Power Commanders are aftermarket, on-board computers for late-model motorcycles. The main Power Commander module lets you custom-map your motorcycle’s fuel delivery. With electronic ignition systems, your motorcycle has much more ignition control. A secondary module lets you custom-map your ignition timing. The number and combination of fuel/ignition variables a Power Commander can control are almost limitless. You can improve performance dramatically, but it requires skill and some perseverance. You are, after all, changing factory specs.
Anyone who loves high performance machines always wants to improve their performance. Modern motorcycles come from the factory with ignition and fuel maps. But that does not mean they come with the ideal map. It probably comes with a general purpose map that may not fit your application. For example, a factory map might offer a compromise between fuel efficiency and power, leaving the option to remap with the Power Commander for more power or more fuel efficiency. It can also be used to change the “power curve” or tune out “flat spots” in the RPM range. Remember, though, even with Power Commander technology, you are essentially second-guessing factory engineers. Improving on factory mapping is inherently complicated.
Accommodating Performance Modifications
Most often a Power Commander is not just added to remap factory specs. It’s part of a series of upgrades. Those upgrades usually involve increasing the motor’s flow: a high-flow air-filter and a high performance exhaust system, for example. Once the factory motor is changed, the factory map may not fit the motor. If you make a significant change, such as putting a new exhaust system on your bike, you’ll definitely want to tune it to take advantage of the modification.
Improper installation of your Power Commander is one of the most likely causes of malfunctions. Keep in mind, newer motorcycles have become very complicated, with many on-board computers and sensors. If you’re going to install your Power Commander yourself, the best advice is to slow down and take your time reading the instructions, paying special attention to notes on your particular make, model and year. Consider having a service technician install your Power Commander along with any other modifications. He will most likely tune it with an appropriate map.
Trying to get the map for your new exhaust correct, without a baseline to start from, is not easy. For one thing, you need a dynamometer to get it just right. Then you need to spend a lot of time making educated guesses. Fortunately, aftermarket parts manufacturers do this for you. When you buy a performance exhaust system, the aftermarket manufacturer will probably give you the Power Commander specs to take the guesswork out of it. You can try some fine-tuning from there. But the specs should get you very close if not right on the mark.
You’re not limited to performance manufacturer’s specs. Dynojet, the manufacturer of the Power Commander, keeps an extensive online database of performance maps. You will likely find one for your make and model of bike, and your specific modifications on that bike for your specific application.
For variations on maps you can download, look for a motorcycle forum specific to your make and model. For example, there are forums for the GSXR, Yamaha R1, R6, Honda CBR, Kawasaki Z1, Z6 and any other modern bike. You’ll find suggestions for Power Commander tuning, including problems and solutions specific to your bike.
The Power Commander can be tuned on-board. But it is designed to communicate with your PC through a USB port. It has its own tuning software. And this is the way you input new maps or switch maps for different applications. If you have a problem, it’s important to identify which area the problem is in, whether the Power Commander installation, a motorcycle malfunction or a PC problem. If you’re having a problem with the Power Commander, you’re in the right place. If something is broken on your motorcycle, such as an oxygen sensor, you have to fix that problem. And if you have a problem with your PC, a mechanic or Dynojet customer service won’t be able to help you. You need a techie for that.