A dirt bike can take you to amazing places. Being out there, in the moment, is something many riders live for. But nothing will ruin that perfect moment faster than a broken chain or smoking engine. To prevent these issues, it’s important to understand how you can extend dirt bike life.
To extend dirt bike life, regular maintenance is the number one thing you can do, followed by keeping your bike clean. Your chain, engine and tires are key components of your dirt bike that will probably need the most work, and you can perform a lot of this maintenance at home.
When a problem arises on your dirt bike, it’s best to fix it as soon as you can. Waiting to repair your bike will only exacerbate existing issues, and it’s very easy for one problem to lead to another. Below, we’ll go through everything you need to know about extending your dirt bike life.
How To Extend Your Dirt Bike Life
As with any expensive purchase, you always want to get the most out of what you buy. With a dirt bike, it’s no different, and there are a lot of things to consider. You’ll be looking for your dirt bike to perform at its best for as long as you own it, no matter what you put it through. Let’s take a closer look at some of the key components of a dirt bike, and how to extend the life of each.
How Long Do Dirt Bike Engines Last?
Dirt bike engines last anywhere from 1 to 5 years. The lifespan of a dirt bike engine depends on several factors. More aggressive riders will put wear and tear on their bike faster, while the brand and model of the dirt bike, and the quality of the internal components, also have an effect.
A clean dirt bike is a happy dirt bike. Keeping both your bike and engine clean will significantly extend the life of both. While average dirt bike engines only last around 5 years, there’s no reason a well-made engine can’t last much longer.
In the end, it really doesn’t matter what kind of rider you are. Whether you’re trying to go pro or love to rip up the track whenever you can, proper maintenance and engine care will ensure that your bike lasts for years.
Maintaining Your Dirt Bike Chain
If you ride your bike often, routinely putting it through rigorous sessions, you’ll need to replace your dirt bike chain more often than someone who only rides occasionally. To extend the life of your chain, you should apply lubricant every time you ride your bike.
Depending on riding conditions and other factors, chains can wear out quite quickly. A loose chain can be a problem, so it’s a good idea to check the tension in your bike’s chain on a regular basis.
Having A Loose Dirt Bike Chain
A loose bike chain can cause your bike to run sluggishly. It also increases the chances that the chain will break later on down the road. Lastly, a loose chain will wear out your chain slider. If you find that your bike’s chain is loose, you’ll need to either tighten it or replace it.
It’s normal for some slack to develop in the chain over time. This can happen because of wear to the individual links in the chain. After putting on a brand new chain, you’re likely to find some slack in it after 100 miles or so.
You can adjust the tensioning bolts on your bike to tighten the chain. Also, make sure the teeth are on your bike’s front and rear sprockets. Missing or damaged teeth will cause the chain to sag. Check your owner’s manual for specifications on how much slack should be in your bike’s chain. Use a ruler or tape measure to precisely calculate the total slack in the chain.
A chain that’s too tight can be as much of a problem as one that’s too loose. If your bike’s chain has no give at all, you’ll need to loosen it because an overly tight chain will wear out faster and possibly damage your sprockets.
When To Replace Your Dirt Bike’s Chain
While it’s a good idea to replace your chain every 500 miles, that’s not always possible, or necessary. There are certain tell-tale signs you can look for when it comes to knowing if your bike’s chain needs replacing.
Rust can spell the end for a bike chain. If any of the pins or seals in the links get rusty, the entire chain can fail. This is why you need to keep the chain clean and free of debris. Also, frequently lubricating the chain will protect it from rust.
Unusual noises can also indicate that it’s time for a chain to be replaced. While a strange noise doesn’t necessarily mean that a chain is bad, a bad chain will definitely be audible.
Signs Your Dirt Bike Needs Work
The longer you have your bike, the more likely you are to run into an issue. Parts eventually wear out, and you’ll need to replace them. Holding off on repairs will only make things worse.
There are a few common issues to watch out for. Paying close attention to your bike will help you determine the underlying causes of any problems you’re having. Look for visual clues such as leaking fluids or worn sprockets. And listen closely to any strange noises coming from your dirt bike.
A stalling or sputtering engine can be a sign there’s a problem with the fuel system. If your bike is puttering along, the first thing you need to check is the gas tank. Running low on fuel is the obvious cause. But if there’s gas in your tank, you’ll need to probe a little deeper.
A bad spark plug often causes a sputtering engine. A worn-out or dirty spark plug will cause the engine to misfire. If the spark plug wire has failed or if the tip is damaged, the spark plug will not properly ignite the fuel.
Bad gas can be another culprit for a poorly running engine. It’s never a good idea to leave your bike sitting for too long. Over time, part of the fuel in your tank will evaporate. What’s left may not burn properly, resulting in a performance loss. If this is the case, you’ll need to empty your fuel tank, and fill it up with fresh gas.
If you see black smoke coming from your dirt bike, it could mean a lot of things, none of which are good. Usually, black smoke results from burning excess fuel, so it could mean anything from a leaky fuel injector to a bad gasket. Because the air-to-fuel ratio is off, there may be incomplete combustion occurring, resulting in black smoke.
