Tucked away down a narrow alleyway in the back streets of Bournemouth (a quiet UK South Coast seaside resort) is the world’s largest manufacturer of Vintage and Classic motorcycle exhaust pipes and silencers. Started in 1972, Armours has gradually grown into the premier supplier of motorcycle exhaust systems. They also supply a wide range of other restoration products like control levers, cycle thread nuts and bolts; the list goes on. With over 400 different exhaust pipes and silencers available, Armours ship over 1000 exhaust pipes and silencers a month to customers around the world. The seeming chaos of the despatch area and the hundreds of tea chest storage bins belies a very controlled, efficient system. The bulk of the exhaust pipes and silencers are HD (High Density) chromed steel with about 5% of the output in stainless steel. They can also supply unplated items, make pipes and silencers to patterns, and provide a fitting service at the factory. The Dickensian factory and shop, employing 8 and a half people, smelling of ground steel, welding ozone and forming oil, equipped with only a small number of power tools, pipe bender and welding equipment, produces excellent replicas of original equipment. All of the exhaust pipes and silencers are made in-house and are copied from good patterns. HD chrome items are shipped to a specialist plater 200 miles away, the nearest that could meet the company’s exacting standards. High turnover items for popular machines are made in large batches and shipped straight off to the plater; low volume items are still made in reasonable batches but only a few are sent off for plating, the most expensive part of manufacture. Production takes about six weeks with plating taking the greatest time. A few exhaust pipes come with fitting instructions like the WLA Harley Davidson system supplied with an overlong rear pipe that has to be trimmed to fit. Most of the exhaust pipes and silencers can be supplied in Stainless Steel except for those that require stamped shapes. They also make stainless steel systems for 1970s and 1980s BMWs, Guzzis and Ducatis. They do not make pipes and silencers for Japanese machines as the subtle year-on-year changes and double skin construction are impossible to replicate. Despite being overloaded with day-to-day production they still find time to develop new pipes and silencers. Recent additions are pre-war Panther 100 and Panther 50 pipes and silencers, Triumph TSX silencer, a Coventry Eagle silencer, and a universal, strippable, silencer for smaller 2-strokes. The owner, Peter Rutins, introduced a new website armoursltd.co.uk last year which has proved a great success, possibly too successful as they are struggling to keep up with orders. The big issue for antipodean customers is the shipping cost - being large and heavy, inevitably it is going to cost. Peter has tried many shippers to get a better deal but keeps coming back to Royal Mail as they provide the best service. If you are visiting check the website for opening times.
ABOVE LEFT Owner Peter Rutins with an un-plated Norton “peardrop” silencer. BELOW RIGHT Peter in the Outwards Goods department with a Velocette Silencer.
ABOVE LEFT A universal, strippable, silencer for small 2-strokes. LEFT A Coventry Eagle silencer.
ABOVE The Dickensian Factory.