So, you're finally getting back to it.

Perhaps it was a nasty get-off leaving you TV bound fox six months or life turned busy and before you knew it, a year passed between rides. Either way, your dirt bike sits by its lonesome in the garage waiting for the next time you two hook up.

But when that day arrives don't load up the trailer and pin it upon arrival at the track or trails like it was yesterday. Depending on how well you comply with the generally accepted long-term storage needs of a dirt bike you might have some extensive work ahead. And of course, if you did get laid out on the couch or simply "lost time" it's likely you failed to heed this advice in our 6 Tips for Dirt Bike and ATV Winter Storage because it applies to all long term storage needs.

Briefly, typical long term storage of a dirt bike requires fresh oil and filter an empty gas tank and left on a stand, among other necessities.

But we judge not! Because all of us have neglected a thing or two at one time or another only to face our day of reckoning later, wishing we had done something sooner. Therefore, if your dirt bike currently sits with black as night oil sitting in its belly and who knows how old that coolant is circulating through the radiator then read on before getting on.

Check Seals

If injury prevented you from working on your ride or "I'll get to it later" turned into a year or three then first check the seals for leakage. Yes, bad seals might not present until the engine warms but a quick visual check might provide a clue into what's in store for the next few hours.

Change Fluids and Filters

If you've let your bike sit for an extended period of time it's unlikely you remember the last time you changed the oil and filter. And the coolant. Also, the air filter. OK, say you remember and all fluids have just a few hours in them. Change it anyway. It's simply best practice and reduces, if not eliminates, the chance of minor damage occurring. Top off the brake fluid if necessary.

Got Gas?

If your last time out concluded with an empty tank, you're in luck. But if you left fuel in the tank and considering the circumstances (injury or busyness of life) it's a good bet you did not add fuel stabilizer. Therefore, the gas sitting in the tank and floating through the fuel lines might have turned gummy or into varnish.

A higher quality gasoline might save you from this rather taxing clean-up job but it's not immune from absorbing water or losing its mojo, so to speak. If it's still liquid drain the gas and replace with fresh fuel.

If the old gas gummed up, you'll need to clean the gas tank, fuel lines, and carburetor (2-strokes) or throttle body and injectors (4 strokes).

At this point you're ready to start your bike but not necessarily ready to ride. Before heading off to the track or trails to test how well your skills held up over the months, or years, take a few more steps.


You know what to grease. Bearings, cables and chain.

Nuts and Bolts

Get out the torque wrench. Check all the nuts and bolts to spec.


Since a bike stand is one of the first things most riders buy after purchasing their first dirt bike it's a safe bet you have one and, unless you were laid up with a broken femur, habitually placed your ride on a stand. If not, you'll want to double check those tires. Leaving tires resting on the ground long term sucks the life out of them, not just the air. Replace any tires more than a year old and if you have any questions read When To Replace Dirt Bike Tires.

While you're at it, also check...


Did you check all the seals? You'll notice pretty quickly if you have leaky suspension seals because of the puddle of oil. If it checks out the suspension shouldn't change much during the time off but in the event you want to "dial in" the suspension as they say read our Suspension Tips - some good stuff in there!

Check the Controls

Give the brakes and clutch a once over as well as the throttle. Last thing you want is a stuck throttle and no brakes.

By the way, if it doesn't start check the condition of the spark plug. The long break won't affect it unless it succumbed to moisture, an unlikely scenario but possible nonetheless.

Now go have fun. Once finished resume your regularly scheduled maintenance intervals.