How to Clean Dirt Bike Header Pipe

Dirt bikes are the most popular off-road vehicle used for recreational and racing. A dirt bike is a two-wheel motorcycle designed to handle various types of terrain, such as sand, mud, rocks, and hills. The riding style of people are different which affects the condition of the dirt bikes Cleaning your dirt bike’s header pipe regularly will help prevent rust buildup in the exhaust pipe from damaging your engine. Today I am going to discuss a process on how to clean dirt bike header pipe.

How to Clean Dirt Bike Header Pipe

Benefits of Cleaning Dirt Bike Header Pipe

Dirt Bike headers channels gases released by the engine. Dirt and oil from the cylinder head stick to these gases, creating a thick and sticky mixture that can be harder than dirt. The longer it is left on the header pipe, the more difficult it becomes to clean or remove. Steel Wool: Steel wool is used for cleaning because of its ability to get rid of dirt without scratching surfaces. Steel wool also does not leave behind any residue when removed from contact with a surface after use. Steel wool is available in different grades; ultra-fine steel wool should be used for best results.

How Header Pipes Get Dirty?

If you frequently ride in the forest, it’s not surprising if your header pipe is already dirty. This may be because of the annual rains or due to the frequent rides there. The dirt over time will accumulate on the surface of your header pipe, and as a result, you need regular cleaning to restore its appearance and performance. When undertaking this task, the first step is to remove all superfluous parts/accessories attached to the pipes that could get melted during its cleaning process. If any part could not be removed for whatever reason, then you can cover them with rags before proceeding to clean it up.

How to Clean Dirt Bike Header Pipe

If you have ever bought a bike used, chances are the previous owner didn’t keep it very clean. In fact, they probably let the mid-pipe and header pipe get really dirty. Scotch Brite is a miracle cleaner for all things made from metal (including dirt bikes). Scotch Brite doesn’t just scour away debris…it actually polishes and shines in one easy step! Here’s how to do it:

  • Clean out your mid-pipe with an old toothbrush or other brush capable of getting between the fins on the inside of your mid – pipe.
  • Borrow an engine hanger from a friend if you don’t already own one. Remove both wheels, pull off the plastic cover over each spark plug, and hang the engine (making sure that each cylinder is straight) so that you can work on it comfortably.
  • Climb down from your nice air-cooled motorcycle and get off your lazy butt into the nasty pit where all your dirty parts sit! You can also use warm water in this process.
  • Scotch Bright time! Using a Scotch Brite pad or Scotch Brite sponge, rub the leading edge of the mid-pipe. Scotch Brite will cut through any grease or grime in just a few strokes.
  • Check for progress every few seconds and move to another spot if there’s no improvement after 15 seconds or so.
  • When the section you’re working on looks clean (i.e., not black anymore), move up about 2″ and continue cleaning until the entire mid-pipe is bright and shiny. Stainless steel parts should be cleaned proeprly.
  • Move onto your header pipe (if it’s dirty) and repeat the process. Be sure to climb down from your air-cooled motorcycle now and then to avoid passing out from carbon monoxide poisoning!
  • When you’ve finished scotch Brite cleaning everything, wipe the bike down with a paper towel or clean rag. Wipe off all grit that might have fallen into crevices in the engine.
  • Replace spark plug caps, fire up your bike for a few seconds to make sure everything is working okay, and carefully wheel it back inside where you can admire your work without subjecting yourself to excess fumes!

How Does Steel Wool Cleans Headers?

Steps for Steel Wool Cleaning Headers:

  1. Get a 5-gallon bucket and fill it with hot water and dish soap. Enough, so it would be about 3″ – 4″ deep.
  2. Soak your header pipe in the bucket and let it soak for about 2-3 hours.
  3. After soaking, remove the pipe from the bucket and scrub with Steel Wool up and down to loosen the grime on the pipe’s surface. Steel wool should look black after scrubbing. Steel wool will leave a metal residue on the surface of the pipe as well, don’t worry. That is normal, but make sure not to get any inside your engine or exhaust ports! To clean Steel Wool residue off, rinse thoroughly under hot water.  Also, you can use an old toothbrush to gently brush your pipes clean after using Steel Wool if necessary.Remove the Pipe From the Bucket
  4. If you have access to a pressure washer, this would be the time to use it. You can also purchase an expensive Steel Wool pipe cleaning kit, but this is more for show than practicality unless your bike has many miles on it and you want to clean all the carbon buildup off. There are ” Steel Wool Pipe Cleaning Kits ” available that will help with this process. However, they are kind of spendy and don’t offer much performance gains after cleaning them using Steel Wool.