If your dirt bike is emitting blue smoke, it probably means the engine is burning oil. While it’s normal for 2-stroke engines to have a little smoke, too much blue smoke could mean your engine has an oil leak. This could be caused by worn-out seals or a damaged valve stem. Old or worn piston rings will also lead to oil being sucked into the engine.
Maintenance Tips To Extend Dirt Bike Life
Preventive maintenance is your bike’s best friend. If you want to keep riding for years, you’ll need to show your dirt bike some love. For starters, always keep it clean. Regular oil changes are also a must. Beyond that, there are a number of things you can do to extend your dirt bike’s life as much as possible.
Your dirt bike is nothing without its engine. Maintaining your engine is integral to the overall health of your bike and will significantly extend its life. It’s important to use quality fuel and to avoid letting fuel sit in the tank for a long period of time.
It’s a good idea to warm up your dirt bike’s engine before taking it for a ride. This is true for both 2-stroke and 4-stroke engines. Simply letting the engine idle for 5 or 10 minutes before riding will improve the life of the engine, especially in the colder months.
Remember, your bike’s engine is made of metal. Metal expands as it heats and contracts when it’s cold. Letting your engine warm keeps parts from expanding too quickly. It can be difficult to exercise patience, especially when it comes to riding dirt bikes. But waiting until the engine is warm before you open the throttle will save you a lot of trouble later.
Firstly, clean your tires often. This will extend the life of your tires and ensure that your bike always performs the way it’s meant to. Poor tire maintenance won’t just hurt you on the track. Bad tires are a safety hazard too. The best way to clean your tires is with a high-pressure water hose. You can also purchase cleaning solutions specifically designed to extend the life of your tires.
It’s also important to check the pressure in your tires fairly regularly. Ideally, you would check the tire pressure before taking the bike out. Factors like the weather and the conditions of the tire can affect how often you’ll need to adjust the tire pressure.
Don’t underestimate how important a good set of tires can be. Well-kept tires get better traction and improve your bike’s acceleration. Finally, you don’t want to be left stranded with a blown tire, so be sure to replace worn or damaged tires at the first sign of trouble.
Adjusting The Carburetor
The carburetor controls the mixture of air and fuel that enters the engine. Problems with the carburetor can result in backfiring, sputtering, or a loss of acceleration. If things are really off, the bike may not start at all.
A leaking carburetor could mean that you need to replace the gasket on the carburetor bowl. Oil could be seeping through a worn or damaged gasket. Carburetors can also become clogged with contaminants over time. A dirty carburetor can seriously dampen your dirt bike’s performance. You may want to take your dirt bike to a mechanic if you’re not comfortable doing this maintenance yourself.
It’s hard to understate how important oil changes are. Running your bike with dirty oil can leave lasting damage. A well-oiled machine not only lasts longer, but it also performs better over the course of its life.
It’s not hard to tell when you need to change the oil in your bike. Dirty oil is dark, opaque, and filled with contaminants. Oil that looks like this will need to be replaced as soon as possible. Old oil doesn’t lubricate as well as fresh oil. The longer you wait to change the oil, the more you risk causing permanent damage to your ride.
How often you need to change the oil depends on how often you ride and the type of oil in your bike. Typically, you should aim to change the oil every six months, or every 2,000 miles, whichever comes first. It can be worth it to invest in quality oil, especially if you like to ride often.
You need more than just fuel and a spark to start your engine. Without air, combustion is impossible. The air filter keeps dirt and other debris from getting pulled into your dirt bike’s engine. A good air filter also ensures that the engine receives the correct amount of air necessary for achieving maximum power and efficiency.
When the air filter on your dirt bike gets dirty, it won’t be able to provide a sufficient amount of air to the engine, resulting in sluggish performance. It’s a good idea to replace the air filter at least once a year, and maybe more if you put a lot of miles on your bike.
Brake pads can wear out quickly, especially if you’re riding trails with lots of hills. Over time, the brake pads will wear down until they need to be replaced. Fortunately, changing brake pads is easy enough that you can do it at home. Don’t forget to read your owner’s manual before purchasing new parts for your dirt bike, to ensure you get the right parts and put them on correctly.
From faulty wiring to a bad spark plug, there are plenty of things that could go wrong with your dirt bike’s ignition system. If you’re lucky, the worst thing you’ll have to deal with is a bad dirt bike battery. If you’re unlucky, you might find yourself crawling around with a voltmeter testing your dirt bike’s stator.
While many issues that can arise with a dirt bike’s ignition system are fairly easy to fix, locating the problem can be difficult. Bad spark plug? No problem. Even replacing that stator isn’t the worst job. But without experience, it can be hard to know what’s causing the ignition trouble. It’s best to take a systematic approach and start with the most common problems.
Cleaning Your Dirt Bike
Washing your dirt bike is one of the best ways to keep it in working order. Dirt and grime are your bike’s Achilles heel, and cleaning it is the most straightforward maintenance you can do. Give your bike a thorough scrubbing after each ride, and you should have fewer problems. Neglecting to clean your bike often can result in poorer performance and costly damage.
To extend your dirt bike’s life, it’s essential that you perform regular maintenance, or have it serviced regularly. Looking after key components like your tires, engine, brake pads and air filters will ensure you can get the best performance out of your dirt bike for as long as possible.