Best Exhausts for the Harley Davidson Forty-Eight Motorcycles

Let me take you on a journey through my quest to find the best exhausts for the Harley Davidson Forty-Eight.

You see, an aftermarket exhaust for the Harley Davidson Forty-Eight isn’t just an accessory; it’s a necessity. The two are like a match made in heaven. Driven by this belief, I embarked on a rigorous mission, testing over 20 different aftermarket exhausts before finally narrowing down the 3 best Harley Davidson Forty-Eight pipes.

Through this process, I closely examined the design of each exhaust, evaluated how it sounded, scrutinized its performance, and explored any special features it offered. However, what really weighed heavily in my decision-making was the real-world performance of these Harley exhausts.

Of all the exhausts I tested, the Vance and Hines Shortshots Staggered Exhaust for the Forty-Eight stood out as the best and most crisp-sounding option. With a sound that reminded me of a jet engine and a noticeable power boost, this sleek yet rowdy exhaust captured my attention.

With a decade of hands-on experience working on bikes, I’ve had the privilege of testing some incredibly loud and awe-inspiring exhausts for Harleys. Now, I want to share my findings with you, guiding you through your purchase decision, and helping you make the best choice.

So stick with me, as I delve deeper into my thoughts and insights on the best exhausts for the Harley Davidson Forty-Eight. The wisdom I’ve gained from these countless hours of research and testing is now at your fingertips.

Overall Best

Vance & Hines Shortshots Staggered Exhaust

The Vance and Hines’ Shortshots are my go-to aftermarket exhaust for the Forty-Eight. Trust me, these pipes are more than a mere accessory; they’re a symphony of beefy acoustics, free-flow architecture, and a sound that could probably split the sky.

Let me walk you through my personal experience with these aftermarket exhausts. The minimalist design immediately caught my eye. As someone who appreciates a sleek and straightforward look, I found that they fit perfectly with the Forty-Eight.

The staggered style of the exhaust pipes, widening at the muffler and narrowing at the header, not only caught my attention but fascinated me. This design, I realized, creates backpressure, enhancing the exhaust note that I love so much.

One feature I found both functional and appealing was the integrated 220-degree heat shield. It protected my legs from the exhaust heat and gave the pipes a more aggressive look, especially the blacked-out version. But hey, if you prefer the classic chrome design, it’s all there for you. To each their own, right?

Now, let’s get to the heart of the matter: the sound. If you crave volume, the Shortshots deliver, turning it up to an unapologetic 11! I was amazed by how much louder and fuller they were, whether idling or revving at the redline.

What V&H have done with these pipes is nothing short of impressive. They managed to extract a deep and pleasing sound, focusing on the lower frequencies. Even the small detail of a ‘reverse popping’ sound on cold starts captivated me; air rushing into the engine created a phenomenal auditory experience.

When it came to power, I noticed a significant improvement in my Forty-Eight’s engine. The power delivery was smoother, the throttle response was sharper, and getting off the line was a breeze. It felt as if my Harley had been reborn.

However, I must warn you, these exhausts can be deafening. It’s a good thing that baffles are included to tone down the noise, but even then, these are some of the loudest Harley Davidson Forty-Eight exhausts I’ve ever experienced. So be warned, and brace yourself for a wild ride!

  • Clean and simple design
  • Black and chrome options are available
  • Narrower header pipes and wider mufflers
  • Exhaust sound is amplified
  • Exhaust gasses can flow more freely
  • Louder, more bass-heavy exhaust note
  • Really cool air intake sound on cold starts
  • Integrated 220-degree heat shields
  • Keeps heat off rider’s legs
  • Better throttle response
  • Reasonably priced
  • Baffles can be installed to make the exhaust quieter
  • Ideal for longer journeys
  • Tuning/ECU remap may be required to get the best results

Best Budget 

Bassani Radial Sweepers Exhaust for Harley Davidson Forty-Eight

The moment I laid eyes on the Bassani Radial Sweepers, I knew they were something special. These pipes are shorter than most others I’ve encountered, and believe me, they demand your attention. What struck me was not just their loudness, but the hidden power they unlocked in my Harley’s engine.

Let’s talk about their unique styling. These 16-gauge double-wall steel pipes, with their slash-cut design, look incredibly slick and modern. They’re significantly shorter than your average aftermarket exhaust for the Harley Davidson Forty-Eight, and this isn’t just for show.

The shorter design brings tangible benefits to the table. For starters, the pipes stay mounted higher on the bike, so scraping them on bumps is not an issue. Less metal also means a welcome reduction in weight.

