It’s a common knowledge that dyno tuning your motorcycle can give you a power boost – but how much boost, really? And also how much does it cost? Is it even worth it?
Those are the questions I used to have when about tuning. If those questions came to my mind, I am pretty sure they also came to you. In this article I will cover them all (just for you, my friend).
TLDR – Dyno tuning your motorcycle is definitely worth the money if you already have performance mods like performance exhaust and air filters installed. With those mods, tuning could add an additional 5 or so horsepower – which is significant.
However, if your motorcycle has stock parts, don’t expect any horsepower gains just by dyno tuning. I will talk more about this later.
For now, let’s first understand what dyno tuning really is and what happens during dyno tuning and why people do it.
Why Dyno Tune Your Motorcycles?
You can achieve many things by dyno tuning – things like improving throttle response, removing rev limiter and updating ignition timing. However, you generally need tuning to inject more fuel into the combustion chamber.
You see, performance mods like full system exhaust and air filters work by being less restrictive and allow more air into the engine for power.
Installing these mods without tuning is basically increasing the amount of air but still the same amount of fuel. Your air/fuel ratio will suffer – causing you to run lean and lose power instead (ironic, I know).
Quick recap – if you are wondering what’s air/fuel ratio. It just means that your motorcycle engine needs air and fuel to generate power (and they have to be in the right ratio). If you want more power, you need to increase both air and fuel.
If you have a modern bike that uses automated fuel injection, then you can tune your motorcycles by using Power Commander or by flash tuning.
These are basically ways for you to overwrite the configurations on your motorcycle’s computer. You can either customize the entire configuration or just download somebody else’s proven configuration and use it.
If you have classic bikes that still use a carburetor to control the fuel injection, then there’s no computer involved. Which means, you can’t use fancy programming tools like Power Commander.
To tune a carburetor engine, you need to rejet them – which basically means installing needle jets that are larger to allow in more fuel.
I have an article here that talks about different types of tuning in detail and how much they cost. Check it out – How Much Does It Cost To Tune Your Motorcycle?
What Happens During Dyno Tuning? (Motorcycles)
Dyno tuning means dyno runs and tuning – two separate things but are usually done together.
Tuning means tweaking the configurations of your motorcycles to meet your specific needs. This could be adjusting air/fuel ratio, throttle response and so on.
Dyno run is when you hook your motorcycle to a machine to test it’s capabilities – things like horsepower, torque and all the other good stuff.
Basically, dyno tuning means changing the configuration of your motorcycle in order to improve it – while also testing the motorcycles again and again to make sure the changes made are good and work as expected.
Dyno runs cost money and are not compulsory (although recommended!) Without dyno run, you will only find out things are wrong when you are out riding. Not ideal, but it’s an option for many people.
For motorcycles that use automated fuel injection, you could install a Power Commander by yourself and download popular configurations specifically for your bikes and you are done.
If you want a completely custom build, you could go for the ECU flash tuning route. This is where you bring your motorcycle to a tuner and they will go hands on and program your motorcycle’s computer (ECU) to your liking.
It’s also possible to take off your ECU completely and ship it off to the tuner. When they are done, your ECU will be shipped back for you to install.
Though I always recommend having your tuner close to you. In case there are problems, you could get it fixed quickly.
For motorcycles that still use a carburetor, you could purchase a bigger needle jet and install it yourself or have a professional do it for you.
Unfortunately this is not so customizable because the carburetor works mechanically (there’s no computer to program).
Will Dyno Tunes Be Worth It For You? (and cost)
Is dyno tune worth the money? That really depends on your existing setup and what you are looking for. Let me explain.
As I have touched on above, there are many things you could achieve with dyno tuning. But generally speaking – there are only 2 types of people when dyno tuning.
- People who tune their motorcycles because they install a performance mod and need to to get their air/fuel ratio optimal again.
- People who want to fully customize their bikes to suit their riding needs. These people care much more than just air/fuel ratio – they consider all the options.
For both types of people, dyno tune can really be worth it. The only time dyno tune is not worth it is when tuning a stock bike.
You can’t do much here, no significant changes will be made and definitely no additional horsepower.
Keep in mind that when I say stock bike, I mean a bike that does not have any significant upgrade installed like a full system exhaust.
If you have installed a slip-on exhaust or remove the baffles on your muffler, then I still consider the bike as stock. These mods do not provide any significant change to the air flow. They are done just for the looks and sounds.
Tuning motorcycles just because of a slip-on or baffles are not worth it. You will not gain any additional power.
Motorcycle tuning generally costs about $300 – $500. I have an article about different types of tuning and their prices here – How Much Does It Cost To Tune Your Motorcycle?
With about $300 – $500, you have the potential to unlock another 5 horsepower and make sure your engine runs perfect with the new mods (and not to mention the customized riding experience). Surely it’s worth it? At least I think it does.
Don’t just focus on the extra horsepower, tuning is actually necessary after installing significant mods like a full system exhaust. Without it, your bike will not run properly and can even run lean (which is destructive).
That’s why, from my perspective, tuning is worth it and is even necessary at times. Just make sure tuning is required for your mods – then it will be worth it.
If you wanna know more about the importance of tuning, then here’s an article for you. Do You Have To Tune Motorcycle After Installing Exhaust?
Good job and making it this far. Did you get all that? If not, here are the things I want to make sure you pick up before you leave:
- Tuning is required and definitely worth it when you install major performance mods like full system exhaust. Otherwise, you risk running lean.
- Tuning allows you to fix air/fuel ratio, make your motorcycle more aggressive by adjusting things like throttle response and rev limiter.
- Tuning is not worth it and not required when you install small mods like slip-on exhausts or exhaust baffles.