Vital MX Pipe Test

One of the first things most of us buy for our trusted machines is an exhaust system. Unfortunately, as bike prices have gone up so too have the cost of pipes. With this in mind, Rocket Exhaust is trying for more power but at a more affordable price. Here is the latest offering from the Southern California-based shop, tested on a 2013 KX450F.

Rocket offers slip-on and full exhaust systems. For full systems, the head and mid pipe are made of stainless steel, but you have an option of an aluminum or carbon-fiber exhaust can. Options are where Rocket really shines: you can order aluminum models as bare or black anodized and all versions come with carbon end caps. For those looking for every bit of an advantage you can order the exhaust cans in custom lengths from 12 to 17 inches, head pipes with resonance chambers, different core designs, and spark arrestors if you so desire. Our test model was a standard length pipe with a resonance chamber, and a full carbon-fiber muffler.

Fitment is fairly straightforward. The Rocket Exhaust utilizes the stock hardware and doesn’t use pipe springs, making installation a breeze. So, it’s as simple as putting on the head pipe a bit loose, sliding on the mid-pipe followed by the exhaust can, and bolting everything down. The system lined up quite easily, without any binding or pulling to line up the bolt holes. The exhaust itself is fairly sharp looking with the carbon-fiber muffler, end cap, clean welds, and excellent fit (what can I say I’m a sucker for a factory-looking resonance chamber).

After getting everything snugged down, I kicked the bike to life and was rewarded with a nice throaty, crisp sound on the way to the track. The exhaust keeps the Kawasaki KX450F’s stock broad and strong feel but with an extra kick in the pants throughout the power band. The 2013 and 2014 Kawasaki 450 is already very strong off the bottom end. Rocket’s system starts off feeling similar to stock, then immediately starts to build even better across the power band, allowing the bike to remain very manageable off the bottom. This continues to build into an even stronger midrange and top end that does not seem to stop pulling until it touches the rev limiter. Initially I tried the system on a few more wide-open tracks, but even after getting it on some tighter layouts the power was still very usable. In the process it also quiets down the louder stock Kawasaki exhaust without sacrificing power.

Another feature with the Rocket is the ease of maintenance. The packing can be changed while the system is still mounted to your machine (fresh packing always equals more power). The end cap has three Allen bolts that need to be removed, then another four on the end of the can. Once everything is unbolted, you can grab the muffler tip and pull open the end of the muffler, take out the old packing and slide a new batch in. Pretty simple. Just bolt everything back up and you’re ready for more berm blasting.

After putting in a few weeks with the Rocket exhaust, I came away very impressed with the fit, finish, power delivery, and the amount of options. However, I did find two small knocks against the new system.

Not being the tallest in stature I typically run a lowered subframe (it’s actually notched so that I can reset it to stock if needed). Some exhausts I have tried will work with my lowered setting and some will not. The Rocket fell in the list of exhausts that do not fit in the lowered setting so I had to set the subframe back to stock height (reminder: this is just something I ran into on the KX450F and have not tried this with any other machine). Also for the overall size of the muffler, I thought it should be a bit quieter, but Rocket does offer different inserts for sound and even a FIM/AMA sound limit option for those that are sound conscious or dealing with sound testing.

Slip-ons start at $324.95 for the KX450F

Full systems start at $524.95 for the KX450F

(Price as tested $849.95, carbon-fiber exhaust and added resonance chamber)

If you would like more information on Rocket Exhaust’s exhaust systems or their motor work you can visit them or reach them at 951-471-3500.

-Michael Lindsay