q Polaris’ RZR XP 900 is making waves in the industry, selling units faster than they can even produce them. The 88-horsepower, parallel-twin engine screams out of the box, but its mute exhaust tone doesn’t offer much in terms of sex appeal. Many aftermarket exhaust manufacturers have stepped into the game to produce their own kits, and we’ve heard rumors of Barker’s kit making great power. So, naturally, we snagged one to test.
MADE IN THE USA
All of Barker’s exhaust systems are made right here in the good ‘ol USA, with American steel and quality workmanship. This particular system is all 304 stainless steel with TIG-welded seams and what Barker’s calls seam-reduced interior surfaces, which means that where the pipes meet on the interior, all seams are smoothed for increased airflow. “The pipes use a reverse-cone construction with pulse-wave tuning technology for superior peak horsepower,” says Barker’s.
Barker’s claims enhanced over-rev and improvements throughout the rev range, with a typical peak horsepower gain of 10–25 percent. The aluminum mufflers are rebuildable and come in brushed aluminum or powdercoated black, with billet end caps available in the same colors. The head pipes can be ordered in a ceramic black coating for $180 more, but the Barker’s kit comes with an exhaust heat wrap, so it’s not really necessary. The heat wrap and stainless ties are quality pieces and will keep the engine bay temperatures down.
We ordered up our system with the powdercoated black-muffler option, which costs $80 more. It adds a trick look and some extra durability.
HOW TO WRAP HEADERS
With the header cleaned, have a friend hold it by the ends. You will need a tub of water to soak the header wrap material in. Let it soak for five minutes before you start.
Starting behind the exhaust flange, wrap the header tightly and neatly, overlapping the tape about 1/4–1/2-inch over itself on each rotation.
When you reach the end of the header, use the stainless ties to bind the ends of the wrap tightly to the header.
Bolt the headers on and leave the engine cover off. Take the machine outside, and start it up and let it idle to cook the header wraps into place and burn all the moisture out of the wraps. Please don’t breathe in the fumes.
The power increase was noticeable instantly, but the pipes were far too loud without the quiet-core insert ($20). We put the quiet core in and enjoyed the nice midrange boost and the sound of the dual exhausts!
After we installed the Barker’s exhaust system and tuned our clutch to work with it at the correct rpm (EPI has a kit for the dual exhaust, call (218) 829-6036), we set off to the dunes to give it a shakedown. We had previously done some baseline time-trial testing and seat-of-the-pants acceleration runs in the same spot. With the Barker’s exhaust installed, we noticed an immediate change. Warning: without the quiet-core inserts (highly recommended), the Barker’s pipes registered a seriously loud 104 dB on our meter, so please opt for the $20 inserts to bring it down to reasonable levels. On our 100-foot acceleration run, the Barker’s system shaved nearly a half-second off the time, which is pretty impressive on a short run.
Without a fuel controller, the RZR runs strong with the Barker’s exhaust, but low-speed driveability suffers, as the stock tune is too lean to allow it to run smoothly. Barker’s also sells a fuel tuner ($235) that comes pre-programmed for their pipes. It’s worth its weight in gold.
In our final testing, the Barker’s pipe outperformed the stock system at every rpm. It pulled harder, revved quicker and downright stomped on a stock XP we ran it up against, and, man, did it sound mean! The pipes are high quality and rubber-mounted, so they won’t come apart from vibration. The high-quality system starts at $859, which is about the norm for a good dual-exhaust system these days. If you’re serious about a performance increase for your XP, call Barker’s at (989) 269-6921 or visit www.barkersexhaust.com. q