We’ve all heard the argument, “I can’t justify buying a new $9000 bike because I’ll also have to buy a pipe, get my suspension revalved, get my engine done, etc”. A stock bike can be tuned to perform like a highly modified machine if you know where to start. These tuning tips will help make your bike work better and they are mostly free.
DLC coated fork legs – One of the benefits of DLC and other fork leg treatments is less friction than a standard chrome tube. A major source of friction are dry fork seals. Before you ride insert a thin feeler gauge under your oil seal and turn it a little so fork oil can lubricate the seal. Your forks will act and feel like more expensive units.
Oversized Brake Rotors – Almost all factory bikes have oversized rotors that produce incredible stopping power. The thing you don’t see is that the rotors are free of oil, grease and cleaning chemicals that hurt braking performance. Clean your rotors with brake contact cleaner before every ride to increase stopping power. Factory bikes also get their brakes bled before every race. Fresh brake fluid and a system free of air and moisture make for strong brakes.
Offset Triple Clamps – The main reason to change your clamps offset is to give a better steering feel. Some bikes have too little front end traction while others have too much. By changing the position of your rear axle you can increase the steering feel of your bike. Simply sliding the rear axle back puts more weight on the front end of the bike. Sliding it forward takes weight off the front and puts more weight bias toward the rear. To do this you will have to add or remove a chain link, or change your gearing. Adding or removing a chain link moves the axle about 14mm in the swingarm. You will need to reset your sag when you change your wheelbase.
Exhaust pipe – An aftermarket exhaust pipe is an easy way to make horsepower. If you have a fuel injected bike try changing the ignition clips or remap your ECU. By altering your fuel mixture and ignition timing you can give your bike more power. You can also make your bike more rideable when track conditions or rider ability dictate a need for less power.
Fuel Injection – A properly tuned Keihin FCR carburetor can be as responsive as a fuel injected bike. Try tuning the low speed and accelerator pump circuit in your carb. The fuel screw controls your air/fuel mixture at idle. Your leak jet controls the volume of fuel in your accelerator pump. The pump timing screw controls when your carb squirts fuel and allows the accelerator pump to refill. Keeping the accelerator pump nozzle clean will insure your carb sprays instantly.
Revalved Suspension – Nowadays, stock suspension is excellent, especially if you know how to tune it. Simply setting the sag will make a bike perform better. Increasing your fork oil height or volume will increase your forks bottoming resistance. Decreasing the oil will give the fork more linear damping for a plusher ride in the middle part of the stroke. When done properly, your compression and rebound clickers allow for endless tuning possibilities. A major component in suspension tuning is your chassis. Try re-torquing all your motor and frame bolts to the manufacturers spec. This will give your frame the optimum amount of flex for comfort and control.
Handlebars – Many bikes today have offset handlebar mounts and multi-position triple camps for better rider ergonomics. If you need a taller handlebar try installing a flat washer under the bar mount to increase the handlebar height 2mm to 5mm when you can.
Throttle Tubes and Clutch Levers – Aluminum throttle tubes and billet clutch perches have very little friction, close tolerances and work effortlessly. Lubricating and cleaning your stock controls will go a long way to bridge the performance gap between the two. Use a lubricant that doesn’t accumulate or attract dust and dirt. Most stock controls offer easy height and reach adjustments for better fit. A strip of Teflon tape under the brake and clutch clamp will help the controls move in the event of a crash.
Factory Bike Power – Adjusting the position of your fuel injector or accelerator pump nozzle to optimize where it sprays is a factory race trick that can gain a horsepower. OEM bikes come with air filter backfire screens but they aren’t on factory race bikes. And finally, Pro riders hold the throttle open longer and brake later…and that doesn’t cost anything!