How to Increase Motorcycle Engine Power


Unless you own a dirt bike where power is the priority, we bikers know that the reason we want more power out of our engine is because we want more speed. Otherwise, where would all the power go if we don’t see any measurable results, right? So, in this article, we will be covering how to increase your motorcycle engine power, as well as how it relates to increasing your speed.

1. Replace Stock Air Filter with After Market High Flow Air Filter

Your bike mostly comes with a reliable air filter specifically designed for your motorcycles’ CC (Cubic Centimeters). The size and capacity of your filter are tailor-made for optimum performance that works well with the rest of the engine’s combustion system. In other words, it is rare for a manufacturer to create a system that is readily modifiable. Oftentimes, the fit is always perfect.

When you mod your engine system, some things may come off as unbalanced, but fortunately, not that dangerous. Worst case scenario? Some additional maintenance will be needed.

Your best option for aftermarket replacement is a high flow air filter. There’s a large selection of these air filters on Amazon. This type of filter usually comes in a mushroom shape or maybe a conical type as others might describe it. With its tall narrow design, it almost “sucks’ in the air sending it accelerating into your combustion chamber. As a result, more oxygen is delivered more combustion. hence more power.

The benefits of this mod are increased max power and better fuel efficiency. Check out some of the more popular aftermarket air filters like K&N, S&S, and many others. It is important to note that you must be prepared to purchase the ones that are of high quality (which is a little bit more pricey), rather than settle for cheap knock offs. Remember if a cheap air filter fails, your engine is going to receive dust and dirt that was supposed to be caught by the filter itself. And that’s not good news for your engine.

We want to avoid any kind of accelerated wear and tear, or even some immediate damage because if a failed air filter. Check your manual for the proper maintenance of your new air filter, since some of them actually use oil as an additional catch basin for dust and dirt. Cleaning it might require some other special method as opposed to just washing it down with detergent. The manual is a great thing.

Here’s a great air filter replacement tutorial:

2. Replace Stock Muffler with After Market Performance Muffler

Your manufacturer has also designed your bike’s muffler for reasons related to the overall performance of your machine. I guess you could say they build mainly for legal and practical purposes.

Here are the add ons to your muffler by your OEM:

  • Catalytic converter: reduces carbon monoxide and other toxic gases
  • Resonator: reduces noise vibration
  • Longer pipe length: restricts exhaust and increases engine backpressure, reducing power.

All of these add-ons are purposefully removed from a performance muffler. A high-performance muffler is actually the stripped-down version of your stock. Being lighter, and with a design that provides lesser resistance, the goal is to shorten the pathway from the engine to the backend of the exhaust system. The result is less restriction on the release of gases, which means more power and more momentum for your engine. It then creates less backpressure to your engine allowing it to accelerate faster.

There are many great performance exhausts available depending on the motorcycle in question.

It is actually that fine line between your bike being street legal or strictly for use in motocross country.

If you ride your bike for fun, converting to a performance muffler would not be a problem. But if you are using your bike every day, on the street, then there is that possibility that you might not pass the emission test.

Now, if you do decide to replace your muffler for performance reasons, make sure to realign your combustion system. Adjust your fuel-to-air ratio so you don’t end up running lean. To learn about more options for aligning your combustion system to your new muffler, you can always consult your expert mechanic.

3. Modify Your Ignition

The ignition system of your engine is responsible for using electricity to create a spark and fire the air/fuel mixture inside the combustion chamber. The main parts are composed of ignition driver, ignition coil, spark plug, wires, and the distributor. What you would like to do is change the control angle. A bigger control angle means a bigger ignition, thus a stronger burn. Basically, what it does is deliver a quick strong kick.

Otherwise, you can just go ahead replace your stock with gold plated or platinum-plated spark plugs. It too results in a bigger spark giving the same increased kick to the combustion chamber.

4. Reflash Your ECU (Injector-type only)

Ever since the idea of combining electronics with mechanical components became a reality, newer bikes nowadays come standard with ECU or Electronic Control Unit.

The ECU is a computer chip that has sensors and actuators inside and outside the internal combustion system. So what it does is it reads data such as air pressure, the position of the throttle, temperature, and engine speed.

The sensors read the data and the actuators execute its commands. It’s a small electronic chip that was pre-programmed with a set of instructions. It responds to changing conditions of the engine during actual use. So, the goal is to have an engine that somehow intelligently adjusts to whatever data is fed to it. Then, it controls and balances out how the fuel and air are ignited and burned.

This results in an optimal operation that improves fuel economy, better throttle response and overall smooth and improved performance of the engine. No more sudden jerks and hesitation from the combustion all the way to the actual riding experience.

Reflashing your ECU means reprogramming it for the purpose of increasing power outside of factory settings. Some inherent risk is that, since your OEM doesn’t offer reflashing services, it is for obvious reasons, they are hoping you don’t touch the box.

