Dave Sonsky: Editor
Simply pull your stock ECU...
Simply pull your stock ECU off the left side of the bike, then send it out so it can be plugged into the magic Piasini box and adjusted for max power.
Mods: ECUnleashed flash
Last month I was complaining about a lack of power, but things are starting to look up because my first mod has helped stifle that gripe to some degree. On the dyno we saw a meager 143 horsepower—this would be great if it were 1999, but with the rest of the literbikes pushing or exceeding 150 horsepower off the showroom floor the R1 needs a lot of help. It’s obvious that the R1 is heavily restricted because there’s no way Ben Spies won the World Superbike championship on a grossly underpowered bike. The power’s in there, we just have to find and unleash it. After some poking around I found out that there’s a relatively inexpensive and easy fix. In fact, this mod was probably the simplest upgrade I’ve ever performed and gave me an instant 5.7 peak horsepower at the wheel and a stronger power curve overall from idle to redline. The aforementioned miracle mod is an ECU flash from ECUnleashed that required nothing on my end aside from mailing out the stock ECU along with payment. A few days later the black box returned and unleashed a load of hidden power from the previously lackluster R1.
But why was the power buried in the first place? That dirty little secret has mostly to do with emissions and sound restrictions; Yamaha had to stick a bug in the ECU that prevents the throttle bodies from opening fully at wide-open throttle. The ECU flash simply unlocks this restriction.
Those familiar with the latest R1 know about the three power modes: A, STD and B. The ECU flash unlocks full power in the A and STD mode but retains the stock power delivery characteristics (STD is slightly less abrupt and generally the easiest for street use). The B mode remains unchanged however. Essentially, the power delivery hasn’t changed in any of the modes, there’s simply more of it in two of the three.
But why not just use an aftermarket fueling computer or race harness to solve the ECU issue? Aftermarket fueling will simply tune to the restricted ECU as it can’t bypass the settings, and a race harness just costs too damn much. And in the bigger picture, a race kit ECU is basically just a stock ECU that has third party software installed that allows the tuner to access and change parameters. But where are you going to find a qualified tuner to go into the ECU and set it up properly? More likely than not the settings would would probably hinder performance more than anything. With the ECUnleashed mod all I had to do was plug it back in and it was ready to go with all of the performance parameters set to maximum.
Not only did the ECUnleashed...
Not only did the ECUnleashed mod add substantial power, but it also smoothed out the powerband, particularly in the upper rev range.
My initial seat of the pants reaction was that, yeah, there’s more power, but the idle seemed a little too high and there was excessive chop upon closed throttle. When I relayed this message to ECUnleashed it offered a simple fix: retune the ECU for the street. The techs at ECUnleashed overestimated my desires and programmed a race idle and deceleration map meant for use on the racetrack. It turns out that ECUnleashed can control far more than opening the throttle bodies and can pretty much program your fuel map however you like. In my case it was a street map, and after the ECU was reprogrammed it came back smoother than stock but with the extra power I’d originally desired. The future’s looking brighter already.
TRE vs. ECU flash
A timing retard eliminator (TRE) gets rid of the 186 MPH top speed limiter by making the bike believe it’s in fifth gear at all times. The problem? The bike then uses fifth gear timing, fueling, ignition maps and other parameters at all times. That means the five other gears aren’t performing to their full potential. An ECUnleashed flash doesn’t fool the bike into the fifth gear mode, but instead tunes each gear’s parameters in the ECU for max performance while simply eliminating the speed restrictor in the process. Pretty clever stuff.