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Should You Replace Your Factory ECM?

Should You Replace Your Factory ECM?

by Cliff John June 12, 2020

Harley-Davidson enthusiasts are always looking for ways to increase performance and customize their favorite ride. If you perform maintenance on your bike, you've probably heard of something called an ECM. The electronic control module (ECM) or engine control unit (ECU) is responsible for creating a well-balanced air-fuel ratio. The trouble is, these systems can wear out over time, resulting in a significant loss of power.

Harley fans choose to tweak stock ECM components in the hopes of creating the ultimate riding experience. At Fat Head Cycles, we specialize in aftermarket parts and accessories for Harley-Davidsons. We're here to help you decide if a repair or replacement job is in order for your original ECM unit.

What Is an ECM?

An ECM acts like the brain of your engine compartment. This compact device works with sensors scattered across your motorcycle to influence engine behaviors for smooth functionality. Any time you modify your motorcycle's exhaust system or engine, it's crucial to ensure the ECM is responding correctly for fuel efficiency, power delivery and temperature regulation.

It's crucial to ensure the ECM is responding correctly.

Think of a motorcycle's ECM almost like a computer. Out of the box, the technology arrives with presets that control user settings. However, there is room for modification to match riding preferences, similar to a system update.

When to Repair or Replace the ECM

Most riders will notice several warning signs that the ECM is malfunctioning. Note that there is a difference between an ECM unit that is out of order and one that does not meet your expectations. If you experience the following, your stock installation might be the culprit: 

  • Warning lights on the dash
  • Inconsistent throttle response
  • Frequent stalling
  • Noticeable difference in fuel consumption

Repairs and Modifications

As mentioned previously, the ECM is like the brain of your Harley. Some riders want to make changes to the unit so that there are base map improvements, fewer RPM restrictions and zero errors after exhaust system changes. For your safety and that of your passengers, ECM repairs and troubleshooting should only be performed by a trained professional.

ECM repairs and troubleshooting should only be performed by a trained professional.

Keep in mind that altering or "tuning" your stock ECM is a complex process that involves overriding manufacturer settings. Attempting to do a repair or modification job yourself could lead to a seized engine if it's done incorrectly.

Replace Your Factory ECM

Know your way around the engine compartment? Replacing your Harley-Davidson ECM is a safe alternative to repairing the factory unit. The Fat Head Cycles online store features industry-leading products by ThunderMax to keep you in control of tuning.

ThunderMax bundles come with everything necessary for a clean installation. There is no wire-cutting, splicing or soldering required with our exclusive plug-in solutions for touring Harley models. AutoTune functionality allows riders to program the technology with an included software disc featuring hundreds of base maps.

Load settings in under a minute, and then the ThunderMax Wave Tune AutoTune function takes care of the rest. Regulate fuel pressure and exhaust flow in real-time with ECM replacements that adapt to customization projects and changing conditions.

Purchase Performance ECM Units at Fat Head Cycles

Fat Head Cycles connects riders to aftermarket parts and accessories made specifically for Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

Whether you're searching for stereos, lighting, performance parts or oil change kits, we have solutions for bikes of the past and present.

For more information about ThunderMax products, contact us online today.

Cliff John
Cliff John


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