Horsepower on the Cheap

Make more power without breaking the bank

hot bike burnout

Laying rubber for minimal cash.

Words and Photos: Jeff Leighton

Much like cash, horsepower is better the more of it you have. However, a lot of the time you have to spend the money to make the ponies. That’s not always true, though. You can squeeze a little more power out of your motor here and there with several tweaks that won’t force you to sacrifice your kid’s college money. Here are a few of them.


Just swapping out your OE air cleaner for a high-flow replacement is a very cost-effective way to grab 3 or more horses on the metal steed of yours. K&N is a good company to go with when shopping for a better-flowing air cleaner.


You don’t have to shell out major bucks on a full exhaust system to uncork your bike’s power. Simply taking out your baffles and/or swapping them for a set of higher-flowing units does wonders. Big City Thunder and FullSac Performance both have great-sounding solutions.

High-Performance Spark Plugs

Some of the newer crops of iridium and other coated spark plugs can give you 2 to 5 more horsepower over the stockers you bike came with. NGK and Champion are both good plugs that make power.

Quality Lubricants

With the aid of geeks in labs, more and more synthetic lubricants are guaranteed to gain you 2 or more ponies. Heck, even using the right oil filter spray lube can get you more power. AmsOil and Red Line are both known to be great power adders on the dyno.

Lighten Your Bike Up

Take all that heavy junk off of your bike that you don’t use. Ditch those heavy “boat anchor” stock mufflers for cheaper and lighter ones. You can also chuck those heavy, metal stock chain guards and chrome steel turn signals for good. Lighter is faster.

See our Speed’s Spotlight series for more ways to optimize your bike’s performance.