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What is a Power Commander & Are They Worth The Money

Power Commanders may just be one of the most perplexing accessories in the motorcycling world. There are a lot of questions associated with it. How does it work? What exactly does it do? Is it worth the money?

If you're just getting into bikes and the thrill of buying parts for it, reading about Power Commanders and whether you need one may seem like deciphering quantum physics theory. It's true that there is not the perfect one-size-fits-all answer, but we'll break it down for you to gain better understanding.

Power Commander Overview 

The appeal of a Power Commander for most riders is its promise of boosting the bike's horsepower higher than what you can get out of a stock engine. Does it really do that? It actually depends (we'll get into it later). What it does is adjust the bike's fuel/air ratio to run at an optimum level, and thus improving the motorcycle's overall performance and power delivery characteristics. This is especially important if you've make some upgrades to your bike, like installing an aftermarket exhaust or a air filter.

The Power Commander itself is small and plugs directly into the bike's electronic control unit (ECU) and generally requires absolutely no additional modifications, thus making it a very simple solution for that additional desired performance.

Understanding the EFI

The modern motorcycles we ride today have a Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI) system. Gone are the clunky old carburetors of the bikes from the century past. The new EFI system is a no-brainer way to mix fuel and air in the right proportions for optimized performance. Essentially, a computer (ECU) is constantly assessing the current operating state and communicating how much fuel to inject in order to keep an optimal fuel/air ratio.

For most bikes, this system performs reasonably well when the bike is in stock trim.  However, if you're anything like the average moto-fanatic, one of the most exciting things about bike ownership is sweetening it up with aftermarket upgrades. An exhaust or air filter upgrade will increase airflow, likely making it run leaner or richer than it should. There's various side-effects from this including a high running temperature, exhaust popping (awesome fireballs), power surging... all because the stock ECU is not able to adapt to the aftermarket accessories in most cases.

The stock ECU is programmed according to the stock specifications, so it can only adjust within a certain range. Effectively this means that the EFI ends up delivering an air/fuel ratio that is not optimized. This is when the Power Commander comes in handy!

What a Power Commander does

A Power Commander allows you to remap your bike's air/fuel ratio to be optimize for your aftermarket modifications. It adjusts the fuel injection to optimize the fuel/air ratio in accordance to the increased airflow and modified power delivery dynamics. It allows for a full range of adjustments, thus can adapt to almost any modification. This makes the bike perform faster, smoother, better overall, and yes, will help deliver added horsepower. You will see an improved throttle response and smooth power delivery which translates into a better riding experience and faster times at the race track.

The PCs have an on-board microprocessor that makes changes to the ignition curves and fuel output. Every PC unit comes with software and a cable link that allows you to change between different maps or make adjustments to a map file. It's also possible to download existing map files to best match your bike's mods from the power commander website.

Some considerations 

Most motorcycles, even stock ones, will benefit from a power commander in some way, but as this is a costly purchase, it's necessary to assess what your upgrade goals are and weigh the pros and cons.

A good rule of thumb is that a power commander is likely a required addition when purchasing a full exhaust system (or 3/4 system) because a full system heavily changes the characteristics of your bike and it'll be necessary to optimize the power delivery to avoid those unwanted side effects and any possible long term harm to your engine.

In the past, to really reap the benefits of the power modifications you've made to your motorcycle, a professional tune can be done on a Dyno by a performance shop to create a custom map for the modifications you've installed. This option is generally reserved for high performance oriented riders, racers and track day enthusiasts as it is very expensive. Dynojet has considered this, and for most riders, the addition of a Dynojet Autotune (see accessories below) with your Power Commander will help keep things under control and your bike purring like a kitten at a fraction of the cost.

Dynojet Power Commanders

In the fuel controller market, Dynojet Power Commander V dominate.

Dynojet PCs use OEM equipment style connectors and plugs directly inline with the bike's stock fuel injection system (no splicing or cutting required!). The installation is fast and simple, taking as little as 15 minutes. The Power Commander merely overrides the factory settings of the ECU, so don't worry about permanently altering your settings! Once the PC is removed, the bike goes back to its stock condition.

Dynojet Power Commander V (the newest version) has some exciting new features including: a built-in two position map switching function, allowing you to adjust on the fly (switch not included - see accessories below). The gear position input allows each cylinder to be mapped individually and for each gear. It also has 10 throttle position columns.

Some of the other noteworthy features of Dynojet Power Commander V are:

- has the world?s largest downloadable map database
- Dynojet collaborates with the leading exhaust manufacturers of the world to offer pre-tested settings for your bike
- Compact, USB powered from computer for quick and easy map changes
- The notes from the map are stored in the on-board memory along with the map making it easier for the notes to be retrieved easily when the unit is connected
- A cylinder trim adjustment feature facilitates offsetting fuel to one or more cylinders
- An expansion port lets you connect various accessories with utmost ease

In custom or specialty applications cases, where a map is not available, there is a network of Official Dynojet Tuning Centers to help develop custom maps for the bike. So whatever you've got, they've got you covered!

The Power Commander V is Dynojet's newest model. Some older models of motorcycles are available on the Power Commander III platform.

Power Commander Accessories

The Dynojet Power Commanders V comes with a range of accessories to aid performance.

The Dynojet Autotune Kits for Power Commander V
automatically corrects the fuel mixture while riding. Just plug in the unit and it'll do all the work for you! This is a perfect addition for most riders.

The Quick Shifter allows you to shift up to the next gear without having to roll off the throttle or pull in the clutch. It does so by momentarily cutting the fuel and/or ignition. This accessory is great for the serious racers who understand that every split second matters!

The Map Selection Switch allows for switching between two different maps. For example, you could switch between a "fuel economy map" (for long leisure rides) and a "full performance map" (for racing).

You can order Dynojet Power Commanders and their accessories here:

Conclusion: so is a power commander worth it?

Purchasing a power commander from an online store will most likely depend on what you want from riding and what kind of modifications you have on your bike.  Generally, the benefits of a power commander will work best with a full system exhaust (not a slip-on), as it creates more power and allows for a wider range of adjustments. If you're more performance oriented, then a power commander may be worth the investment to get a smoother, more powerful ride.

If you're pairing with a high end full system, like an Akrapovic Exhaust, you'll see much better overall performance when paired with a PCV.

What have your experiences with a Power Commander been like? Got more questions? Free feel to ask below in the comments! 

By Sir D

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