Tuning 101

Below are some FAQ’s from customers about selecting the proper tuner.

When do I need to install a tuner onto my motorcycle?

You should install a proper tuner on your motorcycle when you have installed a full exhaust system or when you have added slip on mufflers and also changed your air intake.  If you are only installing slip on mufflers and leaving your air intake stock then there is usually no reason to tune.  You can also change out your air intake and not tune as long as your exhaust is still stock.  Some people do not tune their motorcycles when they should and this can cause discoloration to the exhaust and also do damage to the motor over time.  We strongly urge people to research tuners before purchasing them to make sure they will perform as they need it to.  Also keep in mind that most professional tuners only work with specific ones so do a little leg work before purchasing.

What tuner does Cycle Solutions Inc. recommend and use?

Cycle Solutions will always recommend a Thundermax Auto Tune for every motorcycle it is available for.  That is because it is so far advanced in its tuning abilities that anyone who is investing in a tuner should have the best.  Power Commander V’s are another great tuner on the market.  These tuners work great for 2007-older motorcycles that have a stage 1 upgrade as well as some 2007-older motorcycles that have the correct cam upgrade.  If additional motor upgrades have been done and the motorcycle is a 2002-Newer then a Thundermax tuner would be your best investment.

Why does Cycle Solutions Inc. only sell and install the Thundermax Auto Tune and Power Commander V’s on motorcycles they work on?

Cycle Solutions Inc. highly recommends a Thundermax Auto Tune for 2008-Newer HD motorcycles is because it will eliminate the throttle blade lock that the motorcycle has under 3500 RPMS.  This will give you a quicker throttle response taking off and in stop and go traffic when you ride under 3500 RPM.  For all 2002-newer HD motorcycles a Thundermax is a better choice because it is going to help the engine run cooler.  Harleys are hot, let’s face it.  Anything that can help cool them down is a great investment. If you have a more than usual hot HD then check out our heat reduction packages.  We have many great products that can help cool your motorcycle down and make your riding experience more enjoyable.  One of the biggest reasons to purchase a Thundermax Auto Tune is because the tuner makes up to 500 hundred changes per second, per cylinder correcting your air/fuel mixture for a proper and more efficient running motorcycle.  It is like having a dyno under your seat!  With those changes comes more horsepower and performance and giving you the perfect running motorcycle.

We also recommend a Thundermax if you will be going beyond a stage 1 upgrade and doing a camchest upgrade, a throttle body or motor work.  When you add high performance parts to your motorcycle, you do this to get more gains and better performance.  You need a quality tuner that can make advanced adjustments. The Thundermax is set up with a laptop and most people can follow the directions and do a basic set up.  Cycle Solutions Inc. has advanced software and the knowledge to fine tune the Thundermax for your specific build.  We do this by using a laptop and our dyno and creating a custom set up so that you get all the benefits from your investment.

Cycle Solutions Inc. also sells and installs Power Commander V tuners for 1997-newer fuel injected motorcycles.  We prefer to only use them on 2007-older motorcycles but we understand that the Thundermax comes with a higher cost and for customers who are only considering a stage 1 upgrade or those that top level performance is not really a goal for them then a Power Commander V is a more than sufficient tuner.  Power Commander’s has been around for a long time and is available for many power sport vehicles.  Dynojet makes the install easy with base maps that are available for users to download in the unit and provide them with a reasonable tune.  Cycle Solutions Inc. will download a base map for you when you purchase a PCV from us online, however, if you come see us at a show or our shop and have us install a PCV for you on your motorcycle then we are going to take that Power Commander V to the next level by putting your motorcycle on our dyno and building a custom map for your specific motorcycle and parts combination.  All PCVs perform better and more efficiently with proper dyno tuning.

In a nutshell the PCV is a good tuner for 2013-older HD motorcycle with basic modifications and no plan for motor upgrades.  Power Commanders have to be retuned on a dyno after any change is made to the motorcycle to keep it at its optimal performance.  One thing to consider when purchasing a PCV is the cost of the unit and the additional cost if you are going to take it to a professional tuner for custom mapping.  Both of those costs together are almost at the cost of the Thundermax Auto Tune.

Can a Thundermax Auto Tune or a Power Commander V be installed on any motorcycle?

Thundermaxes use wide band O2 sensors to read the air/fuel ratio in the head pipe and makes changes based on that.  Most exhaust systems have the narrow band (12mm) O2 sensor port in the head pipe.  In order for you to properly install a Thundermax Auto Tune you will need to have a head pipe with 18mm wide band O2 ports.  Most quality exhaust manufacturers have both size O2 ports in their headers and recently more manufacturers have began producing head pipes that have both the 12mm and the 18mm so customers have the option of adding an auto tune module if they want.  There are other exhaust manufacturers that have 18mm O2 ports with a reducer kit that makes them a 12mm for stock applications. There are also manufacturers out there that only offer their exhausts with the 12mm.   If you have a system that already has the 18mm O2 ports for you then you are all set, just make sure they are in the proper location based on the instructions with your thundermax.  If you have a header that only has 12mm then you have two options. One would be to purchase a new header or exhaust system that has the 18mm O2 ports or to purchase weld in bungs that you can have welded into your existing exhaust system to allow you to use a thundermax.  Thundermax Auto Tuners are available for 2002-Newer fuel injected HD motorcycles.

Power Commander V’s piggy back into the stock ECM under the seat. Install is usually fairly easy but some models can be difficult because there is no room under the seat for the unit and you have to find a different location for it.  The PCV does not require O2 ports because the sensors will be blocked off at install so that the motorcycle’s air/fuel ratio is being ran by the PCV.  If the stock O2 sensors are left plugged in then the motorcycle will revert back to stock and the PCV will be bypassed and you just added a tuner to your motorcycle that is not even being used.  The PCV has not special requirements for install and they are available for 1997-Newer fuel injected motorcycles.

What about other tuners that are available?

Cycle Solutions Inc. does sell other less expensive tuners through our website.  These tuners are again for customers who will only be changing out their exhaust and/or intake and will not be doing future upgrades.  They may also work fine for individuals who just want a basic tune and not top quality performance.  Flash tuners are ok for individuals who want a tune done for the current basic modifications that they have and they prefer a tuner that requires no maintenance or hands on after the install is done.  The benefit of these tuners is that they are at a lower cost so they are more budget friendly and also there are many tuners out there to choose from.


When shopping for a tuner keep in mind that not all tuners are created equal.  Most manufacturers will tell potential customers that their tuners are the best only to find out later after purchasing them that do not perform as promised.   We get many customers that come to us because their motorcycles are not running properly or because they feel their motorcycle is not performing like they expected and a lot of times it is because they have purchased a tuner that is not capable of turning their motorcycle to its full potential. There is a secret recipe to the proper parts combination and we have mastered this recipe over the years.  There is a reason why we only install and tune Thundermax Auto Tunes and Power Commander V’s and that is because we are able to professionally tune them to give our customers the results that they want and the results that they pay for.  We will not install sub-par products on motorcycles and we will certainly not install them on yours.