How do you feel about politicians?
Personally, I am not too fond of them. I see the average politician as the original like-hunter. They play the game to be likable, to say things they know will get people’s responses, which hopefully cumulate votes. They get elected and then don’t deliver on their promises.
Some are good for a solid #MeToo case, and make you question “who voted for this walking phallus?”. Some are busy demolishing democracy as we know it by diminishing voting processes and leveling accusations of cheating, resulting in the storming of Capitols. It makes you question whether stupidity is a disease.
But like a bad stomach after some wonderful, spicy Asian food, you tend to accept it. You see it as an evil, but a necessary evil and a low price for a collective, greater good. We need them to help run the country and I happily pay my taxes and hope they make the most of my money.
I generally want people, as many as possible, to be as happy as possible. But there is a limit to my tolerance. I don’t want my motorbike to ride like a pig and be slower than it should be, because of “them” and their legislation.
But that is exactly what they did. Allow me to elaborate. You see, when it comes to car/motorbike pollution, the EU has increasingly stricter legislation on how much CO2 a modern engine can emit. It is getting to the point where the ICE (internal combustion engine) is slowly dying due to lower and lower emission limits, which are getting borderline impossible to meet.
So now your government is punishing you for driving an ICE car with higher taxes, and shoving electric cars down your throat, all to spin a profit for itself and the very car producers who are now selling you more expensive cars, at the expense of the average buyer.
All the while, there is no sufficient infrastructure in place yet, and the electricity is still not from renewable, green sources, making an average kilometer covered in an electric car more polluting than the average ICE-powered car these days. But I digress.
Now, what happens for the remaining manufacturers who produce dinosaur-juice-burning engines is that they need to make their engines run leaner to meet requirements. Leaner, meaning less fuel to the air/fuel mixture, which generally means less pollution.
But it also means that the engine produces less power than it could, while it is running a lot hotter, more prone to detonation, prone to piston-ring failure etc. It’s basically asking the engine to run a marathon, while being on an anorexic diet. It’s hungry for fuel all the time, and it results in a bike that is fairly difficult to ride, with a snatchy on-off throttle that makes gentle throttle application almost impossible.
In the case of the Yamaha MT-09, it’s also chopping and vibrating at around 2000-3000 rpm, which you notice at pretty much every roundabout. None of these characteristics are what you want when riding at the limit. You want a docile, predictable bike. A puppy, not a starved pit bull.
It needs to be on this strict diet of an apple and two ice cubes a day to be legal for street use.
But what happens if you do not need it to be legal for street use? What if you just want to race it on a closed racing circuit? Well then, a world of opportunity opens. A world of healthier, more powerful, and better performing engines. But you need assistance from a tuning wizard and that is exactly what I went out and found.
Enter Tue from Mill Hill Dyno, or as I call him – the engine whisperer.
I reached out to Tue when I decided to transform my Yamaha MT-09 into a track bike. Tue is a racer himself and tracks his weapon of choice – a Yamaha R1 on slicks.
He has no shortage of experience in tuning a wide array of motorbikes. I knew I was in good hands when I saw he also had a passion for the older stuff – his Honda from the late 70s stood in the corner of his workshop and looked well looked after. So, we got to work.
Step 1 was to buy the necessary parts.
First on the purchase list is a new air filter made for racing. What it does is give the engine more airflow. More air means we can add more fuel to the fire, which means a bigger bang = more power.
Next is a kit from Woolich Racing in Australia, who make an awesome kit for the MT-09. It includes a pitstop limiter, engine warm-up mode, launch control, a quicker and positive/less rubbery gear change and crucially – Revmatch/autoblips on downshifts. I will get back to all of this and why it’s pretty rad.
The parts were delivered by DHL Express, which took just four days from Australia to my home in Denmark – pretty incredible time to be alive, isn’t it? I have a total fetish for such logistics efficiency.
At which point, all that was left to do was to get the bike and the hardware to Tue and get started.
Say hi to Tue. Get greeted by his warm persona and cute dogs. No time to waste though, a long day awaits us. Tue straps down the bike to his dyno and connects all the necessary parts to it. We do a base run to see how the bike performs.
There is some technicality here about crank-and-wheel horsepower, and different gears and torque figures, which I won’t get into. But the fact of the matter is, it does around 105 hp at the wheel. Just as we expected.
We now have a base point to work from.
Tue now proceeds to strip the bike. I swear I could hear “You can leave your hat on” somewhere in the back of my mind. Seat comes off, then some body panels, then the fuel tank, then the airbox and finally the ECU.
We need all of this off to get the bike connected to his tuning software, to upload the map on the ECU, and to change the air filter. The bike was already “naked” before, but it’s now showing its heart and bones. It’s sort of an unsettling and yet charming sight.
The old air filter comes off and is thrown in the bin. The new one slides in. While we’re at it, Tue modifies the airbox to get a freer flowing airstream to the engine. Once again, more air – bigger bang.
He removes the old shifter linkage and installs the new one from Woolich Racing. He also adds the button that controls the pit stop limiter and engine warm-up mode and connects it to the battery and ECU.
We put the airbox with the new air filter back on the bike and reconnect the fuel tank to all the fuel lines.
Now this part is even too technical and dark magic for me. This is the part where Tue plays with all the different parameters of the ECU and uploads his own custom map for the ECU. The ECU (meaning Engine Control Unit), as the name suggest, controls everything the engine does.
How and when it gets fuel, and how much, in regard to throttle position. The MT-09 has different throttle maps (A, STD, and B), and is driven by wire; meaning there is no physical cable running from the throttle to the engine, but it’s all done electronically, which gives an opportunity to tune it to your preference.
So, he plays around with that, including the TPS (throttle position sensor), removes the factory speed limiter sat at 215 km/h and some other stuff that he mentioned that I cannot recall because I was busy daydreaming of how fast my toy was going to go.
This part takes a long time and here is where Tue truly comes into his own – this takes a lot of knowledge and experience. It all shows in the end.
After Tue worked his magic, we test run it again. We do the test in 6th and final gear. I see the bike run from 50-ish kilometers and accelerate hard up to 200… 220, 240, 260, 270, 275, 280 km/h. The engine hits the rev limiter at roughly 11,500 RPM, producing a distinct growl. Big noise fills the room. Big smile fills my face.
The bike just produced 114.9 hp at the wheel or 127.3 hp at the crank. Up from the original 115 at the crank.
And there they were… My stolen horses, now back in my stable. 12 horses and .3 of a horse’s head.
But more importantly, a bike that now feels so much smoother, happier, and more friendly to ride. The pitstop limiter is set at 50 km/h and works a treat. The engine warm up mode revs the bike by itself, to warm it up more efficiently than just idling it.
A launch control that gets me off the line that much faster (and also sounds too cool). And an auto-blipper/rev-match on downshifts that means I can now shift gears both up and down, without using the clutch. A total treat on the racetrack.
And as an added bonus, it shoots fire every time you gear down, which instantly makes me giggle like a schoolgirl.
That’s it. Amazing process. Totally worth the hassle, the time, and the money. If you have a modern bike, and want something similar done to yours, I cannot recommend Tue and Mill Hill Dyno enough. Say hi and give an extra cuddle from me.
As for me, I cannot wait to hit the racetracks in 2021. Hopefully, I’ll live to tell the tale and write some more here on CBS Wire about this favorite drug of mine – racing.