Even the best laid plans of dirt bike riders often go awry.
So be prepared. For anything.
First, do your due diligence by completing the pre-ride check. The proactive approach to riding reduces the chance of the unexpected but won't eliminate it.
So. When the unexpected happens you can minimize the damage, stress, and time, you know, the overall "Holy Crap what am I going to do now!" feeling that comes when you're miles from camp and something goes wrong.
We've asked some of the regular trail riders at MotoSport what they've encountered over the years, how they dodged a difficult situation and returned home safely. The following tips should address most of the common problems riders face but can never predict when out riding.
1. Bring Duct Tape
Duct tape fixes everything so bring it. Ah, but you're thinking, "I'm not going to stuff that big, fat role of silver bondage material in my backpack." Then don't. There's no need. Because it's unlikely you'll need a roll of tape. Just enough to fix...whatever. The trick to taking duct tape is cut a strip a foot or so long and tape it against itself. Now it's paper thin. When needed unstick the tape and you've got 12 inches of tape ready to use. Take along as many strips as you want, it takes very little room.
2. Bring a Tow Strap
Don't be such a stick in the mud! But sometimes even the coolest people indeed get stuck in the mud. Don't even think you'll be able to lift your 300 pound machine out of thick, fudgy goo. It's also nearly impossible to remove a dirt bike submerged in water. Hopefully you didn't make the mistake of riding alone because if you did well, then, good luck.
The tow strap works only if you have a riding buddy. Tie one end to the free bike and the other to your stuck bike for the tow onto dry land. If the dirt bike fails to start the tow strap helps get you both home much faster than walking.
3. Bring Quick Aluminum or J-B Weld
A cracked case or damage to any other part of vital engine components made from steel or aluminum ends the day quite abruptly. You can't ride when oil or clutch fluid is spilling from a crack or even a hole in the respective housing. If the damage isn't extensive a quick repair job can be done on the fly usually resulting in a ride home.
Quick Aluminum or J-B Weld is easily applied epoxy putty that hardens in 15 or 20 minutes. Use the duct tape or even a quarter to plug the hole, then apply the epoxy as directed around the quarter or tape ensuring it spills over onto the metal of the housing unit. Once it hardens, start your dirt bike and head home. Remember, it's always best to get the crack fixed or replace the case but some riders have had such good luck with the epoxy they keep riding.
4. Brake Issues
We love to ride fast but there's a reason for the brakes and when brakes go bad, riding days usually don't end well. The most common brake system failure occurs on a hot summer day when brake fluid boils. Yes, even the brake fluid is susceptible to boiling. If this happens, and you'll know it from the spongy feel when you apply the brakes, remedy the situation by pouring water over the calipers. Use a nearby creek or other watering hole but if you can't find one use some from your hydration pack. You have a hydration pack right?
BTW, when you get home change the brake fluid!
5. Running out of fuel
This is the best tip by far because it's not widely known. If you have a reserve on the petcock tank, use it! You'd be surprised how soon you forget it's there. Lots of trail riders use the reserve tank not so much to prevent running out of gas but to keep riding. But that's not the biggest secret.
If you've tapped the reserve or don't have one, tip the bike on its side. Depending on the fuel tank structure, sometimes fuel gets trapped and by tipping it over you allow the extra gas to flow into the petcock side. If it works, it feels like a bit of magic or answered prayer but don't stand around celebrating because it won't last long!
Ride long enough and eventually you'll be faced with some type of dilemma you'll need to MacGyver your way out of. Anything can happen on any given ride day so if you've gotten yourself in a pinch, let us know what happened and how you got out of it.
For your additional reading pleasure on other dirt bike related tips: