8 months ago, I picked up a BMW K1200R, as it was the bike that opened up my eyes to BMW back when I was 20 and thought all motorcycles should be fast, loud, and aggressive.
Ignoring the fact that my K12R spent 5 of those months out of my hands due to the fuel pump flange recall (I’m trying to repress those memories), I’ve been generally happy with the bike – it satisfies the immature youngster inside of me, especially after I added a Laser Hotcam exhaust.
However, I’ve had three issues with the bike:
1. Slight wandering at low speeds.
2. Poor clutch feel.
3. Poor fueling at low engine RPMs.
This bike doesn’t like going slow, but unfortunately that’s an occasional requirement when commuting or splitting lanes. It’s not a problem that’s unique to me, and it’s mostly due to lean fueling for emissions testing. I spent some time looking for solutions online, and there were two regular answers – buy a Power Commander and plenty of dyno time to sort out the fueling, or just deal with it, the latter of which was suggested by geniuses who said things like: “Don’t mess with the machine. Just say no to slow traffic.”
Brilliant. “I’m sorry officer, I had to speed, otherwise my bike gets real jerky. Feel free to send my ticket to the EPA.”
As a broke-ish grad student, the idea of spending nearly $350 on the PC3 plus finding and paying a reputable shop for dyno time was not an appealing solution for a problem I had learned to live with.
Occassionally, another option came up – an aftermarket solution called the BoosterPlug, which claims to do all kinds of things, including faster acceleration, improved throttle response, stronger idle, and more…
…all for the much-more-digestible price of $149.95. I know they say you get what you pay for, but I decided to give it a shot. Free worldwide shipping doesn’t hurt, either. Considering it came from Denmark, it got here quite quickly.
Initial impressions were favorable. The packaging was simple, and I’m personally fine with that. Build quality of the product itself passed the sniff test, so I took advantage of the fact that my bike was already apart for a major service to have the BoosterPlug installed:
First, a quick explanation of how this works. Unlike the PC3, which is installed between the ECU and EFI harness and requires a map file and dyno tuning, the BoosterPlug is a spoofer (and I’m oversimplifying here). It measures ambient air temperature, then lies to your ECU, claiming the temperature is actually lower than the real value. The ECU responds by ensuring extra fuel (about 6%) is delivered into the cylinders. It’s a simple but effective way of curing the lean condition, and it’s not specific to any given bike.
Thanks to the design, installation is quite straightforward. Set the thermometer in an appropriate location, plug into the harness, and…put your bike back together. If I didn’t already have the bodywork off, installation probably would have taken 15-20 minutes.
So, did it work? I’ve put on about 1,200 miles with the BoosterPlug so far, and so far I’d say yes, with a caveat. From a technological standpoint, this was never going to be an exact fix. But for the money and ease of use (no dyno time here), it’s been great! It hasn’t gotten completely rid of the low-speed hesitations, though I’d say it’s reduced it down by a solid 75%. There used to be a flat spot at about 6,000 rpm – now I have to try very hard to notice it. And I haven’t noticed a large discrepancy in fuel mileage, though I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t keep detailed logs on that. I assumed that one might expect a 6% decrease in mileage, however after a clarification from the guys over at BoosterPlug, the expected additional fuel consumption is just 1-1.5% The reason for this is because the BoosterPlug is only active when needed – acceleration/deceleration and low RPMs. That would explain why I haven’t really noticed a drop in MPG. To put it simply, I’m happy with it, and I’ll be keeping it on my bike.
I suspect that a lot of riders are in a similar situation as some manufacturers are going lean on new bikes to help with emissions. If you’re in the same boat as me, where a PC3 + dyno time is just too much coin, the BoosterPlug might be just the solution you’ve been waiting for!