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Digital Subscriptions > Fast Bikes > 335 > PLUG AND PLAY PERFORMANCE


Bikes have never been so fantastic but with a few tricks of the trade you can make yours smarter, faster and even more efficient. Welcome to the highly technical world of motorcycle brain surgery… aka mapping.


And this is where the magic happens …

What annoys you most about your bike? Does it have a stupid 186mph speed limit? Do you reckon it’s softening the power too much in lower gears? And why the feck does it keep resetting the power mode to ‘lame’ every time you park the bugger up?

Yep, modern bikes are great. But they’re also really smart. Too smart sometimes. The ECUs (electric control units) at the heart of many current bikes are clever enough to give us 200bhp, quickshifters, auto-blippers, traction control, ABS, wheelie and launch control – about the only thing they can’t do is wave cheekily at the bus stop queue as you sail past doing a mono.

But this comes at a price. Because, ultimately, the person in charge of all this is the boffin at the factory. Now, sometimes that’s a good thing: several firms like KTM, BMW and Ducati all seem prepared to let you do, essentially, whatever the hell you fancy, and the settings are generally pretty lax – you can turn off ABS and traction control altogether on BMs, for example.

However, some firms are a bit more uptight. They insist on switching ABS and traction control back on whenever you park up, and their bikes often cut power at the top end to limit maximum speed, and also in the lower gears. Think of an Android smartphone versus an Apple iPhone – Steve Jobs is watching from above, and he’s very careful about what he lets you do with his lovely iPhone. The Android world is the Wild West in comparison.

Now – imagine you could hack into your bike’s ECU. Jailbreak it, root it, whatever ‘da kidz’ call it these days – but access all those hidden settings, and tweak them to suit yourself. And while you’re at it, you can also get into the fuel maps, ignition settings and secondary throttle or ride-by-wire throttle valve controls. Then, with full control, you can do what you want with your bike. Sounds like a dream, right? Well now you can. And we’ve been watching just how tuners do it with what’s called ECU editing. You may not have heard of it but it’s revolutionising tuning in several vital ways.

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About Fast Bikes

In this month's issue of Fast Bikes .... - Bike hacking secrets - unlock your ride's hidden potential - The best bits of 2017 - road, tracks, kit and bikes rated - Track toys buy now play later - Retro Renegades old school's cool, but does it still rule? - Can small capacity equal big fun? - Know your brake lines - BMW K1200S Buyer's guide - Racing rules: make or break - Project TZR grand finale - Rocket RON interview