Top motorcycle diagnostic tools and electronic upgrades

Sometimes you need to plug-in to fix, understand or upgrade your bike – here’s how

Plugging a Yamaha R1 into a laptop

by Jim Blackstock |

Back in the day (and still on older or classic bikes) a good understanding of motorcycle mechanics, a sensitive hand and a good ear could tell exactly what was wrong with a bike from looking at it, listening to it or even smelling the exhaust.

However, nowadays with the full raft of engine tech, emission-compliant fuel-injection systems, exhausts and catalytic converters and different rider modes and fuel maps, those days are long gone for the latest range of bikes.

That isn’t to say that you can’t do anything or understand what is wrong with your bike or make life a little easier and more pleasant for yourself. There are numerous electronic aids out there to help you in all sorts of ways.

Take, for example, understanding problems and clearing faults. Simply plugging in to the bike’s OBD (On-Board Diagnostic) port with the correct software or reader will help you understand what the problem is and put out any warning lights when it’s sorted.

Related: Best motorcycle alarms

There are also options to show what gear you are in for older bikes that might not have indicator displays; systems to adjust the bike’s fuelling if you add an aftermarket exhaust or air filter, make sure your speedometer is reading properly, power your accessories or add to your overall safety.

Here is a selection of electronic aids, tools and upgrades that might be useful.

HealTech OBD Diagnostic Kit

HealTech OBD Diagnostic Kit
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While this kit is designed for Kawasaki models, the brand also makes versions for other manufacturers. This allows you to read error codes that may have been created and stored within the bikeu2019s computer to understand what the problems are.

You can then reset the codes and put out any warning lights on the dash, as well as reset maintenance reminders and limits. Connects to any computer running 32-bit or 64-bit versions of Windows.

HealTech Speedohealer

HealTech Speedohealer
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Not only is inaccuracy inherent in most speedometers but slight changes to the bikeu2019s overall gearing u2013 different sized tyres or changes to the sprockets for better acceleration or top speed u2013 can affect the speedo reading even more.

This device from HealTech helps ensure that the speedometer runs accurately and adds a host of other functionality, such as recording maximum speeds achieved.

HealTech Gear Indicator

HealTech Gear Indicator
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Some older bikes, particularly pre or early fuel injection, donu2019t use gear indicators u2013 itu2019s up to you, the rider, to know what gear youu2019re in. Usually, this is fine but sometimes, it can be handy to have a visual indicator for situations when you are using the gears a lot, such as on track days, for example. This version is for 2002-2003 Honda Fireblades but there are ones available for a wide variety of bikes.

HealTech Exhaust Servo Eliminator

HealTech Exhaust Servo Eliminator
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Replacing a bikeu2019s standard-fit exhaust can often liberate additional engine power, improve the exhaust note and save weight u2013 standard exhausts can be heavy. However, one potential problem comes when the system uses an exhaust valve to help improve low-down engine performance by creating back pressure. This handy device will help eliminate the warning light that simply removing that valve creates.

Dynojet Power Commander

Dynojet Power Commander

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When a bike has been modified u2013 aftermarket exhaust system or air filter, for example u2013 typically, the engineu2019s fuelling and potentially ignition characteristics will need to be adjusted to suit the new hardware.

A Power Commander plug-in box will allow a dyno operator to do this, by letting them adjust the fuelling at various points in the engine’s rev range as well as potentially, the ignition advance as well. This version is for a Honda CBR1000RR but there are ones available for most bikes.

Rapid Bike Race Fuelling Kit

Rapid Bike Race Fuelling Kit

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A fairly hardcore piece of kit this, designed for the Yamaha R6, the Rapid Bike Race fuelling kit takes control of the fuel injection and ignition advance maps for greater control for optimum performance.

It has a host of additional features, such as programmable engine-braking, a pitlane speed limiter for track users and, with the YouTune option, adjustable traction control and launch control.

Rapid Bike Quickshift

Rapid Bike Quickshift

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An add-on to the Rapid Bike fuelling system, the Quickshift kit adds a two-way quickshifter to the Yamaha R6 for clutchless up and down gear shifts. It incorporates an u2018auto blipperu2019 to blip the throttle on downshifts for smooth changes and both preload and engine-cut times can be programmed.

HM Quickshifter

HM Quickshifter

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Speaking of quickshifters, HM produces a range of strain-gauge based systems either as aftermarket additions to non-quickshift bikes, as shown here, or to add auto-blippers for downshifts to bikes that are supplied with up-only quickshifts.

The stock shift linkage is replaced by an HM one with a strain gauge built-in, that senses when the rider is changing gear. It then cuts the ignition to unload the gearbox and allow the change before reinstating the ignition so acceleration can continue.

HealTech AR Traction Control

HealTech AR Traction Control

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For bikes that are fitted with ABS but not traction control, this aftermarket system can help prevent wheelspin and unwanted wheelies by comparing the bikeu2019s road speed with the rate of acceleration of the engine.

If it senses a difference between the two, then it will reduce engine power until traction is restored. It also adds launch control for maximum efficiency getaways and bike-specific harnesses are available. It is all controlled via a smartphone app for ease of programming.

HealTech Brake Light Modulator

HealTech Brake Light Modulator

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There is a reason cyclists use flashing lights at night u2013 itu2019s to make them more visible to other road users u2013 our eyes pick up on moving objects better than continuous ones. This simple system does the same for motorcycle brake lights u2013 it can flash the lights in one of ten programmable ways to create more attention when braking than standard brake lights. A touch sensor makes setting up simple.

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