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The 411 on the MSD Charge FI Controller for the Kawasaki Teryx

By Todd Eldridge,

Hunterworks has had the privilege to be a beta tester for the new MSD FI Charge for the 2009+ Kawasaki Teryx. We were one of several whose job was to work through the software, make suggestions on changes and look for bugs. I could just end this article right here and say, it is awesome and you have to have one if you have a 2009-2010 Teryx but I figure you want to know more about it.

First off this new box is a piggy back style unit which means you unplug the wiring harness from the stock ECU and plug it into the MSD then take the harness from the MSD and plug it in the stock ECU. Actually that is it for the install, takes three minutes tops. A piggy back style box takes the readings from the engines sensors and then manipulates them before they go into the ECU basically tricking the ECU to what the engine conditions are. This is the most common way of making a controller for any EFI vehicle of any type.

The MSD for the Teryx is not only a fuel controller but a ignition controller too. With one unit you can manipulate both ignition timing and adjust fuel to whatever engine mod you may have made. I would also like to state that 95% of people who buy one of these won’t actually use the software or want to know how to use it, they simply want to plug it in and go. This is where buying it from a place that just sells it like it comes from MSD or pre-programs it to match several engine mods so you can just plug it up comes into play. I surely don’t want to discourage anyone from getting one due to making it complicated because like I said most people won’t ever use the software. Where this unit shines is in the hands of the tuner, it provides the tools to accomplish the goal. Let me use a analogy, most of us have no idea how a computer works but we use one everyday with ease, it is simply a tool. We depended on someone else to program the computer or write the software for the computer. That person had more tools at his disposal to be able to write the software or program the computer but you just use it. Just like computers there are going to be people who write their own programs for their use on their computer but they are few and far in between.

On to what makes this unit different from others, one the ignition and fuel controller is in one box, it will be the only one like this for a while and this makes it less expensive than units that have separate boxes. This unit also has what we call 3D fuel and ignition mapping. What this means is that instead of only being able to manipulate the fuel by engine RPM you will be able to adjust it by throttle position and engine RPM. The stock ECU has in a nutshell two fuel maps, one for wide open throttle (WOT) and one for part throttle, actually it is called Alpha-N and D-J method where one is based on throttle position and the other on engine load. Lets say you were running at a steady speed and the engine was running 6000 rpm, you would be on the part throttle curve which would be giving less fuel than WOT under heavy load. When under heavy load and WOT at the same engine RPM the ECU is giving more fuel. Most fuel controllers give a percentage of fuel and they don’t know what the engine is doing and what curve is being used. Let’s say that when cruising at a steady speed and 6000 rpm the engine needs 100 units of fuel and when you are under load and WOT open throttle at the same 6000 rpm you need 200 units of fuel. If you were needing to change the amount of fuel due to some engine mod and you needed to add 10% fuel at WOT throttle but part throttle cruising was ok then you would be stuck with 2D mapping because it RPM based only. Now with 3D mapping you can put in to give it the extra 10% fuel you need at WOT and leave part throttle alone. This is showing to be a huge advantage when installing performance cams in EFI engines, the two fuel maps are so far apart that you can’t get a fuel map that works for part throttle and WOT. We ran into a issue with old 2D mapping where we had to either map for part throttle or WOT throttle, it was either too rich on one or the other and could not get a happy medium. I have heard of some tuners who were mapping a fuel map in a Rhino with performance cams and it ran great. The problem is without knowing it they tuned the part throttle curve only by easing through the RPM which kept the ECU on the part throttle curve and adjusting fuel along the way. What happens here is you have a good running engine but at WOT throttle it is too lean and it will run great until it quits due to engine damage, not good. With the new MSD for the Teryx that problem is gone and it is because of 3D mapping.

The MSD also has the ability to monitor lots of engine parameters in real time. With the unit attached to a computer via supplied USB cable you are able to monitor engine rpm, throttle position, engine temp, manifold air pressure, (MAP), advanced timing, injector duty cycle, etc. You are able to monitor these parameters via round gauges, you have a table with a list of gauges you can look at and you simply check the box next to the gauge you want to monitor. When you check a box in the list a gauge pops up, the more gauges you monitor the smaller the gauges get thus harder to read. I have several that are my favorite, the advanced timing is awesome, I have never been able to get real time timing without attaching a device to the output nut on the flywheel before with a homemade degree wheel and pointer. Obviously we use the throttle position (TPS) gauge when tuning for fuel and the duty cycle gauge lets you know when you are using up all the injector you when you have done engine mods. Once you exceed 80% duty cycle you need to look at getting a larger injector.

For actual tuning there are two tables that look much like a Excel document, one for timing and one for fuel. The timing table has manifold air pressure (MAP) down one side and engine rpm down the other, you adjust timing based on engine load thus the reason you use MAP. Higher the MAP the less load you have. On the fuel table you have TPS down one side and engine RPM down the other. This way you can adjust fuel at the same RPM but different throttle positions.

Because it looks like a Excel document I wanted to highlight a block, copy it and then highlight several blocks and then paste but it did not work that way, you can however copy and paste from one map to another. To change a whole section of values in the table you highlight them, hit the enter button and one of the blocks becomes editable then you simply click on the up and down arrows in the block or type a number in and hit enter again, then the whole section is the same value. Since this is not a lesson on how to use the software I won’t go into the other ways to manipulate the table so the point is you can do about anything you might want to do to the fuel and spark making this the most advanced ignition/fuel controller that I have seen and because you can monitor all the engine information in real time which makes it easy to tune. The only other tool you would need is a air/fuel ratio gauge with a heated wide band O2 sensor. Since the vehicle does not have a O2 sensor the MSD can’t monitor it.

A dyno would make tuning easy too so you don’t wind up running up and down the road with a friend holding the laptop and reading the air/fuel ratio gauge even though you can do it this way. Much easier to sit it on a load control dyno and work thru the RPM range with various amounts of load, then after you get it dialed in there you can move to the road for final adjustment. If you have someone dyno tune this or any unit for you they MUST have a load control dyno or your wasting your time, money and the map may actually damage your engine by being too lean in the real world.

In summary as I said earlier, this is the most advanced unit with the ability to monitor the most engine information I have ever seen and it allows you to do basically whatever you might want to do to the fuel and timing maps. EFI is far easier to manipulate than carbs but for some it can be intimidating. I know when I first started I was like a hog looking at a wristwatch but now after a couple years and the right tools it is just easy. For the average guy most everything mentioned here won’t ever be looked at or used. You have really three choices when purchasing one, buy one from a place that does not pre-program it for you and take it to a tuning center, tune it yourself or buy it from a place that pre-programs it for you and makes fuel and timing maps that match a particular engine mod then you just plug, play and haul butt!!!

Features of the Charge FI Controller for the 2009-2010 Kawasaki Teryx 750E FI:

  • Direct Plug-in Connectors
  • Fully sealed controller
  • One low speed limiting curve
  • Increased vehicle speed
  • 10-Pre-set fuel & Ignition maps
  • Adjust fuel and ignition for any engine modifications
  • PC Programmable for the custom tuner
  • Less then ten minutes to install
  • Overrides reverse rev-limiter

More information can be found on the MSD Powersports website at:

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