Tuning – Dyna tuning – Real time tuning – Race tuners – Auto tuning – Flash tuning – USB or License tuning – Bench tuning – etc. explained.
Unleash your Harley’s true potential!
Technologically – Harley’s are moving forward, and it is safe to say that tuning Harley’s has truly evolved over the last ten years, or since the introduction of fuel injection on Harley’s back in roughly 2005.
You need to make the right choice, make an informed decision and don’t be sorry afterwards.
There were very few choices available back in the old days when it came to tuning but as time moved on these tools became more and more available with the most recent – that we are aware of, being the new FP3 Vance & Hines Cellphone-based product.
Social media – Facebook, YouTube etc. all make it seem easy and the clips or stories are generated monthly by DIY tuners just like yourself. Social media is just making the problem worse because I promise you, it is not that easy to get it 100% right. If 100% is not your aim then you can just as well leave it like it is – roughly 65% right.
Simply put and without giving you a bad dose of tech talk paralysis it’s true that most of the tools available can do the job! But only when coupled to a pair of good quality wideband oxygen sensors, some advanced measuring equipment and above all, used by someone with a fair amount of tuning background and ability.
Auto-tuning can also essentially be done, but again not with the two original equipment oxygen sensors on your bike. Their operating windows are far too small and can’t accommodate the air to fuel ratios that are required to tune with our real-time ambient conditions especially on full throttle. Auto-tuning tools are generally developed to be used primarily with wide band oxygen sensors and good data logging tools, for workshops not DIY’s. All the hardware and software required can easily set you back R30k for a non-Dyna approach before you even start, not to mention the license fee for a bike or vin orientated interface box which can be another R6k or so.
Harley ECU’s are locked, the key to open the ECU that allows tuners inside can be either a “Tuning license”, a vin orientated interface of some sort – the Screamin Eagle orange box “race tuner” or similar. Once you are inside and you aren’t measuring it’s like walking around in the dark. You will have no sense of direction at all but you’re inside and walking into everything by mistake. The difference is, you can switch on the light and you will be back to normal. In an ECU if you make changes and push the wrong buttons and you don’t know what you are doing, you can’t switch on the light again – start over.
Bench tuners, designing theoretical maps on a bench anywhere in the world and allowing a DIY to load them is not Dyna testing and tuning. These maps are designed for workshops that do not have Dyna testing and tuning facilities and the know-how, and there is nothing wrong with that if you will be happy with a map that’s not quite right. It may get you close in some places on the map but in most, it is going to be bad especially with our ambient conditions and fuel.
So, in summary, it’s complicated and not for the faint-hearted, you need extensive tuning knowledge and good quality equipment to “properly” real-time tune a Harley Davidson motorcycle.