No matter how powerful our machines are, the tendency to push limits or the dominant drive to do better than fellow riders out there always seems like a tempting idea.
While practice and good riding instincts come into play, riders can also upgrade their bikes to perform better than before.
Our country's local automotive scene has just started to elevate and make room for extensive differences; accessories dealers have begun importing effective aftermarket parts raising bars for small displacement performance.
The best motorcycle performance upgrades revolve around the power, speed, and handling of a bike on the road/track. With these factors put together, you can have a powerful machine at your fingertips, hit the apex, and ride on rails.
In this article, we will talk about the yin and yang of motorbike performance enhancement.
Horsepower and torque have a powerful effect on a bike's performance and are responsible for an engine's acceleration in relation to its RPM at its operating range. These also affect a motorbike's throttle as it needs greater acceleration for greater torque.
High torque and horsepower make for the best performance on any road condition. While these are often limited due to factory specifications, certain upgrades can increase a bike's power for better track-day performance.
We have recently started working with motorcycle electronic control units (ECU). It is a small device responsible for controlling a specific function; it communicates with actuators to perform an action based on the inputs.
An ECU operated engine or motorcycle's operation and performance is operated and controlled by its microprocessor. Tasks like air-fuel mixture ratios according to throttle and temperature, fuel injection, injection and ignition timing, dwell settings, idle speed and temperature control,and emission are directly controlled by the ECU. In some hybrid machines, the valves are also controlled by ECU.
The current 150cc motorcycle market consists of many motorcycles with variable valve operations, quick injection systems, and a lot of electronic components that act as variables on performance.
Everything on bikes like the Suzuki GSXR-150, Yamaha Mt-15, Yamaha YZF-R15 V3, Honda CBR150 R, etc, is controlled and coordinated by ECU but they also support aftermarket programmable ECUs in addition to aftermarket parts and components.
Accessories such as headless 360 spark plugs, aftermarket air filters and exhausts, all from good origins and brands are widely available in the market today.
Products like the BMC air filter are being officially distributed by GearX Bangladesh. Vendors like Rodeo Accessories Shop are bringing in a handful of "JUKEN 5" programmable ECUs. Many other accessories dealers are bringing in great performance oriented products. There is, however, a catch.
In order for all these things to integrate and make the motorcycle/engine perform better, the ECU maps and adjustments need to be handled by experienced professionals. With the influx of such accessories, professionals have just begun to understand performance enhancement factors better.
We tested motorcycles equipped with SARP/JUKEN aftermarket ECUS, BMC/K&n air filters, champion headless/Brisk 360 plugs, R9 and Arrow exhausts. Out of multiple test sessions from Throttle Alpha, with everything integrated and calibrated somewhat to the right extent, the average R15 and GSXR performed faster in contrast to stock/factory conditions.
It is well known that stock exhaust systems are heavier than aftermarket ones and, in some cases, are too restrictive for emission control. Replacing this can reduce your bike's weight and boost the throttle response, in a sense. When paired with the correct air filter and tune, it can increase power and give you a much more usable torque curve.
Yes, in our country, we oddly suffer from poor fuel standards, however, these upgrades can bring about significant differences in terms of instant torque delivery (made better with more air intake and better exhaustion). It can also increase the top speed range to a minimal account which does feel like an upper hand in those fractionated time intervals.
A perfect ECU calibration with the right component switch does counter the air-fuel complexities; keeps engine temperature factors stable and raises the bars of performance as well.
Accessories like Hyper/Super clutch systems, bigger cams, valves, aftermarket piston packs, etc, also amplify factors of displacement enhancements and it is a good sign.
Being restricted to 155-165cc in terms of motorcycles, these limitations did push us to try and make engines bigger too!
So, as time passes, we keep noting experiences of this tidal phenomena. As soon as we understand the compression and calibration maths better, I believe we will see a superb uprise in performance standards here in Bangladesh - that too with our small 150cc motorcycles.
