Why Do You Need A Tuner?
If you own a Harley-Davidson® then you have access to a seemingly endless amount of performance parts you can use to upgrade your bike.
Outside of a Dealership showroom I don’t think I’ve seen a 100% stock bike.
The best thing about owning a Harley-Davidson® is customizing it to suit your riding style and personality. Some upgrades are for comfort; Saddlemen Seats, Performance Machine Forward Controls, Arlen Ness Grips, etc. These are great upgrades but they don’t effect your engine.
Performance Upgrades like an Rinehart Racing Air Filter, Freedom Performance Exhaust and Zippers Red Shift Cams will definitely alter the way your engine performs.
You can’t add performance parts and not adjust your bike’s operating system. Your new setup requires a new fuel mix and timing to reach it’s full potential.
The stock setting will be running too lean after you add an air cleaner and muffler. Running lean can cause engine damage and nobody wants to be shelling out for a new engine when that can easily be avoided.
All Harley-Davidson® models from 2007Up are fitted with Electronic Fuel Injection as standard equipment. Great for the bike but it makes it more difficult for the DIY home mechanic.
To be Blunt… If you add Performance Parts then you NEED a EFI Tuner!
The correct tuning will set everything up in your motorcycle’s ECM to be optimized for all of your performance parts working together.
Tuners can be broken into two categories… ECM Tuners & Piggyback Tuners.
We highly recommend that you choose a Tuner that can access and rewrite the internal fuel map for the EFI.
Avoid Piggyback Controllers (AKA Foolers)
Before we dive into the good Tuners I want to expalin why you should avoid the cheaper options…
Piggy Back Controllers connect into your system and alter the sensor signal from your engine to Fool your factory standard ECU into providing a different amount of fuel. It’s simple and quite clever at telling your ECU the wrong info from your engine so that the ECU provides the (hopefully) correct mixture.
There are two negative issues with this…
Firstly, later models will require you to disable the O2 sensors which we do not recommend doing.
Secondly, this is a sneaky way of tricking/fooling your ECU. These types of systems never really change the Fuel Map inside your ECU. You run the risk of your bike running it’s diagnostic on start up, flagging the inconsistency and eventually refusing to start. The only way to get it to start again is to remove the Piggy Back Unit so the factory system reads everything as normal.
Note: Removing the Piggy Back Unit will allow your bike to successfully run it’s diagnostic and start up again but now your bike is running with performance parts and the factory standard fuel map which is too lean for your setup.
You Want an Engine Management Software Tuner
You want to get your EFI ECU using the correct Fuel Map for your unique setup and the only way to ensure that is happening correctly is to directly rewrite the Fuel Map inside your EFI ECU.
This starts sounding serious, because you are altering, rewriting & essentially deleting the factory settings. But a good Tuning Unit will store your original settings in case you ever need to go back to them. I’m not sure why you would go backwards but it gives you peace of mind.
Tuning at this level is best done by a professional. Your local Dealer/Tuner will work with you and do the serious calibrations with a dyno Tune but your settings (Fuel Mapping) is stored in your Tuner. this becomes your new Base Map moving forward.
The Best Tuners of this type are the Screaming Eagle Pro Street Tuner, Vance & Hines Fuelpak 3 and the TechnoResearch Maximus Tuner.
Screamin' Eagle Pro Street Tuner
Vance & Hines Fuelpak 3
TechnoResearch Maximus Tuner
All of these link directly into your motorcycle’s ECM via your bike’s data port. This allows the unit to make internal changes to your system rather than fooling it. Let’s take a closer look at these main 3 Tuner options…
Screamin' Eagle Pro Street Tuner
The Screamin’ Eagle Pro Street Tuner is produced by the Performance Division of Harley-Davidson®. This means it can be used without voiding your Harley-Davidson® Warranty but that can also be limiting in what you can do to your bike.
Note: Let’s be honest… We all know that adding any other brands performance parts could void the warranty, they are restrictive by nature.
