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Written: July 14th, 2002
Written by: Ron Golden
Bike: 2003 Cannondale X440
I’m a week late with this, but thought I’d update anybody that might be interested in the progress in tuning the ‘Dale, plus some adventures in Hare Scrambles (which I could have done without!)
This was all going to be too much of a rush (again.) Received my Optimum Power Maintenance and Diagnostics kit Saturday afternoon and was ready to go with my authorization number from the helpful folks at Optimum. My bike had been blubbering and stuttering badly at low RPM’s during the previous week’s race. Pulling the plug revealed an engine richer than Bill Gates, most likely the cause of the poor performance. After checking out advice on Cannondaler Forums, I tried “upping” my injector size by 2.5% and reducing the Injector Offset by 46%. Seemed like a big change on the Offset, but I just scaled off the % change that someone else has posted success with. At the same time, I loaded up HarryMoto’s “EX map @ TS=120”.
(Should note that it wasn’t until a few days later I discovered ‘Throttle Calibration” so it wasn’t touched for the event. Don’t use this post as a guide to leaning out your ‘Dale, I’m learning more every day and still tinkering with settings.)
Rolled the bike out of the basement (aka tech central) and it fired up right away. After letting it warm up a bit on idle, I opened up the throttle and it stalled. OK, maybe a little cool still. Re-started after a minute, rolled on the throttle to find a noticeable hesitation off idle. It seemed like the engine wanted to run but was being “held back” for about the first (I’d say) 500 RPM above idle.
A quick zip around the woods proved that the engine was way better than before, even with the bit of a lag off idle. As long as I didn’t crack it open too fast, it would pull much stronger in the low RPM’s than it did before. Hey, I was just happy to have made a noticeable improvement without screwing anything up when I re-mapped it. (Actually, not to worry, the software and ECU seem to be pretty idiot-proof.)
My friend Dennis was in from out of town and riding the event Sunday with his new WR250. We swapped off bikes trying them through a very short loop and agreed that the ‘Dale was fit to ride. “All four strokes stumble a bit off idle, just the way they are….” I’d heard this before and since my last (read only) ‘stroker’ was a 1971 Honda SL100, how was I to know? Pulled the plug again to reveal a beautiful light tan color.
Everything’s not perfect, but let’s go racing!
The “Ant-Hill Classic” is run annually just north of Kitchener-Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. Get off the main trail and you may find out all too quickly how aptly named the event is. The loop was about 24km (about 14 ½ miles) long and featured a combination of trails cut through fairly open, grassy areas along with single track trail through mixed forest. Not much in the way of rocks, roots, or water here.
Time for my second “electrified” dead engine start. Only about 20 guys in the ‘Vet’ class today, I got off the line around mid-pack. About 500 ft past the first turn, some poor soul lost his front end in a rut and four other guys piled into him. (We’re too old for this kind of stuff guys!) I put the silver monster into a brake slide left, missing the pile up by inches. I know it’s cruel, but I couldn’t help thinking, ‘well, there’s at least five guys that I’m ahead of!
The acceleration of the ‘X’ through the grass track sections was awesome. I could see myself gaining ground on bikes ahead of me every time I poured the throttle on. I love the sitting/standing transition on this bike, very effortless and really makes you feel “at one” with the machine. It doesn’t hurt that the premium suspension sucks up ruts and whoops. This was most noticeable exiting corners where smaller whoops had started to form as riders accelerated. These went pretty much unnoticed by the ‘X’ and I found that I was exiting corners and accelerating out of them faster than I ever had before.
Came around the scoring barrels for the first lap after 52 minutes. Not sure, but probably running around 6th, or 7th place.
Then it happened. About a third of the way through lap #2, this damn pine tree jumped out in front of me! Well, not the whole tree, just one little branch that had been cut off by someone trimming the trails, leaving a blunt end about the size of your index finger. Straighter than Robin Hood’s arrow, this branch zeroes in on my right nostril, partially impaling my head, whilst the rest of my body and bike continued on down the trail. I did manage to turn my head and avoid a frontal lobotomy, however, the damage was done and all that was left was to wait for the blood to start to flow. This took all of about 1.3 seconds.
There’s not a heck of a lot a guy can do when you’re about 5 miles into a 14 mile loop and find yourself in this kind of condition. Just keep telling yourself that it will stop bleeding on it’s own (calling all platelets….report to the nose on the double….) Well after about 10 minutes of profuse flow, it slowed to a stop, only occasionally opening up for the next hour and a half of riding. I think that the dust helped seal it! In the mean-time, I just tried to keep up a decent pace and not stop.
Now the power and torque of the ‘Dale became something to try and contain rather than exploit. I almost wished it would start running crappy to give me an excuse to quit, but it never missed a beat. This is not a kind machine to ride when you’re beaten up and tired. It still carries a “punch” when you’re ready to throw in the towel. Thank goodness for the suspension, at least I didn’t get any more beaten up from the trail.
Pit for gas ¾ of the way through lap 2. Dennis (who had a tree jump out in front of him as well, spearing his rad) tops me off and tells me that near as he can figure I’m running 8th. Eventually make it to the ‘barrels’ and am in under the 2-hour limit which means…..you get to do another lap!
Through lap 3, I’m just holding on, hoping the ‘Dale will guide me home like a drunken soldier’s horse. About ½ way through the lap, I’m passed by a guy on a KDX, who’s in the Vet class as well. Try as I may, there’s nothing left in my tank and I never manage to catch up to him, finishing 9th. I settle for the two points and roll into the pits exhausted after 3 hrs plus in the saddle.
As I lay on my back in the grassy pits, looking (and feeling) like hell, I can’t help but think how ironic it is that I spent Saturday afternoon looking for more power out of the ‘X’ and how that same power made the bike such a hand-full for me during the last ½ of the race. Maybe I ought to start working out, or something? Right now, just keep pouring the Gatorade into me and recover enough to get loaded up and out of here.
Hey, we probably have time to hit the concession stand for a jumbo sausage and a donut before we go! I can always start working out next week.
PS: Tuning update. My Injector Offset was too radical a change (1.3 to 0.7) I’ve played with it a bit, changing it in increments of 0.05 and ended up at 1.0. I can now crack the throttle open from idle (stationary, i.e., no load on the motor) and it responds instantly without hesitation. I believe that the offset adds a sip of fuel to the combustion chamber each time the injector fires, acting like a pilot air setting on a carb. If true, this would mean that it is the primary source of fuel off idle and becomes insignificant as RPM increases and Injector Size/pulse duration takes over. (Please feel free to correct me anybody, this is speculation on my part.) It would also mean that off idle, I was starving the motor for fuel, creating the “lag” I experienced.
At the same time I re-calibrated the Throttle Position settings (no appreciable change from what was there already) and used the Maintenance software to properly set the idle at around 2,000 RPM. (Thanks HarryMoto for the advice and information!)
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