In which case, you might have to look for individuals on some garage that has a program to do a mod on your ECU. There are no safety nets on that. Moreover, there is a chance that the reflashing won’t work. So, if you are serious about reprogramming your ECU, you might have to get a referral from a trusted source.

A failed setting might result in a broken engine, and of course, we don’t want that. However, if it is successful, a slight change would show some marked difference in your engine’s power

Video tutorial:

5. Retune Carburetor (for Carb engines only)

This is a great no expense, go-to option for squeezing a little more juice from your combustion system. Logically, if you push for a stronger burn, it generally translates to stronger engine response. Your carb has a recommended level of fuel/air mixture that is optimal for the size of your engine.

What we are basically going to do is raise that level high enough to acquire some additional kick. It doesn’t necessarily mean it will be charged like turbo, but definitely you’ll feel the difference. The best part is, you don’t even have to spend money (maybe just some of your time), all you need is a little know-how and some minor gung-ho attitude about wanting a little bit more horsepower.

The steps we are going to discuss here are the very basic, and any incidentals like engine stalling, you would have to repeat the process. The instructions here are more simple than it actually is. But don’t worry, as long you know which step goes first you will get the hang of it.

If you have a tachometer, all the better. If not, you’ll just have to play it by ear. In the meantime, use the number of turns recommended in your manual as a base for your adjustments.

Steps:

  1. Warm-up your bike by riding it for about 10 minutes.
  2. Put on the center stand.
  3. Locate your carburetor.
  4. Locate screw adjuster for air and fuel (refer to the manual)
  5. Locate idle screw (refer to the manual)
  6. With a tachometer put your idle speed at 3000 rpm.
  7. Slowly turn fuel screw clockwise to achieve the leanest possible setting (without shutting down the engine).
  8. Slowly turn the air screw counter-clockwise to achieve the leanest mixture as well ( without shutting down the engine.).
  9. While in the process of leaning out both air and fuel, you can adjust the idle speed to make sure the engine doesn’t stall. So, what you have now are the leanest settings of both air and fuel, as well as the idle speed holding up the rpm so it doesn’t stall. You can go as far as you can provided the engine doesn’t shut down.
  10. Slowly turn the fuel screw counter-clockwise to go rich, doing it a quarter turn at a time. Listen to the RPM increase and become steady. At about 3-4 quarter turns, you might hear your engine humming steadily, by then you can stop turning.
  11. Make very minor adjustments to your air intake to balance it out.
  12. Once you get a steady hum with it not being too low or too high, the idea is conserving as much fuel as you can without becoming too lean. Then you may be in the right setting.
  13. Turn down your idle to 1000 rpm and when your idle slows down, suddenly twist the throttle to test the idle. If the engine responds without shutting off, you are probably in the right setting.
  14. With a good idle (meaning steady and not too low) you can now test ride your bike. And see if you feel any kind of difference in its response when you squeeze the throttle.
  15. If it runs well and responds better, it is an indication that additional power has been achieved.
  16. Now that you have a better AFR in terms of power, check fuel consumption by making fuel readings and compare it to your consumption prior to adjustment. If you notice a change where it has gone down, then you have achieved the right mixture.
  17. Don’t hesitate to make more adjustments until you feel that you are already in the right settings. Remember, the best gauge to know if you have done it right, is you.

Here’s a solid video tutorial:

6. Install AfterMarket Jet Kit.

If you want to feel a rather marked difference in power and fuel economy, you can opt for an aftermarket jet kit that offers customized jets, which is designed for more power. The Dynojet Kit is a good choice and it’s available on Amazon.

Because of environmental reasons and government restrictions, factory jetted kits are built to be leaner which obviously sacrifices power for fuel economy and cleaner emission. Along with the kit comes the necessary components like the main jet, pilot jet, needle, springs, and etc. All of these are customized to boost your engine’s performance.

With the help of the installation instructions in the manual, you can DIY. If in doubt on how to do it, consulting an expert mechanic would be a good idea.

Other Peripheral Solutions

These are fixes that are not directly involved but can somehow affect your engine’s performance and feel.

  • Use high-quality fuel filters. Using a good quality filter keeps out debris and dirt from your tank, as well as the carb. This ensures smooth delivery of fuel and a strong clean burn that naturally increases combustion.
  • Use quality premium gasoline with high octane. Preferably 91 or higher. Premium gasoline burns quicker and better which translates to more power.
  • Swap for a better combination of sprockets. A good combination of sprocket sizes (front and rear) would carry over the extra power that your engine is putting out. Even if you hadn’t made adjustments to your combustion system, using the correct combination of sprockets which is usually a larger sprocket at the back, creates that added pull for your machine.
  • Swap metal rims for lighter alloy mag wheels. Lighter wheels can make a big difference in your bike handling, and plus, you can jump higher and even go faster. They are stronger too.

Ride rough, ride strong.

Come back alive.

Enjoy!

Luka Barron

Motorcycle mechanic, writer and Heineken lover. A bit like Hank Moody on a Suzuki.

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