Data acquisition has played a large role in Sport Rider comparison tests over the years and provides good insight on a test bike’s performance — in addition to a look at the performance of our riders. Eagle-eyed readers have probably seen our Racepak G2X box in the magazine on more than one occasion, as it generally ends up in at least one photo per issue. On the other hand, you probably haven’t yet spotted our new data acquisition tool, simply because it’s about 20 times smaller than our original unit. With just a few strips of Velcro, in fact, we’ve been able to hide the new AiM Solo lap timer/data acquisition box pretty much anywhere, allowing us to bring you more data with less hassle.
The GPS-based Solo replaces AiM Sports’ popular MyChron Light lap timer and completely outshines its predecessor in terms of features. As a timer, the Solo displays static or rolling lap times in addition to predictive lap times that read as a calculated time (i.e. an estimate of what your lap time will be) or as a difference between the calculated current lap time and your best lap (i.e. +/-). The predictive lap time feature is constantly updating, meaning you can check your time through the course of a lap to see if small changes to your riding are improving your pace. Through the duration of a session, your best lap time is displayed in the upper-right corner of the screen as well. Off the track and back in the pits, the Solo allows you to review your lap history through a detailed screen that shows the number of laps ran, the distance traveled, elapsed time and your three fastest laps. A second screen shows the time for every lap completed in that session in addition to your minimum corner speed and maximum straight speed for each lap.
The Solo’s array of lap-time-related features would be enough to satisfy almost any track-day rider, but the list of functions doesn’t end anywhere close to there. That’s because the GPS-enabled system also measures lateral acceleration, longitudinal acceleration and slope (change in elevation), in addition to speed and a number of other channels such as temperature and GPS accuracy. Accessing all this data via the supplied AiM Race Studio software welcomes you to the wonderful world of data acquisition. Ah, just what Bradley needed to keep him from actually working!
AiM’s Race Studio 2 Analysis...
AiM’s Race Studio 2 Analysis program has a long list of features that allow you to review all your data, including a lap replay function that lets you better compare lap time differences.
Programming the Solo so that it provided the proper data (the box can record performance testing data such as 0-60 mph, eighth-mile and quarter-mile numbers in addition to lap times, although we didn’t use this feature) took just minutes thanks to the very simple six-option main menu. Downloading the AiM Race Studio 2 Analysis software on our computer was just as easy. What we really like about the Solo, however, is that there’s no need for a beacon. The box can literally be placed anywhere on the bike, and just a few strips of Velcro are needed to sufficiently mount the unit.
The Solo searches for nearby tracks once turned on, and our unit managed to locate the three tracks we tested it at (Chuckwalla, Buttonwillow and New Jersey Motorsports Park) within seconds. On the track the Solo performed as expected, providing a clear display of the lap times in an easy-to-read font that could be picked up on any straight stretch following the finish line. We didn’t use the predictive lap time function very much, mostly because that feature is best utilized for qualifying sessions or in a race setting. Nevertheless, the feature works as described and would be beneficial in certain circumstances. The memory function proved easy to navigate back in the pits, and quickly broke down each session for better examination of lap time patterns, etc. Lap times were spot-on when compared to other units as well.
With our data files saved to our computer back at the office, Bradley and Andrew got to studying Bradley’s every move via the AiM Race Studio 2 Analysis program. And when comparing the data to that of our more in-depth — and more expensive — data box, both were impressed with the surplus of information and the Solo’s accuracy. Beyond using the Solo’s g-force and speed measurements to study each bike’s performance, we also compared Bradley’s laps via the program’s track view function, which shows the layout of the track (acquired by GPS) and active lap indicators, which show the lap time difference and selected measurements like longitudinal g and lateral g. For racers, this function allows you to see where mistakes were made on a given lap or areas where a riding change may have helped. The Studio 2 Analysis software also allows you to overlay multiple laps from different riders or sessions, create math channels, and plot data in several different formats, so you can go extremely in-depth to your data — although the Solo does lack some of the features found in a dedicated data acquisition system, such as our Racepak unit and its software.
Numbers don’t lie, and that’s one reason why we continue to turn toward data acquisition as a form of evaluating a test bike’s performance. The Solo itself impressed us with its user-friendly menus, and the AiM analysis program was easy to navigate and study. In the end, it’s a cheap and easy way to experiment with data logging. And if you’re just looking for a lap timer, at $399, the Solo still isn’t a bad option.