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Yamaha TCS Retrofit
Is it possible to upgrade my 2010 Yamaha YZF-R1 with the traction control system from the 2012 model?
Adding Yamaha’s TCS to your 2010 model would be a major undertaking, although not impossible. The traction control system is integrated into the electronics, and the upgrade would require a lot of parts from the ‘12 R1. In addition to the front sensor and sensor ring, you would need the complete wiring harness, ECU, gauge package and handlebar switchgear. Additionally, you would have to either purchase a fork leg or fabricate a mounting bracket for the wheel speed sensor, as the mount on the new bike is cast into the lower fork leg. The rear wheel speed sensor on the ‘12 model is the same as from previous years. Even if you could find those parts reasonably priced, the installation would be fairly involved as replacing a wiring harness is not a simple task.
That said, an aftermarket wheel-speed-based traction control system offering a similar level of performance as the Yamaha system — such as the Nemesis TCS — is also not cheap. A rate-of-change aftermarket system, such as the Bazzaz Z-Fi, is one reasonably priced alternative. Neither installation is overly difficult, especially compared with changing an entire wiring harness. If you want the functionality and simplicity of the Yamaha TCS, however, your best option may be to trade up to the newer model.
GSX-R600 OEM- Specific Tires
I am looking to purchase new tires for my 2011 Suzuki GSX-R600 this spring. When I went to my dealer and asked what was available, I was told that my bike uses special Bridgestones that are an OEM variant of the BT-016. They are more expensive than the regular BT-016s, do I really need to have the exact tires? What is the difference between the regular BT-016 and the OEM variant?
Many new sportbikes are equipped from the factory with tires that are specific to that model. Quite often the motorcycle manufacturer desires modifications from the standard version of the tire, perhaps to better match a characteristic of the bike, to meet a price point or to favor one trait (such as grip) at the expense of another (such as mileage). We have seen OEM-specific tires that are lighter than the standard models, have more or fewer plies in their construction, different profiles and even vastly different tread patterns. When the tire manufacturer knows exactly what bike a certain tire model will be used on, the designers have that leeway to make changes to better suit certain conditions, whereas a non-specific tire must work over a wider spectrum. For example, the BT-016 intended for your GSX-R has to work well on that bike only, but the standard BT-016 may see use on anything from a lightweight 600 to a fully loaded sport-touring bike and must be designed accordingly.
Typically, both the tire manufacturers and the motorcycle manufacturers are somewhat coy about the exact differences between the standard and OEM-specific tires. In your case, the tires used on your GSX-R600 are marked with an AA suffix. One major difference between all OEM-specification BT-016s and the aftermarket version is the multiple compounds. The standard front tire has two compounds in three zones, with a harder center zone and softer shoulders; the standard rear has three compounds in five zones, with progressively softer compounds toward the shoulders of the tire. In contrast, the OEM BT-016s are single-compound fronts and dual-compound rears. Bridgestone’s information also shows slightly different dimensions between the standard and AA tires, indicating a subtly changed profile.
We’ve had great results with practically all the OEM variants of the BT-016 as well as the standard aftermarket offering, which fared well in our 2009 tire test (“Both Sides of the Fence,” April ‘09). Presumably — and we have noticed this in some cases — the aftermarket version with more compound zones would offer a better combination of wear and performance than the OEM variants. With that advantage, and at a cheaper cost, the standard BT-016 would be a fine choice for your GSX-R600.