So you’ve picked up exhaust pipes. It’s a viable upgrade, of course. Lighter weight and better performance – but let’s be honest, it was the exhaust note that really drew us in.So is there a catch? Yes there is: Tuning. All too often we hear of guys (and gals) cruising about on their newly piped machines, waving away the idea of ‘needlessly’ tuning a fuel-injected motorcycle.
That’s a problem. When a fuel-injected engine is modified to any degree, such as moving to a high performance air-intake and/or changing your exhaust, you’ve modified the way the engine breathes and the parameters in which it runs.If the tuning is done properly, the positive effects are felt at the wrist. If the tuning is done improperly–or not at all–you could be dramatically reducing the lifespan of your bike and getting minimal performance enhancements as a result.Installing performance parts isn’t always as simple as bolting something on. With the help of Bassani, a Harley-Davidson Low Rider S, and the Dynojet Power Vision’s “Auto-tune” feature, we’re going to investigate how you can properly do this – and from the comfort of your own garage.
Why a performance exhaust?
Performance: OEM exhaust systems are built to meet noise and emissions restrictions. Every manufacturer goes to great lengths in order to get your bike, regardless of what it might be, to pass those standards. Hundreds of thousands of dollars and countless hours are spent in order to achieve something that half the motorcycle community undoes the moment they roll away from the dealership.The end result is that the capability of your engine has been heavily restricted, and an aftermarket exhaust, along with a proper tune, is a way to unlock that potential. With greater airflow – in and out of the engine – arrives the potential for greater performance.Weight: Whether it’s a full system or just a slip on muffler kit, you’ll shed some weight. It doesn’t matter what you ride; getting rid of excess weight can have a positive impact on your bike’s performance in terms of handling – especially if the weight is lost in the right areas.Money well spent: As a motorcycle owner, you can truly go down a rabbit hole when it comes to performance upgrades. Check out your favorite performance parts dealer and start tallying the numbers up for big-bore kits, new cams, etc., and I’m sure you’ll find that a set of pipes, along with a tuning solution, won’t hold a candle to the damage you’re about to inflict on your bank account. So for those that want a little something more out of their motor, without committing themselves to a steady diet of Ramen Noodles, this is your best choice in regards to engine performance.Tone: OEM’s do their best, but as mentioned before, they’re working with extremely tight parameters, and that impacts one of the joys of the combustion engine – its sound. There really is nothing like an uncorked bike, and while I could waffle on for another several hundred words on the matter, suffice to say a quality set of pipes has a hearty rumble that all gear-heads can appreciate.Now that we have some of the benefits established, let’s look at this set of stainless steel 2-into-1 pipes: the Bassani Road Rage 3. Bassani is no stranger to the world of motorcycles; that’s how the company got its start in ’69. The Bassani Road Rage 3 system weighs about half of the OEM exhaust unit, which in our case, came in at a whopping 31 lbs savings! With flawless craftsmanship and styling that is leading the trends, the Bassani Road Rage 3 system is hard to argue against. Not everyone will be using Bassani pipes, but for the purpose of this article, the principles of tuning still apply, regardless of what brand you go with.
What’s in a tune and how can we do it?
