2 into 1 ‘Street’ Exhaust for BMW R100 Airhead

Images: With the kind permission of Jon-Lars Sorenson. More pics at: http://s44.photobucket.com/user/R90S/library/

When designing exhaust systems for race engines, I pit a couple simulation programs against eachother. This has proved to yield pretty good base designs from which dyno tuning takes over: a complex world of interactions including the tricky relationship between exhaust design and inlet tract design. The whole system can be  likened to a pipe organ with the valves as keys – it is literally akin to tuning a musical instrument.

All well and good to put this sort of effort into shaving half a second off a racing lap time, but for your average rider on a street bike with its wide operating parameters,  moderate departures from design optimals will likely go unnoticed. The calculated base design should be good enough. Besides, packaging contraints will often have you deviating from design ideals, in which case the exercise may instead become a matter of avoiding lengths and diameters that actively rob horsepower where you want it. This is particularly true of the ‘tail-pipe’ length which includes the collector length (downstream of the merge) and the muffler length.

For the calculated tail-pipe lengths to work, the muffler should be a straight-through absorber type of the same internal diameter as the collector. Unfortunately, the optimal overall tail-pipe length is influenced by the individual muffler characteristics and its length. So the tail-pipe lengths below are a rough guide only.  Anyway, let’s be honest, half the time we choose mufflers for their looks and sound right? Call that ‘ego contraints’, which leads to the following fromula:

Wide operating/operator parameters + packaging constraints + ego constraints = big fat compromise!

This is the world most of us inhabit. Unless you confuse the street for a racetrack and go to considerable extra effort in dialing out contraints and other unknowns for a narrower set of riding parameters, then quit obsessing over mm’s! (from an ex mm-obsessive).

With the above firmly in mind, here’s a set of street calcululations for a stock R100. Caveat: I haven’t built and tested this street system. But the following guidlines should yield better performance than the stock exhaust system and probably better than some of the dodgier after-market 2into1 offerings – particularly the ones that have one pipe butting into the other without a well designed merge.

Main Inputs (among others):
Compression ratio: 8.7
Volumetric efficiency: 0.95 (assumed)
Stock 308 cam duration @ 0.05″ lift: 243 deg
RPM at peak power: 6800
Application: street peformance – tuning for mid range torque and higher RPM HP

Resulting 2into1 specs:

1) Header diameter – stick to stock 38mm* pipe size even for warmer 336 or 324 cams with longer durations.
2) Header pipe length: 770 – 835mm (Third harmonic: the magic 32″!) err on longer side for our air cooled machines and approx 50mm longer if have warmer cam. **
3) Into a collector via a well designed merge.
4) Collector pipe size: 44 – 48mm  (1-3/4″  or 1-7/8″)
5) Best tail-pipe lengths including collector and  ‘straight through’ absorber style muffler: 435, 870, 1740 mm*** (4th, 3rd and 2nd harmonic repectively – 4th is the best)
6) Worst (power robbing) tail-pipe lengths: 650, 1300 mm

* All pipe sizes based on OD and 1.6mm (1/16″) wall thickness
** Ideally, both headers to be same length
*** Tail pipe lengths vary depending on type and length of muffler.

The header, or primary pipe lengths should idealy be the same. Though you are not going to notice moderate deviations (which may actually help spread the torque curve a little). This is most easily achieved by symetrically dropping both pipes back under the sump into a merge towards the back of the engine. Though some clearance is lost, this configuration is considered efficient because it minimises the number of bends.

Alternatively, it’s off to the same side for both pipes with chichanes in the near side pipe to even the lengths. Jon Lars Sorenson’s bike sports a fine example – see pic below.

Then there is the merge (or y-piece). Yep, there are good and bad designs. Try the search: ‘merge collector design’

And some advice to you cafe dudes (sh*t that’s me): Presumably, if you are reading this then you care about performance? If in tandem with this exhaust system you are also thinking of replacing the stock air intake system with nothing but a pod filter… Dont!

Happy fabbing.

Freshly reground dual pattern performance cam profile

R90 Scrambler – Cams and Conrods

R100 Saltracer skeleton Mk11

Retro 1. Mk11 engine specs

The record run

Worlds fastest naked airhead?

BMW R100 1.6 high ratio rocker

High Ratio Rocker Design

R100 Saltracer skeleton Mk11

Salt racer motor Mk11

Here’s the short block for the Salt Racer Motor Mk11. It’ s been 18months since the unfortunate demise of Mk1 on the dyno 3 days before leaving for the 2016 event.

Bit of a late start with 6 months till the 2018 event, but not due to pure slackness – I’ve been delving into the world of combustion theory and engine simulation programs, not to mention building flowbenches and cam analysers. Using these tools, the heads and cam from Mk1 were analysed and this data was used in an engine simulation program to create a base line model which agrees with the dyno results of the Mk1 motor.

This base line virtual model was then ‘tuned’ to optimise power in the target range of 8000-8500RPM.  The simulation shows that the best case outcome with the 46/38mm intake/output valves and current port and chamber configuration is 110HP at the crank. But valve lift would need to be more than the 12.3mm that the Schleicher 340 produces  – at least 13.5-14mm. And more importantly, the intake tract flow would need to be increased by around 20%. This is not as easy as it sounds: Flow optimisation is a black art practiced by people with years of experience! I have some learnin to do..

The target valve lift can be achieved by either replacing the 340 cam with a higher lift cam or increasing the rocker ratio or a combination of both. I’m having a shot at designing some high ratio Skrunkrockers… stay tuned.

Kellermann LED indicators

R90 heads machined for R100

R90 scrambler – more POWA!

R90 scrambler front end

skrunkwerks BMW R100 salt racer

r100 salt racer

Here are the final studio shots of the salt racer after the 18 month build. If you haven’t been following the build blog, here’s a quick run-down:

The frame was heavily modified and strengthened  – most of which is hidden under the tank. The front end is from a GSXR 600, and rear suspension is handled by a BMW R1100RT swing arm supported by a Hyperpro shock. Hanging on the back of all this and tied back to the frame with a custom torque arm, is a bevel drive from a R1100S which provides the taller gearing necessary for the salt. The wheels are from a K100.

BMW R100 Saltracer

R100 salt racer rear end


The carbon work was all done in-house including ‘ramstein’ – the top secret ram air system that you see jutting out the sides like bulls horns. Rearsets need to be way back and yes, no front brakes – plenty of room to stop without them. Besides, they can be dangerous on the salt.

The tank is an old fiberglass jobbie that I found. Harks back to 80’s superbikes. Lots of cutting and shutting to get the shape right for the bike. Then there are the Lectron carbs, what a wacky gadget they are  – the various circuits that you’d find in ‘conventional’ carbs are replaced with a ‘metering rod’. Had to unlearn everything I new about carburation to get these puppies going..


The bike was finished just in time to make the 2015 DLRA speedweek at Lake Gairdner. What an amazing experience! There’s a story about it here.