Friday, August 26, 2016

8 Cheap Motorcycle Performance Improvements

8 Cheap Motorcycle Performance Improvements

You don't have to spend thousands on Carbon Fiber and titanium to get performance improvement.

Story by Jim Foreman

After every motorcycle purchase, invariably, the next thought that comes into one's mind is how to improve its performance.

Many companies and outfits will gladly take hundreds and even thousands of your hard earned dollars with promises and visions of becoming like Valentino Rossi.

Many motorcycle owners feel they MUST eek out every last bit of power from their bike, no matter the cost.  Common moto upgrades include carbon fiber body panels, titanium or carbon fiber exhaust, and installing an EFI reprogrammer like the DynoJet Power Commander.

Spending thousands of dollars on incremental upgrades is great if you have large amounts of disposable income.

Whether you are a new or experienced motorcycle owner, here are some inexpensive ways to significantly boost the performance of your two-wheeler.


1) Fuel

The fuel you choose has a significant impact on your bike’s performance.

Try to find a source of non-Ethanol added fuel.   Ethanol is not very good for your motorcycle.  Ethanol decreases your fuel economy, gums up your engine and causes it to run hotter.

A useful smartphone App to help in this quest is Pure Gas.  It will direct you to the closest fuel station that serves up non-Ethanol added fuel.

If you don’t have a nearby source of real or pure gas, buy premium from a busy name-brand Top-Tier station.  Shell, Unocal, Texaco, Chevron, Sinclair, Costco, Phillips 66, and other top-tier stations are your best bet.

Only higher end cars require premium and those drivers prefer name brand fuel.  The danger of an off-brand or rural outlet is that the fuel sitting in the tanks becomes stale and contaminated.  They only re-order more fuel when they are running low.  Fresh deliveries may happen once every couple months in some cases.  If the station is busy, the fuel will be replenished more frequently and not have a chance to grow stale.

If you are in a rural area and need to fuel up, it may be better to use regular unleaded or go inside and ask when was the last time they re-stocked on premium.

Using premium from a top-tier station only costs pennies more, per gallon.  Since we have relatively small tanks, this is only a negligible cost increase.

Non-Ethanol is usually more expensive than Ethanol added fuel.  It’s worth it, and you will likely feel a performance boost, and certainly a fuel economy bump.

2) Fuel and Engine Treatments

Walk into any auto parts store and you will see several shelves dedicated to fuel treatments.  BMW Dealers stock the BMW Fuel System Treatment, and it is a great product.  Sta-Bil also has many moto-healing properties.

In my experience, the single best all-around fuel and engine treatment is Seafoam.

Whether you recently purchased a pre-owned bike or feel your motorcycle is not running at 100 percent, follow these simple instructions to restore your baby to full health.

Drop 1/3 of a can of Seafoam into your tank before you fill up.  Within a few miles, you will probably notice your engine running smoother and happier.
Repeat this two more times until you empty the can of Seafoam.

Regularly using Seafoam is your best option to improve performance and remove the harming effects of age and Ethanol on your engine and fuel system. Seafoam eliminates water and moisture in your fuel and strips the power robbing buildup in your fuel system, injectors, and valves.
For motorcycles, only use 1/3 of a can per fill up.  For cars, it’s safe to dump a whole can at a time.

Seafoam is also very useful if you store your motorcycle for the winter season.  Pour a third of a can into your tank during your last ride so it has a chance to go through your entire fuel system.  Then park and cover your bike.  Then charge the battery every couple of weeks.

3) Tires and Tire Pressure

Whenever you get new tires, one instantly feels more control and confidence with their motorcycle.

Don’t wait until you see the steel cord to replace your tires.  As a motorcycle tire wears, the compound becomes harder and less able to grip the road.  Unless you only do canyon carving on the weekends or ride off-road, one should only consider Dual-Compound tires.  Current Dual-Compound tire technology is so good it makes every sense to use them.  Control and confidence make for an efficient and stable platform.

Dual-Compound tires are harder in the center, where you do most of your straight-line travel.  The sides are much softer making them grip in the corners the same way sport tires do.  Sport tires typically only last 3,000 miles.

Some great options to consider for your next tire purchase include:

Michelin Pilot Road 4, Pilot Power 3, Karoo Adventure

Dunlop RoadSmart III, Sport Max Q3

Metzler Roadtec Z8 Interact, Tourance Next

Continental ContiRoadAttack 2 EVO,  ContiSportAttack 3,  TKC 70

Bridgestone BT016 Pro,  BT021, and BT023

Pirelli Diablo Rosso III

Keep your tire pressure at factory specs.  The smart engineers at BMW or your particular brand know a lot more about your bike than most people.  It’s worth listening to them.  The exceptions are when riding on poorly surfaced roads, old roads, or aggressively riding in the canyons.  Under those conditions, it’s best to drop the PSI about 10-15% from the factory recommendations.  Lowering the tire pressure gives you a greater contact patch and more tire grip on less perfect road surfaces.

