Sportbike ECU Box Of Mysteries? No More!

Josh Day Miller

“We’ve been working with Westby Racing all year,” FlashTune’s Chris Gardell said. “They’re using the auto-blipper for clutchless downshifting and the race-team package to re-map the rider aids.”

Digital technologies develop quickly. By the time of the last Apollo moon flight in 1975, one of the astronauts carried into orbit an over-the-counter HP-65 hand-held calculator that was more powerful than the Apollo system’s own digital flight-control computer.

For most of us, this is not only mysterious but also frightening; we fear what we don’t understand. Fear greeted the appearance of digital rider aids on motorcycles, and their adoption in racing shook up the establishment.

“It’ll be too expensive! Every team will now need a $100,000 software writer to be competitive!”

Racing organizations, wanting to keep costs down for the teams, tried to cap prices for electronics. But the fact is that the prices of electronics and software drop faster than the rules-makers can decide how to limit or ban them.

A phone call to Chris Gardell at FlashTune revealed that entry into these fearful mysteries has become easy.

FlashTune offer a three-level basic ECU reflash service in which it overwrites the current program on an updatable computer memory with a new program.

The $200 level is a mail-in: Send your ECU to FlashTune and get it back altered to make its functions more race-worthy—traction control less intrusive and restrictions removed, such as top speed. It also eliminates common glitches like the complete shutdown of fuel injectors during closed throttle deceleration. With shutdown, the intake tract dries out and your engine gives a lean stumble when you pick up the throttle. With shutdown deleted, enough fuel is injected to remove the stumble.

The $380 level adds an extra harness with compatible USB cable and FlashTune’s tuning software. This enables you to pull up and alter data and maps in your ECU by linking it to your laptop. You’ve seen riders and technicians gathered around a computer screen, filling themselves with knowledge and keying-in solutions. With this package, you join this group that can directly tune all electronic aspects of engine response, including launch control, throttle by wire, wheelie control, and all the rest.

I have seen experienced tuners make the transition from the old way—jet wrenches, timing wheels, and dial gauges—to the new way: a computer screen covered with arrays of fuel-delivery numbers. Once they saw the direct, point-by-point correlations between the two methods, they were on their way.

Josh Herrin Barber

Meen makeover: FlashTune is using the ECU to transmit data to the AiM MXL dash on Josh Herrin’s Supersport-winning Yamaha YZF-R6.

Where do you start? You start with baseline, something you can always return to if you get confused. Lots of downloadable fuel and ignition maps are now appearing online, with forum discussion. Or you can go by feel in the old way, richening areas of performance that feel lean and altering anti-wheelie function.

This is actually much easier than the old way because changes in temperature and air density, which ate up much of a traditional tuner’s time (remember the air-density gauge, always sitting in the shade under the team truck?), are managed automatically by any modern ECU-driven system, stock or altered.

A third level, at $450, adds the external power supply and wire harness you need to remove your ECU to a remote location and power it up on the bench to work in comfortable circumstances. You pull up the screen that controls your area of concern and make changes, then upload it back into your ECU. Every digital thing you do on-screen has its mechanical analog. If you understand one, you can understand the other.

The company also offers Advanced/Professional ($300 to $3800) race-team packages about which their online brochure says, “This system was developed in response to ECU restrictions placed on the highest levels of American road racing in 2014. This system is designed to compete with systems like MoTeC and Marelli.”

Originally, Magneti Marelli worked closely with top race teams and charged appropriate research and prototype prices for its effort. As others entered the field, price competition began, putting this technology in our reach.

And the best part? The reflash takes only a few minutes, comparable to any other software-loading process.

Josh Day Miller

“We’ve been working with Westby Racing all year,” FlashTune’s Chris Gardell said. “They’re using the auto-blipper for clutchless downshifting and the race-team package to re-map the rider aids.”

Digital technologies develop quickly. By the time of the last Apollo moon flight in 1975, one of the astronauts carried into orbit an over-the-counter HP-65 hand-held calculator that was more powerful than the Apollo system’s own digital flight-control computer.

For most of us, this is not only mysterious but also frightening; we fear what we don’t understand. Fear greeted the appearance of digital rider aids on motorcycles, and their adoption in racing shook up the establishment.

“It’ll be too expensive! Every team will now need a $100,000 software writer to be competitive!”

Racing organizations, wanting to keep costs down for the teams, tried to cap prices for electronics. But the fact is that the prices of electronics and software drop faster than the rules-makers can decide how to limit or ban them.

A phone call to Chris Gardell at FlashTune revealed that entry into these fearful mysteries has become easy.

FlashTune offer a three-level basic ECU reflash service in which it overwrites the current program on an updatable computer memory with a new program.

The $200 level is a mail-in: Send your ECU to FlashTune and get it back altered to make its functions more race-worthy—traction control less intrusive and restrictions removed, such as top speed. It also eliminates common glitches like the complete shutdown of fuel injectors during closed throttle deceleration. With shutdown, the intake tract dries out and your engine gives a lean stumble when you pick up the throttle. With shutdown deleted, enough fuel is injected to remove the stumble.

The $380 level adds an extra harness with compatible USB cable and FlashTune’s tuning software. This enables you to pull up and alter data and maps in your ECU by linking it to your laptop. You’ve seen riders and technicians gathered around a computer screen, filling themselves with knowledge and keying-in solutions. With this package, you join this group that can directly tune all electronic aspects of engine response, including launch control, throttle by wire, wheelie control, and all the rest.

I have seen experienced tuners make the transition from the old way—jet wrenches, timing wheels, and dial gauges—to the new way: a computer screen covered with arrays of fuel-delivery numbers. Once they saw the direct, point-by-point correlations between the two methods, they were on their way.

Josh Herrin Barber

Meen makeover: FlashTune is using the ECU to transmit data to the AiM MXL dash on Josh Herrin’s Supersport-winning Yamaha YZF-R6.

Where do you start? You start with baseline, something you can always return to if you get confused. Lots of downloadable fuel and ignition maps are now appearing online, with forum discussion. Or you can go by feel in the old way, richening areas of performance that feel lean and altering anti-wheelie function.

This is actually much easier than the old way because changes in temperature and air density, which ate up much of a traditional tuner’s time (remember the air-density gauge, always sitting in the shade under the team truck?), are managed automatically by any modern ECU-driven system, stock or altered.

A third level, at $450, adds the external power supply and wire harness you need to remove your ECU to a remote location and power it up on the bench to work in comfortable circumstances. You pull up the screen that controls your area of concern and make changes, then upload it back into your ECU. Every digital thing you do on-screen has its mechanical analog. If you understand one, you can understand the other.

The company also offers Advanced/Professional ($300 to $3800) race-team packages about which their online brochure says, “This system was developed in response to ECU restrictions placed on the highest levels of American road racing in 2014. This system is designed to compete with systems like MoTeC and Marelli.”

Originally, Magneti Marelli worked closely with top race teams and charged appropriate research and prototype prices for its effort. As others entered the field, price competition began, putting this technology in our reach.

And the best part? The reflash takes only a few minutes, comparable to any other software-loading process.