Making Quality Horsepower | Our Experience With The TTS Master Tune System

Tech | In Depth

Making Quality Horsepower | Our Experience With The TTS Master Tune System - Hot Bike Magazine


02. When we strapped our bike to the dyno at Gene Thomason Racing in Torrance, California, we were not looking for magically big numbers on either horsepower or torque, we just wanted our bike to run safely and efficiently with the induction and exhaust changes we made. Added horsepower would just be a bonus. On hand for the tuning were both Steve Cole, the owner of TTS, and Gene Thomason, who is also a virtuoso of the MasterTune software. These guys combined have thousands of dyno tuning sessions under their belts, so it was safe to say this bike was going to get the help it needed.

03. We first took a few dyno pulls to get some base information. Take into account that the stock readings of this bike without the upgraded pipe and air cleaner was 62.1 hp and 78.8 lb-ft and the first dyno pulls we had with the ThunderHeader and K&N; filter were 66.3 hp and 92.8 lb-ft. The findings also showed us that our Dyna was running fairly lean. There were also a few issues with timing, fuel, and spark throughout the curve of our dyno chart that we had to address as well.

04. Once the MasterTune software was loaded into the laptop and plugged into our bike's data port, a marriage of sorts happened where the TTS system electronically mated itself to our Dyna. From there a mirror image of the stock calibration the ECM was running was made and saved into the MasterTune software. This was done in case any mistakes happened during the tuning process or if the bike ever needs to be returned to its stock configuration.

05. We then picked a base calibration from TTS's massive library. These "canned" calibrations have been amassed from the thousands of dyno runs and tuning sessions TTS has done of various Harley-Davidson motorcycles with hundreds of aftermarket component combinations.

06. This graph shows how the TTS system can even adjust each cylinder's AFR mixture separately to control spark and temperature throughout the RPM range.

07. When the MasterTune system had secured the information it had been given, we turned on the software's VTune mode. This part of the process allows MasterTune to gather massive amounts of data while the engine is running through various gears, RPM, and throttle position. In short, VTune is pretty much is a dyno inside of the software. So much so, that a person can do this stage of tuning without the use of a dyno while riding the bike around his neighborhood.

08. Once all of the needed values in the VTune graph were filled up, we checked out the info. It was at that time that a few parameter changes were made to the canned calibration the bike was running. These changes were adding a bit more fuel to the rear cylinder between 1,800 and 2,000 rpm, richening up the mixture between 3,400 and 4,400 rpm, as well as also adding slightly more spark where needed.

09. From there we dynoed the bike at wide-open throttle and tweaked the calibration slightly more to smooth out acceleration at higher RPMs. A few more pulls were made to see if any beneficial changes were needed to the software. It was decided that with only the mild upgrade we made, it was better to not get too crazy trying to squeeze every last pony out of our engine; it is better to have a smooth running bike with the proper air/fuel ratio, spark, and timing. With this done, the final numbers on our bike with the MasterTune installed was 74.2 hp with 93.7 lb-ft of torque.

10. This was only a 12.1 hp and 14.9 lb-ft increase over stock, but the quality of how the bike makes these factors is the key to the MasterTune's success. When riding the bike on the streets, the power feels much stronger and comes on in a more linear fashion. There was no hesitation in the powerband while shifting like before and no popping on deceleration where the bike used to sound like a drum set. Even though we only scratched the surface of what can be done with the MasterTune system, the consensus was if you are looking for big dyno numbers to impress your friends and don't care about the quality of how you get them, then the MasterTune is not for you. This system makes power by tuning all of the engine's various activities and then it makes them work in unison. By doing so, the MasterTune system meshes the ECM and the engine as one strong running package that you know has been properly tuned.

After swapping out the intake and exhaust for more free-flowing units on our project Street Bob, we sensed our already lean-running bike was now operating anorexically in the air/fuel mixture department. The addition to a free-flowing high-performance exhaust, such as the ThunderHeader, an ultra high-flow K&N; intake can drastically change the airflow through the motor. This is due to reversion (pressure waves) during the valve overlap period that the stock motor and computer (ECM) is not set up for. This reversion affects the cylinder fill and air/fuel mixture based on RPM that the stock closed-loop ECM is set to. Yes folks, this can mean some loss of power at points throughout the powerband, but we were most worried about the adverse effects of an extremely lean running condition.

The MasterTune System
Knowing the bike needed some sort of tuning software to make it run correctly, we went with TTS's MasterTune H-D ($425) setup. The system is a Windows-based ECM reprogramming tool specifically for use with '01-later Delphi-equipped Harley-Davidson motorcycles. The MasterTune is widely known as a thorough tuning software for our machines and it has a great reputation for first getting bikes to run properly, then building horsepower from a safe and proper baseline level. Though we are only tuning our bike using the basics, this system is vast and just about every aspect of the ECM management can be tuned to the given engine's need, no matter how big the motor is or what parts were used to build it. The MasterTune has many in-depth features such as saving and restoring the original factory calibration, changing of factory speedometer calibration, changing factory RPM limit, adjustment of front and rear cylinder spark advance, as well as each cylinder's volumetric efficiency.