Once in a while a product comes along that actually performs as advertised. Rarely, one exceeds expectations. Well, thanks to a good friend of mine (thanks, Bill) I found one. Being an ex-dyno tuner, I was skeptical. Not any more. There have been many add-on devices that claim to boost performance and turn your sled into a screaming mass of white hot thunder. Well, frankly, I just quit looking at them. Most of them did more harm than good. The ThunderMax50 ECM with AutoTune System, on the other hand, actually automatically tunes your Big Twin as you ride, and it will continue to do so, no matter how many times you reconfigure your engine. (There are some limitations—like going from a 96 cubic inch to a 130.) But changing your air cleaner, pipes, mufflers, cam, whatever—you won’t need an expensive download, a re-dyno tune or another add-on thing-a-ma-jig that you only hope will help.
The installation is pretty simple. You will need:
- A fuel-injected American-made V-twin motorcycle
- O2 sensor ports in your exhaust pipes (This sounds like a bigger deal than it is; 2007 and later models have them.)
- A Windows-based computer
- A desire to have a ride that runs like it was designed, with a smooth uninterrupted power band
- A willingness to swap out your bike’s ECM (computer) with the replacement ThunderMax unit
The step-by-step software download is straightforward. You start by selecting a close representation of your bike’s configuration from a list on the provided software (e.g., high-flow air cleaner, slip-on mufflers, mild cam, etc.). During the initial setup, you can actually watch, in real time, the ThunderMax system adjust the air-fuel ratio (AFR), seeking its proper settings. This is based on the readings from the new “wide-band” O2 sensors on the exhaust headers, included with your purchase. From then on you just ride. The system will continue to refine the map, based on operator input (e.g. altitude, air intake and cylinder head temperatures, throttle position and overall riding style). The transition is seamless and won’t affect factory trouble codes, sensors, security system fobs, alarms or any other factory functions. And it’s 50-state EPA compliant. Yes, California, there is a Santa Claus! Should you ever need to replace the bike’s battery, you reboot the ThunderMax system by initiating a quick and simple process. It takes about 30 seconds, you won’t need any tools and there is nothing to disassemble.
You can read more about the product on the manufacturer’s web page, www.thunder-max.com/Products/FuelInjection/ElectronicFuelInjectionModule50.aspx
They have a whole host of goodies, but in my opinion, ThunderMax50 is especially worth considering. For under $1,000 and about three hours of installation time, you’ll never again need a dyno tuner to tweak your ride. (Sniff. I’ve been made obsolete by technology.)