Review by James Parchman
[This TCI Motorcycle Exhaust Wrap Kit Review was originally published in the July 2008 issue of Rider magazine]
As amazing as it seems on this late-winter day, when the temperature will hardly reach three clicks above freezing, warm-weather riding will be in full swing across America as this story goes to print. For owners of many liquid-cooled and fully-faired motorcycles, this means a return of the devilish engine heat that was such a scorcher last summer you often wished for an ice pack inside your riding pants.
About the same time motorcycle manufacturers cranked up horsepower output for sales purposes, the Feds clamped down on what could go out the tailpipe as emissions. Today’s larger motors: (1) produce more energy (heat), (2) have more restrictive exhaust systems (more heat), and (3) increasingly incorporate catalytic convertors to further oxidize those emissions (more more heat).
Sport-touring motorcycles are the major perpetrator of BRS (Broiling Rider Syndrome), due to powerplants that now routinely crank out 100-plus horses while housed in streamlined, fashion-inspired bodywork. The Honda ST1300 is a good example; a fine machine, but one which ranks high on our list of warm-weather chestnut roasters. On more than one occasion, a combination of high outside temps and stop ‘n’ go traffic has made it uncomfortable to remain aboard this bike due to the heat emanating from its lower cowling. My test subject is a 2005 model, but later ones are only somewhat improved.
Diverting engine heat and increasing ST riders’ summertime riding enjoyment seemed like a challenging business opportunity for Tom Miller, owner of TCI Products, an Orange, California, purveyor of specialty items for motorcycles and off-road vehicles.
Others have attempted to cure the ST’s steaminess by removing inner body panels, cutting additional fairing vents and adding interior cowling insulation. Miller thought it better to insulate the exhaust system, forcing more heat out the tailpipe.
The $46 exhaust wrap kit includes pre-cut strips of ceramic fiber that encircle the exhaust system, from manifold to muffler. The wrap is secured with clamps, also included. Install took three people (two watchers, one worker) nearly two hours.
A good portion of that time was for removal/replacement of bodywork. Detailed instructions are included, but the trick is to begin at the correct point and tightly wrap the fiber (which has the look and consistency of molted rattlesnake skin), in order to cover the exhaust completely. The directions clearly state “start the motorcycle before reinstalling the bodywork,” a point we missed. We buttoned her up, and upon startup managed to smoke up the neighborhood for the next 10 minutes while the fiber and the ST’s exhaust system got acquainted. No damage, but you should follow the instructions.
Does it work? Well, we don’t carry an infrared thermometer with us on the road, but our pants-leg-based before/after comparison indicates that a considerable amount of the ST’s excess lower cowling heat has now been dispatched to parts unknown.
TCI designed this kit for the Honda ST1300, but the idea is applicable to any motorcycle. Tell Miller what you ride and he’ll try to fix you up. TCI Products is a division of Turbo City Inc. which specializes in power enhancement products but has recently added some nifty racks and luggage products for those into adventure touring. Cool!
For more information: Contact Turbo City Inc., 1137 W. Katella Avenue, Orange, California 92867; (714) 639-4933, www.turbocity.com