What really got me excited, though, was the additional power these pipes provided. Not to mention, the shorter length cranks up the volume to an astounding level.

And when it comes to loud, oh, the menacing sound of these Harley Davidson pipes had me hooked! It’s more than just louder; it’s rowdier, angrier, as if the exhaust itself wants to melt your face off! That’s the best way I can describe it.

Thankfully, my legs remained unmelted, thanks to the integrated heat shields. Though, due to their unique shape and style, I did notice a bit more heat compared to other aftermarket exhausts.

I can’t move on without sharing the awesome torque upgrade I felt with these exhausts. With the right tuning and some ECU magic, I found a massive torque boost. It made the bike feel more responsive and eager. Acceleration off the line improved, and merging on the highway became an unparalleled thrill.

Lastly, I must mention how pleasantly simple the installation was. Everything I needed was right there in the box, and the instructions were clear and intuitive. And if it matters to you, the entire setup is designed and built in the USA.

All in all, the Bassani Radial Sweepers were a revelation to me. From design to performance, these pipes have carved a special place in my heart. If you’re looking to transform your ride, they might just be the perfect fit for you.

  • 16-gauge double-wall steel
  • Backswept design
  • Better ground clearance
  • Shorter exhaust pipes
  • Not as heavy as other exhausts
  • Significantly louder than stock
  • Mean, grunty exhaust note
  • Noticeable upgrade in torque
  • The bike is faster off the line
  • Merging on the highway is easier
  • Integrated heat shields
  • Easy to install
  • Comes with all mounting hardware in the box
  • The unique shape does throw a bit more heat on the rider’s legs, despite the heat shield

Best Premium

Bassani Road Rage 2-Into-1 Exhaust

When I got my hands on Bassani’s Road Rage 2-into-1 style exhausts for my Harley Davidson Forty-Eight, I knew I was in for a sensory treat. These pipes not only looked like a million bucks but sounded like it too, unlocking tons of hidden power that made me feel the thrill all the way to my eyeballs!

The high-quality 304 stainless steel construction surprised me with its relatively light weight. I couldn’t believe how little these pipes added to my bike’s wet weight. If you’re like me, riding a Harley, you understand the urge to shed every possible gram.

At first glance, the 2-into-1 styling might not appeal to everyone, but it quickly grew on me. It gave my bike that classic bobber look that’s really in vogue right now. The beautiful TIG welds turned it into an absolute showstopper.

I can’t overlook the strength of those TIG welds, designed to withstand higher pressure, nor the way these pipes are mounted higher than stock. It made a noticeable difference in the cornering ability of my Harley.

But enough about the design. Let’s get to the really good stuff.

When I fired up that thunderous Harley exhaust, the sound was phenomenal. I’m talking about an almost 25% louder exhaust note that resonated deeper and more robustly than the stock. If you believe that loud pipes save lives, then trust me, you’ll feel like a local hero with these!

What truly won me over wasn’t just the loudness; it was the higher quality of the exhaust sound. It’s hard to describe how perfectly calibrated the acoustics are, producing a sound that’s both mean and refined!

I also felt a nice power boost. I’m talking about roughly 3 more horsepower and a bit more down-low torque. Paired with the weight savings, it changed the game in tight maneuvering and burning rubber on the highway.

All the necessary O2 sensors and adapters were provided in the box, and a partial heat shield worked to keep exhaust temps down. The entire package, proudly manufactured in the USA, almost made me overlook one slight drawback: these exhausts only fit Forty-Eight models up to 2013. But if that’s not an issue for you, I wholeheartedly recommend giving these pipes a try. They’ve transformed my ride into something truly special.

  • 304 stainless steel design
  • Lightweight build
  • Easier to maneuver the bike
  • TIG welds are stronger and can withstand higher pressure
  • Pipes are mounted higher
  • Lean angle can be a bit more aggressive
  • Rounded, megaphone muffler design
  • 2-into-1 styling
  • Higher volume
  • The exhaust note is deeper and more robust
  • Higher exhaust flow
  • Adds a bit of power
  • Throttle response is improved
  • Integrated partial heat shield
  • Comes with O2 sensors and adapters in the box
  • Easy install
  • Made in the USA
  • Only fits Harley Davidson Forty-Eight models up to 2013

Hugo Alais

Hi, I'm Hugo, I'm a motorcycle enthusiast who’s been riding for the last 10 years. I'm passionate about all things motorcycles and started Bikes Future to help other riders make the right motorcycle moves. I ride a white Kawasaki Ninja 400. You can find out more about me and my experience with motorcycling here.