On a recent visit to Bazzaz in Chino, Ca. our test Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R motorcycle received a power-injected makeover a lá Dr. Bruce Banner into the Incredible Hulk. The already track-savvy streetbike was transformed into a gurgling, snapping, teeth-gnashing menace that demanded to eat the track.
Ammar Bazzaz drew from his extensive experience as Crew Chief for Mat Mladin during his first three AMA Superbike Championships to develop and market his current line of high-end performance electronics for the track enthusiast at an affordable fare.
Their Premier product on offer, the ZFi-TC, (TC standing for Traction Control), along with the optional Z-AFM, (Air/Fuel Module) was the order of the day at Bazzaz. The ZFi-TC is a combination of precise engine management electronics that includes a pre-programmed fuel map that is both bike and pipe-specific, along with "QS" or QuickShift unit, for seamless clutchless upshifts and traction control that is based on rate-of-change of engine revs. The Z-AFM is an optional piece that allows further customization via the self-mapping tool within the accompanying software, which, to my surprise, was very intuitive and easy to use.
The installation procedure is beyond my scope of bike mechanics knowledge and it is recommended that your tuner do the install, which takes about 1 to 1.5 hours. However, those with the wrench and electronic skills can follow this basic outline to accomplish the setup (Note: These are abbreviated instructions from Bazzaz. You must rely on the full documentation supplied by Bazzaz):
1. Remove the seats, fuel tank and air box.
2. Secure Bazzaz control unit into the tail section of the bike.
3. Connect the Bazzaz fuel harness to the control unit and route it from the rear of the bike into the engine compartment.
4. Following the installation instructions that were supplied with the kit. Locate the throttle position sensor, crank position sensor, gear/speed sensor and also all the fuel injectors (8 or 4 depending on application), and begin to connect the Bazzaz harness inline with the various sensors/ injectors and stock harness connectors.
5. Connect the Bazzaz harness ground lug to a solid chassis ground (preferably engine or frame).
6. Use the supplied Scotchlok connector and crimp onto a switched 12-volt power source, then install T-tap connector (labeled " Switched Power") from the Bazzaz harness into said Scotchlok connector.
7. Connect the Bazzaz coil harness to the control unit and route it into the engine compartment, past the air box, all the way to the coils in the cylinder head.
8. Plug the Bazzaz coil harness inline with all four coils and the stock harness.
9. Remove the stock shift linkage and install the Bazzaz shift switch and replacement rod in place of the stock rod. Adjust shift lever for rider comfort.
10. Connect the shift switch sensor connector to the mating connector on the Bazzaz coil harness.
11. Reinstall air box, fuel tank and seats.
With said install complete, we then threw the Ninja on the dyno to further dial in our pre-packaged map with the optional Z-AFM, thus creating one of two possible custom maps that can be selected on the fly with the optional map switch that's installed on the left side handlebar. With either the dyno or the track serving as the lab, the Z-AFM accumulates data based on throttle position and engine rpm and recommends suggested air/fuel mixtures for every given point, (based on 10% throttle position differences and each 500 RPM). All one needs to do is confirm (or tweak and confirm) the recommended values and the custom map is in the books and ready to use.
The Bazzaz ZFi-TC can also be easily modified within the software to set preferences for both the kill time between upshifts on the QuickShift unit as well as the intrusiveness of the traction control. The TC can also be even further tweaked with an optional 10-position dial that is mounted next to the aforementioned map switch.
Armed with my new arsenal of engine management superpowers, I then took to the track and my favorite familiar canyon roads. The most immediate notable evolution, other than the sinister audible attack, was the feeling of being slingshot from corner exits due to the obvious increase in throttle response. This actually caught me off guard initially, but I was able to adjust without incident.
The QuickShift unit reminded of Tiptronics, wherein throttle roll-off and clutch became obsolete and I quickly concluded that the QS is a no-brainer, virtually compulsory for anyone wanting to shed tenths off his lap times. I found myself giddy using this piece, laughing to myself aloud on more than one occasion. Available for stock and aftermarket rearsets and either standard or "GP" reverse shift patterns, it works like a knife through warm butter.
I found the traction control within the Bazzaz ZFi-TC to equal, more than anything, a notable and acutely appreciable boost in my corner confidence, a metaphorical insurance policy, simultaneously allowing me to push harder and feel safe. Adjustable to accommodate a wide range of conditions and rider talent, Ammar Bazzaz himself cites his system to be as intrusive as one requires, yet also allow for tire spin up on corner exit when that is the desired outcome of the rider.
Among his peers, Ammar Bazzaz has been dubbed "The Godfather" of engine management electronics and it's easy to see why. For those looking to take their track experience to the next level, the Bazzaz ZFi-TC falls nothing short of pole position.