Oh man, again!?

Another bolt, forever lost in a sea of Motocross dirt. You factory torqued the thing. Over and over. Only this time it managed to free itself. Probably somewhere over a triple.

You ever go around your house with a screwdriver and tighten all the fasteners for doors, cabinets and furniture? If so, you come across loose bolts even though the items remain static. Well, just imagine the vibration that goes on with your dirt bike and you can see why bolts loosen and regularly require tightening.

In fact, we include checking all bolts and fasteners on your dirt bike prior to every ride.

However, some bolts, for whatever reason, just don't stay put. You lose a bunch in the process before realizing something sinister is going on. Or is it? After all, you should expect to lose bolts and other fasteners from time to time. That's why we sell bolt kits, right?

Losing a bolt or bolts after a day's ride, whether track or trails, should be infrequent, not an every ride occurrence. Also, if you find significant loosening from particular bolts as you go around the bike with a torque wrench before every ride then you need to address the problem before things start falling off the bike - and not just the bolt.

Use Loctite on Specific Bolts not all Bolts

Using Loctite offers a real simple solution to loose bolts. In fact, if you don't use Loctite on bolts you can expect to deal with losing bolts on the regular while riding. Loctite to bolts is like lubrication to the chain. You need to use Loctite or risk losing bolts or constantly tightening them after every ride.

However, not all bolts require Loctite. Avoid using Loctite on the following bolts:

  • Chain Adjuster Bolts
  • Triple Clamp Bolts
  • Most engine bolts

Why? Because these bolts you actually need to unfasten from time to time and Loctite prevents you from loosening them. Or at least makes it a significant job (depending on the strength) and might cause stripping.

How To Use Loctite

Click this LINK and you will see several types of Loctite. So which Loctite do you use? Don't mess around with guessing. Consult your bike's service manual for exact specifications on the type of Loctite to use. The Loctite Red 262 requires heat and hand tools to loosen unlike the Loctite Blue 242 which only requires hand tools and some elbow grease. You don't want to use one instead of the required other. The OEM service manual explains what Loctite to use on specific bolts.

Some bolts need anti-seize, not Loctite. Use anti-seize when connecting two dissimilar metals like a steel bolt to an aluminum frame. Again, no need to go around inspecting metals - just use the service manual.

Also, when using Loctite be wary of cure times. Don't ride until the required cure time for the specific Loctite used has passed. Therefore, we advise, when using Loctite don't plan a ride day that afternoon. Give yourself a Loctite day and incorporate into a normal part of maintenance.

When To Use Loctite

For the most part, use Loctite after bringing home a new dirt bike or whenever replacing bolts. You don't need to reapply Loctite over and over, just apply once and then torque to spec, but for most bolts you need to check the torque specs regularly. If you use permanent Loctite you will not re-torque the bolt after the curing period. Again, use the service manual to determine what bolts require permanent Loctite.

Use a Torque Wrench

Another reason bolts loosen comes from not using a torque wrench. Yes, we know a lot of riders forego the torque wrench and use a regular socket wrench. Tight enough works on the backyard fence, not on your dirt bike. Tightening by feel often leads to reoccurring loose bolts but also stripped threads, locked bolts and even damage to the tied down part. In fact, some bolts require torqueing, then re-torqueing after a certain amount of hours. So buy a torque wrench!

Use a Lock Nut

If you encounter frequent loose bolts when fastened into a nut (not a threaded part of the bike) use a lock nut. Lock nuts prevent bolts from loosening by locking the nut and bolt down. You can also invest in nuts with progressive changes in pitch thread and other elements that help lock them down. Generally, these types of bolts and nuts do not require Loctite thus the reason for locking them down. However, once removed you cannot use them again.

Stripped Threads / Worn Out

Lastly, in some cases, the bolt hole just gets worn out and it needs re-tapping to a larger size. No amount of torqueing works and the Loctite won't do a bit of good. You should feel some overall minor resistance when tightening a bolt. You can normally tell when threads have stripped because of how easily the bolt turns or despite all the appropriate torqueing and correct Loctite used, the bolt always comes loose.

Best Practices for Fastening Dirt Bike Bolts

Of course, you can't check every bolt all the time. But for those bolts you can easily reach and takes but a few seconds to torque, then do it. When you ride Moto, expect to wait around a lot. Fill that down time with a quick check of the bolts. Before firing up the engine for a day on the trails, go around the bike and tighten the bolts - even if you did it the day before while loading the bikes. In less than a minute you can quick torque the following bolts:

  • Seat bolts
  • Subframe bolts
  • Exhaust mounting bolts
  • Plastic bolts

Make dirt bike bolt checks a habit and you can end that reoccurring loose bolt issue, save money and prevent an unnecessary headache like your silencer falling off during a race.

The bolts that keep a dirt bike together cope with the vibration of the engine and the repeated and sustained bumps from riding. A bit of maintenance and following direction keeps most bolts tightly fastened and your dirt bike operating correctly. But every now and then, expect to deal with a problem bolt that refuses to stay put. Use the guide above to help find a solution so you can get back to riding.