Unlike today’s modern street vehicles where you can ride for thousands of miles and do little when it comes to maintenance, dirt bikes require constant maintenance. Owning a dirt bike is like introducing a needy and high-maintenance friend into your life. But on the other hand, the satisfaction you get from riding the dirt roads is unequaled. If you truly enjoy this sport, you should know about the basic maintenance that’s required to ensure the longevity of your dirt bike.
Off-road lovers need to embrace the fact that maintenance is an essential part of dirt bike ownership. We understand that some riders don’t want to spend most of their time in the garage or at the mechanic fixing a broken dirt bike. The best way to make sure your dirt bike starts every time and operates effectively is to conduct regular maintenance and follow manufacturer recommendations.
Let’s take a look at some easy dirt bike maintenance tips that will keep your machine running strong. These preventive maintenance measures can save you from costly repairs.
1. Clean the Air Filter
A top dirt bike maintenance tip is ensuring the air filter on your dirt bike is properly cleaned and maintained. Without air filter maintenance, it will suck the life out of the bike’s engine. A lot of dirt can find its way into your engine, so the job itself is dirty. Use a proper cleaner, then dry the engine thoroughly, and add the air filter oil. Before you install the air filter and start your bike again, make sure it gets really sticky. It also helps to invest in a high-quality air filter.
2. Clean and Lube Cables
Clutch and throttle cables, as well as the front brake line, must be cleaned and lubricated after every ride. Disconnect the cables from the lever and perch, while for throttle cables, you will need to disconnect the carburetor end. Clean any debris and buildup around the connections. Then, add the lubrication, reconnect the cables, and tighten the connections. The purpose of lubrication is to protect the cables from wear and tears, but it also acts as a barrier to debris and dust. For more information on your dirt bike’s cables, check out the manufacturer’s manual.
3. Check Engine Oil Levels and Quality
Off-road vehicles, such as dirt bikes, require frequent oil changes. Changing the oil for your dirt bike is like a blood transfusion for the human body. It pumps through the engine (the heart of your dirt bike) with the purpose of cooling and lubricating the internal components. That’s why it is essential to check the motor oil level before every ride regularly. Over time, pressure and heat can break down synthetic oil, leaving the engine vulnerable to heat buildup, which affects your bike’s performance. Most dirt bikes usually have a sight glass on the bottom of the engine case, and the oil should be halfway up the sight glass. Check out your owner’s manual to find out how often you should change your oil.
4. Inspect the Carburetor
The first part of your dirt bike that’s most likely to fail first (if left unmaintained) is the carburetor. Even not riding your motorcycle is a cause to check the condition of your carburetor because evaporated gas leaves a residue that can plug your jets.
5. Examine Brake Pads
A top priority on your dirt bike maintenance checklist should be regular inspection of your brakes. Over time, brake pads wear down until there’s nothing but the backing plate left. When that happens, that steel can destroy the brake rotor. Having worn down brake pads and a damaged rotor is very dangerous because the brakes are one of the most important components on your dirt bike that keep you safe. The thickness of the brake pad material can change, especially when you ride in sandy or muddy conditions, so make sure to check your front and rear brake pads regularly.
How do you know it’s time to replace your brake pads? The general rule of thumb is to do it when there is 0.04 inch (1.0 mm) of the pad material remaining. You can measure the thickness with a micrometer or check the indicator mark on your brake pad (not all brake pads have these).
Replacing rotors or pads on your brakes can be overpriced from the OEMs, so your best bet would probably be the aftermarket components because they can be of higher quality and more affordable than OEMs. Choose your aftermarket products carefully so as not to end up with low-quality, poor-performing brake components.
6. Chain and Sprocket Maintenance
Maintain your dirt bike by ensuring your chain and sprockets are lubricated. You should never ride if these are dry. Clean them after each ride and add the right dose of lubrication, and if you see they are worn and torn, you should replace the entire bike chain on your dirt bike. Beyond lubing your chain, check the chain tension. Ensure that your dirt bike chain is at the correct adjustment – it should be neither too tight nor too loose. Otherwise, it can snap, whip off and hit you, or break your engine case. To determine the right chain length, stick two fingers between the chain guide and chain. The chain is tight enough if it presses against your fingers. Adjust your chain correctly to extend the life of the sprockets and chain, wheel bearings, transmission seals and bearings, and even the wheels (to a certain extent).
7. Check Wheels
The wheels on your dirt bike suffer a tremendous load. The spokes can loosen and lead to uneven weight on the hub and rime because the wheel fell out of alignment. Before you hit a trail or track, always remember to inspect your wheels. You may also consider buying a torque wrench (wrench designed to tighten bolts to a specific torque) to make sure your spokes are set to the right tightness. Tighten the rim locks if necessary and make sure that the rims are void of dents and cracks. Lastly, grab an accurate gauge and check the tire pressure.
8. Tighten Spokes
When it comes to tightening your spokes, you need a spoke wrench and enough patience. You shouldn’t start tightening your spokes without knowing the proper technique for doing it. Firstly, we recommend you tighten every third spoke until a light snug is reached, meaning that you will go around one tire at least three times. Secondly, be sure not to overtighten them. Once you do that, go back around and check every third spoke again.
9. Cooling System and Coolant
The smaller parts in a small, 4-stroke engine can overheat quickly and ruin your fun on the trail. Therefore, keeping the engine running cool is the highest priority, and coolant isn’t something you can add and forget about. Four-stroke engines work quite hard, so the 4-stroke coolant is formulated in a specific way to drastically reduce engine temperature, helping you to keep the vital dirt bike engine parts from overheating. Schedule regular changes to have fresh coolant to be able to conquer even the hardest trails. This is more important if you’re riding in the summer and even more critical if you plan to ride across sand dunes (there are coolants specially designed for sand-dune riding).
10. Maintain Plastic Parts
Plastics on your dirt bike, such as side paneling, mudguards, and fenders protect your bike and you from the roost, debris, and dirt. Regular maintenance and cleaning will prevent the plastic on your dirt bike from looking old and fading. Whether you use a bucket of water and soup or a fancy pressure washer, washing your bike is key to cleaning away grime that can cause more damage.
Always check your dirt bike after every ride. Make sure to regularly check your gear and transmission motorcycle oils because it needs to be changed often. Whenever you are in doubt, remember that it is always best to ride with fresh oil and brake fluid.
For the best maintenance intervals, check your owner’s manual. If your dirt bike costs a considerable amount of money, protect your investment. Whether you are an amateur or professional dirt bike rider, bike running strong by maintaining your bike properly. If you treat it better, it will serve you better and even help you win races! An ounce of prevention consists of these ten maintenance tips that will keep your dirt bike run stable during summer months.
This MX PowerPlay guide to dirt bike maintenance is here to provide an insight into some maintenance basics. When the time comes to replace some of your bike’s components, you can reach out to us for high-quality aftermarket dirt bike parts for a better price than OEMs.
Selling quality parts of off-road vehicles (including ATV, UTV, Dual Sport, etc.) is our specialization. We guarantee a convenient and secure online transaction as well as fast shipping and provide a warrant and support of our service team for all the parts on our website. Visit our website for more information on the products we offer.