Basic Dirt Bike Maintenance & Set-Up To Keep You Off-Road

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Proper dirt bike maintenance begins with a clean bike. Having mud, dirt, sand and cow s#@* plastered all over it will cause premature corrosion of chains, sprockets, suspension parts, axle joints, seals and lever cables. Clean that crap off and show your bike you love her!

  • Start with a quick spray using a water blaster to get the thick stuff off. Don’t spray too close to the edges of the graphics as you’ll peel them off, and be sure to plug your exhaust to prevent water damage to the muffler.
  • Spray on some truck wash (this works well as it’s heavy duty) and allow it to soak. Give the plastics a sponge to prevent staining and use a brush to scrub out the nooks and crannies.
  • Hose the bike clean working from top to bottom. Be careful around the radiator, it’s best to back-wash the fins without too much force, otherwise you may bend ’em. Avoid direct pressure around the steering hub, swing arm linkages, any seals and the axles.
  • It pays to remove the magneto cover after every 2 – 5 rides (depending on how dirty the riding conditions have been) and spray the inside with a water dispersant to prevent corrosion. You may need to replace the gasket if you do this often and it tears. Spray the electrical components too.
  • Use a stiff bristle brush to run across the bike chain (but don’t use wire brushes on X or O ring chains as you’ll damage the rubber inside it). Scrub all the fine dirt and sand out of the links to extend the life of the chain and sprockets. Be sure to lube the chain before your next ride.
  • If you want to make the old girl look pretty, give her a light lick of silicone. This will also protect your bike from the elements. A word of warning though… unless you like the feeling of being wrapped around your handle bars, I suggest you avoid spraying the radiator shrouds and seat cover – you’d have more chance of holding onto a vaseline-smothered bull than staying on your bike!

* Good dirt bike maintenance is about prevention. Each time you clean your bike get into the habit of checking for loose nuts and bolts, spokes, plastics etc. Nuts seem to vibrate loose and can be a real hassle to replace. A tube of Loctite can prevent this problem and can be found at your local MX shop. Also make sure you check the frame and footpegs for cracks and fractures. I discovered this cracked titanium footpeg while checking my bike over. Wouldn’t really want the footpeg snapping off completely on a big jump eh?!

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Jim Harmer

I'm the co-owner of Dirt Bike Planet. I live in Star, Idaho and enjoy dirt biking with my wife and two boys throughout the Idaho mountains.

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