4) Chain and Sprockets

While many motorcycles feature a shaft or belt drive, a significant number still feature the chain and sprockets.

Making small changes when replacing your front sprocket can produce some pleasing effects.  If you want more low and mid range power, replace the front sprocket with one that has one or possible two fewer teeth from the factory size.  You will lose some top end speed, but you will get to your desired speed much quicker.

If you desire lower RPMs at higher speeds, consider a front sprocket with one or two more teeth than factory.  Check your clearances at the front sprocket so see if going bigger will work.

Be small with the changes.  The differences will be subtle but noticeable.  Unless you wish to dedicate a bike to stunting, the rear should be left alone.

One should lubricate and check the tension of their chain every 300-500 miles.

5) Airbox Filter

Engines need to breathe.  Just like your car, home air-conditioning unit, or vacuum cleaner.  If your filter is clogged, less air moves through causing the system to struggle to get air.

Changing the air filter on most motorcycles is quite easy.  It usually involves removing your tank.  Check your owners manual to learn how where and how to replace your air filter.  YouTube videos can be a great help.

Even if the air filter doesn’t look too dirty, replace it.  When you do, if you can, use your vacuum or a wet cloth to clean out any debris in the airbox.

Some filters don’t need to be replaced, but rather recharged such as K&N Filters.

Follow your users manual to change out your air filter.  Usually replace or recharge it, every other oil change.  More if you live in a dusty region.

6) Drop Some Weight 

Many motorcycle owners will spend thousands of dollars to reduce the weight of their bike a few ounces or pounds.  Carbon fiber and titanium exhausts are not cheap.  The sad truth is that many motorcyclists, this author included, are carrying a few (or more than a few) extra pounds.

Losing the extra weight will bring numerous advantages to your riding starting with the obvious.  You and your bike weigh less without changing anything else.  Less weight equals more power to move you forward.  Additionally, being lighter makes it easier to brake and shift your weight in corners without getting fatigued. Less weight also saves stress on your back and knees.

Coincidentally, dropping a few sizes will make you much more attractive and amorous to your partner.  If one is currently single, expect to attract and entertain a broader scope of quality people with a slimmer figure.

Rocky Miller of StreetMasters offering Dale some advice

7)Training and Practice

The single best upgrade one can do to their motorcycle sits between the handlebars and the seat.

Good training doesn’t have to be expensive.  Simply having some qualified feedback about your riding can mean a world of difference.  One doesn’t need Keith Code or Jason Pridmore personally teaching you to gain outstanding benefits.  Even an intermediate riders course offered by MSF or CMSP trainers can produce significantly positive results.

Consider training sources such as StreetMasters, PRTA, California Superbike School, Star Motorcycle School, RawHyde, BMW Off-Road Riders Academy, or your local track day organizer.  They all offer riding instruction that will make a world of difference in your riding performance.

Once you get some quality training, practice what you’ve learned in a parking lot.  Practice
emergency braking and then evading without putting your feet down.  Practice quick obstacle evasion.

Come to an emergency stop, then immediately accelerate in a safe direction to avoid being hit from behind.  You don’t put your feet down for this.  It’s a little tricky to brake hard, downshift, and then turn and accelerate.  With practice, it can be mastered and will present a whole new set of options in a potential panic situation.

Learning how to manipulate your motorcycle at slow speeds will also help you increase confidence for faster speeds.


8) Be Smooth

When you watch professional racers on the track, one instantly notices how smooth they are.

If you are struggling with certain corners or situations, the answer isn’t to go faster.  Instead, slow it down and do it smoother.

Make your throttle, clutch, and braking smooth.  There is a poignant saying that may have originated with Col. Jeff Cooper but is used extensively in U.S. Navy S.E.A.L. training.  It goes “Slow is Smooth.  Smooth is Fast!”   In every case witnessed, this has borne out to be true.

Practice being smooth and you will become much faster than you previously thought possible.
Stay loose on the handlebars.  When you tighten up, your control input is muted and less effective.  If you feel yourself being tense, flap your arms like a chicken to loosen them up and stay nimble.


Whether it’s faster lap times, a speedier pace, or simply more confidence and options when things go sideways, there are numerous ways to upgrade your motorcycling performance without spending a lot of money.

While others spend thousands trying to make their bike faster through performance tuning and upgrades, you will be looking fitter, riding faster and displaying more confidence on a more responsive motorcycle.  Isn’t that what truly matters?

Irv Seaver Motorcycles

Whether you live in Southern California or are visiting the area, do make Irv Seaver BMW one of your destinations.  Irv Seaver BMW carries the full line of new BMW Motorcycles at very aggressive prices.  You will also find a large and discount priced selection of Pre-Owned Motorcycles from all brands.

Irv Seaver BMW also has the largest stocking parts department in SoCal as well as moto apparel and accessories.

World Class Service is consistently available at Irv Seaver BMW.  Consistently ranked in the top 5% in the nation, Irv Seaver BMW will make sure your bike is well cared for and maintained.

©2016 Jim Foreman  All Rights Reserved

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