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How To Care For Your Dirt Bike

How To Care For Your Dirt Bike

Prevention is always better than cure. This time-tested peice of advice applies to just about everything in life, including extreme sports like dirt biking. Routine maintenance to your dirt bike can help to prevent accidents, injuries, mechanical failure, and more expensive repairs. In this case, prevention over cure consists of these easy maintenance tips that will keep your dirt bike running well all year long.

Wash Your Bike After Every Ride

Cleaning your dirt bike should be done every time you get back from a ride. Be gentle when you do this. Use a bucket of water and a selection of brushes to knock off any mud. You can use a pressure washer, but make sure you deflect the water away from the bike, so you don’t accidentally force water and dirt into areas where it could cause damage to the engine or electrical components. You should think about using an airbox cover to seal off the carburetor from any water and debris. 

Dry it Before You Inspect It

Make sure your bike is clean and dry, and then inspect it for any maintenance issues. You could use a dryer or a leaf blower to make the drying process go by faster. 

Check For Leaks

Once your dirt bike has been cleaned and dried, check the ground for any oil drops. Remember to check underneath the motor. Check for drops of coolant and brake fluid too. 

Inspect And Clean The Chain

If your dirt bike’s drive chain has got very muddy, let the mud dry overnight, so you can get the mud off more easily with a nylon brush. Once you have cleaned the chain, lubricate it with a good-quality chain lube from a trustworthy brand. 

Check Your Chain Tension

Remember that your chain should never be taut. There should be some slack to the chain to compensate for suspension movement. If you are able to remove the chain from the rear sprocket, then it has become too loose and should be replaced. No matter how much travel your dirt bike’s suspension has, the ideal amount of chain free-play is 1/2inch when the swingarm is parallel to the ground. 

Inspect And Tighten Bolts

Check the hardware to make sure bolts haven’t come loose from extreme vibration. 

Check Out Your Controls And Control Cables

Inspect your throttle and clutch cables and replace them if they are frayed or kinked. Test the throttle control for the proper amount of free play. An easy to do this is to place the bike on a work stand, start it up, and let it idle. Rotate the handlebars through their full range of travel and listen for any increase in engine rpm. If an increase happens, you need to add free play to your throttle cable. Test your throttle for responsive operation, making sure it snaps back when twisted.

Check And Clean Your Air Filter

By maintaining a clean air filer, you will improve the performance of the bike and protect the engine from expensive damage. Use a quality spray-on air filter cleaner, or clean it with a mix of water and a household cleaner. Once the filter is dry, coat it with high-quality air filter oil. 

Check Your Tire Pressure In-Between Rides

Use a tire pressure gauge to set the proper pressure based on the terrain conditions you will be riding on. The right pressure is about 8 psi from the front tires and 6 psi for the rear tires for muddy conditions, and 14 psi for the front, and 12 psi for the rear for dry conditions. 

Change Your Oil

If you spend a lot of time in dirt or mud, or if your dirt bike gets a lot of use, you will need to change the motor oil more often. Some say to change your oil after every ride, others say change it every eight to ten operating hours. Check your manufacturer’s recommendations, but remember that the more often you change the oil, the longer your engine will last. 

Check Your Fluids

You should replace your brake fluid on a regular basis because it inherently conducive to absorbing moisture. Most manufacturers suggest using DOT-4 brake fluid, which is an alcohol-based fluid. Check your coolant level and top up as needed. Flush and change your cooling system once a year. 

Grease It Up

Grease will seal out water and dirt and provide lubrication for important components. Inspect the air filter’s sealing area, swingarm and hardware, wheel bearings and seals, shock seals and forks, and steering head bearings. Use a good PTFE-based, petroleum-based, or moly grease where needed. 

Written by Sami Jarjour

The Co-Founder of Sports ON Tap & Host of "Stuff That Matters w/ Sami Jarjour" Podcast & Co-Host of "Pod That: Two Brothers Talkin' Sports"

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