Mapping refers to downloading new parameters into the bikes ECU that controls the Air to Fuel ratios on the fuel injection system. This is necessary whenever you dramatically change something on a bike such as pipes, air intake or cams so that the bike doesn't run too rich or lean, and is typically done by a dealer.
Alternatively, you can use an inline fuel tuner such as the Anger Management System or Power Commander which will allow you to modify the Air to Fuel ratios yourself. These units plug in between the ECU and the Fuel Injectors and modify the signals being sent to the injectors. Units like the Anger Management System are simpler, but have less tuning options than the Power Commander.
Fuel tuning is somewhat of a 'black art' in which the Anger Management System obscures most of the details of what's being done. That's great for folks who don't care about the details or feel the need to tweak their power curve. As for myself, I like to be able to control all the parameters and tweak my performance to match my riding style and situation. Therefore I use a Power Commander with Autotune. The Power Commander by itself (without Autotune) is loaded from maps available from the vendor or other sources that were built by doing dyno runs on a similar bike with similar options on it. Generally speaking, most people with just the Power Commander will take their bike to a good dyno tech and have their map customized directly to their bike.
The Autotune option for the Power Commander is somewhat like having a dyno on your bike full-time. It allows you to plug your laptop into your bike and visually examine and modify the target Air to Fuel ratios you want the bike to maintain at any given throttle position and RPM. The Autotuner keeps track of the "tweaks" it's making real-time to the bike to maintain the target Air to Fuel ratios you've established as you ride it. These "tweaks" are intermittently applied by you using the Power Commander software to modify the underlying fuel maps. Because these maps can be stored onto your laptop, you can have different maps that you can load for different situations. For example, you can have one map that you use for local commuting and running around that opts for power and responsiveness over fuel economy, and another map for long road trips that focuses more on fuel economy.
In terms of installation, I'm not as familiar with the Anger Management System, but I assume it simply plugs into the ECU on one side, and piggy-backs into the connections on your throttle body....a pretty simple and straightforward install that doesn't require any splicing. The Power Commander by itself is pretty much the same thing. If you add the Autotuner then you also need to replace the stock O2 sensors with the wide band O2 sensors that come with the Autotune unit. It's a little bit more complicated install, but not beyond the skills of most people that know their way around a bike's engine.
I hope that clears up the landscape for you of the "dark art" of fuel tuning.
2012 Victory High Ball
Victory Stage 1 swept pipes and performance air filter
PCV and Autotune
Last edited by DunedinDragon; 03-12-2012 at 03:44 AM.