Getting a tune effectively means that you’re modifying your ECU’s fuel map. This controls the fuel/air mixture that your bike will use while running. The fuel map, as the bike comes from the factory, is optimized for the stock OEM components found on your bike, and because you’re tossing those in the shed, you’ll need a new one.There are plenty of ways to do this. You can use a “piggyback” system like a Dynojet Power Commander, a Bazzaz unit, or any number of fuel management solutions that are out on the market. But that would require you leave your bike with your trusted mechanic, who also has a dynamometer and the tools needed to “flash” your ECU with a fresh fuel map.Perhaps you don’t have access to a mechanic with a dyno and think you’re out of luck. But with at home tuning solutions like the Dynojet Power Vision, those days are gone. The principle remains whether you do it yourself or allow a professional to do that work; a tune is created and “flashed” to your ECU, replacing the stock fuel map with the updated one.Basic enough, right?For you, there are two things you need to know and it’s in line with something many of us are familiar with, The Goldilocks Rule. Too much in either direction, isn’t good for the engine; we need it in the “just right” zone when it comes to fuel/air ratios.In many cases, you’ll hear the terms “lean” and “rich” thrown around. In the most basic sense, running “lean” means that your engine is running insufficient amounts of fuel in the fuel/air mixture. What does this do? Aside from sapping performance, it causes a whole host of problems: pinging/knocking from resignation, higher cylinder pressures and a lot more heat, excessive wear on pistons which could lead to cracks or burning, burnt valves and valve seats, bent or broken rods, among countless other problems. Suffice to say, it’s bad.Running too rich isn’t good either. Again, you’ll see a pretty dramatic loss in performance, not to mention the increased chance of fouling out spark plugs and other sensors. It also dramatically increases carbon build up, which all engines suffer from to a degree, but the increase in buildup will make big services come earlier.
The Dynojet Power Vision:
Dynojet released the Power Vision a few years ago, providing consumers with a tool to help them find a bit of extra power while avoiding the problems outlined above. Now, you can run diagnostics, and flash new fuel maps, with up to eight different ones stored on the device at any given time. Here’s a quick rundown of what the Dynojet Vision is capable of:•The Vision comes with several preconfigured Dynojet Tunes for YOUR bike, pre-loaded on the device… ready to go, right out of the box. Power Vision identifies your bike’s information and automatically sorts hundreds of applicable dyno proven tunes for you to choose from.• Custom Tunes loaded by a custom tuning shop, or received via email and loaded on to the device.• A copy of the original calibration that was saved when the Power Vision was married to the ECM, or a version of the current calibration that is currently saved in the ECM.Power Vision also provides insightful, valuable information on how your bike is running:• Display all J1850 and CAN H-D vehicle data, as well as wide band air/fuel ratios and various other channels (such as instant MPG and trip MPG)• AutoTune2 Basic and Pro AutoTune is built into the Power Vision so you can modify your tune as you ride without using a computer.• Check and clear diagnostic codes.• Reset adaptive fuel trims and idle offset (with the bike running).For our purposes, we’re interested in the AutoTune feature, which is designed to refine a tune to your bike specifically, by making use of your bike’s O2 sensors. We’ve also chosen to use AutoTune Basic, which relies on the stock narrow-band O2 sensors. That means our tuning capabilities will be somewhat limited and get us into safe running conditions. For optimal tuning, it’s better to go with a completely custom tune created from dynamometer runs, or use AutoTune Pro, which means you’ll have to upgrade to wide-band O2 Sensors that allow for a greater degree of tuning possibility.With the Dynojet Power Vision, you’ll have access to Dynojet’s database of tunes, designed for your bike and your modifications. That will give you a base to work with and the AutoTune feature comes into play because a fuel map is based on the specific engine and conditions it was run in, which more likely than not, do not match yours. They’ll be close but it will need some refinement.For a set of pipes, with a high-flow air-intake, we can make use of the AutoTune Basic feature. For more involved engine builds, it’s best to go with a more detailed tuning solution, such as a power commander, target tune or any number of solutions currently available on the market.The advantage of using the Dynojet Power Vision is that as you build your bike, which most Harley owners tend to do, you can use this piece of equipment to dial everything in as needed – it grows with you. It gives you, the owner, total control of your bike and with WinPV, the accompanying software, every aspect