Handling refers to the way your bike responds to inputs. Hitting the apex at the right moment is critical. It is one of the simplest upgradable aspects of a vehicle as the tires, bodywork, handle, or steering are all equally responsible for your handling performance.
You must have a quality set of tyres underneath you. It is best to have a new set of slicks or DOT race tires to get the best performance. It might take some trial and error to find the best set of wheels but once you do, you will notice a great difference in your bike's level of grip.
In Bangladesh, the best kind of tyres for performance enhanced motorcycles would be radial tyres with large grooves specially by the sides. Extra (dual) grip tyres can be a preferable choice given our poor road conditions. In general, any tyre that has better stopping grooves and cornering traction is better for our chassis standards too.
Choosing lightweight composite race fairings can also reduce the bodywork's overall weight. Carbon-resin and fiber fairings for sport oriented motorcycles are widely available these days. They come pre-fitted with the 1/4 turn fasteners.
Mechanics love these fairings because of the perfect fitment and various seat, cowls, mirror, or tail-extension replacement options available. Generally, if such factors are integrated with the engine component upgrades as well, the machines can take off with twice the punch!
Batteries, too, affect the overall weight of a bike. However, lithium batteries are significantly lighter than lead-acid batteries; some can also improve the initial performance as they are found. Depending on the battery, they can also improve starting performance.
An adjustable suspension is your best call to improve handling. You will have complete control over adjusting the compression and damping settings, some with high and low speed as well as springing for your weight.
A well-set-up bike allows a rider to be confident at high speeds. You can consider getting your suspension installed by professionals to ensure it is properly set up for your weight. With this, your bike can exceed expectations compared to your surrounding machines.
Such suspensions are readily available for motorcycles like the GSXR-150, CBR150 R, and R15 V3. Brands like SARP (COBRA Series) make dedicated additions which elevates the overall grounds of handling.
Nowadays, aerodynamics seems to matter for riders as well and with the growing demand, varieties of air-drag friendly windshield and body works are being imported for the aforementioned bikes. Local companies like EMS Motorcycle Studio are also manufacturing windshields and body works locally which is a good sign.
This is definitely an indication that riders here are demanding for more and since it is just the beginning, the scene will gradually get better and the demand for better imports is also latching to a heavier side.
We also have multiple importers bringing in steering/handle dampers, lighter handle grips, and aftermarket rims for the small displacement options.
Braking system plays a huge role in enhancing handling performance as well. To improve performance and braking power, you can replace stock lines with braided lines.
In Bangladesh, available aftermarket pads with better ceramics can surely uplift stopping reactions and the overall blend of the right brakes and tyres can not only make the bike go fast but also stop it right when needed.
Braking upgrades from companies like TDR Performance, RCB, Brembo are currently floating in the market but these can not really be called an enhancement since they are fit for industrial 125cc motorcycles.
Then again, non-performance-oriented riders can usually get by with standard rubber lines but for those looking to optimise braking performance, stainless steel brake lines would be a good option. They do not expand in the way that rubber lines do and as a result, provide better braking feedback.
The brake master cylinder converts the mechanical force of squeezing a bike's brake lever hydraulic pressure to apply the brakes and slow down the motorcycle. Upgrading to a new brake master cylinder from Accossato, Brembo, Nissin, or RCB can help increase both force and brake power feel for high-performance riders.
So, yes the start of an uprising in the small 150cc class has just begun to hit harder and gradually, the ideals to raise the bars of performance are existing parallely with anyone who owns a good vehicle.
The expectations of raising fuel standards, better educated mechanical labour, better work stations, and also more vendors and importers bringing in performance parts is massively increasing and with these expectations, in align to the context of performance, someday, we will overcome the odds that keeps the enthusiasm barricaded and take both the two and four wheel scene to the next level.
Sahil Ahsan is an Operation Specialist at Throttle Alpha.