Why Does My Harley Davidson Pop On Deceleration? What Could Be Wrong?

It can be worrying to hear new sounds from your vehicle. Since your car has many moving parts, you need to know what noises your vehicle should make or should not make. With the help of experts, we will help you determine why your Harley Davidson pop when deceleration.

Your Harley pops when decelerating because you have a high-flowing exhaust system that sucks in fresh air back into the exhaust system. After that, the unburnt fuel from the motor mixes with the high temperature in your exhaust system, and that's when it detonates, giving you the pops.

Many riders may enjoy these pops, but they may cause some problems, especially if riding through residential areas where the noise might not be appreciated. For more information about Harley Davidsons, keep reading below.

When Does Deceleration Pop On A Harley

Motorcycle pippes

The pops you hear on your Harley when you decelerate are primarily due to an aftermarket or performance exhaust system. Most new Harleys that are stock will have these pops and be quieter than aftermarket exhaust systems.

With stock Harleys, their exhaust systems are restrictive, thus hindering air from getting back in your exhaust. The larger the diameter and the shorter the exhaust length, the more you will hear deceleration pops.

Unburnt Fuel

The main reason why your Harley is experiencing deceleration pop is because of all the unburnt fuel in the exhaust system. There will always be unburnt fuel in your exhaust; if the bike is tuned just right, the exhaust's air, unburnt fuel, and heat combine to cause these pops.

A good tune on your bike will result in deceleration pops on your exhaust systems even if you don't have a performance exhaust as long as you have an aftermarket one.

Running Lean

A rare cause of a deceleration pop could be your motorcycle running too lean; this causes the exhaust system to superheat and burn all the unburnt fuel in your exhaust. While this is rare, it is still possible.

Deceleration Distracts: Tune It

Deceleration pop can distract pedestrians, other drivers, and even those who own a motorcycle. That's why some Harley owners choose to tune out these pops; they can do this by adding more air or fuel.

A motorcycle with deceleration pops is not ideal to own if you live in a highly dense residential area. You can tune your Harley to lessen the pops since this can startle people, especially at night. 

You may not be able to tune out the pops from your exhaust altogether if you have a performance exhaust. When riding, remember what RPM you start to hear the pops. Knowing what RPM you hear will help your tuner tune out the pops.

Are Deceleration Pops Bad For Your Harley?

Texture of firearm shot with bright flash of light, sparks, smoke and gunpowder gases on black background

For many people, an exhaust pop sounds like something is wrong with your motorcycle, but are these pops bad for your Harley? For the most part, exhaust pops are not bad for your Harley Davidson.

Deceleration pops aren't bad for your Harley's engine because they happen within your motorcycle's exhaust system. You don't need to worry about the deceleration pop traveling back into your engine because the pop stays in the exhaust and comes out after it has popped.

An important thing to remember is deceleration pop is not the result of bad tuning but instead caused by the right mixture of air, fuel, and heat in your motorcycle's exhaust. Decoration pops are not harmful to your bike, but it is also good to be considerate to the other people around you; if you feel like your bike pops are too loud, it may be time to tune it out.

But if you like the sound deceleration pops give (which many people do), you can keep it; you should just be considerate to other people on the road and pedestrians. Lastly, ensure that your exhaust and these deceleration pops are not breaking any vehicle sound laws in your state; this will help keep you out of trouble.

What Are Exhaust Wraps?

Heat wrapped exhaust of four cylinder cafe racer engine

You may have noticed that some motorcycles enthusiast have some wrap around their bike's headers; this is what we call exhaust wraps or header wraps. Exhaust wraps are a bunch of glass fibers weaved together.

An exhaust wrap is very similar to a fire blanket. The main job of an exhaust wrap is to keep the exhaust's heat inside the exhaust. If you have exhaust wraps installed, this will help keep the heat around the exhaust and headers to a minimum since it is insulated.

Even if many riders don't like the idea of an exhaust wrap, there are still benefits to using one. Firstly, you get more power; though this will only give you little performance change, it will still be more powerful than without it. If you want more power, it would be best to look at ceramic wraps.

Second is the protection it gives. Exhaust wraps can protect you since your footwear can sometimes get burned into your exhaust if it does not have a wrap. If you need extra protection, you can look into heat shields.

Check out this PBYMT mid frame air deflector on Amazon.

The third is the potential aesthetic appeal of exhaust wraps. Exhaust wraps may look good on some bikes, but they can look bad on others. Exhaust wraps will make your bike look aggressive most of the time, so they are something to consider if you're going for that look.

Check out this titanium exhaust heat wrap roll on Amazon.

Should I Upgrade Or Replace My Stock Exhaust?

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It is very exciting to get a new bike, and like most new bike owners, you may consider upgrading your ride. You might consider replacing the exhaust as your first modification, but should you replace your stock exhaust?

You should make the choice to swap your stock exhaust with an aftermarket one based on what you want from the bike. Stock exhausts are not just a bunch of metal welded together; vehicle manufacturers carefully researched and tested these things.

Stock Exhausts

A vehicle's exhaust is one of the most researched and tested parts since this will have to pass different tests before being deemed road worthy. For the most part, with the stock exhaust, you have more or less given the US state laws allowing you to dive around with no problem.

Stock exhausts will be best for casual cruising since they typically produce less sound since their exhaust system is more restricted. They are also better for the environment, as these stock exhausts help filter out unwanted particles in the air before getting expelled from the pipe.

Aftermarket Exhaust

You should get an aftermarket exhaust if you want to increase your performance. Most aftermarket exhaust systems will allow your bike to produce more power since the pipe is less restricted.

When installing an aftermarket exhaust, you should also consider the noise it will bring since your neighbors will most likely not enjoy your bike if it is too loud, which might also go against your state laws.

Different states will have laws about exhaust modification; that's why it's best to check your state laws before installing an aftermarket exhaust onto your bike. Aftermarket exhausts can also improve the look of your motorcycle as long as they are done tastefully and within the theme build.

Lastly, one of the main things an aftermarket exhaust will change is your bike's exhaust notes. Your bike's notes can get higher or lower depending on the specification of your aftermarket exhaust systems. Still, most of the time, an aftermarket exhaust will make your motorcycle sound louder.


It is usual for your Harley to experience deceleration pops, especially if you have a tune or an aftermarket exhaust system. Deceleration pops happen when the unburnt fuel in your exhaust gets ignited by the exhaust's heat. These pops will not damage your bike's engine since this only happens inside the exhaust system.

Getting exhaust wraps is a great way to make your bike more aggressive, but these wraps also give you a little power gain and help protect your footwear from getting burned on the exhaust. It is best to get an aftermarket exhaust if you are planning to get more power out of your motorcycle; if you are planning to cruise around on it, it's best to leave it in stock.

For more automotive topics and tips, check out the following posts.

How Do You Program A Harley Davidson Buttonless Key Fob?

My Harley Davidson Is Not Getting Fuel – What Could Be Wrong?


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