of your motor’s ECU can be modified, in relation to fueling etc.But enough of that, you’re here for the numbers:In stock form, our California compliant 2016 Harley-Davidson Low Rider S, using the 110ci Screamin’ Eagle engine, produces 83 horsepower and 106 ft/lbs of torque. The bike packs a good bit of punch, but sadly, that’s also well below the advertised numbers, and most likely because of the conservative tune and the stock pipes. We’ll fix that in a bit.Now that we’ve gotten our shiny new Bassani Road Rage 3 exhaust on – with the help of our Greg Smith Equipment bike lift – let’s talk about the numbers. Like most people, you probably couldn’t help yourself and jumped on your bike for a quick spin. You will have noticed an uptick in torque, but that’s where the deception of bolt-on parts begins.Instead, we headed on over to Jett Tuning in Camarillo, Calif., to sort things out on John Ethell’s dyno. In green, we have our 2016 Harley-Davidson Low Rider S running a Bassani Road Rage 3 exhaust with no tuning solution whatsoever; it is running the stock map.Despite several Harley aficionados telling me “bro, you probably won’t even need to reflash it with just some pipes,” we discovered that is absolutely not the case. Not only is the curve incredibly inconsistent, but there is a massive loss in horsepower and torque throughout the entire midrange. This results in an overall loss of torque and performance over the entire rpm spectrum. We achieved a maximum of 93.5 horsepower @5,210 rpm, and 111.6 ft/lbs of torque @3,910 rpm. There was an improvement of sorts, but power should be present throughout your engine’s powerband, not located at either end.The loss in horsepower and torque directly correlates with the dangerous lean fuel/air ratio that was caused by not utilizing an updated fuel map. Notice our fuel/air data at the bottom of our dyno sheet. During the losses in power and at idle, the bike begins running lean with a 16.4 fuel/air ratio. Ideally, we should be in the high 13s where the dotted line is shown. However, without a proper tune, we’ve now pushed the Harley’s engine into conditions that will certainly damage it over time.The blue line reflects the tune developed by our Dynojet Power Vision unit. First, we started with a base tune provided by Dynojet. From there, we ran a couple of AutoTune Basic sessions. It’s important to realize that despite a tune being developed for your bike and perhaps even the bolt on parts that you have, there are still plenty of variables, such as environmental factors, that would make a dialed in tune need some tweaking.With the Dynojet Power Vision unit, we’ve achieved the same horsepower, 93.5, but more torque at 118 ft/lbs @ 3,160 rpm. Our curve is now more consistent, and though it still shows some fuel dips and losses, it’s far better in every regard. Taking a look at our fuel/air data, we can see that the bike is now running in the general area of where we need to be, the sweet spot of 13.9. But due to the limitations of the narrow-band O2 sensors, we’ve actually made it run a little rich. Safe to ride, but again, that is sacrificing a bit of power. The Bassani Road Rage 3 pipes, with a proper tune, are still capable of getting a bit more out of them.John wanted us to make this clear: this wasn’t a map that he produced. This was a map developed exclusively by the AutoTune Basic feature on the Dynojet Power Vision. If John had done this, you’d see fuel air ratios locked dead on that dotted line. That isn’t a knock to the Power Vision, but the basic tuning abilities it has obviously cannot match those of a top tuner with decades of experience.
The bottom line:
When you’re modifying any bike and changing the stock parameters, it needs to be retuned, mapped, flashed or whatever descriptor you’d like to use. With a less than perfect yet completely safe tune, we gave the 2016 Harley-Davidson Lower Rider S a pretty decent boost in engine performance.Currently, the Bassani Road Rage 3, 2-into-1 exhaust systems are selling for about $750. Our Dynojet Power Vision has an MSRP of $549.99. A piggy-back system with a map developed on a Dyno could cost about the same as the Power Vision. In comparison to diving into the engine with big-bore kits, cams, new pistons and so forth, this is a relatively affordable option to eke out a healthy increase in power which, as we stated before, isn’t the limit of what the pipes can accommodate. At 93 horsepower and 118 ft/lbs of torque, I’d say they’ve done a commendable job, especially given the Auto-tuned fuel map it’s working with.Our experience with the Dynojet Power Vision has been extremely positive. It allows the consumer to have improved control of their motor. But be warned – altering rev limits, timing, fuel tables and the plethora of other options that the Power Vision gives you access to, should only be done by someone that truly understands what they’re doing—and with that in mind, Dynojet is always happy to help.Of course we wouldn’t let you go without seeing this stuff in action, so here is something that Bassani put together promoting the Road Rage line.SaveSave