High Altitude Fuel Injection - Kawasaki Versys Forum
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post #1 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-12-2013, 12:40 PM Thread Starter
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High Altitude Fuel Injection

Although I live and ride mostly in indonesia, I spend at least one or two months a year in India, and have done over the last few decades. I have always wanted to do a long bike tour in the Himalayas. Of course there are plenty of old english style Royal Enfields but apparently Kawasaki are going to produce the 650 Versys there by the end of this year. I am tempted..

However I have talked to people who have ridden at these high altitudes who have sworn that FI bikes are a pain because it's difficult to adjust the mixture to the thin air.

Anybody here ever figure out some mod that would make it easy to retune the mix ( and reset it back), say with a power commander? Not on the go obviously but at least a set up that wouldn't take more than say an hour (pull seat off, etc) with pre sets? Or is this a hare brained idea?
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post #2 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-12-2013, 02:05 PM
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I don't know for sure, but I believe that as long as you have the O2 (oxygen) sensor in your exhaust your FI will automatically take altitude into account, and adjust accordingly. (I've always believed that FI is better at high altitudes.)

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post #3 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-12-2013, 04:14 PM
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I think you've might have it backwards. Carbed bikes are a pain to get running properly at altitude, if you've got them adjusted for down below. The only way to tinker with the A/F ratio is by adjusting screws, jets, and air inlets. FI bikes do all of this on the fly, by computer. You can also change the mapping with something like a Power Commander, which is much easier than changing anything on the carbs. The only thing carbs would have going for them way up in the mountains, in the middle of nowhere, is you can fix them on the trail. There's nothing electronic to fail, and extra jets and needles can carried with you at minimal cost and weight.
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post #4 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-12-2013, 07:27 PM
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My V went from sea level in Florida to 10,947 ft (3,337 m) and a lot of inbetween altitudes through America's Rockey Mountains with no difficulties... Yes, I know it's no Himalayas... Just thought I'd throw it in as a minor reference.

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post #5 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-12-2013, 08:57 PM
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My versys seems to scoot along just fine on rides to mount evans (14 mile road starting at around 10,000 feet and ending at 14,100 feet) and on rides over trail ridge road (highest point is 12,800). Slight loss of power, but not nearly as bad as a carb'd ride.

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post #6 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-14-2013, 11:54 AM Thread Starter
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Cool - thanks for the feedback everyone.

This guy told me he was on one of the highest passes in Ladakh (around 17000 feet) and he saw some guy with a newish GS having problems.

Basically his take was that on a single pot carb it didn't take long to make the mix leaner/richer as needed, whereas the FI has its limits. Hmmm

Good to hear of everyone's positive experiences!

Guess the only thing left to worry about is getting a high enough octane fuel in remoter parts of Himalayas!
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post #7 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-14-2013, 11:57 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by TwoTacoCombo View Post
I think you've might have it backwards. Carbed bikes are a pain to get running properly at altitude, if you've got them adjusted for down below. The only way to tinker with the A/F ratio is by adjusting screws, jets, and air inlets. FI bikes do all of this on the fly, by computer. You can also change the mapping with something like a Power Commander, which is much easier than changing anything on the carbs. The only thing carbs would have going for them way up in the mountains, in the middle of nowhere, is you can fix them on the trail. There's nothing electronic to fail, and extra jets and needles can carried with you at minimal cost and weight.
I've never ridden old English bikes at altitude but I had a few in Indonesia years ago. Basically carried all manner of spare parts on longer trips and fixed most stuff on the side of the road. But when it comes to electronics for some reason it still fazes me although I use computers extensively in other fields!
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post #8 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-15-2013, 02:18 AM
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You should head up there and test it out for us then... 17,000 feet asl is pretty extreme. You might be gasping for oxygen before the Versys does. Then again, it's only 3000' higher than what Jmason achieved.

It depends a lot on the Versys' ECU mapping, if it's well calibrated for such abnormaly low air pressure conditions... I believe it would do well. It will inevitably make less power up there, so I don't think reduced cooling efficency will be a problem. There will also be reduced air drag. Good thing about higher altitudes, is that you don't require octane that is as high, except when climbing steeper upgrades.

Last edited by invader; 09-15-2013 at 02:23 AM.
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post #9 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-15-2013, 05:14 AM Thread Starter
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You should head up there and test it out for us then... 17,000 feet asl is pretty extreme. You might be gasping for oxygen before the Versys does. Then again, it's only 3000' higher than what Jmason achieved.

It depends a lot on the Versys' ECU mapping, if it's well calibrated for such abnormaly low air pressure conditions... I believe it would do well. It will inevitably make less power up there, so I don't think reduced cooling efficency will be a problem. There will also be reduced air drag. Good thing about higher altitudes, is that you don't require octane that is as high, except when climbing steeper upgrades.
You got some points there! How does one find out if it's calibrated for that extreme ex-factory?

17thousand doesn't leave you gasping if you take a few days to get up there from about 10,000. (Even flying into 11000 from sea level will leave you a bit weird for a few days!).Or you just go for a couple of hours and come back down. The danger is going up too quick and then staying too long. Pulmonary Oedema, nasty (fluid in the lungs, you drown basically). I have been over some crazy passes in Himalayas in Jeeps (12 - 16,000 feet).

