We head out to Fontana to put the new Rottweiler intake system through its paces
That’s it! The bikes are packed and on their way to Colorado for the 2017 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. Last week was our final hit out on the bikes, and we headed to Auto Club Speedway at Fontana to make some adjustments and assessments.
This year’s program has been a rushed affair with bikes not arriving until mid-April, but we’re now in a pretty good position leading into the world’s most famous hill climb, Cycle News’ second attempt.
Last week saw us go a slightly different route than in 2016. That year’s bike was essentially a stock KTM 1290 Super Duke R with an Akrapovic pipe, race fuel map and some WP race suspension, and this year we decided to team up with Southern California-based Rottweiler Performance and fit their air filter, velocity stacks and use a Power Commander 5 (PCV) to try and unleash a few more ponies needed across the top of the mountain.
Pikes Peak is unlike any track in the world and the altitude sucks power viciously as you ride up the mountain. I’ll never forget the first time I exited Bottomless Pit during the first tire test. The bike, quite honestly, felt like a 600 with the weight of a 1300. I was absolutely stunned at the amount of power we lost for the normally arm-wrenching 1290 Super Duke R. Bottomless Pit is about 12,000ft above sea level, and the oxygen up there is sparse at best. That sparseness directly relates to the lack of horsepower, so if we can get any gains in that area, I’m all for it.
The Rottweiler system works by removing the stock air box and intake funnels, fitting the Rottweiler TVS-80-59 billet velocity stacks, air filter and running a PCV with the auto tune module added.
“Stock bikes are designed to pass emissions which means in the ‘closed loop’ section of the fuel map (0-20 percent throttle and 0-5000rpm), the bike is designed to run as lean as possible,” says Rottweiler Performance CEO, Chris Parker. “Typically, the big twins run at around 14.7:1 AFR (Air Fuel Ratio). This makes for a jerky throttle response, hot engine and generally does not make for good power or delivery.
“In addition, the mapping is set for the stock intake and exhaust, so while opening-up each end of the engine with performance parts will allow it to breath and perform well, you need to add the proper amount of fuel to balance out the AFR’s to truly make the most of the modifications.
“For a large twin, this is typically around 13:1 AFR. A Power Commander V is essentially a ‘Piggyback’ ECU, and is the key to allowing the custom tuning of modern fuel injected motorcycles.
“We added the functionality of the Auto Tune tool to automatically adjust for the dramatic and fast increases in altitude at Pikes Peak. The stock KTM ECU only has only so much self-adjustability and the Auto Tune Dual Wide Band Module is like putting that on steroids, giving the bike the ability to quickly adjust the AFR values on the fly and very accurately. It does this by sampling the exhaust many times per second and then comparing that AFR value to the ones inputted by the user/technician into the software when connected to the PCV unit.
“The result is ‘trims’ are created by the Auto Tune that supersede the base map in the PCV and make live changes to the base mapping very quickly. This will deliver less and less fuel as the oxygen decreases (as we go higher and higher up the mountain), keeping the bike in the exact AFR range it should be.”
At Fontana, Chris Fillmore and I had one Super Duke fitted with a Rottweiler intake system and kept stock. And I’ll be honest and say there wasn’t an enormous difference between the two bikes. The Rottweiler system is bonkers loud: I’ve said about some testbikes I’ve ridden in the past that their intakes sound like they could suck in small children—the Rottweiller system sounds like it could suck in a full-grown man! That fact alone makes the system a little confusing. You sound like you’re going faster, and I do remember pulling ever so slightly away from Fillmore down the straight when I was on the Rottweiler bike even though he is 50lb lighter than me.
My honest belief is the system will make more of a difference when we get to Pikes Peak than it did at the near sea level of Fontana. As mentioned earlier, the lack of oxygen is a big deal at Pikes Peak, so if the Rottweiler system, partnered with the PCV and the Auto Tune can give us more power and better fueling when the oxygen level is low, then we will have made the right step forward.
Right now, however, it’s all about the tire test, which kicks off this Saturday, June 10. Pikes Peak has been having some wretched weather of late with snow continuing to fall across the top of the mountain from Devil’s Playground right through to the Summit. The motorcycle competitors are first up on the top section this Saturday so all I care about this week is checking out the track, seeing how it’s changed over the past 12 months and staying in one piece.
The tire test means absolutely zero in terms of the race so there’s no need to push it and make a mistake that could ruin the entire project.
Sunday will see us tackle the bottom section from the start line to Glen Cove—I absolutely love that section as it’s more like a traditional racetrack, twisty and tight with more grip than the top section. Still, I will be using caution at all times this weekend—the real deal starts when official practice kicks off on June 13.
Don’t forget to check in with us at Cycle News and our Cycle News YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook pages across race week as we’ll be updating you on our progress via daily diary videos and blog posts.
It’s time to go back, back to Pikes Peak!