[New Arrivals]

KTM’s myKTM Wireless Smartphone Tuning: Your FAQs Answered

2 months ago | Words: Andy Wigan | Photos: KTM Motorcycles

For 2021, KTM’s MX bike line-up mainly gets suspension and chassis fine-tuning, and the flagship 450SX-F four-stroke also sees a few notable engine mods. But there’s no doubt the standout feature of the 2021 SX-F range is KTM’s first-ever wireless smartphone tuning technology. Using an all-new ‘myKTM’ app and Connectivity Unit Kit – an optional accessory that’s integrated into the bike’s barpad – this user-friendly system gives riders the ability to make on-the-fly changes to their bike’s power characteristics (traction control, engine braking and launch control). Plus, it features a suspension set-up guide for setting sag and clickers. In other words, it allows KTM owners to personalise their SX-F according to set-up preferences and track conditions, without resorting to technical assistance.

KTM claims this wireless connectivity is “a sophisticated yet highly accessible tool that puts a ‘garage in your pocket’ and launches a new era of efficient track-side bike tuning” and “allows for a wide spectrum of adjustability on the fly, a privilege that was limited to elite KTM factory riders until recently”. But what does this app and/or Connectivity Unit Kit cost? Can it be retro-fitted to earlier models? Is it a more sophisticated tuning tool than what’s currently available from other dirt bike manufacturers? Do you need to be a rocket scientist to use it? And will it be introduced to KTM’s enduro models and/or two-strokes in the near future?

Okay, let’s go ahead and answer those questions, and a bunch more. And rest assured that, once KTM’s 2021 models do land in Oz (they’re still a month or two away), we’ll be hounding KTM for an opportunity to give this all-new wireless connectivity a whirl so we can sanity-check the brochure claims.

Where do you get the Connectivity Unit?
The Connectivity Unit is part of KTM’s PowerParts range, and will be available through authorised KTM dealers from early October, when the 2021 machines are due to arrive in Australia. The Connectivity Unit makes use of 2.0 Bluetooth to connect the bike and the app.

How do you get the myKTM app? When is it available?
Once a rider has purchased the Connectivity Unit, they then need to download the free myKTM app in their preferred language on their iOS or Android device. A KTM ID is needed to use the myKTM app. Every new user has the option to either sign-in or register. The myKTM app was originally scheduled to be available from July, but that has been delayed until late September. By the way, the myKTM app does not replace KTM’s myRIDE app.

Do you also have to instal the Connectivity Unit?
Yes. This can be done at an authorised KTM dealer and is necessary in order to link the bike to the myKTM app. The Connectivity Unit is mounted on the handlebar, and enables all EFI mapping adjustments. The unit is waterproof and impact-protected with a soft silicon barpad.

How much will the Connectivity Unit Kit cost?
The KTM Group in Australia has confirmed that the Connectivity Unit Kit will cost $349 – for both KTM and Husqvarna models.

Can riders use their 2021 KTM models without the myKTM app?
Yes, of course. But if they want to explore the adjustment potential of their KTM SX-F engine – as well as customise their suspension settings to suit the track and/or conditions and/or their preferences – then the myKTM app sounds like it will be an invaluable new tool.

If you use the app to tweak your bike’s settings, and then remove the Connectivity Unit from the bike, will the changes be retained?
Yes, they will. When you disconnect the CU, the bike will retain the last-uploaded map (assuming the last upload was successful).

Can the myKTM app be used for all KTM models?
No. The initial stage of the myKTM app launch includes the option to connect to all 2021 KTM SX-F models and the 2020 KTM 450SX-F Factory Edition. However, KTM says it will “incorporate more off-road machines into the list of models that can make full use of the app in the near future”. Let’s hope that includes the option of retrofitting the technology to earlier year-models too.

Will the system be introduced to KTM’s enduro models in the near future? And what about the two-stroke models?
Our sources at KTM tell us that KTM’s (and assumedly Husky’s) 2022 enduro models will get the technology – again, most likely as an optional accessory. There’s been no mention of the prospect for two-stroke model compatibility.

Will this technology help riders set up their bikes better?
That’s its primary goal. According to KTM, the package is claimed to: “increase confidence when it comes to altering your ride by making the process either much easier, or more in-depth and straightforward for advanced-level off-roaders. You can also learn set-up techniques, boost your enjoyment, feel safer in the conditions and enjoy better synergy with your KTM SX-F. The myKTM app removes uncertainty, speeds up the methodology and reduces the need for a technical expert to be present at trackside”.

Can you use the myKTM app for more than one bike?
Yes, you can add multiple bikes into your app’s ‘garage’. Though each bike would need to be independently paired with the Connectivity Unit fitted to it. If you want to share one Connectivity Unit across more than one bike, it is possible, but this would include resetting the CU back to factory status when swapping it from one bike to another.

