With the plethora of motorcycle styles and models available, for many two-wheel enthusiasts OEM motorcycles still merely serve as a starting point for building a unique machine. Given the performance-centric modifications available, results are most useful for track riding. Depending on your motorcycle, usable street performance can also be improved.
K&N air filters, or most other aftermarket air filters, are reusable and reduce air intake resistance, and a performance orientated exhaust system is often lighter and less restrictive. Installation is straightforward thanks to an easy to follow manual with lots of pictures, and can be completed by anyone with basic technical skills.
With fuel-injected motorcycles, the engine control unit (ECU) manages the air-fuel ratio (AFR) in the cylinders, which is optimized to be lean in order to achieve low fuel consumption and to meet strict emission standards. When changing parts of the aspiration or exhaust system of a motorcycle, the ECU no longer provides the optimal AFR. Not only does it help in getting the most out of any engine modification, it unlocks more power and allows for crisper and smoother throttle response on a bone stock motorcycle.
Aftermarket performance manufacturer Bazzaz offers two fuel management controller systems for a wide array of models ranging from sportbikes to cruisers. The Bazzaz Z-Fi provides fuel management only and the Bazzaz Z-Fi TC also offers traction control and a quick shift feature.
The fuel management controller resides between the ECU and fuel injectors, and it intercepts the signal that the ECU sends to the fuel injectors. Based on how the fuel map is set up, the signal will be adjusted to achieve the desired air-fuel ratio (AFR).
A fuel map consists of adjustment values – more or less fuel – in a given engine rpm range and throttle position. The fuel map is unique for every motorcycle and differs based on factors such as modifications, fuel type, and altitude. Typically, a custom map is built for a motorcycle at a local tuning center on a dynamometer. Alternatively, the Bazzaz Z-AFM self-mapper add-on can be used to build a custom map for desired AFR, while the motorcycle is being ridden.
The fuel map will be more accurate based on the real-world usage, as it utilizes data collected from a sensor in the exhaust pipe to calculate fuel map adjustments automatically. For any future modifications, a new map can be easily created using the self-mapper. A simple-to-use MS Windows application retrieves recorded data from the self-mapper via a USB cable, and suggested changes can be applied with the click of a few buttons.
The Bazzaz Z-Fi installed by attaching the wiring harness to different connectors on the motorcycle after removing the fairing, airbox, and fuel tank. Tools for disassembling the motorcycle to access the fuel injectors, throttle position sensor, neutral sensor, speed sensor, and crank position sensor, as well as tools for trimming the excess on the cable ties, are required. The instruction manual includes pictures for every step. The level of difficulty is one step above detangling Christmas lights, though for someone who feels less comfortable taking the motorcycle apart I suggest having a professional complete the installation. There are a lot of wires and several steps, and the overall installation takes about four hours.
The Bazzaz Z-Fi TC unit provides traction control, which is a tremendous benefit for motorcycles that don’t come with that feature form the factory. As the fuel management system is already tapped into the motorcycle’s system, the only extra part required for traction control is the wiring into the ignition coils. The unit uses information about the throttle position, current gear, engine rpm, and an adjustable sensitivity level to respond to wheel spin. When the rear tire loses traction, the power is cut momentarily until traction is regained. An optional sensitivity dial can be mounted on the handlebar for on-the-fly adjustments.
On a motorcycle, upshifting can be accomplished without using the clutch if the rpms are matched. However, engine power needs to be briefly cut during shifts to take the torque off the gears and allow shifting to occur smoothly. The Z-Fi TC includes a so-called quick shifter, which allows upshifting with an open throttle. Using a sensor that is installed in-line with the shift-rod, the unit detects pressure at the start of an upshift and retards the ignition until the target gear is engaged.