When I first started in motorcycle publishing I was pretty green. Actually, I was totally naive. I didn’t know shit about the aftermarket motorcycle industry at all. In fact, I only kinda knew about the sportbike and dirt bike world I grew up around. But even then, I wouldn’t say I was an expert of anything two-wheelrelated whatsoever. After landing a job with Primedia (former publisher of Hot Rod’s Bike Works, which later became the mag you’re now holding in your hands), I pretty much did everything I could to learn about the world of “custom.” Being a both-hands-and-feet kind of guy, I devoured anything custom related in the beginning. I read every press release that came in the mail (yes, the good old USPS mailbox). I worked late almost every night. I went to every bike night in Southern California. I asked my editor to attend every rally I could. And I read every Harley magazine out there in order to sharpen my senses about this new world. And it never felt like work. I was the luckiest guy alive.
After some time cutting my publishing teeth, I was ready to buy my first Harley, a Sportster (duh!). And immediately, I couldn’t wait to change everything on it—not that it wasn’t cool in its stock form, but it was my blank canvas. Everything I was surrounded by revolved around customizing your bike. And after becoming pretty familiar with the aftermarket world, I was ready to get started. The first thing I ever installed on my Sporty was an exhaust pipe. Let me tell you, I was so incredibly picky about what would go on my pride and joy. I asked so many questions to the guys around the office, and I went to the dealerships and annoyed the hell out of the parts guys (one of whom ultimately became a very good friend). And I shopped around until I found the perfect set. Let me remind you, the internet world was still pretty much being developed. Flip phones were all the rage, and you basically had magazines, your local shops, and bike rallies to figure out what parts were available for your bike. In other words, it was not as easy to find the perfect set of pipes as it is today. But that made it kind of fun. It was an adventure and sort of a bonding relationship between my bike and me to hunt down the right parts.
Nowadays there are so many exhaust manufacturers out there that it can get a little daunting when searching for the perfect exhaust for your bagger. That is why we’ve taken the liberty of testing the looks, performance, and sound in our online video series, Baggers Sound-Off, and we’re bringing the data we’ve collected from that series to the pages of this issue. Check out page 20 for the list of slip-ons, full systems, and 2-into-1 exhaust pipes, including the new Milwaukee-Eight!
In the end it was the Martin Bros. who got my hard-earned dough. But
I was rigorous in my search because
I had certain criteria that needed to be met before I dropped the hammer. They needed to be loud enough without pissing my neighbors off, they had to boost the performance in the horsepower and torque departments, and they had to look cool. Well, the Martin Bros. pipes I chose checked all the boxes. Except they ended up pissing my neighbors off anyway, which I didn’t really mind because they were total dicks.
As soon as I bolted them on and started the bike, something happened. That something was the moment I got hooked on custom motorcycles. And it’s something I’ll never forget. I’d put a lot of effort into finding the right set of pipes, and the overwhelming feeling of satisfaction came over me. After riding the bike with the pipes on, it felt like I was doing something that blurred the lines of legality. It felt good.
Bye for now…
My first Harley, a 2006 Sportster Custom with Martin Bros. Trendkills Exhaust Pipes.