Dirt Bike Maintenance
Whether you are new to the wild and wonderful world of motocross or you’re no stranger to the sport, there is no denying the adventurous spirit that lurks in all of us. Even with all the fun and excitement that comes with dirt biking, there is some responsibility on your part. Routine maintenance plays an important role in responsible dirt bike ownership but knowing where to start and what to look for can be tricky without the proper tools or experience. Luckily, KTM Parts Nation offers the experience in dirt bike maintenance and troubleshooting needed to point you in the right direction. In this handy guide, we will address some of the tasks that you should include in your maintenance routine.
Dirt Bike Maintenance 101
Riding a dirt bike is hard work, both on and off the track. Even if you follow all the recommended maintenance intervals, keep immaculate records, and clean your bike regularly, no machine is safe from time. You may not be able to restore your bike back to its showroom shine, but you can certainly take the necessary steps to keep your bike clean and in great running condition. Here are some of our top maintenance tips for beginners and seasoned pros alike!
- Wash your dirt bike after every ride. A sparkly dirt bike might seem unthinkable but cleaning your favorite machine will make maintenance inspections much easier in the long run. Make sure that the bike is completely dry before you inspect if for maintenance issues. Learn more by reading our guide: How to Clean Your Dirt Bike.
- Check for drips and leaks. Think of the oil in your dirt bike as the blood that pumps through its heart – the engine. Every bike relies on oil to lubricate and cool all those precious internal components, making it crucial that you check the engine oil level before every ride. You also need to regularly change the engine oil. Over time, all those miles on the trail produce heat and pressure that can break down oil and leave your engine vulnerable. Use only motorcycle-specific oil or follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. You should also replace your brake fluid, check your coolant level, and change your cooling system periodically. Inspect your wheel bearings, shock seals, forks, and steering head bearings. Apply a PTFE- and petroleum-based grease wherever necessary.
- Inspect and clean your bike chain. Checking the chain tension is easily one of the most overlooked maintenance items on any dirt bike, but it is too important to miss. A drive chain’s purpose is to transfer rotational energy from the engine to the rear wheel, so it can’t be too loose or too tight. Refer to your owner’s manual for the recommended drive train slack. Be sure to regularly clean the chain with a degreaser and rub using a wire brush. Apply chain lubricant and replace the chain when too much slack remains at the farthest safe point of your wheel’s adjustment.
- Check out your controls and cables. Cables are essentially the lifeline to most of the controls on your dirt bike. After every ride, your clutch cables, throttle cables, and front brake line all need to be cleaned and routinely lubricated. If your bike’s clutch and throttle cables are frayed or kinked, they will need to be replaced. First, test the throttle control to check for the proper amount of free play and responsive operation. To clean your clutch cables, carefully disconnect them from the perch and lever to remove any build-up around the connections. Add some lubricant, reconnect, and tighten the connections. The lubricant you choose will act as a barrier for dust and debris.
- Check and clean your air filter. Don't let a dirty air filter suck the life out of your engine. Thoroughly clean the filter using a suitable cleaner or a mixture of water and gentle detergent. Once the filter is completely dry, be sure to coat it with a high-quality air filter oil. You want the filter to feel tacky before you take your bike for another spin.
- Check the tire pressure. Between each ride, you should use a tire pressure gauge to check and set the best tire pressure based on the conditions of the terrain. In muddy conditions, we recommend 8 psi for front tires and 6 psi for rear tires. In dry conditions, we recommend 14 psi for front tires and 12 psi for rear tires. Otherwise, you can safely set your psi to 12 for both the front and rear tires.
Though we can all agree that riding is much more fun than being stuck in a garage, fixing a broken-down machine, dirt bike maintenance is a fact of dirt bike ownership. Hopefully, these tips give you a good idea of all that goes into maintaining a dirt bike. By keeping these recommendations and best practices in mind, you will not only improve performance but also protect your dirt bike from costly damages or repairs. We offer a wide selection of hard-to-find parts and replacements for all types of KTM dirt bikes. Please let us know if you have any questions about this guide or would like to learn more about our selection today.