Whether you ride a motorcycle or drive a car, there are some instances where it may make sense to wrap your exhaust header. In general, there are three main reasons that people wrap their headers. These are heat management, performance increase, and rarely cosmetics.
When it comes to heat management, high performance car and motorcycle engines generate quite a bit. In cars, this heat dissipates under your hood (particularly from your exhaust system) under all driving conditions which potentially threatens the longevity of some of the more fragile components such as electronics and wiring. Additionally, it can decrease the efficiency of components such as radiators, intercoolers, turbochargers, or superchargers. Exceptionally high heat generated by highly modified cars has even been known to damage paint on the hood. Similar principles apply in the motorcycle world, except that this heat often dissipates onto your legs as well which can be annoying to say the least. Wrapping the header eliminates these issues by keeping the heat confined to the header as opposed to letting it dissipate and can drop underhood temperatures significantly (upwards of 50% in some cases).
As for performance, there is a definite but small gain when you wrap a header. Without delving too deeply into the physics, an increase in exhaust temperature improves exhaust scavenging which results in increases in exhaust gas speed, slightly cooler temperatures in your intake, and more rapid exhaust flow. We’d like to stress that while there is a definite gain, it is small enough to almost consider it theoretical. Don’t expect to wrap your header and feel a difference on your seat-of-the-pants dyno. This concept applies to both motorcycle exhaust and car exhaust.
The Best Header Wrap
When it comes to choosing the best header wrap, there is really no difference between the wraps marketed for motorcycles and the wraps marketed for cars. They are the same stuff and will work on both types of vehicle. They usually come in a roll one to two inches wide and twenty-five to one hundred feet long. They are typically made with fiberglass or titanium fabric.
Our favorite is the LEDAUT header wrap due to its performance and affordability. It typically comes with a roll in the size of your choosing and the necessary 304 stainless locking ties to fasten it once you wrap your exhaust (plastic zip ties will melt!). It can withstand 1400 degrees Fahrenheit worth of direct heat and is highly resistant to abrasive wear, fluids, and vibration. This wrap does not require high heat spray like some of the competitive products. It is recommended that you soak it in water and install wet. Your first drive you will get a little smoke but this is normal and after that you should be good to go.
The LEDAUT wrap can be had in one or two inch wide rolls with lengths up to one hundred feet. As far as sizing is concerned, it’s highly dependent on the type of car you have. For instance, a BMW inline 6 is going to need less than a Ford or Chevy V8. We suggest trying to get a quick measurement of the total tube length (use a piece of string to measure the length and then stretch it against a tape measure and repeat for all cylinders) as well as a diameter measurement in inches. Use the following equation:
Total Length Required = Total Tube Length*Tube Diameter*3.14/ (Tape Width-0.5)
The above equation takes into account a .25″ overlap as you wrap each runner. It approximates an absolute minimum, so if you are on the fence between two lengths, we recommend getting the longer one to make sure you have enough.
Finally, when it comes to value, there is none better. The low cost makes this truly one of the best exhaust wrap values on the market. As far as where to buy, we recommend Amazon.com to take advantage of the competitive pricing. That usually works out to be the best price available anywhere in our experience. While the LEDAUT wrap is the hands down the best header wrap in our opinion, there are many other options out there so feel free to take a look by clicking here if the LEDAUT is not the right one for you. Happy wrenching!