So you want to get your bike dyno tuned? Before you do, you need to prepare your bike and have a basic understanding of dyno tuning. This will help you get the best result for the time and money you will spend on tuning.
Mandatory Preparation (You can ask a shop to do the prep work for you)
1. New oil and filter
2. New air filter
3. Fresh fuel with the octane level you use most often, do not fill your tank with 93 octane if you usually use 89. The fuel’s octane is very important for the tuner to properly set the ignition timing.
4. PAIR valve removal (keep reading for explanation) – Kit by Smartmoto
If your bike has lots of Miles/Kilometers on it, then there are additional preparation steps:
1. New spark plugs
2. Valve adjustment
ECU – Engine Control Unit, an onboard computer that calculates the ideal amount of fuel to deliver to the engine
AFR – Air to Fuel Ratio, measures the efficiency of combustion of fuel, 14.7 AFR (1 Lambda) is complete combustion (most efficient). 14.7 AFR does not necessarily result in the most power. Tuners are typically looking for an AFR of 13 or 0.89 Lambda.
Lambda – A measure of air and fuel combustion (like AFR) but uses a scale based on 1.00 being the most efficient burn of fuel. On the Lambda scale, 1 = 14.7 AFR, less than 1 is rich and greater than 1 is lean.
PAIR Valve – Passive AIR Injection, injects air into the exhaust system to burn any unburned fuel. PAIR affects the accuracy of the wideband O2 sensor used in the tuning process. That is why the valve needs to be removed or blocked prior to tuning.
O2 Sensor – Measures the Oxygen level in the exhaust. A narrowband O2 sensor is what is installed on most bikes. Wideband O2 sensors are used by tuners to measure the AFR/Lambda because they have a larger detection range and can precisely measure the O2 content of the exhaust.
Open loop – A mode that the ECU uses when an O2 sensor is not being used to adjust the fuel delivery. Open loop mode is used at high loads (high rpms) and at WOT (Wide Open Throttle) to control the amount of fuel that is delivered to the engine. The ECU uses tables stored in memory to calculate the fuel delivery. Tuners will modify the tables to adjust the fuel delivery to produce the most power.
Closed loop – A mode that the ECU uses to dynamically adjust fuel delivery using data from the stock (narrowband) O2 sensor. This mode is used at low loads (low rpms).
Common Upgrades Done Prior to Tuning (A shop can install these for you)
- Akrapovic (or equivalent) full exhaust system – “full” means that it replaces the entire stock exhaust system including the header pipes. A full system improves exhaust flow and reduces backpressure.
- K&N (or equivalent) air filter – reduces air intake restrictions
Types of Tuning
To determine the type of tuning to use (piggyback or ECU flash), ask your local shop what they are most familiar with. If they use Bazzaz, then buy Bazzaz, if Woolich, then they may ask you to buy a Woolich license, etc. The point is, you want to go with what the shop has experience tuning with to get the best result. Also, don’t bring your Honda to a Harley shop and expect a good result regardless of what the shop says. Tuners specialize in certain types of bikes, just ask them ahead of time what types of bikes they usually tune.
There are three types of systems that are used to tune with:
1. Piggyback systems, e.g. Dynojet Power Commander, Dimsport Rapid Bike, Bazzaz Z-Fi. These systems connect to the wiring harness and override the ECU’s fueling, spark, and other settings.
2. ECU Flashing, e.g. Dynojet Power Vision, Woolich Racing, Mail in ECU flashing. ECU flashing completely overwrites the settings in the ECU’s memory. With ECU flashing, there is no need to install a controller or external electronics.
3. Racing ECUs, these ECUs are not available to the general public and are typically only available to factory racing teams. Manufacturers have their own software to make changes to racing ECUs.
Finding a Shop for Dyno Tuning
Talk to other riders in your area in a riding club or at a track day.
Check the dyno manufacturer’s websites:
Timeframe and Cost
Tuning may take several days depending on the shop’s workload, so plan ahead. Cost varies widely so I recommend contacting more than one shop.
Results to Expect
- After tuning, your bike should run smoothly from idle and throughout all rpm ranges. If it does not, contact the tuner or shop and tell them very specifically what is happening so they can remedy the problem.
- Do not expect massive power gains compared to stock. Gains of 5 – 10 HP are typical. Power gains depend on the stock tuning (starting point) and the type of modifications that the bike has.
- Depending on how aggressively you ride, you will notice more power, faster acceleration, and quicker throttle response.
1. Prepare your bike! Follow the steps above to ensure your bike is ready for tuning.
2. Call several shops and ask what types of bikes they tune and what type of system they use for tuning (ECU Flash or Piggyback).
3. Be patient while the tuner has your bike, it may take several days to complete the process.
4. Set your expectations – Your bike will run better with more power, but tuners cannot magically transform a 600cc bike into a 1000cc bike
5. Enjoy your tuned bike!