2016 Kawasaki ZX10

This Kawasaki ZX10 is already uber powerful with around 200 horsepower to pack, but tuner Mike Taylor is looking to make even more so that it's ready for a top speed run at Bonneville.

A one-man operation isn’t necessarily any less formidable than a larger business. Case in point, Mike Taylor, who’s been operating a powersports business for around 15 years and his current shop in St. Louis for nine. A lifetime of experience in the powersports industry means that his expertise is more than enough to satisfy customers and send them off with an expertly adjusted vehicle.

Taylor Motorsports is a small shop that specializes in high-performance modern motorcycle dyno tuning, although he works on everything from dirt bikes to four-wheelers to road and race bikes. Nothing is off the table, in fact, 25 years ago, Taylor was working on vintage Vespas and crafted one of the fastest nitrous-powered scooters in the country at the time.

“I don’t really have a preference as long as it’s something mechanical,” Taylor says. “I do a lot of road race stuff now and get people’s bikes all dialed in, throttle control is key. A lot of new bikes have a lot of restrictions in them, and when we pull out those restrictions and get the tuning right there’s a night and day difference in the way they drive.”

When we stopped in at the shop, Taylor was working on a 2016 Kawasaki ZX10 for a customer. The former owner had used it as a street and track bike, but the new customer enlisted the help of Taylor to get it tuned for a Bonneville run and other top-speed events like the Texas Mile. The powerful Ninja bike already makes a hefty 200 horsepower from its 998cc four-stroke engine, but Taylor believes he can make it produce more.

After doing some required maintenance work, Taylor is going to re-degree the cams to get more top-end power, add ceramic wheel bearings, and drop the bike down to lower the drag coefficient and get it ready for Bonneville.

“There’s a lot more involved than you’d think setting a bike up for top speed runs because on a straightaway road course you’re only riding for a few seconds, versus Bonneville where you could be on a five or seven-mile run where it’s holding that top speed for a long period of time.

“There are things to consider as far as chain and sprocket wear, wheel bearings, and the tune of the bike. There’s a high-performance air filter and exhaust on this but other than that it’s pretty much stock. Off the showroom floor this bike doesn’t go full throttle, so when I go through the ECU and do the tuning I can unlock 40 horsepower on the top end, which is pretty significant.”

Taylor says that he tunes each bike so that they “run the way they’re made to run.” Part of that is taking into consideration the environment that it will be ridden in. Depending on whether the customer is operating it in a location that is closer or farther from sea level, Taylor will adjust the jetting to fit the altitude. This results in a better performing engine and typically produces less emissions. He does complete tuning maps from zero to 100% throttle, which allows for smoother throttle transitioning.

If you have a motorcycle, ATV, UTV, snowmobile or jet ski you’d like to feature in MPN’s Ride of the Week series, please email MPN Content Director Greg Jones at [email protected].

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