A 2 stroke pipe guard protects the expansion chamber in 2 stroke dirt bikes from direct impact damage. It is a fairly inexpensive way to avoid getting your dirt bike expansion chamber dented beyond repair. Still many choose not to install pipe guards on their dirt bikes.
In this article, we will explain why and when it makes sense to add extra protection to your two stroke or four stroke dirt bike. While we cover both 2 stroke and 4 stroke pipe guards, we concentrate mainly on the 2 stroke pipe guards since 2 stroke bikes are more prone to damage and dents. We will also cover alternative ways to protect dirt bike exhausts.
In this article, you will discover:
- What a dirt bike pipe guard is
- Why you need a pipe guard on your dirt bike
- What a 2 stroke pipe guard is
- What a 4 stroke pipe guard is
- Different types of pipe guards
- Best 2 stroke pipe guards
- Recommended 2 stroke and 4 stroke pipe guards
- And much more!
Now, let’s get started.
What Is a Pipe Guard?
When riding dirt bikes off-road on trails, scratches, dings, stains, and general overall wear and tear are to be expected.
But there are also parts in your dirt bike that need to be protected. One of these is theexhaust pipe, especially if you ride a two stroke. And the best way to protect it is to get a dirt bike pipe guard.
A pipe guard is a cover that is mounted on the exhaust pipe of the dirt bike. It protects the head pipe from dents and dings from ground debris and rocks and keeps its performance. In addition, many pipe guards include a heat shield that protects riding pants and boots from heated exhaust pipes.
A dented exhaust pipe not only makes your dirt bike look older but more importantly it can affect the overall performance of your bike. The dents will affect the exhaust air flow speed and back pressure. This will cause issues, especially with two stroke engines, because they use the exhaust back pressure combined with the power valve to produce more low-end torque and high-end power.
The exhaust pipe is a fairly expensive part and it can easily be dented or twisted when dropping the dirt bike. With a proper dirt bike pipe guard, you can extend the exhaust pipe’s life span.
Why Do I Need a Pipe Guard on My Dirt Bike?
If you ride off-road and on trails, you should definitely protect your pipe with a dirt bike pipe guard. After all, you are constantly jumping over boulders, logs, and tree trunks that can easily dent or crush metal.
If you have been able to avoid mishaps so far, consider yourself lucky. Eventually, the pipe on your dirt bike will get in close contact with an obstacle and have some damage.
And it’s not just about the looks of your dirt bike that you can protect with a pipe guard. A few dings probably won’t amount to much but large or multiple dents can decrease the power and obstruct the flow of air from the engine.
2 strokes with a large expansion chamber are more prone to damage and dents. The 2 stroke dirt bikes benefit the most from installing a two stroke pipe guard.
The head pipe on 4 strokes can also get damaged if not properly protected. Replacing the exhaust pipe isn’t exactly cheap, so a dirt bike pipe guard can save you big bucks. Also, time spent on service is always time away from riding.
You might have noticed that more advanced enduro and trail riders may not use any dirt bike exhaust protection. Their advanced riding style allows this because they are able to avoid dropping the bike or hitting the pipe into obstacles. But if you are not yet on that level, you will find it best to invest into a good pipe guard. Otherwise, you need to be prepared for denting, bending, and replacing your head pipe regularly.
A 2 stroke pipe guard is even more important for 2 stroke engines. The head pipe (sometimes also called the expansion chamber) in 2 strokes is large and hanging low and front. Thus, it is more prone to hitting logs and rocks.
2 stroke pipes can take a beating and the minor dents from rocks or ground debris don’t usually impact the performance. However, at some point riding on rocky terrain with logs and other obstacles will guaranteed result in a direct hit that will make a large dent on the pipe. This is the case especially with the more aggressive riders.
After these kind of hits, your pipe will eventually be damaged so severely that it inhibits the performance. This means that you will need to either buy a new one or get the pipe repaired. At the latest at this point, most riders usually realize that they need a 2 stroke pipe guard for added protection.
If you have a 4 stroke dirt bike, you don’t necessarily need a dirt bike pipe guard because the pipe sits much higher. Therefore, you should not have major issues unless you’re extremely unlucky.
4 stroke head pipes are not that prone to minor damage from rocks that kick up off the ground. However, impacts to boulders and logs can severely damage these smaller exhaust tubes.
Also, the super heated head pipe on a 4 stroke easily gets your riding pants and boots destroyed. There’s nothing more annoying than replacing the gear after each riding day. Dirt bike pipe guards for 4 strokes are mostly made of carbon fiber, which also functions as a heat shield.
Different Types of Exhaust Guards
There are multiple different styles of dirt bike pipe guards available. Most of them are designed especially for 2 strokes since they encounter most issues with head pipes.
Most pipe guards are made of carbon fiber, composite materials, aluminum, or steel. New generation pipe guards, such as the ones made of dual compound like stainless steel and elastomer, also emerge and gain popularity.
These all types of pipe guards mold around the head pipe of your 2 stroke or 4 stroke. The aluminum and steel pipe guards usually are smaller while the carbon fiber pipe guards are molded and fit around the entire head pipe.
