If your bike has been in storage during the off season of riding, chances are you will want to check out a few things before you take it out to the track, desert or trails. There is nothing worse than spending hours driving out to you favorite off road dirt bike riding spot, just to find out that your ride got cut short due to a couple simple mechanical oversights.
The following is a simple checklist to get you started on desert dirt bike riding season maintenance and prep. The same general info applies to street bikes and dual sports but this article is more geared toward dirt bike maintenance. It’s not a complete list, it just hits the basics. If you want a more exhaustive list or if you want professional dirt bike mechanics to do your riding preparations then be sure to contact the author of this article for more information.
Top 15 Dirt Bike Riding Prep Checklist:
1) Inspect the dirt bike for any leakages of any sort, and address them before proceeding. Look for drips of oil and water. Soil sticking to parts can indicate a small oil leak. Small leaks can quickly become large leaks so be sure to investigate and fix all oil and water leaks, even if they are small.
2) Inspect tires for wear, low inflation (PSI), dry rot or other problems. Check for loose or broken spokes. Check rims for bends or cracks. Plan to replace if necessary. Check and adjust your tire pressure to manufacturer’s specification.
3) Clean your chain and lube as normal. Do not use motor oil. Use a product designed for chain lubrication. Be careful to not over lube your bike chain. Check and adjust the chain to manufacturer’s specification.
4) Examine fuel lines for wear, leaks, aging, brittleness, etc. Replace as necessary.
5) Examine fuel filters. There is always one inside the gas tank at the fuel valve. Sometimes there is also an inline fuel filter in the fuel line itself. Check and replace as necessary.
6) Fill with fresh gas. Hopefully your gas tank was drained before putting into storage. If not, drain old stale gas and fill with fresh gas. Remember to drain your carburetor float bowl too. Old gas in the carb(s) is the #1 reason why most bikes won’t start after they have been sitting for a while.
7) Drain and refill your crankcase and/or transmission oil to the factory specification with high quality oil designed for use in motorcycles with a wet clutch. Look for an MA designation on your oil. Replace or clean oil filter where applicable.
8) Examine radiator hoses for wear, crimps, cracks or leaks. Never attempt to repair a failing radiator hose. It can be dangerous when running your bike. Cooling systems operate under heat and pressure. A blown water hose can cause sever burns to the rider and possibly severe engine damage. Replace all radiator and cooling system hoses as needed.
9) Replace coolant. Drain, flush and refill entire cooling system with a high quality coolant according to manufacturer specs. Inspect cooling fin inside and outside radiator. Clean and straighten as necessary.
10) Examine brake lines, pads, shoes, cables and fluids where applicable. Check for leaks. Make sure your brakes have a strong feeling to them, not mushy or spongy. Check for any grinding sounds when your brakes are applied. Grinding or metal to metal sounds indicate severe wear and imminent brake failure. Service and replace parts as needed.
11) Examine air filter(s) for condition. Most dirt bikes have a foam air filter although some are paper elements. Check over soiling, rips, tears, worn or crushed foam and separating seams at glued joints. Clean or replace as necessary.
12) Lubricate and adjust all control cables (clutch, choke, throttle, etc.).
13) Install new spark plug. Be sure to consult your owner’s manual for the proper spark plug and the right gap. A gap set too close or too far will cause a noticeable drop in performance.
14) Examine front fork tubes for signs of wear, rust or oil leakage. Check fork seals for signs of wear or dryness of the rubber components. Service and replace as necessary.
15) Check and adjust valves as needed where applicable. Four stroke dirt bike engines have valves in the cylinder head. Check and adjust the intake and the exhaust valves. Some two stroke dirt bikes have a power valve on the exhaust port. Check for proper movement/operation. Disassemble and clean as needed. All two stroke dirt bikes have induction valves also know as reed valves. Check and replace as needed.
Final Thoughts, Tips and Tricks:
* Always refer to your owner’s manual for proper torque settings.
* Always clean your bike before working on it but don’t wash a bike if the engine is still hot. Wait for it too cool down first.
* Plug your exhaust pipe with a rag or paper towel so you don’t get water in the pipe.
* Never power wash / pressure wash your dirt bike. An ordinary garden hose with a bucket and sponge works fine.
* Call your favorite local dirt bike mechanic for help if you can not complete the checklist above on your own or if you run into problems beyond the scope of your mechanical skills.
Avoid engine failure and ensure lots of dirt biking fun in the sun by properly maintenance and prep prior to riding your dirt bike this up coming desert riding season.
For more information on the dirt bike mechanics at Vista Motorcycle Repair Shop call 760-724-9258. You can also simply visit our popular local motorcycle repair shop in person at 1155 S. Santa Fe Ave. Unit G, Vista, CA. 92083. (Go up narrow driveway, top of hill to the right.) Our team of mechanics includes Dirt Bike specialists who love to ride and work on off road bikes.