A few years ago I was up in Ladakh shooting a story, and we went about 80% of the way up one of the highest motorable passes in the world - which was planned for about 19thou. They were still building it then. Crazy, they had these workers from Tamil Nadu (South India) who are use to low lying, hot areas working at these crazy altitudes freezing. These guys probably took one bath a month, just wore their tar covered clothes to keep warm!!! They looked like ghosts in a monnscape. The company wasn't publishing their attrition rates. Here's a pic from back then scanned from my old slides.
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post #10 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-15-2013, 08:50 AM
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Wow, cool photo!

How cold will it be up there? Air is denser when cold.
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post #11 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-16-2013, 12:14 PM Thread Starter
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Wow, cool photo!

How cold will it be up there? Air is denser when cold.
During the day it can get pretty hot (no shade, thin air) in summer. At night even in summer the temperature drops radically especially as much of it is above treeline, the heat just dissipates into the atmosphere. So it can get pretty close to freezing at night even in summer.

Crazy thing is that many Ladakhis prefer to sleep in the open air so some of them just take their bedding out on to the roof or such to sleep under the stars.

back to the FI issue - frankly I just don't know if the colder air would help. The jeeps I rode in were all diesel fueled.
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post #12 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-16-2013, 06:07 PM
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It does help a little... As cold as it may be, air will still be very thin up so high.
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post #13 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-16-2013, 07:23 PM
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I've ridden my Versys from sea level to 12,300 ft. ... never any FI issues. Less power at altitude, sure...
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post #14 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-16-2013, 08:53 PM
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Unless the FI system has a barometer, automatic fuel adjustment would not be possible. Sure you'll have the HO2S but that's only for closed loop monitoring at low/cruising speed. If you are using a Power Commando, decide early which RPM range you'll mostly be using and add more fuel within that range. In what gear (transmission) will the climb require ?
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post #15 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-16-2013, 09:07 PM
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D-J Method and α-N Method:

When the engine load is light like at idling or low speed, the ECU determines the injection quantity by calculating from the throttle vacuum (inlet air pressure sensor) and engine speed (crankshaft sensor). This method is called D-J method (low-speed mode). As the engine speed increases, and the engine load turns middle to heavy, the ECU determines the injection quantity by calculating from the throttle opening (main throttle sensor) and the engine speed. This method is called α-N method (high-speed mode).

For high altitude operation, it helps that the Versys is calibrated with a lean low end, especially near 2800 rpm... Without any Power Commander fuel corrections, air/fuel ratio reaches a lean peak at 2800 rpm (~14.5:1), falls progressively richer to a dip at 4100 rpm (~12.8:1), leans back up (~13.5:1 @ 4500-5000 rpm), then richens considerably to 5500 rpm (~12.2:1) and up to redline (~11.5:1).

Last edited by invader; 09-16-2013 at 10:10 PM.
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post #16 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-17-2013, 10:34 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Versystole View Post
I've ridden my Versys from sea level to 12,300 ft. ... never any FI issues. Less power at altitude, sure...
Oh that's interesting to know. When you hit the higher altitudes what kind of RPM range were you mostly in? Was there a specific range that worked best?
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post #17 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-17-2013, 10:38 AM Thread Starter
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D-J Method and α-N Method:

When the engine load is light like at idling or low speed, the ECU determines the injection quantity by calculating from the throttle vacuum (inlet air pressure sensor) and engine speed (crankshaft sensor). This method is called D-J method (low-speed mode). As the engine speed increases, and the engine load turns middle to heavy, the ECU determines the injection quantity by calculating from the throttle opening (main throttle sensor) and the engine speed. This method is called α-N method (high-speed mode).

For high altitude operation, it helps that the Versys is calibrated with a lean low end, especially near 2800 rpm... Without any Power Commander fuel corrections, air/fuel ratio reaches a lean peak at 2800 rpm (~14.5:1), falls progressively richer to a dip at 4100 rpm (~12.8:1), leans back up (~13.5:1 @ 4500-5000 rpm), then richens considerably to 5500 rpm (~12.2:1) and up to redline (~11.5:1).
I am imagining that given the roads and the gradients around here (am in the Himalayas right now but not riding) I would be mostly in the 3000 to 5000 rpm range in 1st to 4th (max). The 2013 Versys has plenty of torque at that range. So by your calculations at the top of that range the FI would be 'gasping' above 12000 feet?
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post #18 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-17-2013, 11:55 AM
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EFI won't be a problem at altitude, though the idle speed will drop from 1250 to 1000 rpm because it's not a closed-loop system.
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post #19 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-17-2013, 12:49 PM
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...If you are using a Power Commando, decide early which RPM range you'll mostly be using and add more fuel within that range.
I BELIEVE you would REMOVE fuel for that rpm range when going to high altitudes (it will become richer with the 'thinner' air at altitude if left alone...).

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post #20 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-17-2013, 06:44 PM
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I BELIEVE you would REMOVE fuel for that rpm range when going to high altitudes (it will become richer with the 'thinner' air at altitude if left alone...).
Less air less fuel to achieve the correct air fuel ratio.
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