A dirt bike pipe guard is usually very easy to install and doesn’t usually require removing the exhaust pipe. In general, a pipe guard can be mounted on the head pipe with ring clamps or pipe bands that come with the pipe guard itself. So you don’t need to buy them separately. But just in case, make sure that this is the case also with the pipe guard you buy.
Carbon Fiber and Composite
Dirt bike pipe guards made of carbon fiber and composite materials are very light and they excel in strength and damage control. All in all, they offer a great protection against dents and harder hits.
2 stroke pipe guards made of carbon fiber and composite materials are molded to fit perfectly on the head pipe covering the front and sides of the expansion chamber. They are mounted on the pipe with brackets and/or clamps that securely hold the pipe guard in place.
In addition, they are quieter compared to the aluminum and steel pipe guards as they do not rattle against the steel or titanium pipe.
Carbon fiber composite pipe guards are usually made of a mix of carbon fiber, kevlar, fiberglass, and high-temperature resins. This gives them a high impact strength. They often serve also as a heat shield.
If you have a 2 stroke, you may need to occasionally remove the carbon fiber 2 stroke pipe guard for cleaning. The reason for this is that sometimes sticks, small rocks, and other debris work their way in between the head pipe and the pipe guard, which can cause scratching and staining.
Aluminum and Steel
Dirt bike pipe guards made of aluminum and steel generally are less expensive options. But they are smaller so they sometimes may lack in fully protecting the entire head pipe.
Aluminum and steel pipe guards are in general stronger and heavier compared to the carbon fiber versions. They can be bent and fitted to the curves of the pipe if needed. However, for the same reason, they can bend in contact while carbon fiber would have to break or be punctured.
Aluminum and steel pipe guards tend to rattle and make more noise than carbon fiber pipe guards. However, you can try to minimize the rattling and scratching of the pipe. For example, you can use small beads of silicone on the inside of the pipe and allowed them to dry before installing.
Aluminum and steel pipe guards are stiffer and they take a bit more effort to install. In addition, it stands out more than the carbon fiber pipe guard.
Best 2 Stroke Pipe Guards
The best types of 2 stroke pipe guards fit snugly around the expansion chamber. This way, any impact will dissipate to a larger area not causing dents. Well designed and fitted 2 stroke pipe guard designs are typically molded for a tight fit and they will protect the exhaust pipe the best possible way.
We consider these as the main characteristics of the best 2 stroke pipe guards:
- The 2 stroke pipe guard fits snugly.
- The pipe guard doesn’t rattle or move after installation.
- You can remove the pipe guard easily for cleaning.
- The pipe guard is lightweight.
- The pipe guard is durable and will not easily break off in crashes.
We Recommend These Type of Guards
In general, we favor the carbon fiber or fiber glass cover style pipe guards. These types of 2 stroke pipe guards are lightweight and very durable, and they can also be repaired. Some of our favorite manufacturers—with proven quality—are P3, Enduro Engineering and E-line.
We Do Not Recommend These Type of Guards
The pipe guard and skid plate combination guards are heavy and large, plus they make all kinds of noises. These types of skid plates also have a high friction compared to aluminum or composite skid plates, which makes log crossings and rock slides dangerous. Mainly due to the large size, it also prevents some narrow rock garden techniques. This type of guard also collects lots of dirt, sand, and mud inside the lower engine area and is difficult to clean and remove for cleaning. We do not have great experiences with these pipe guards.
Another type of pipe guards that we cannot recommend is the Armadillo pipe guard style. While they are very light and can offer light level of protection, they seem to break off very easily. We have seen the Armadillo pipe guard fly off in the first or second crash and still not protecting the expansion chamber from dents.
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If you have a 2 stroke and choose a carbon fiber 2 stroke pipe guard, our recommendation for you is a pipe guard from E Line. E Line Pipe Guard (click to check the current price on Amazon.com) is durable and lightweight. It is made of a mix of carbon fiber, kevlar, fiberglass, and high-temperature resins and it distributes any impact over a large area to reduce the pipe damage. The pipe guard is easy to install without removing the exhaust pipe. It is available for almost every major brand of dirt bike.
If you have a 4 stroke and your choice is a carbon fiber pipe guard, we recommend you get a pipe guard from P3. P3 Heat Shield (click to check the current price on Amazon.com) combines a pipe guard and a heat shield. The pipe guard protects the head pipe from dents and the heat shield protects your legs from heated exhaust pipes. The pipe guard is made of a mix of carbon fiber, fiberglass, and high-temperature resins and has a high-temp coating underneath. It is extremely easy to mount.
Pipe guards can extend the life span of a dirt bike exhaust and protect the pipe from dents and direct impact damage. This applies both to 2 strokes and 4 strokes even though a 2 stroke pipe guard is even more important due to the size, shape, and construction of the head pipe expansion chamber on the 2 stroke bike.
Installing a pipe guard on your dirt bike is essential especially if you ride off-road and on trails. That’s because dents on a head pipe are simply inevitable when riding enduro. In addition to not looking good, they can lower the power and create excessive heat. A pipe guard saves you money and time since you don’t need to regularly replace your head pipe.
If you don’t yet have a dirt bike pipe guard make sure to get one before your head pipe gets dented or worse.
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Last updated: March 17, 2023