Powercommander: initial impressions

Since I only know of 2 persons having made the jump to install the Powercommander V and Autotune AT200 on their K1200S (and that number includes myself), I thought I'd pen down my first impressions.

Disclaimer: Installation of the Powercommander V and Autotune module is NOT supported by Dynojet Inc. and therefor not listed at their website. Should you want to try this, you are effectively on your own as far as Dynojet is concerned. Further more, these are my impressions, empirical data and by no means backed by hard data collected on a dynamometer.

First, let me start with a little background. When I bought my K1200S, I loved the bike. I loved the power, the handling and everything about it. Except one little thing: the hesitations and surging at low rpm, which are mostly (if not only) noticeable when filtering through slow moving traffic. Not too much of an issue, but when between cars with 4" to spare it is nice to have proper control. After investigating and talking to people, I decided to buy a RapidBike3 module in combination with the RBO2 module. The latter is supposed to give you control over closed loop operation of the bike by modifying the signal coming from the O2 sensor.

After installing the RB3, I went on to visit a very highly regarding tuner to have it set up properly on the dyno. This was not such a great success. Not only did he not adjust the RBO2, he plain just disconnected it (WTF?) and he 'forgot' to tune the ignition advance. Not why I spend money on a RB3, over a much cheaper RB1. To the tuners defense, here they basically only sell the RB1, but still. So time to find a different tuner. This one did a much better job. Got the bike running pretty darn good, but he also didn't have any idea how to setup the RBO2. Bummer. Second bummer was after riding the bike for a tank fo gas, which didn't take too long: fuel consumption of 24mpg (10km/l) (!). Gulp.

This was going to prove the theme of my marriage with the RB3: either have a decent running bike, or have decent fuel consumption. Nothing in between. This was getting very frustrating, as the RB module is definitely not a bad product, but without proper tuning it is not going to help you much.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago. I finally had enough. The inability to do things myself, plus the lack of decent tuners around to do it for me and having spend $300 on dyno runs already, I decided to can the RB3 and get me a Powercommander V with the Autotune module. The idea being, that while I may not be able to make any sensible changes +/- x% of fuel for certain cells, I do understand AFR numbers and this way I can tune it myself without having to keep throwing $$ at tuners and not knowing the result.

So, last week my PCV and AT200 came in and thus the bike went apart. Removed all the RapidBike stuff and installed the new bits. It took a bit of fiddling, fitting and moving parts around to get everything under the seat in such a way that I could still lock the seat, but I got it installed. Removing the stock O2 sensor also proved to be little challenge, but it gave way and was replaced by the wideband O2 sensor from the Autotune kit. Next, the PCV being a part for the K1300S, I loaded up the zero map, which means no change from the BMW ECU and modified the AFR trim table.

Trim table looks like this:
2-10% TPS and up to 5000rpm: 13.8 AFR
10-80% TPS and up to 8000rpm: 13.5 AFR
80-100% TPS and up to max rpm: 13.2 AFR

Now we were ready to ride. Fuel consumption was going to be massive, as disconnecting the O2 sensor makes the ECU go into fail safe mode, which is rather rich (12.5 AFR at the low rpms, according to the Powercommander software). After two 75km runs and accepting changes in between, I could see the fuel consumption go down rapidly on the display of the bike. No hard numbers yet, cause I haven't had time to cover any distance yet. It looks like it is going to be ok though.

More importantly though is the way the bike is running. It is now running like it has never run before. It is so smooth, barely any vibrations, and it has power everywhere (like it is supposed to). With the RapidBike module, it always felt slow to spool up before it took off into warp drive. Now, there is an instant explosion of power. Very addictive and very grin inducing. This is how I remember the K1200S from my test rides.

So, if you are or have been wondering about the PCV and autotune on the K1200 and you are not too bothered by the little fact that it is not an officially supported configuration, just go ahead. It works flawlessly and it does a great job at making the bike run like it is supposed to run. Having only to deal with A/F ratios also makes it easy to understand and deal with and adjust by normal people without private access of a dyno. It does take time to set it up on the road by riding, but to me that is a fun part of it.

In all, I am extremely happy despite effectively having thrown $800 into the wind with the RB3 stuff and dyno runs. I could have saved a ton of money had I gone this route to start with.

In a totally unrelated note, I absolutely love my new Damen Leathers custom leather suit. It still needs to be worn in, but it already feels better than the old leathers it replaces. If you have a weird size like I do, custom made leathers really do make a difference.