Let's talk POWER PARTS!

Let's talk POWER PARTS!

Who doesn't like power?

As petrol-heads, we dream horsepower and eat torque for breakfast, so no matter if it is on a lawnmower or on a paper airplane, stats make us giggle like teenagers, but how far does that apply to your motorcycles as well?

Sadly, I'm forced to say all the way, and with alarmingly increasing numbers as of the last few years.

Today, we will be debating power parts, if we actually need them, and what it takes to make the most of our investment in them.

THE AGE OF MARKETING

I've been quite vocal about my belief that marketing is killing the adventure off-road motorcycle scene, and more than that, I believe we, the riders, are also to blame.

Our eagerness for large numbers has clouded our vision of practicality, and with brands focusing on more and more power and showing us increasingly "better" bikes year after year, we were bound to bite the bait, and bite we did.

Machines with more than 100 horsepower populate the adventure market on their large and medium segments, and still, power parts are available for them.

I wonder, were the machines from old, and by that, I mean 20 years old, all that terrible in terms of power for us to need the numbers we are getting nowadays?

And if so, can our skill as riders match the power we are given to handle?


https://www.kapriony.com/
Reference: picture from kapriony.com

Many of you may have heard of the Kapriony Team, and in their words regarding the now canceled 2021 Eco Race:

"For the engine, we used pretty much a stock KTM 790 power plant, simply making changes to the control unit to have a slightly sweeter delivery and lessen it's horsepower somewhat. Without doing this, the bike has a "nervous" behavior, where it's too powerful and demanding when driven over difficult terrain, which is pertinent to long races such as Africa Eco Race."

So when a racing team, with a pro rider leading the pack, decides to tame down the power of a production bike that already has a more powerful engine available, again I ask, do we, as amateur riders that go out to enjoy a ride and the views, really need more power?


YES WE DO!

If you genuinely believe your ride needs more power, there are plenty of ways to get it done, and many can be purchased directly from the showrooms, but making them all work together is not something many do, at least mindfully.

I personally believe that the best way to increase power is by decreasing weight, so ditching all we don't need should be our first go-to, even if it is because to a certain extent, its free.

Buying all the protections available from the major parts manufacturers will add tons of weight, so choosing those carefully will help you keep your ponies more active.

Going away from hard luggage and racks and choosing lighter rackless systems will definitely help you keep the pounds down even for longer trips and adventures.


advpulse.com
Reference: picture from advpulse.com


The same with replacing your rims for tubeless.

Loosing the tubes will decrease the overall weight of the bike, but more importantly it will reduce the rotation weight of the wheel, making the bike feel more alive.

In the same token, replacing your OEM battery for a lithium one may save you tons of weight, thus, improving your power to weight ratio.

However, tricks and tips like this don't come around often, and with the big bad wolf of marketing huffing and puffing horsepower and howling power parts, there isn't much one can do to resist... or so they say.

EXHAUSTS, AIR FILTER, AND ENGINE MAPING

If you have had a class with me, read my articles, or seen my videos, you know I'm not one for absolute truths, a reality that extends itself to exhausts.

If loud pipes may save lives in the middle of chaotic traffic, they only disturb wild animals and our fellow riders when on the trail, so deciding to get one should go above the need to live by a debatable slogan.

As far as horsepower goes, an exhaust can may help the engine breathe better, and a full line may do wonders to bring your horses to Secretariat level, but attaching it to the bike shouldn't be the end of it.

If your engine is now breathing out more, chances are it will need to breathe in more as well; enter aftermarket air filters and airbox mods in some cases.


supermotojunkie.com
Reference: picture from supermotojunkie.com

It is undeniable that these small but not necessarily cheap "improvements" will help make you look like a pro, but just to the untrained eye.

Even though new bikes have what we can call smart central computers that can feel the differences in air/fuel ratios and exhaust readings, there is only so much they can do to adapt.