Things You Need to Know Before Learning How to Clean Dirt Bike Header Pipe

  1. Do not wash with water
  2. Apply dirt bike-specific cleaners to remove the dirt
  3. Make sure it is clean before you finish off with a rag
  4. If you still have buildup after using the cleaning agent, use WD40 or chain oil to loosen up the gunk and then wipe it away
  5. Plastic header pipes may react with chemical cleaners such as dishwashing liquid and damaging the surface of your header pipe, so be a little careful when washing plastic ones separately from metal ones.

How to Keep the Header Pipe in good condition?

You will want to keep the pipe spotlessly clean if you use your bike for racing. You can’t race with rusted pipes that are full of stuff, so it is essential to clean them and maintain them at all times. However, cleaning the header pipes doesn’t mean only washing them. There are certain things you have to do before you attempt to wash them.

If the pipes don’t look dirty, a thorough brushing will help remove dirt stuck in corners or crevices and prevent it from accumulating there later on. If they aren’t filthy, you might be able to get by with a simple washing instead of using detergent or chemicals. Use lukewarm water and dish soap for best results when cleaning the header pipes by hand. You might use a pressure washer to wash off any mud, and other debris stuck on the header pipes.

 Cleaning is not all you have to do. The thick deposits of dirt that get deposited in your bike’s headers can lead to numerous problems like loss of horsepower. This happens because the exhaust gases are being choked as they warm through the dirty pipe walls. For this choking effect to be reduced, soot deposits will have to be removed from time to time or minimized religiously by cleaning with soapy water once every few rides.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Often Should I Clean My Dirt Bike Head Pipe?

If possible, it is best to obliterate the residue after each ride, but some people find that this isn’t often possible. If this is your situation, try removing the residue after each ride and adding a coating of WD-40 before storing it for the next time you go for a ride. This way, you’ll have cleaned it but not removed too much of the surface coating, which helps keep dirt out. In any case, it’s best to remove all visible dried carbon deposits at least as soon as possible.

Difference Between Header Pipes and Exhaust Pipes in Dirt Bikes

Stainless header pipes are responsible for facilitating the flow of exhaust gases from the engine to the muffler. They also determine a major portion of a bike’s performance and are one of many factors that classify a vehicle as street legal or not.

Stainless Header Pipes

On the other hand, exhaust pipes play an equally significant role for dirt bikes and are designed specifically for this application. They are mainly related to the exhaust systems of the bike. An exhaust pipe generally ends with an exhaust tip that determines its function once it reaches your riding area, such as tracks or off-road areas. The two work together in modulating noise and emissions during operation while providing sufficient clearing for rider movement on all terrains.

Exhaust Pipes vs. Header Pipes: Allowed Uses

As mentioned above, the key difference between header pipes and exhaust pipes is the fact that header pipes are street legal and meant for use on public roads while exhaust pipes facilitate off-road conditions. The latter has a higher level of restriction in terms of noise when used on the road.

Why Does Dirt Bike Header Pipe Become Black/Red?

Gas emissions containing carbon dioxide and hydrocarbons from the internal combustion engine cause oxidation in many materials at high temperatures. Titanium has excellent corrosion resistance, but if it is subjected to large amounts of oxygen over extended periods of time, oxides will discolor its surface. In addition, dirt and dust collected on the outer surface of the header pipe will cause them to become dirty. The soot and metal particles generated by combustion will stick onto the surface of dirt bike header pipes, causing discoloration over time.

You Can Check It Out to Clean a 4 Stroke Dirt Bike Carb


Lastly, I think this discussion will help clarify how to clean dirt bike header pipe.  Ensure proper safety during the process. Have a good day!

You may read also: How to Clean Dirt Bike Plastics

Darren Matlock

Darren Matlock

Hi, I'm Darren. I love dirt bikes and everything about the off-road lifestyle. I'm passionate about motorbikes, cars, racing sports and going on adventures. If you're like me and enjoy extreme sports, you've come to the right place! I like to write articles about dirt bikes to help beginners get started. Whether you're interested in buying a dirt bike, ATV, motorcycle or want to ride for hobby, I hope my articles will inspire you to learn more about how this machine can be used to ride.

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