Remember the first time you changed the oil in your dirt bike or ATV?

Did it go perfectly well?

As the technical aspects of maintenance increased you probably encountered more challenges until you overcame them. How else will you learn and grow? But sometimes you get in over your head and maybe, just maybe your tenacity, ego or cheapness keeps you from throwing in the towel or results in you throwing something else.

So when should you give up?

No one ever did a top end without running into trouble their first time. The same with tire changes and a new clutch. Sometimes you trial and errored your way through a difficult project and found success, other times a tool got hurled across the garage which served as the white flag. Or maybe you broke a part while trying to force another rendering your ride useless along with an expensive bill at the local mechanic.

Know when to say when and grab a beer. Then call in the troops. Alas, if you ride, and especially race, quitting a maintenance job probably conflicts with your DNA. Quitting is the easy way out, right? Maybe. You probably find knowing when to quit harder to call than actually quitting, however, quitting sometimes prevents more damage to your bike and psyche.

No one ever learned anything by quitting except knowing they shouldn't have quit - a quote I just made up. I suppose I could DuckDuckGo it and see if this exact phrase has a home but I'll rest comfortably knowing I may have added something to the lexicon.

So then, how to you balance quitting on a high note (or at least before hitting a low point) and plodding along as a way to learn?

Don't Quit

Don't ever quit. A legitimate answer. Keep going. And, choosing this route doesn't mean you can't quit for a few hours. In fact, if you plan to trudge ahead and have gotten in a pickle, take a break. Sometimes even a long extended one. Come back to the split engine case in the morning refreshed and loaded with patience. Often, we just need to give our brains time to digest the problem so don't be surprised if you suddenly find a solution to whatever problem you couldn't find your way out of the day before.

Don't Be Afraid to Fail

Rarely does someone find success on their first try. Trial and error, hard work, and perseverance. Sound familiar? Probably explains how you got started riding in the first place. How many times did you crash? Then you picked up the bike or climbed back on your quad and got right to it. Keep failing until you figure it out.

Risk vs. Cost

If troubleshooting your way forward potentially means digging yourself in a deeper hole that requires money to dig out of, then you need to weigh the risk vs. cost because you might not ever encounter the reward on your own.

Of course, this diminishes or even eliminates the best opportunity to learn and work your way around an engine or other vital component of your dirt bike or ATV but calling it a day before causing more damage might save you a lot of time and cents.


Time is money. Often, we jump into a project expecting to finish within a specific time frame. If a two hour project starts to look like an all-day affair - and something you'd rather not spend all day doing - then quit while ahead. For some, spending the money to have a professional complete a maintenance job rather than waste time figuring out the headache you probably will forget how to do the next time around makes a whole lot of sense.

Your instinct into the type of work that goes into a maintenance job on a dirt bike or ATV should also factor in on your decision to quit. Some minds put the puzzle pieces together quickly, others take some time and a few just never seem to get it. Know your intuition and how you fared with past projects but at the very least give yourself a chance and you just might be surprised.

Then you can tackle an even more complex project the next time.

Or not.