Exhaust pipe modifications can be a mixed bag. When it comes to coating, it’s important to use the right material and to be aware of the performance and aesthetic changes that will follow.
Can a motorcycle exhaust be powder coated? Powder coating is not the best option. Temperatures in the exhaust can reach 1200 degrees, but powder paint gets baked at 400 degrees. This can lead to peeling away and decolorization. A better alternative is ceramic coating since it can withstand higher temperatures of up to 1300 degrees.
Below we will briefly discuss the types of coatings for motorcycle exhaust, including their pros and cons.
Types of Coating For Your Motorcycle Exhaust
Coating is defined as the layer of outer material that covers a construction element (motorcycle exhaust in this case) to protect it against the action of certain external agents. When it comes to the exhaust, coating is important for reducing the impact of heat damage.
Powder coating and ceramic coating are the two main options. They are sometimes treated similarly in the world of motorcycles, but they are quite different. So make sure you’re precise in your request.
Powder Coating For Motorcycle Explained
Powder coating is simply a dry powder coating for metals. It is currently the painting method most used in the United States for the restoration, modification and customization of motorcycle, automobile and nautical parts. It’s widely used due to the quality it offers both in durability, resistance and finishes.
Once the dry powder paint has been applied using electrostatic equipment, the pieces go to the oven where the paint hardens and cures at the appropriate temperature and time.
Powder coating is practically a mandatory application on parts such as chassis, wheels and spokes, screws, suspension bottles, springs, handlebars, levers, engine covers, foot pegs, fenders, turrets, backrests, seat posts, brake discs, pulleys, chainrings, trestles, and especially exhausts, and any other part that with conventional liquid paint would be impossible to paint or would not have the correct hardness, resistance and finish.
It is also recommended for newly manufactured parts or parts that need to be restored, as it offers a higher quality appearance in its finishes.
General Characteristics And Advantages of Powder Coating
- It is much more resistant, adherent and flexible than conventional liquid paint
- Excellent adhesion to all types of metals (aluminum, stainless steel, copper, cast iron, any metal alloy, iron, etc.) regardless of whether they are new, used, rusted or with some type of coating.
- Offers excellent resistance to abrasion, corrosion and chemicals; as well as extreme weather conditions.
- High mechanical resistance against impacts, torsions and deformations.
- Once cured, it does not soften in heat.
- It is considered ecological since it doesn’t contain solvents or toxic or polluting components.
- The layer that creates the powder paint is thicker and more homogeneous, which facilitates the rounding of the edges and helps to hide imperfections and defects, so that the piece, once painted, offers a better finished and quality appearance.
Disadvantages of Powder Coating For Motorcycle Exhaust
Powder coating has various advantages on its several applications, but it has glaring issues, and that’s why it is not recommended for coating your motorcycle exhaust. They include:
Cost: professionals best do powder coating, and it can become expensive for some people to complete. DIY isn’t easily attainable because there are specialized types of equipment and heat requirements for it to be a success.
Heating Process: As said before, the heating required for powder coating is about 700 degrees, and tools that get this done are mostly available to professional coating shops.
Not Heat Resistant: Now, don’t get this wrong, it won’t easily melt. However, the amount of heat produced by our motorcycles can be very high, and powdered coating treatment of your exhaust can start to cake and fall off sooner then expected. It can make your exhaust look bad and can even affect your engine.
Decolourization: Still related to the excessive heat produced by our motorcycle engine, powder coating can’t withstand it, and as the power treatment cakes off, it decolours your exhaust, making it look awkward.
Powder coating for motorcycle exhaust is a valid option, but it’s not ideal. If you’re serious with taking care of your motorcycle exhaust, then you should seriously consider ceramic coating. Below we briefly explain ceramic coating for motorcycles.
Ceramic Coating For Motorcycle Exhaust Explained
Ceramic coating is a type of powder coating, and it acts as an insulating layer on the exhaust pipe that transfers heat, moving it from inside the vehicle to the outside efficiently. It is a technique used to coat the exhaust pipe, and its mission is to keep the outside cold; in this way, the exhaust can be used without having to wait until it is cold.
