EX­PERT’S GUIDE TO... ECU EN­GINE CON­TROL UNIT

You might think it is you in charge of the throt­tle but it’s clever elec­tron­ics that are call­ing the shots

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Garage - THE EX­PERT Sam Palmer

runs Palmer Per­for­mance, who build and tune bikes for the track. He is also Crew Chief for racer Danny Buchan, cur­rently sec­ond in the Pirelli Na­tional Su­per­stock 1000 cham­pi­onship at BSB. www.palmer­per­for­mance.co.uk A bike’s brain is called the ECU, or En­gine Con­trol Unit. Con­sid­er­ing how im­por­tant it is, it looks very unim­pres­sive – just a box the size of a large phone with wires com­ing out. ECUS have been around in ana­logue form since the 1970s and just con­trolled the ba­sic ig­ni­tion tim­ing. Later, as tech­nol­ogy be­came dig­i­tal in the 1980s, ECUS were able to deal with more. Nowa­days ECUS use mi­cro­pro­ces­sors that can read all the in­puts from a range of sen­sors – around 20 on the lat­est bikes – and de­cide, in mil­lisec­onds, how best to con­trol the en­gine, keep­ing the air/fuel mix­ture at a ra­tio that is safe, while com­ply­ing with the lat­est emis­sions laws and sound re­stric­tions. RPM limit, throt­tle re­sponse and trac­tion con­trol are just a few fea­tures it can ad­just in­stantly.

As bikes get more com­plex, so the ECU has more jobs to deal with. If your bike has dif­fer­ent en­gine modes for wet weather, road rid­ing or track rid­ing, the ECU will have dif­fer­ent maps for each mode, chang­ing the en­gine char­ac­ter­is­tics, the trac­tion con­trol lev­els of sen­si­tiv­ity and even lean­ing ABS. And you thought it was you that was in con­trol…

Once upon a time cor­ner­ing ABS seemed like witch­craft but it’s all down to a Bosch IMU

In­er­tial Mea­sure­ment Unit (IMU) Anti-lock brak­ing sys­tem (ABS)

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