Read the fine print of your parts manual, because although many will say that you do not require engine tunning when installing them, rarely do they talk about that need when mixing their product with the several other power mods you may do.

If you are serious about your power parts and you want to make sure your investment isn't being burned away as fast as the gas in your tank, consider a trip to a dyno to make sure everything is working in tune.


mxzone.co.uk
Reference: picture from mxzone.co.uk

Some new bikes will still allow for their mapping to be worked upon, but in the same token, many won't, so adding a Power Commander or any other kind of fulling system may need to be considered.

The year is 3021, and you just got a new set of high-performance lungs and legs, to replace your exhausted meat bags, but you kept your OEM heart. 

Without the beating heart knowing how much to pump to your legs, and how to maximise your new lungs, chances are you will be struggling from the bed to the couch. Your bike is no different.

So, if you really want to increase your bike's power, do it properly and don't cut corners.


SPARK PLUGS AND PLUG CABLES

The holy grail of engine engineering is the creation of a perfect burn.

What goes in into the engine is fully used, and not a single percent of usable power is lost on the way out; that, however, we know to be impossible.

In older bikes, replacing the spark plugs and the plug cables as well as other electrical components was known to significantly increase engine performance.

That idea still persists amongst many riders regarding today's bikes.

I don't want to say that nowadays it isn't possible to get benefits from upgrading your bike's electrical systems. However, we need to be honest here, will the average rider feel the difference?


sumax.com
Reference: picture from sumax.com


When we have OEM systems putting out more than 100 plus horsepower in many cases, will you actually feel the difference by upgrading any of the electrics, as you will when upgrading your exhaust, for instance?

For the most part the answer is no, so before going down this path consider upgrading your brakes instead.

Power parts may allow you to take more out of your engine, but without upgrading your brakes, you may find yourself one push of the throttle away from running out of stopping power.

KEEPING IT FRESH

Engines need a specific temperature to operate, and if there isn't much we can do about outside temperature to improve performance, we can still help to keep our engine from overheating.

It's been quite some years now that bikes come with temperature gauges, radiators and cooling fans, and even with oil coolers, so manufacturers have been working hard to tackle this issue; nevertheless, so can we.

Many enduro bikes don't have all of these bells and whistles, so adding an aftermarket fan can do wonders to make sure air keeps passing over the radiator to try and cool your bike's heart.


motorcycleid.com
Reference: picture from motorcycleid.com


Another possible mod, and one I have myself in my 800GS, is a fan bypass.

I live in Portugal, and in the summer, days above 86F (30C) with peaks to 114F (45C) are typical for months on end.

This means that my fan tends to work more than my throttle when off-roading or stuck in city traffic.

With this in mind, I bypassed my fan's system, so when going into harsh environments, I can control the fan on manually, allowing the engine to sustain a lower temperature for longer periods of time.

This is not something I'm advising, especially if you are not a trained mechanic, but it is still something to consider for some riders with skills to get it done, as it will cost little to nothing and can have clear benefits.

But power mods are not just about adding or subtracting stuff from the bike, it also has to do with basic maintenance, and not just the kind that may require a visit to your mechanic.

Power means nothing if you can't put it on the ground, and it should come as no surprise that a tire with no thread can't provide the necessary grip for your bike to move forward, so make sure your rocking fresh rubber.

Tire pressure in the same token can also do wonders for your power output.

A deflated or insufficiently inflated tire will increase your contact patch, and as such, drag. 

This means you will be using power to move a lot of rubber around, contrary to what happens when you have the appropriate pressure, which will allow your tire work for you, instead of against you.


cambriantyres.co.uk
Reference: picture from cambriantyres.co.uk

In summary, before spending money on more power, do some self-audit and figure out if you really need it for what you do with your bike.

If you decide you do need more, make sure you get it done right and consider out of the box alternatives that can not only help you in your quest, but make sure you still retain the badassery amongst your riding friends for a fraction of the cost.



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