Understanding Dirt Bike Mapping Switches

Understanding Dirt Bike Mapping Switches main image

One of the most useful innovations on modern day motocross and enduro bikes is the ignition mapping switch, which have made their way onto most all full-sized dirt bikes from majority of manufacturers. Exactly what is it for and how does it work? In this guide we cover everything you need to know to understand your mapping switch.

What is a dirt bike mapping switch? 
A dirt bike mapping switch is essentially a switch or button on the handlebars of a modern four-stroke motocross or enduro bike, and select two-strokes by KTM and Husqvarna, that allows you to change the ignition map for a different power delivery. There are generally three preset modes on the ECU, and each one will change the power characteristics of your bike that will suit your riding style or the conditions you're riding in.

Does my bike have a dirt bike mapping switch? 
Most modern four-stroke dirt bikes from the major manufacturers such as KTM, Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki and Husqvarna, have a mapping switch installed, and while they're usually fairly identifiable on the handlebars, you can check your owner's manual on whether your bike has one or not, and how to use the mapping switch system on your particular model.

What does each mode mean? 
As mentioned, most mapping switch systems come in the three modes, which are generally standard, smooth and aggressive, however each respective manufacturer refer to these in different names.

Standard: The standard map is exactly that - it's the map your bike comes pre-set with when it rolls out of the dealership, and it's generally the 'best of both worlds', meaning you can pretty much use everywhere and have good performance and power delivery. Most riders won't even stray from this map, as it's quite versatile and predictable - you know exactly how your bike is going to react on all occasions.

Smooth: The smooth map makes your dirt bike much more rideable, however it will lose that sharp, bottom-end power delivery. This map is really suited to for hard-packed surfaces where throttle control is needed along with good, linear power delivery. It's also a really suitable map if you're riding a 450 and finding the power a bit too overwhelming for the conditions, as it smooths out the power delivery and makes the bike much more rideable.

Aggressive: The aggressive map enhances the bike's power delivery, providing the maximum amount of power being delivered to the rear wheel. This map is particularly handy with a 250 four-stroke, as you tend to ride them more aggressively and are using much of the power on offer. An aggressive map can also be handy in deep and sandy conditions, although it's worth taking into consideration that if the track is rough, the more aggressive power delivery may make it more difficult to ride - however pulling through the deep conditions won't be an issue at all.

How do I know what map is best for the conditions I'm riding?
The best way to choose what map is best for you and the conditions is to use them while practicing. Every time you head out on a different track or surface for training, try using the different maps available, get a feel for them, and see which one feels best for you. You might find the standard map is suitable for your riding style everywhere, while you may also discover that either the smooth or aggressive options benefit you in different conditions. It really is a personal preference, and the best way to get the most out of them is by using them as much as you can, so you can determine the best option for your riding and racing.


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