All you need to know about engine remapping

The crave for better performing motorcycles is on the rise in India and sales reports show there is no stopping, for at least in the near future. Many motorcycle enthusiasts can be seen upgrading their bikes to reach greater performance. But, what if enthusiasts can’t afford the motorcycle upgrade? Least intrusive modifications have turned out to be the best answer so far. While modifications generally involve upgrading the motorcycles’ hardware, least intrusive modifications involve the use of Engine Control Unit (ECU) remap where the stock ECU is removed and a remapped one is plugged in its place. Analogically speaking, it’s something like changing sim cards in your phones.

What is ECU remapping?
Almost all fuel injected motorcycles have ECUs which control the entire operations of the engines based on the inputs given by riders. They control everything right from how much fuel, air is fed, the maximum rpm to which the engine can be revved and most importantly, the engine’s overall behaviour.

Higher performance
A remapped ECU pushes the engine to perform better even if such a change distorts the engine’s overall functioning. For example, Yamaha R15 V3’s ECU won’t let the engine rev beyond 11,500 rpm but according to reports, a Delhi-based motorcycle enthusiast has plugged in a custom remapped ECU which now lets his motorcycle’s engine to rev over 16,000 rpm. Similarly, two Indian firms Powertronic and kiirus offer remapped ECUs for Indian motorcycles which spike their performance by a considerable margin. For example, Bajaj Dominar reaches a top speed of 165 Kmph but when a Powertronic ECU is plugged to it, the bike reaches 170 Kmph.

Side effects aplenty
But there is more to it than meets the eye. A manufacturer will programme an ECU taking into account all the aspects of the engine, most importantly, the extent of abuse the materials can withstand. But a remapped ECU aims only for performance even if it is at the cost of too much stress to the engine. If a bike is loaded with a remapped ECU, then questions such as will the bike’s cooling system cool down the additional heat generated, will the gearbox, chain and wheels be able to take up the additional load and will the pistons wear down quickly are left unanswered. Caution needs to be adhered when using them as they can bring considerable damage when used extensively.

Did you know?
Remapping isn’t just the part and parcel of the after market industry. For more than two decades, manufacturers are offering remapping in their production motorcycles itself in the form of riding modes. Usually, there are three maps A, B and C with different engine behaviour. Even traction control systems in modern motorcycles involve engine remapping.


S Ben Raja