That shiny metal object on the rear of your dirt bike that spews out the sweet smell of pre-mix or high octane racing fuel might not be so shiny anymore.

Over time, usually a race season, the slip-on to your exhaust system appears a bit grungy and might look like something you ripped from a clapped out bike left to rot in the backyard amongst the thorn bushes. Pipe appearance won't affect your bike's performance so it's not always high on the list of preventative maintenance. However, neglect expedites the deterioration factor forcing you to spend some cash sooner than expected and besides, when new, those things look pretty slick.

So clean it up and keep it looking fresh! A nice polish every now and then prevents rust and helps sweep away carbon deposits that can affect the finish. So what's the best way to clean your dirt bike's exhaust?

Before you do anything pop in an exhaust plug. You wouldn't believe how often riders forget this very necessary step and commence with the power washer after a day of riding. Oops! or some other four letter words are usually said when that gaping hole is seen after the spray down. Water in the exhaust pipe is worse than a few bananas.

Once you've plugged it wash the bike. For tips on washing your bike check out Dirt Bike Cleaning Tips and Tricks. Once dry you'll need to add some protectant. Lots of riders use good ole WD40. Pro Honda Spray Cleaner and Polish is a solid alternative and so is Maxima SC1. Regular paint polish for cars is also a viable substitute - Mothers seems to be a favorite. Even a silicone lube or penetrating oil works. Anything that offers protection from the elements is a suitable option.

Do this every time and you'll extend the life and look of your dirt bike exhaust pipe 10-fold. It's necessary to do this after every ride but if you've neglected it for a while or time simply has taken its toll, you'll need to do a bit more elbow grease style work to return the pipe back to a factory fresh shine.

Eventually the dirt and mud that bake on to this red hot beast during riding days win out and leave the pipe rough and bumpy - this mostly applies to the 2-stroke aluminum, stainless steel and nickel plated finishes. The 4-stroke carbon fiber guys need not worry. But regardless of the finish if you've not been adding a protective dressing, as noted above, rust can rear its ugly head.

Therefore, on metal pipes, use a wire wheel or a Scotch bright pad and buff the rough out. But remove the pipe first! It's easier to begin with and you won't put the rest of the exhaust system in jeopardy as you apply pressure.

Once you've buffed out any scuff marks and smoothed over the bumps add a coat of WD40 or whatever protectant you use.

A well maintained pipe

Time to Repack the Exhaust?

Since you're cleaning the outside of the exhaust why not clean the inside? Actually, you don't clean it per se, but part of routine maintenance is repacking your dirt bike's muffler or silencer.

As a general rule, repack the exhaust every 50 hours but like any maintenance work on your dirt bike, read the owner's manual. Manufacturers and models vary, so follow the guidelines for your specific bike.

Repacking is a pretty simple process but you'll need to remove the slip-on from the rest of the exhaust system first. Once off, remove the outlet cap on the end of the pipe. Hopefully the outlet cap uses screws otherwise the more common fastener is rivets and you'll need a rivet gun. If you don't have a rivet gun, buy one or get the repack job done at a professional shop don't force anything off. Otherwise you'll end up here.

Once the outlet cap is off, take out all the old packing which is wrapped around an inner core tube. Take your new pack and tightly wrap it around the inner core tube and slide back into the exhaust pipe.

Now that you have got a clean pipe - inside and out - GO RIDE!