Will the technology be easy to understand and intuitive to use for all levels of riders and tech-heads?
We’re yet to play with the system, so we can’t say for sure. But if you watch KTM’s video about the app, it does appear that there’s a short series of well-presented and intuitive menu screens, with clearly presented options and scales that allow owners to personalise their machine with the minimum of fuss. In the basic (‘Prime’) mode, it allows you to choose from pre-selected settings for ‘Track Type’ (Sand, Soil, Hardpack), ‘Track Condition’ (Dry, Wet) and ‘Traction Control (from Low to High on a five-point sliding scale). The curve of the resulting engine map is then highlighted by the combination of settings and is shown on the graph at the bottom of the screen. Riders can make any personal notes and then upload to their bike and ‘Save’. Moving from ‘Prime’ to ‘Advanced’ mode unlocks an extra level of adjustability by introducing sliding scales for ‘Throttle Response’, ‘Traction Control’, ‘Engine Braking’ and ‘Launch Control’.

KTM has boldly pronounced that this new wireless connectivity makes their 2021 bikes “the most technically advanced line-up of motocrossers on the market”. But is it a more sophisticated tuning tool than what’s currently offered by other dirt bike manufacturers?
Well, it certainly appears to be much more intuitive and user-friendly because it ‘talks’ in a simple power characteristics language that owners can understand, rather than in fuel and ignition parameters. Let’s say you wanted to dial the amount of engine braking up or down on, say, a Yamaha via its PowerTuner app. How would you do that? Would you give it more or less ignition advance? More or less fuel? Or more of one and less of the other? Exactly; unless you’re an experienced engine tuner, you’d have no idea how to change the engine braking characteristics. With the myKTM system, however, you simply dial ‘Engine Braking’ up or down on a 1 through 5 scale. The same applies for ‘Throttle Response’, ‘Traction Control’ and ‘Launch Control’. You tell the system the outcome you want, and it does what it needs to do to give it to you.

Will the system allow ignorant/maverick owners to tune their bike to a standstill? Or into a hand grenade?
Let’s hope not. No doubt, making the system dummy-proof was a key objective for KTM’s engineers. Otherwise, they wouldn’t put this tunability in consumers’ hands (especially when you consider how cautious they have been about who gets their hands on a User Setting Tool – currently, the only way to alter their bikes’ EFI maps). In other words, even at the extremities of the 1 through 5 sliding scale for ‘Throttle Response’, ‘Traction Control’ and ‘Engine Braking’, there is absolutely no risk of blowing the bike up or even compromising the durability of its components.

How does the system deal with ‘contradictory’ settings? For example, if you dial in maximum throttle response and maximum traction control at the same time.
Not sure. But we’re fascinated to test the system and see how it deals with these sorts of scenarios.

Will changes to the Engine Braking settings also affect the power delivery under acceleration?
The system can detect when it’s on a trailing throttle and ‘quarantine’ the changes to engine braking. The heightened sophistication of the bikes’ ECU in recent years enabled the fitment of Traction Control a few years back, and its ongoing evolution has now enabled adjustability in both throttle response and engine braking to be added.

Do suspension set-up recommendations requires a Connectivity Unit?
No. Only engine adjustments do.

What features does the ‘Suspension’ mode give you?
Selecting ‘Suspension’ helps owners alter a variety of settings to set their bike up to better suit a variety of conditions – from rippled hardpack tracks to the shifting ruts of a muddy course to the unique ride created by soft sand. Basically, it’s designed to remove some of the hassle and the guesswork, and let you save your data for the next time you ride the same track and/or conditions. The Sag Assistant is the first step towards finding the right fork and shock settings, based on the rider’s skill and weight, and the track’s style and conditions. The Suspension Setting recommendation then delivers suggestions for compression, rebound, air pressure, height and preload for the fork, and compression and rebound for the shock.

Will the tuning capabilities of this technology be evolved in the coming years?
Yes. Because, according to KTM, “2021 is the first ‘lap’ of many for the myKTM app with some exciting upgrades and features planned to come in the near future”. We believe these future features will include a knowledge base so owners will be able to tap into to trouble-shooting information, or fine-tune their suspension settings for various conditions.

MODEL CONNECTIVITY

Launched alongside the 2021 KTM motocross models, the myKTM app will be available for the following models:
– 2021 KTM 250SX-F
– 2021 KTM 450SX-F
– 2021 KTM 350SX-F
– 2020 KTM 450SX-F Factory Edition
But KTM also makes the point that they will be expanding the use and scope of myKTM to more models from its off-road range in due course.

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