During the last time out on your dirt bike perhaps you noticed the clutch lever a bit stiff or maybe the brake lever felt a bit too loose.

Then the cold hit and you put your dirt bike away for the long winter months thinking "I'll look at it later."

Well it's later, so guess what you need to check before heading out on the first ride of the season?

In continuing our "Are You Ready to Ride" series we take a deeper look into those components that work in conjunction with each other to give you the best possible experience on your dirt bike. "Are You Ready to Ride" laid out more than a dozen checks you need to mark off before heading out to the track or trails so now we take a deeper dive and focus on individual units that help make the whole.

Now we grab hold (pun intended) of the controls. The controls on a dirt bike consist of the following:

  • Brake lever
  • Clutch lever
  • Cables
  • Footpegs
  • Brake pedal
  • Shift Pedal
  • Handlebars
  • Throttle

You can get a good handle (pun intended) on most of these parts simply by feel or how they respond to your commands even when the bike remains off and sitting in the garage. Typically, you can probably get through this pre-ride check in just a few minutes, however, if you experienced any significant crashes last year spend some extra time looking for damage or other wear and tear that might leave you without any means to the finish line. Now, grab a handful (pun intended again!) and let's get started.

Brake Lever

You probably often hear of squishy brakes which usually mean the need for a brake fluid change. You can feel this by clutching the brake lever even with the bike on the stand. You want a secure, progressive pull otherwise you probably need to at the very least bleed the brake line or change the fluid altogether.

A brake lever that feels excessively tight indicates the need for a complete overhaul of the bike's brake system. That won't happen from sitting so you probably felt the problem your last time out riding.

Replace a damaged brake lever (bent, cracked or chipped) even if functioning properly.

Shop for brake levers.

Clutch Lever

When pulling on the clutch lever, expect to feel an easy but tight draw. If the lever has too much slop or feels lumpy upon pulling then you need to tighten the cables. Conversely, if you can barely pull the lever in you need to loosen it. Like the brake lever, replace a damaged clutch lever even if it still functions properly.

Shop for clutch levers.


Eventually cables fray or become brittle which can contribute to the issues noted above with the clutch lever. Old cables need replacing. Add a touch of lubricant to existing cables before heading out on that first ride.

Shop for control cables.


The easiest of the controls to check. Unless you had problems holding on with your feet the last season, just tighten the fastening bolt. Otherwise, sharpen the blades (if applicable), replace the cleats (if applicable) or upgrade to a new pair. Check for the foldaway function and spray the spring with some WD-40 or other lubricant.

Shop for footpegs.

Brake Pedal

Just as easy as the footpegs and like the levers, check for functionality and tighten the fastening bolt.

Shop for brake pedal.

Shift Lever

Another easy, quick look check. If the shift pedal has any functioning issues you won't experience this until you start riding. So best thing you can do before riding is tighten the fastening bolt and lube the folding tip.

Shop for shift lever.


When was the last time you cleaned and lubricated the steering bearings? If it has been close to a year take this time to do it. Tighten the triple clamps. If you didn't like your setup last year don't make any changes yet. Go for a ride, get your bearings (again, pun intended) and make any changes after some time on the bike.

Shop for steering stem bearings.


The throttle should roll without resistance and snap-back when released. If you feel any resistance or it doesn't operate smoothly check for debris inside the tube that might constrict the movement otherwise you might have an undiagnosed crack or it has simply run its course.

Shop for throttle tube.

The controls on your dirt bike are now ready to ride.

For additional information on controls check out: