9 Best Ways To Make Your Motorcycle Faster

How To -



We’ve looked at the 10 cheapest ways to make your motorcycle faster, but for those of you still not riding fast enough and with money in your pocket, we present the 9 best ways to make your motorcycle faster.

1 – Change Exhaust and Add a Power Commander
Adding a full aftermarket exhaust system, including the headers, and then tinkering with the fuel mapping on your motorcycle drops a significant amount of weight from you bike while improving throttle response and adding power and torque. It also makes your motorcycle sound awesome, which will at least make you feel like you’re riding faster.

2 – Suspension
If your bike doesn’t already come with fancy adjustable suspension, adding this will completely change the way your bike handles. Being able to adjust the compression and damping settings for your weight help tailor how your bike responds to your inputs perfectly. You can buy a nice suspension setup from a brand like Race Tech or, if you’re on an older and cheaper bike, just buy the front end off a crashed GSX-R and swap it for the front on your SV650 and call it a day.

3 – Have Your Suspension Setup Professionally
You spent the money on the nice bike or bought the aftermarket suspension, but your bike still doesn’t feel right. No matter how much you’ve read about suspension setting on the internet, having your suspension setup by a professional will always be the way to go when chasing that last ounce of speed. Call around or ask the guys are your local dealer or mechanic shop for who they recommend with your specific brand of bike.

4 – Swap for Lighter Wheels
Wheels are one area where a lot of companies go cheap. Heavy wheels are un-sprung mass which means your fancy suspension can’t even help diminish their negative effects. Buy a nice set of super-light aftermarket wheels and you’ll feel a noticeable difference. We’re big fans of Marchesini wheels, but there are plenty of great options.

5 – Buy the Right Tires
Now that you have super light Marchesini wheels, you need to wrap them in with really nice rubber. All tires have a different purpose, and those tires you bought because they last 10,000 miles probably won’t grip the road all that well at extreme lean angles. Every motorcycle forum will have a whole section devoted to tire talk, so spend some time learning from people’s experiences and then use trial and error to find the ones that you like the feel of best.

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  • Sam Malapas

    Riding school should be #1 on the list. =) Yamaha Champions Riding school, if they make a comeback, would be my pick.

    • Mike Lin

      Yep best return in investment is to upgrade your brain – was there 3 weeks ago. Do #3, #5, and #9 especially YCRS and learn the skills to be faster safer. These mods look great, feel great, but there’s min benefit unless you know how to take advantage of them at speed.

    • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

      they aren’t in any particular order.

    • Laurie

      YCRS made the biggest difference by far in my riding ability. If they come back I’ll go again in a heartbeat.

  • Rocket Punch

    “8 – Buying a dedicated Track Bike” doesn’t make “your bike” faster, turning the bike you already own into a track bike probably will.

    “9 – Attend Track School” makes you ride that bike faster, will not make the bike faster than it already is.

    • grb

      Rocket Punch has a point there. The title should be “how to go faster”, which can include “how to be faster”(loose weight, training, track days, exercise, etc) and “how to make your motorcycle faster” (exhaust, PC, suspension, etc.). Attending track school will help you go faster but it will not “make your motorcycle faster”… Just saying

      • http://metabomber.com/ Jesse

        Proper training and practice at trackdays will make you faster on any bike. Consider it a modification that is instantly transferable to any scoot you own. Great ROI.

        • grb

          Agree, I think its the best upgrade you can make to increase the quality of your experience and be able to enjoy your motorcycle allot more, and like you said any motorcycle, it will just make your riding a better experience, and safer. Its the best thing you can do as a rider and it will make you faster, but it doesn’t “make your motorcycle faster” (I know its just a technicality, but I was just saying) You can let your brother test you bike, and then go to all the track schools you know to “make your motorcycle faster” (like suggested), come back and let him test it again, your motorcycle will be the same…

  • Diego Martinez

    The easiest ways to have a faster bike it to be a faster rider. Lose weight. Why spend thousands on lightweight unobtainium when you can just trim your gut for the same effect? Also, ride a dirtbike. You’ll learn more about bike control in a day on a dirtbike than a year on a sportbike. There’s a reason for dirt track being a breeding ground for GP riders.

    There is also the psychological aspect. You mentioned it obliquely with number 8, getting a track bike. Fear is the mind killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. To quote Frank Herbert, I refer to not only the fear of damaging an expensive motorcycle, but the fear of injuring yourself. Over the years, I have noticed that riding becomes active meditation, and the best way to perform at your peak is to give in and simply stop thinking.

    Being afraid of damage or injury puts filters in the way between your brain and your body, and has you second guessing decisions which should be reflex. Granted, this is probably something you want to do if you have years on a bike and know what to do, but still. Focus your attention on the things you’re learning or working on, and leave the basics on autopilot.

    The detail being is that you are riding a motorcycle, and you can screw up spectacularly, so be mindful of the consequences. If you aren’t aware of them, and something should go wrong, you will more than likely never return to this sport. This is the most difficult thing to deal with when banishing your fear.

    So, I would say that number 8 should note, get a track bike and deal with the psychological aspects of riding. And there should be a number 10 to address one’s own level of physical conditioning and endurance, or to be blunt, “What shape you are in and let’s hope it isn’t round!”

    • Jono

      Obi-Wan Kenobi up there raises some good points, but I’ve always found a little fear serves as a reminder not to get complacent. I’d argue that complacency is as bigger killer of motorcyclists as any.

      sure if you’re white-knuckled and in a cold sweat, thats not going to end well. But if you’re in that frame of mind why are you trying to go faster?

      • Diego Martinez

        You answered your own question, you can’t go faster if you’re white knuckling it. And needing to have fear to stave off complacency? Ok, that’s necessary only if you have no concept of the consequences of a crash.

        • Jono

          yes… it was rhetorical. Look, we could go round in circles all day about this fear thing and get nowhere. I was just offering a different perspective, we’ve all ( well, most of us) crashed when pushing it in different environments and i guess we all rationalise/learn from the consequences differently.

      • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

        Fear of crashing is healthy and helpful. Fear of low sliding an scratching that new Panigale you just spent your life savings on is not because you can’t afford to buy new plastics (and cant bring yourself to ride it scratched) is not.

        • Diego Martinez

          I’ve always said, if you don’t fuck up on occasion, you’re not trying anything new. And if you’re scared of scratching your pretty bike, you’re not going to try anything new.

          • David Gould

            well said diego!

  • bammerburn

    You forgot sprocket changes. A lower gearing means more instantaneous torque, and a much more aggressive and fun motorcycle.

    • Diego Martinez

      True, but topping out at 120 mph is no fun when you still have 400 feet of straight left…

      • bammerburn

        I don’t care about top speeds. I care about how fast I get to 60 – 100. Pointless to do higher on public roads.

        And, lower gearings are hella fun in city riding.

        • Diego Martinez

          Again, very true, but if you have the cash for all these goodies, you probably have cash to head to the track. If you’ve ever ridden a liter bike, you know the only place where you can wring her out regardless of any gearing is the track.

          • bammerburn

            I have a ZX-6R with low gearing, and it’s a hoot in the city. I wring it out like nobody’s business. That ZX-6R has 115 horsepower. I would love to see what a low-geared 150+ hp literbike is like – particularly as those things come with double the torque of the 6R. *wiggles eyebrows*

            • Diego Martinez

              My CBR1000RR will power wheelie at 90 mph. And even a 600 can only be really wrung out at the track, even if it is puny. If you want something you can wring out on the street, buy a TW200 or a Vespa.

  • sospeedy

    Great article Sean. Overall, I think the BEST way to make your motorcycle faster is to make YOU faster. Track school is #1.

  • Tyler McCool

    Really think tires should be higher on the list.. many people use crummy garbage tires that won’t turn, hold a line.. or just don’t grip or give any confidence. Bad tires also don’t give any feedback..

    Get a set of good performance tires and you will be shocked how quick you can ride on the street, and for the novice/intermediate rider, on track.

  • Rameses the 2nd

    If you are after speed, just trade in your slower bike for a faster bike. You will save time, energy and money.

  • grb

    Great article, defiantly some of best steps to take if upgrading your bike. And it got me thinking, we shouldn’t be searching to increase speed but rather to increase the quality of the experience, regardless of a couple points of speed/power gained or lost. What will increase the quality of your ride? make it more enjoyable? make you communicate better with your motorcycle? etc. What I mean is advancing your point of view, because for me if thinking this way, the list would be pretty much the same, so its just about changing your mindset and thus improving your whole experience/journey as a motorcyclist. (unless you’re racing and/or competing for a professional championship, then yeah just focus on speed)

  • Piglet2010

    Pridmore-STAR have schools at tracks all over the country, unlike some others who only cater to those who live in the SW or have time to travel.

  • Piglet2010

    MotoGP riders typically crash every second or third weekend.

  • Piglet2010

    What about a Grom?

    (Since I already have a TW200 and a scooter.)

  • eviladrian

    How about aero gear like windshields or extended fairings?
    This bloke cracked 80mp/h on pedal power alone, so you’d think there’d be some advantage in cleaning up the silhouette on a motorcycle: http://news.sky.com/story/1143040/cyclist-sebastiaan-bowier-breaks-speed-record

  • Justin McClintock

    9 should be #1. And #2 should be “go on a diet”.

  • Mugget

    IMO an aftermarket fuel controller shouldn’t be on people’s list just because you can get some more power out of the bike, the biggest advantage to me is the fact that a good tune will give the bike a power curve that is so much smoother than factory. An easy to ride, smooth & predictable bike is worth much more than whatever minor power gain is… gained.

    After I picked up my Gixxer from the dyno tune it felt like a completely different bike, and that was just riding around town, probably only up to 7k rpm. So much easier to go faster and it even made it easier to ride in traffic… this is now my #1 upgrade for new bikes. Along with rearsets and adjustable clip ons if needed.

  • Mugget

    Aversion to crashing? Learn how to ride whydoncha!

    I’ve gotta comment about points 8 & 9. Being scared of crashing, regardless of the reason, is actually very dangerous. It becomes like a type of target fixation, and you all know how that ends…

    The important point to note is that you need to accept the fact that you can crash. And that’s true any time you’re riding a bike, not just on a racetrack! You sure don’t have to like the idea of crashing, but you need to accept it as a possibility and get over it, don’t dwell on it. (This topic is dealt with in the Twist of the Wrist books. If you haven’t read them, you should buy them and study them. If you have read them, you should get them out again and study them.)

    There is really no need to crash your bike, especially not on a racetrack. There’s just no benefit to it – it hurts and will cost you money. You don’t need to push yourself so much that you crash. That’s where the training comes in. If you want to go faster, safer, you need to know how. You can’t just try to “go faster” and ride beyond your limits. Reason being that you won’t be able to learn anything if you’re riding above 80% of your maximum. So stay within your limits, ride at a level where you’re still in full control, and work on specific areas that you want to improve.

    Basically the whole idea that you need to crash to become a faster rider is complete nonsense. But it’s not uncommon. I used to think that way as well. In fact I had been riding in the same group at track days for about 4-5 years! I was getting so fed up that I did actually start looking to buy a track bike and was mentally preparing myself to just go out and push myself until I crashed… boy am I glad that I didn’t do that!

    Level 1 California Superbike School was the solution. The very next track day I went up a group, easily. It was as if I had been riding in that faster group for ages, I wondered how I could have been so slow before.

    BTW my street bike is my track bike, I ride to all track days and have not crashed on the track once (nor do I plan to).

    For anyone outside the U.S. I can’t recommend CSS highly enough. (Actually that goes for anyone inside the U.S. as well.)

    • Diego Martinez

      I agree, the idea is to not crash. But things being imperfect as they are, it will happen. The fear of crashing being gone is one part, but the other part is not being afraid of trashing your pride and joy in case something outside your control goes pear shaped.

      • Mugget

        Exactly – but being worried about destroying your bike shouldn’t be something that you’re actually thinking about while you ride. If you believe you will actually crash, you shouldn’t even be riding, simple as that. Doing so is just dangerous!

        If you ride within your limits there really isn’t any reason you should crash.

        I guess some people just won’t ever get their head around it, they’ll always be worrying about gravel on a corner, riding in the wet etc. For me that all comes under “riding to the conditions”, meaning that it can be avoided and you can control your risk. For others they don’t even try to see how to avoid or deal with those types of situations and they call them “accidents”.

  • Mugget

    That’s not quite correct… “The conditions” refer to exactly that – the exact conditions at that moment you’re riding. Therefore if you are riding, you have “conditions”. Yes it includes the weather (rain, heat, wind etc.) and crashing riders, debris on the track.

    But even racers have to ride to the conditions – no one is immune to the laws of physics. Tires wearing & grip levels changing, brakes heating up and stopping power reduced, riders themselves getting tired and maybe fatigued – those are all conditions that even racers need to deal with.

    I’m not trying to say that only dumb people crash, I’m trying to say that if people would be a bit more thoughtful in their riding and think about things they could avoid a whole lot of trouble, there’s just no need to crash – it’s all avoidable. Riding to the conditions is just an all-encompassing phrase that can bring to mind the idea of constantly re-evaluating your riding circumstances and making better decisions based on that info.