This review focuses on the best exhausts for the Harley Davidson Heritage Softail.
Our reviews talk about the performance, build quality, and of course, the sound of each Harley Davidson Heritage exhaust. Our opinions are backed up by real-world testing and evaluation, so you can rest assured that these exhausts will deliver.
All said and done, Vance & Hines’ Big Radius exhaust is still one of our favorite Harley Davidson Heritage exhausts. It features the most durable build, best-in-class power, and an exquisite sound profile.
If you’re having trouble choosing the best exhaust for your Harley Davidson Heritage Softail, don’t worry. We’ve been reviewing motorcycle accessories professionally for over a decade, so we know a good exhaust when we see it.
Keep reading for more of our thoughts on the best Harley Davidson Heritage Softail exhausts.
Vance & Hines Big Radius Exhaust For Harley Softail 1986-2017
V&H’s Big Radius is easy to recommend. This true dual exhaust for the Harley Davidson Heritage is the complete package, with a loud and powerful sound profile, beefed-up torque, and a uniquely functional yet sexy design.
V&H pipes are renowned for their premium construction. This one continues that trend, with high-grade stainless steel used throughout the build. The whole package is lightweight but holds up really well to high exhaust pressure and heat.
As for the performance, we were floored by the enhanced horsepower and torque figures on offer. A free-flowing exhaust design allows the Harley Davidson Heritage’s engine to operate at peak efficiency and rocket the bike to 60 much faster. Low-end torque sees a similar bump up. Moreover, you see this improvement all over the rev range, making for easier passing on the highway.
V&H provides a ton of useful features that make riding the Heritage a lot more fun. For one, you get full coverage heat shields and a ‘blue-proof’ finish. The curved design positions this exhaust higher than stock, which prevents it from banging and scraping on bumps in the road.
But how does it sound? Well, suffice to say, this Harley Heritage exhaust generates one of our favorite exhaust notes. It is louder than stock, sure, but also a lot more full-sounding. The focus on bass gives it that thumpy character that is classic Harley, and the unique startup sound on cold starts is just *insert chef’s kiss*.
Lastly, you can get this exhaust for almost every Harley Davidson Heritage powertrain, be it the Big Twin, Milwaukee 8, or anything else.
- Eye-catching design
- Healthy power bump compared to stock
- Better performance throughout the rev range
- Integrated full-coverage heat shields
- Pipes won’t blue over time
- Loud and powerful sounding exhaust note
- Bass-heavy sound profile
- Lighter than stock pipes
- Best build quality on the market
- Premium stainless steel used
- Free flow architecture
- Awesome fluttering sound on startup
- Design accentuates the Road King’s lines
- Styling may not be to everyone’s taste
Vance & Hines 3″ Round Twin Slash Slip-On Mufflers For Harley Softail 2007-2017
Another V&H entrant on the list, this Harley Davidson Heritage slip-on offers loud, beefy sound, premium materials, and a cool, understated design. And best of all, it does so without costing an arm and a leg.
The design of this slip-on style exhaust is aggressive but in a subtle way. The slash-cut ends show that it means business, but the look isn’t as garish as some other exhausts. You can get the pipes in chrome or satin black.
Backing up that design is a premium build that uses lightweight stainless steel and a completely blue-proof finish. The full-coverage heat shields are carried over from Vance & Hines’ pricier offerings, so long rides on hot days are nice and comfy.
One drawback of these Harley Davidson slip-on exhausts is the fact that they don’t bring the biggest power-up to your bike. That’s to be expected with slip-ons, but we have to give credit to V&H for the special, free-flow design, which enables smoother throttle response. And the lower weight definitely helps with low-speed maneuvering.
One area where this exhaust does not disappoint is the sound. V&H unlocked a couple extra dBs in the engine, resulting in a louder, fuller exhaust note. It is also deeper and more aggressive than stock. Really, the sound alone puts this slip-on head and shoulders above the competition.
- Stainless steel build
- Lightweight design
- Available in chrome and black
- TIG welds
- Great backpressure
- Added performance
- Anti-bluing design
- Integrated full-coverage heat shields
- Loudest Vance & Hines slip-on exhaust
- Deep and beefy sound profile
- Better throttle response
- The bike accelerates faster
- Compatible with a most modern Heritage models
- Budget-friendly slip-on
- It’s a slip-on, so the performance is a bit lacking
Bassani Radial Sweepers Exhaust With Heat Shields
Bassani’s Radial Sweepers have always been at or near the top of our recommendations lists. This is thanks to the unique design that enables better performance, the durable construction, and, hands down, the best exhaust note we’ve ever heard from any Harley Davidson Heritage exhaust.
Before we get into the otherworldly acoustics of Bassani’s Radial Sweepers, we have to touch on the build quality and design. These ‘shorty’ pipes for the Harley Davidson Heritage use 16-gauge, double-wall steel for added durability. The whole package is significantly lighter than stock, which helps with both installation and low-speed maneuvering.
As for the design, we liked the backswept pipes and slash-cut ends. However, the included heat shields aren’t the most effective, owing to this exhaust’s unusually high mounting position. Expect some heat on your legs.
That higher mounting position does mean you don’t have to worry about the exhaust scraping on any bumps in the road, which is a plus.
Moving on to performance, we think it is safe to say that these exhausts offer the most noticeable boost in power. This is thanks to the shorter design and free-flowing architecture. In testing, we were treated to a more powerful bike that accelerates faster, passes other vehicles effortlessly, and feels more agile.
We saved the best for last with this exhaust’s incredible sound characteristics. Bassani’s deep and rumbly sound is well-represented here, and it’s even louder than on their other models. At idle, the sound is a thumpy, menacing growl. Twist the throttle, and the engine roars to life like nothing else.
In fact, the sound is so loud that you might want to get in the habit of wearing ear protection. And that brings us to why this exhaust isn’t higher on our list. Really, it could have been at the very top, but at this price point, we can’t excuse the excessive heat. Moreover, we think the exhaust is just too loud for most people.
But suppose you want the loudest, highest-performing exhaust for your Harley Davidson Heritage Softail. In that case, this is the one to have.
- 16-gauge double-wall steel
- Mounts higher on the bike
- Does not scrape on bumps
- Aggressive exhaust sound
- Low-end torque gets a nice bump
- The bike is faster off the line
- Passing and merging on the highway is easier
- Heat shields on the pipes
- Even with heat shields, some exhaust heat is to be expected