TIMES CHANGE, fashions come and go, but there’s still nothing like a proper, sweet exhaust system to pep up your biking life. Or maybe it’s just us. But then, if less weight, more power, better noise and cooler looks is wrong nowadays, then, quite frankly, we don’t want to be right.
Which is a slightly long-winded way of saying that we’ve got a new pipe to fit to our long term Yamaha Tracer 900. And not just any pipe. Oh no. We’ve only gone and got the full stainless/titanium Akrapovic system – the official Yamaha accessory, with the laser-etched Tracer logo and EVERYTHING. It’s an item of unremitting sexiness I think you’ll agree, and no matter which gender you indentify as, this welded-and-riveted beastie should be giving you the total horn/getting you massively wet/whatever.
We’ve had this in the garage for a while now to be honest, but various daft things have got in the way – summer hols, litrebike tests, kids, wife, yadda yadda. But I’m off to America for a week on Monday, so bit the bullet on Friday night, and got stuck in.
It’s a fairly straightforward task, in all – but there are a couple of niggly bits. Firstly, you need to remove the centre stand, so you’ll ideally want to get it up onto a paddock stand. I ended up with a block of wood under my R&G stand to give an extra couple of inches lift. You probably could remove it just using the sidestand – but you’ll be crawling around on the deck on the left hand side to get into everything. Remove the two mounting bolts (24mm socket neeed) for the centre stand, and manouvre it out, unhooking the springs carefully as you go.
I took the old system off last Friday night, so it was a bit dark for pics. But it’s all easy enough: loosen the six header pipe stud nuts and remover them. Now, there’s just two M8 bolts on the silencer, which go through a rubber grommet and top hat spacer on each side, just behind the footpegs.
Before you remove these completely though, you need to remove the oxygen sensor from the header pipes. This needs a 22mm spanner or a special socket to accommodate the cables (I used a crowfoot-type socket).
Go gently – this is a fragile component, and make sure you unplug the connector from behind the engine first too.
With the oxygen sensor out, you can lift the whole system forward out of the header ports, and down and away. Notice how much space there is below and behind the engine now – it’s amazing how much room is taken up down here by exhausts these days.
Time to check out the new system. You need to bolt on the silencer mount bracket, with four M8 bolts and a dab of threadlock. Note in the pipe between the headers and silencer, there’s a big space for an optional catalytic convertor – which we’ve not bothered with, saving a bit of mass, a bit of grief, and a couple of hundred quid in cash too. The bike will run better without it, and a modern, super-clean bike motor like this one puts out such minimal amounts of pollution anyway, I’m not feeling too bad about dumping the catalyst. While we have both systems in front of us, we stick them on the bathroom scales – the stock pipe weighed 8.3kg, and the Akra is 2.2kg lighter at 6.1kg. That’s a 26 per cent saving in mass - a decent enough weight loss nowadays.
So we’ve dumped the cat and we’ve dumped some mass – but I’m struggling to dump the dB killer – the extra baffle in the silencer outlet. This is designed to be removable on older bikes, but the new Euro4 regs seem to mean that baffles can’t be easily removed, and ours had a dab of weld holding it in place, where the older pipes have a security bolt or a rivet. I drilled the weld out easy enough (you have to unscrew the carbon trim off the end of the can with three TX25 screws), but the baffle is still solidly in place, and I couldn't get it out... I need to pick up a ‘blind bearing removal kit’ apparently, which will lock into the outlet pipes, and let me slide-hammer the baffle out. There’s one in the post, and we’ll report back on the baffle removal when it gets here.
Baffled by the baffle, temporarily, I then tried fitting the system as one piece, but it was a real faff getting the silencer bracket in between the mount points on the frame – so I fitted it in two parts instead. I offered up the header pipes, after making sure the exhaust gaskets were still in place. New ones would be ideal here, but the ones on our bike were in fairly good nick so we got away with using them again. Slip the headers into the ports, and screw the stud nuts on – but only enough to hold it all in place. You’ll want space to finagle the silencer into place, so as long as the nuts are on the studs for a good few turns, that’ll do for now. It makes sense to apply some anti-seize compound to the nuts here too – copper grease, or the Akrapovic-supplied compound.
Back to the silencer now, and it’s much easier to get it into the mounting points now. Carefully wiggle the silencer entry pipe over the header link pipe, and line up the two mounting bolts. A gentle tap here and there with a plastic mallet can work wonders – but take care not to damage anything. I got the two silencer bolts started, and halfway in, then tightened up the header nuts gradually too.
I mount the two springs on the silencer/header joint, there’s some more gentle tapping around the header link pipe, and it all starts to slip into place. A final tighten up of all the bolts, and the springs pull the silencer joint into place and we’re nearly done.
Lastly, some anti-seize compound on the oxygen sensor threads, and refit that to the header pipes. Plug the connector back in, refit the centrestand (we’ve left ours off for the moment for even more weight savings!), and you’re done. Enjoy your lighter Tracer, and the slightly rortier sound!