The technique used is plasma spraying, in addition to applying a great thermal barrier to the material, it prevents oxidation in almost any environment, which is why it is a technique widely used for coating motorcycle exhausts in many countries.
Plasma spraying or sputtering is a physical process in which the atoms of a solid material called “white” vaporize by being bombarding with energetic ions.
Features Of The Ceramic/Thermal Coating Process
- High temp resistant up to 1300 degrees
- Reduces radiant temperatures
- Can produce horsepower gains!
- Will not rust, blue or peel!
Advantages of Ceramic Coating on Motorcycle Parts
Ceramic withstands much higher temperatures than iron or steel and isolates heat losses much more.
If we apply this coating to parts that radiate a large amount of heat like the exhaust, we can reduce the thermal impact on other weaker components, such as sheet metal.
Another advantage that we can obtain from this technique is the drop in air temperature in the intake manifold. This way we obtain denser air, and this gives the motorcycle greater power.
Also, it will increase the lifespan of the exhaust and the manifolds. For this reason, it is recommended to use it on motorcycles where the exhaust is very close to the rider as well as to the whole mechanical part.
Exhaust pipes that lack this coating reach very high temperatures, to the point of being red hot. When this happens, the exhaust undergoes oxidation and with it a structural change of the metal, which translates into greater fragility of the welded areas. Another damage that occurs when red-hot is called “thermal fatigue”. With this coating, we avoid oxidation and thermal fatigue.
Disadvantages of Ceramic Coating on Motorcycle Parts
Obviously, the non-dissipation of heat results in much more concentrated push-out of the outlet hole; this means that the gases will come out much hotter.
How to Apply Ceramic Coating on Motorcycle
Yes, you can apply a ceramic coating on your motorcycle by yourself, even though we highly recommend that you assign this task to a professional. You will discover that it is better to apply a ceramic coating to protect the motorcycle against dirt, corrosion or even grime. You only need to follow the steps below:
- The first step is to decontaminate all parts of the motorcycle using a body cleaner.
- Then it will be necessary to pass on each part the ceramic treatment using the cloth provided in the complete kit.
- To apply the treatment in the best conditions, I advise you to start with the high elements, then to go down to the lower elements, ending with the engine parts, then the rims of the motorcycle.
- You can coat absolutely everything on the motorcycle: fairing, exhaust manifolds, tank, rims, muffler, mirrors, chrome parts, carbon, plastics, metals. In short, the ceramic treatment is applied everywhere except on the leather of the saddle as well as on any glass parts.
- This ceramic treatment has the advantage of resisting extreme temperatures. It protects against corrosion, which is particularly useful for sensitive metal elements very exposed to water splashes. It greatly reduces the adhesion of dirt: your motorcycle, therefore, gets dirty less quickly and becomes easier to clean.
- The ceramic also retains the shine of the treated elements.
- If you install the ceramic on a second-hand motorcycle, it is strongly recommended to carry out a preliminary renovation of the scratched or micro-scratched surfaces, using a polish.
Summary: Ceramic Coating vs Powder Coating
The ceramic coating process is the part whereby the motorcycle exhaust is sandblasted, then coated with the Ceramic. Next, it will be baked for about one hour at about 500 °C. Finally, the ceramic is polished for about half an hour in a tumbler.
Ceramic coating is best and recommended for motorcycle exhausts because of its impressive ability to withstand extreme heat.
Even though you should take your exhaust to a coating shop for ceramic coating, it is worth it to know that ceramic coating’s standard heat is about 1300° F. This is the reason why it would also be better than powder coating.
While powder coating is an exhaust paint process that is electrostatically applied and then baked at about 160 °C to 210 °C as long as the surface won’t peel, chip or crack like the traditional paint. This form of coating is suitable for areas that are not exposed to high heat temperature like the exhaust. It can be a good options for wheels, frames etc.
To summarize, you can powder coat your motorcycle exhaust, but it won’t be effective for heat management. Ceramic coating is the better option. There are various heat management methods for various budgets, so you don’t have to brake the bank to get your exhaust treated. We have explained the difference between powder coating and ceramic coating, now the choice is yours.