Familiarity breeds contempt.

It's an age-old expression often used to understand declining established relationships but the same truth often applies to anything of possession. People replace a fully functioning kitchen with an upgrade to enjoy a current look and modern technology or donate flawless living room furniture to make space for new, updated arrangements.

So, how often do you drool over a just released KTM or Honda quickly forgetting about your pride and joy you've ripped the track or trails on for years? It's perfectly normal behavior and usually the sticker shock of a new ride sends us back to reality.

However, purchasing a brand new dirt bike isn't the only option if riding a friend's clapped out Honda Super Cub 85 proves more enticing than your five year old 450 that still rips but feels a bit stale. OK, so you're a bit accustomed to your old ride but you want a little more power, some additional challenge and at least a new look without forking over 10 Grand. Well then, clean house on your dirt bike and add some fresh upgrades that update the look and add solid performance gains you never knew your old buddy was dying to get out.


We always go with exhaust. It's the biggest bang for your buck and even if you're already riding an aftermarket exhaust a brand new pipe is no comparison. Add a slip-on or change out the whole system - either route gives more bottom end for the starts and a faster top speed. Additionally, you'll hardly recognize your bike - in look, sound and performance - once installed.

Big Bore Kit

You won't get any visual improvement with a newly installed big bore kit but combined with a new exhaust system, or even on its own, you'll wonder whose bike you're actually riding. If you're stepping up the challenge factor in your riding skills replacing the top end of your bike offers the best way to increase the raw power of your dirt bike.

Oversized Front Brake Rotor

With all the newly found horsepower you need some help to stop. Let's face it, an oversized rotor actually looks pretty cool anyway but remember the adage, "You've got to go slower to go faster." An oversized brake rotor gives you much more stopping control which should make cornering, after years of burning pads on a standard rotor, something akin to a dream.

Plastic and Graphics

You won't get any performance boost by updating your plastic and graphics, this is all about your dirt bike's appearance. Unless you're styling vintage, old plastic and graphics simply make your bike look old. After a few years (and crashes) plastic fades, cracks and weathers. And less face it, at least one company logo you proudly support probably no longer employs anybody. Plastic offers an immediate improvement visually without draining your wallet.

Race Tech Gold Valves

Never mind a brand new suspension just grab a Race Tech Gold Valve Kit and immediately improve control, traction, performance and bottoming resistance. If you're unfamiliar with the gold valve kit, don't let the description fool you. It's not the piston in your engine but a part on your suspension and the kit reduces piston restriction thereby eliminating a harsh suspension. Arm pump, fatigue and the overall "I hate this bike" attitude quickly diminishes. Gold valves costs far less than a total suspension revalve and if you know your way around the mechanics of a dirt bike you can probably do this yourself.

Wheels or Rims

Wheels cost more but ready out of the box, otherwise upgrade to new rims and lace them yourself. Either way, a set of new wheels or rims not only gives your bike a slick new look but also positively affect traction, suspension and overall performance. Some riders find a new set of wheels keeps them on the track or trail longer because the new rims absorb some of the required effort to effectively control the bike.

Twin Air Power Flow Kit

Quit choking the life out of your dirt bike with an old or stock intake kit. The Twin Air Power Flow Kit opens up the airway into the bike's engine allowing it to breath - think of it like a nasal strip for your dirt bike. Once finished with the easy install, you'll first notice the throttle response and later find changing filters is a snap.

Works Connection Elite Clutch Perch

It's so well machined and the clutch pull is second to none. 'Nuff said.

1 1/8 Handlebars

Nothing else compares to a set of oversized 1-1/8 inch handlebars for a completely different feel to your dirt bike. Oversized handlebars space your arms out, reduce vibration and offer a bit more effortless riding which reduces arm pump and fatigue. Most riders upgrade to oversized handlebars pretty quick nowadays so if you're still grabbing the standard size and find riding a bit flat then pop one of these on for a custom impression and immediate improvement in performance.

Rekluse or Hinson Clutch

If you're butting up against a budget let us help you. Either carry-out everything on this list except a new Rekluse or Hinson clutch, or just upgrade the clutch and save everything else on this list for another day. That's how effective a Rekluse or Hinson clutch is for performance and your overall riding program. And yes, it actually offers some aesthetics because if you're like other riders one of the first things you zero in on is what clutch the competition is shifting.

See, you don't need to dump an old friend and spend money on a high-priced model. An exhaust job, a clutch lift, a big bore and a bit of "plastic" surgery should make you the envy of the track once again.

Written By: AndrewT