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Mandrel versus Press bent
For proper and efficient exhaust flow, it is important to keep a consistent pipe diameter for the entire length of the exhaust system. Narrow places and widened places cause turbulence in the exhaust flow and reduction in the speed of the exhaust flow. Each press bend in an exhaust system represents a bottle neck in the flow of exhaust through that exhaust system, and each bottleneck causes an increase in back pressure and a reduction of both efficiency and engine power output. How much of a reduction in power? A 2 1/2 inch press bent exhaust system will dyno only one half to two thirds the performance gain of even a 2 1/4 inch mandrel bent exhaust system, or one third to half the performance improvement of a 2 1/2 inch mandrel bent exhaust system.
As an example, a 2 1/2 inch diameter pipe that is mandrel bent at a 45 degree angle will still have outer dimensions of 2 1/2 inch both across and perpendicular to the angle of the bend in the pipe. A compression or crush bent 2 1/2 inch diameter pipe will have a measurement of 2.55 inches across a 45 degree bend and 2.25 inches perpendicular to the bend. This is a rather significant reduction in the inside area of the pipe for such a mild bend, and 90 degree press bends result in even further reductions in the interior space of the pipe.
So in order to get the maximum flow from your exhaust, mandrel bent is the way to go.