Harley-Davidson® need to stay within strict EPA guidelines and while Screamin’ Eagle is a seperate division it is still associated. This means it may or may not be setup to handle all of your aftermarket upgrades, expecially modifications that would clearly breach EPA restrictions.
The Pro Street Tuner plugs in to your bike’s data port to make internal changes updating ECM calibration to match your upgraded parts. It allows for changes to cams, heads, intake and exhaust while maintaining closed-loop fuel control to help save fuel while cruising. You can adjust key parameters and simply upload the latest ECM calibrations.
Vance & Hines Fuelpak 3
The Vance & Hines Fuelpak 3 is a popular choice with tech savvy riders because it comes with an App that allows you to see real-time data on your smartphone. You also have access to a library of thousands of dyno tuned maps to choose from and upload into the bike’s ECU.
The App allows you to see the RPM, Engine Temp, Battery Voltage and more. It does look cool seeing this on your phone but I also feel like it’s a bit of tech novelty, if any of these basic things are creating trouble codes your bike will notify you while it’s also sending it’s data to the App.
The Fuelpak 3 does have Advanced Tuning that gives you full access to the ECU Tables. You can change your idle RPM, raise your rev limit, adjust the VE, Target Air Fuel Ratio and Spark Advance. This is great if you know what you are doing and also dangerous if you don’t.
Another nice feature is the “Decel Pop”. Vance & Hines Fuelpak 3 will automatically increase the amount of fuel in the Air Fuel Ratio to reduce popping during deceleration.
TechnoResearch Maximus Fuel Injection Tuner
The TechnoResearch Maximus Tuner is another powerful Tuner that plugs in directly to your bike’s ECU via the bike’s data port. It is designed to handle extreme performance modifications without restrictions that most other tuners are limited by.
The Maximus tuner allows you to back up your original maps prior to making any changes. You can then use it’s easy auto-mapping feature and upload a new fuel map in a flash. we have found this to be the most advanced flash tuning tool for Harley-Davidson Motorcycles.
You can store hours of riding data storage on your Maximus Tuner. Diagnostic features include key fob coding, speedometer calibration, read and clear diagnostic trouble codes (DTC) and system relay testing. Once tuning is complete you can unplug it until the next time your bike requires tuning.
Tuning features include the ability to modify front and rear cylinder fuel/spark tables separately, air/fuel ratio, warm up fuel, cranking fuel, closed loop, acceleration/deceleration, rev limiter and the ability to restore the original map.
And "YES" You Should Still Get A Professional Dyno Tune
The Maximus Tuner, Pro Street Tuner & Fuelpak 3 are all great units but you should still get your bike professionally tuned with a Dyno Tune. Incorrect settings can cause accelerated damage to your bike over time and while we all like to think we know what we are doing, this is an area where it’s best to get help from an expert.
A professional tuner at your local Dealer or Tuning Workshop will always get you the best results. By best results i mean that they will optimize your bike for your custom setup. The dyno can test your bike under ideal conditions, allowing a professional to put your bike through it’s paces in a safe environment.
IMPORTANT: Your local Dealer/Tuner will work with you and the Tuner unit you’ve bought for your bike. They can check all of the data and setup a new Base Map for your Fuel Map after running a solid Dyno Test. For this reason it is best to contact your local Dealer/Tuner and find out which Tuner Unit they are most experienced with before making your purchase.
We have found in Australia that the majority of Dealers/Tuners prefer using the TechnoResearch Maximus Tuner for Harley-Davidson® 2001Up Models.
Rollie's Workshop Prefers The Maximus Fuel Injection Tuner
Rollie’s Workshop has been operating since 1979 and has tuned more bikes than they can count. Rollie’s Speed Shop has also been supplying quality USA parts and tools to Dealers/Tuners in Australia and NZ for 40+ years.
We highly recommend TechnoResearch’s Maximus Tuner for anybody that owns a 2001 or later model Harley-Davidson®. we believe this is the most advanced and most popular tuner available downunder.
“Talk to your local Dealer/Tuner and ask them if they are experience with the Maximus Tuner. If they are then purchase that and you can relax knowing your bike is running with optimal settings and performance” – Rollie