there.  On tour or in the bush I would chuck the baffle back in, but in slow and snotty Melbourne traffic will leave it out.

The oxygen sensor screws in without a drama - the pipe itself comes with a plug so you can remove the sensor altogether if you want - not sure what the advantages of that would be, or why you might pull it out, but if you have some reason to do so then there is a brass plug so you won't have a coin sized hole in the system.  According to the power graphs supplied the bike now makes a bee's dick more power.  I can't really tell to be honest, but I didn't buy it for that.

Then we put on a $2.99 set of heated hand-grip elements that I bought on ebay from somewhere in China.  They worked fine in the driveway, wired into the ignition, but when I tried them on the road they blew a fuse under the seat and killed the bike.  So we basically spent 2 hours installing a self-destruct button.  I have cut the wires to avoid accidentally hitting the switch and killing my bike again - some other weekend I will splice longer wires to them and try to find somewhere with a bit more juice to run them from so I can have warm hands and a bike that moves at the same time.

Anyway, for what it is worth, here is a short video of the bike with the Arrow pipe.  Was going to put up a video of the bike with the stock pipe to compare it to, but I forgot to film it till it was too late.  Also, with the stock pipe it is so quiet you would not have heard anything at all apart from me breathing and I would have had to prove it was on by filming the tacho...

So, basically: Arrow pipe - not completely trivial to put on but very nice and doable if you have an extra set of hands and access to enough tools to get to the rear bolts.  On the other hand the $2.99 hand warmers worked well as a self destruct button, not so well as hand warmers.  You'd expect more for the price of a coffee.  I might write to them and complain :)



  1. Brilliant.. are you enjoying this bike? I was looking at the BMW F800GS but see that a lot of people are having problems so leaning more towards the V-Strom again. Thanks for posting.

  2. Hi Ray - sorry it took a bit to get back to you - don't check this blog much - only thing I have done since to the bike is add a givi top box (good) and the OEM plastic hand guard things (good - make a huge difference to wind chill) - anyway - yes, am still enjoying this bike a lot - far and away the most comfortable, fun, versatile bike I have had - very easy to ride. If someone held a gun to my head and said I could only own one bike for the rest of my life it would probably be something like the Dakar 650 (which BMW has re-released under another name) or the new XTZ660 Tenere, just because they are a bit more capable on dirt - but I would miss the comfort and grunty power of the Suzuki every day I think.
    Have owned XR250, DR250, GSXF750, GPZ500, XTZ660 and now this. Have spent decent amounts of time (hired or loan) on a few models of BMW Dakar 650, old XS750 triple, ,XT600, DRZ400 - and have had spins on Harley sportsters, VROD, some big Suzuki Cruiser and a few other bikes - on a day in day out basis the Vstrom is the best of them. Surprisingly capable on the kind of dirt road you would want to be in a 4WD vehicle for without bothering to actually engage 4WD if that makes sense (assume you saw the video here of me with it in a forest in Australia - that was stock tyres, stock pipe) - you hit its limits pretty quickly if it gets muddy (although that could be fixed with tyres) and the size of the front wheel is a bit tricky if it starts to get too snotty or rocky. Never ridden the F800GS - my guess would be it is (slightly) better off road by I can't imagine it being as good on road for comfort or usable power. With me, in Australia it came down to the equation of the F800GS being a slightly better bike but not better enough to justify the fact that it was basically double the price. Have done a bit over 10K on it so far, still love getting on it each day and it is capable enough to make the 25k trip through traffic to work more or less enjoyable - the ABS has come in handy a couple of times with people pulling out in front of me (I would like a kill switch for the ABS to be stock though). I would happily do a lap of Australia on it with a bash plate and more knobby tyres, would just need to avoid some snotty tracks that you would manage on a big single with a bigger front wheel. It has the kind of personality that I like in a bike - fun, reliable, grunty, and so comfortable and easy to ride that I ride it more often than other bikes I have owned.
    The one thing I would say about Beemers is although they have a good rep for reliability in terms of basic engine they can have a little bit too much personality in other ways (ie, you can spend a lot of time dealing with little mechanical issues that can ruin your whole day) - spent two weeks on a hired XT600 doing a lap around the South Island of New Zealand - the three other guys there had hired F650 Dakars and F650 - the XT did not give us any mechanical issues at all, the Beemers all did (although I really envied the heated grips when we go caught in a whiteout over one pass) - anyway, hope that all helps - cheers.