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Why Vintage Motorcycle Exhaust Systems are Beautiful featured

Why Vintage Motorcycle Exhausts Are So Beautiful! (10 pics as proof)

You might think classic bike exhausts are not that exciting.

But take a second look.
Many of them are sculptured works of art!

Vintage motorcycle exhaust systems can be the most beautiful feature of a classic bike. With their bold shapes and retro details, they’re often works of art. These kinds of stunning classic bike exhausts are just not seen any more.

10 Vintage Motorcycle Exhaust Systems That Make You Look Twice

Yep, I’ve been back to my favorite vintage motorcycle museum, and this time I was focused on the motorcycle exhaust systems.

Ready to see some super pretty pipes?
Check these out!

1.  Benelli Sie 1974

Let’s start with an absolute show-stopper.

Benelli Sie 1974 6 cylinder OHV 750 cc full

Like everything in the 70s, this classic motorcycle exhaust system is big, bold and not exactly subtle.

With its 750cc 6 cylinder overhead valve motor, this gorgeous blue beast would’ve caused 10 car pileups in its day.
Everyone else on the road would be losing their minds as this outrageous vintage motorcycle roared past!

Benelli Sie 1974 6 cylinder OHV 750 cc close up

It’s the kind of bike you can imagine a young Jerry Hall posing on in leopard skin, can’t you?

2.  Brough Superior 680 1934

Ah, the Brough Superior.

There’s so much about these vintage motorcycles to marvel at.

Brough Superior 1934 680 OHV vtwin 674cc full

At this particular motorcycle museum, there are five in a row, so it’s total sensory overload.
This model has a 674cc overhead valve V-twin motor.

There’s a lot to look at on a vintage Brough.
But after you gaze at all of the incredible details on these iconic bikes, you stop at the pipes.

This vintage motorcycle exhaust system has two pipes, flaring out to just touch each other at their widest point.

Brough Superior 1934 680 OHV vtwin 674cc close up

They’re spaced just-so like this, and held in place by two little spacer bars that make sure these pipes sit just right.

3.  Royal Enfield Bullet 1936 500cc 4 valve

Here’s another gorgeous specimen from the 1930s.
This 500cc vintage motorcycle had a 4 valve engine and the kind of styling that makes you gasp.

Along with that amazing chrome tank with the deep maroon flashes, the gold pin striping and matching gold logo, this is a truly regal motorcycle.

Royal Enfield Bullet 1936 500cc 4 valve full

This vintage motorcycle exhaust system features an extra long pipe with a strangely beautiful big fluted end.

It looks a little like a metallic mermaid tail, somehow, doesn’t it?.

Royal Enfield Bullet 1936 500cc 4 valve closeup

There’s some highly specialist welding going on here, that’s for sure.

4.  Norton 1928 CS1

And speaking of magical creatures from under the sea, just take a look at this amazing Norton.
This classic motorcycle exhaust system almost looks like some kind of otherworldly fish.

Norton 1928 CS1 490cc OHC single full

This 490cc OHC single has an impressively swooping pipe that feeds into wide flat fishtails that contrast sharply with the compact silver and black tank.

Norton 1928 CS1 490cc OHC single closeup

5.  Norton 19 1929

The following year, Norton was trying something different with its motorcycle exhaust system.
This 588cc OHV single reinvented the fishtail pipe, going wider, flatter, and painting it black.

Norton 19 1929 588cc OHV single full

The gas tank is still compact and sleek, but the chrome header pipes feeding into the black fishtail mufflers makes a real statement, and works well with the blacked out frame and mudguards.

6.  BMW 1934 R2

What a mean looking motorcycle this one is!

Its 198cc 8hp is ALMOST intimidating, because, well…just take a look at that seriously business like styling!

BMW 1934 R2 198CC 8hp OHV full

The uncompromising black frame and the hard lines work perfectly with the sleek exhaust which ends in a sharp, angular edge that you could likely cut your fingers on.

 

BMW 1934 R2 198CC 8hp OHV closeup

It may not be that powerful, but you’d probably still instinctively get out of the way, right?

7.  Moto Guzzi 1938 PLS Ardetta

This Guzzi is one of my favorites at this motorcycle museum.
The red is SO bold, SO Guzzi…it’s the embodiment of Italian confidence and style.

Just look at the way it stands out, even in a crowd of other notable motorcycles.

Moto Guzzi 1938 PLS Ardetta 250CC OHV full

But the real joy of this bike is not it’s bright red frame, mudguards, wheel rims, or even its gorgeous red spokes.
Take a closer look at this classic bike exhaust…

Moto Guzzi 1938 PLSArdetta 250CC OHV close up

Yes, it’s actually stamped with Guzzi, a 3D metallic branding that reinforces the identity of this gorgeous creature.

This is a motorcycle that shamelessly grabs attention – and then basks in it.

8.  Velocette MAC 1953

How’s this for a standout vintage motorcycle exhaust system?

The sharp, stylish black, green and gold colors of the gas tank create a sober, businesslike impression at first glance.
But drop your eyes down further.

Velocette MAC 1953 350cc OHV full

The fishtail pipe – already pretty fancy! – is embellished further with punched out holes, a triangle-within-a-triangle, and a strongly fluted edge.

Velocette MAC 1953 350cc OHV close up

There’s a lot of detail on display here (yes, I did sit down on the floor to gaze at it, I admit)!

9.  Indian 1936 436

This motorcycle museum has more than its fair share of vintage Indian motorcycles.
They all have their own charm, but this 1265cc model with its upside down 4 cylinder motor has a standout classic motorcycle exhaust.

Indian 1936 436 1265cc upside down 4 cyl full

Of course, it’s hard not to get distracted by all the beautiful styling details of the Indians, from the tank artwork, the old school leather seat and those surprisingly sturdy floorboards.

But just look at these twin pipes.

Indian 1936 436 1265cc upside down 4 cyl closeup

They seem a little out of proportion with the rest of this long, heavy bike, don’t they?
But I bet they made a real racket when you turn that key.

10.  Peugeot 1938 515

Let’s finish with another really unusual vintage motorcycle.

This French 495cc single cylinder bike demands you stand in front of it with your mouth hanging open.
For an embarrassing amount of time.

Peugeot 1938 515 single cylinder 495cc france full

I mean, just look at it.
There’s a lot to see here.
From the flared red mudguards to the complicated gear shift and the sky-high pillion seat, which bit do you look at first?

Well, eventually your eyes will come to rest on the pipe.

Peugeot 1938 515 single cylinder 495cc france close up

Have you ever seen one like this?
There’s so much going on here.
The museum should really put a couple of chairs out in front of this one, so you can really take your time and absorb all the detail.

As it was, we had to break for coffee, and gather our strength to come back and make sure we hadn’t missed anything.

Vintage Motorcycle Exhausts are Overlooked Works of Art

So what do you think of these classic bike exhausts?

Will they make you look twice at motorcycles in future, just to make sure you haven’t missed some beautiful fluted fishtail pipes?
Or a long sweeping line exhaust system that balances out the rest of the motorcycle styling just perfectly?

I used to be obsessed with motorcycle gas tanks, but now I think I have a new focus!

Photos taken at Motorcycle Mecca, New Zealand.

 


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2 comments

    Loved the article about the exhausts. Well done. XXX

      Thanks, Ken! So much fun looking through my 8,0000000 motorcycle photos…

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