A Guide To Modifying Your Sub-400cc Performance Bike

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By Jaichandran Jayapalan

 

In the past five years, the performance motorcycle segment has seen the entry of numerous new bikes, especially in the 200cc-400cc bracket. These motorcycles offer a good mix of speed and dynamics that can thrill a novice rider, and excite the experts, all at a relatively affordable price.

 

Now, when you get used to the performance a bike has on offer, it is natural that you get tempted to upgrade to a more powerful bike. Instead of buying a new bike, you can modify your current performance bike to such an extent that it turns out to be a different machine altogether! The biggest advantage to modifying your existing bike is that it turns out much less expensive than upgrading. And since you are already used to your bike, modifying its various aspects will help you understand the deeper nuances of riding more clearly, making you a much better rider in the process.

 

Bike modification in India has come a long way in the last decade. From the ubiquitous fat rear tyre and the clichéd , we now have at our disposal customization options ranging from air filter upgrades all the way to custom ECU remaps.

 

Let us take a closer look at what the customization options available for performance bikes in the sub-400cc segment are.

 

 

Air Filter

 

Type

Performance

Ease Of Installation

Easy

Cost

Rs 2000 – Rs 6000

 

An air-filter upgrade is one of the most basic performance mods one can install on their bikes. A performance air-filter is designed to allow more air than the stock filter. More air means more oxygen, which improves combustion efficiency. While the performance gain isn’t perceptible when an air-filter is used alone, it makes a big difference when it works alongside other major performance modifications.

 

Performance Air Filter

 

 

Spark Plugs

 

Type

Performance

Ease Of Installation

Moderate

Cost

Rs 500 – Rs 600

 

Aftermarket spark plugs are another way to improve combustion efficiency. They produce a bigger spark, which helps in igniting the air-fuel mixtures more evenly than the stock plug. Like a performance air-filter, an aftermarket spark plug is a modification that supplements the major ones.

 

Performance Spark Plug

 

 

Tyres

 

Type

Performance

Ease Of Installation

Moderate

Cost

Rs 6000 – Rs 25,000

(Set of 2 Tyres)

 

Tyres that come straight out of the factory are more biased towards longevity than grip. Switch to performance tyres, and you will find a massive improvement in performance. These tyres will be much stickier than the stock ones, and will hence be able to put the power down on the road better. Cornering and braking performance will improve by a big margin. This is one mod that positively impacts the performance of a bike without touching its drivetrain.

 

Performance Tyres

 

 

Exhaust System

 

Type

Performance

Ease Of Installation

Moderate

Cost

Rs 15,000 – Rs 45,000

 

Want more power and a better sound from your bike? Then aftermarket exhausts are the way to go. The stock units have a lot of baffles, sound absorption material, and the catalytic converter, all of which sap some power, and muffle sound to a great extent. Performance exhausts are much less restrictive, which reduces reverse flow of the exhaust gases to a good extent, thereby cutting down on back pressure, allowing the engine to rev more freely This dramatically improves both the power output and the exhaust note.

 

Performance Exhaust

 

 

ECU Remap

 

Type

Performance

Ease Of Installation

Easy in case of piggybacks, moderate fors custom ECU

Cost

Rs 12,000 – Rs 40,000

 

An ECU Remap is the most extreme performance modification you can do on your bike without opening up your engine. Most performance bikes in the sub-400cc category nowadays come equipped with an ECU-controlled fuel-injection system. The ECU controls the amount of fuel delivered by sensing throttle position, air-flow, and in some cases oxygen levels in the exhaust. Stock ECUs have maps that offer the best balance between performance and efficiency, but by remapping an ECU, one can unlock more power out of their engine.

 

Performance ECU for Bikes

 

There are two distinct types of ECU remaps, a piggyback ECU, or a permanent remap. Piggyback ECUs connect between the input line to the stock ECU and the main unit itself. It increases fuel flow by misinterpreting signals from the sensors and feeding it to the ECU. One can always revert back to the stock mapping by simply disconnecting the piggyback unit.

 

Permanent remaps are more extreme. These are done by expert ECU tuners, who ‘flash’ the ECU and install an all-new map permanently into it. These maps can be custom-tailored to suit the owner’s riding style and requirements. One disadvantage of permanent remaps is that it voids your bike’s warranty, and it could place undue strain on stock drivetrain components.

 

Power gains are enormous when ECU remaps are installed, so make sure you’ve got all the supplementary modifications to handle it reliably.

 

 

Brake Lines, Pads and Discs

 

Type

Performance

Ease Of Installation

Difficult

Cost

Rs 5000 (Pads)

Rs 3000 (Lines)

Rs 10,000 - Rs 20,000 (Performance Disc)

 

If you’ve increased your bike’s power output, it is highly recommended that you upgrade your braking system as well, as your stock brakes could be overwhelmed by the faster acceleration and higher top speed. Swap your stock brake pads for high-performance units, as these will offer more braking performance and better resistance to fade. Also, if your bike has rubber brake hoses, switching to steel-braided lines will improve braking performance. Steel-braided hoses are more resistant to flexing under high fluid pressure than rubber units, and can therefore handle heavy braking from high-speeds much better.

 

If you have heavily modified your performance bike, we highly recommend that you fit performance brake discs. Most will carry a petal profile, which offers better heat dissipation, and will be made from a materials that have a high resistance to heat, thereby offering much better braking performance from high speeds, as well as stellar fade resistance.

 

 

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