An appointment with your doctor probably includes some talk on preventive care and if you own pets a good veterinarian should provide tips on how to keep your cat or dog healthy for the long term and prevent health problems later in life.

For example, a daily aspirin for somebody with cholesterol problems and a family history of heart disease helps prevent the onset of heart issues. But routine meals keep the person alive and functioning properly to go about their daily life.

So what's that got to do with dirt bikes and ATVs?

Routine oil changes keep the engine alive and working properly to get you around the track or trails. In fact, many parts have a service life, that, if followed, you would replace during regularly scheduled maintenance but other parts often get replaced when needed or sometimes simply neglected until they fail. Thus the need for preventive care. So where does the daily aspirin fall in?

Think of it more like fine tuning your ride. Preventive maintenance takes far less time than some of the service intervals jobs like a top or bottom end and you need just a handful of tools. You also might perform preventive care without knowing it like changing a kick starter seal because you rebuilt the engine. Nothing was wrong with the seal but since you were in there anyway, now you have a new seal and one less worry.

So follow these preventive care guidelines for a long and productive riding life:

Cleaning

Beyond the normal bike wash after a day's ride go the extra step and clean the fork/dust seals, air box, intake boots and anything rubber or plastic for that matter. Rubber and plastic tend to get brittle over time and cleaning prevents unnecessary wear and tear. Also clean all the bearings:

Use a contact cleaner or solvent on the bearings, grab a can of WD40 or SC1 for the air box, intake boots, rubber or plastic exposed to the elements, and all seals, except for the fork/dust seals use the Motion Pro Sealmate - so quick and easy you will use it after every ride.

Grease and Lubrication

Once cleaned, add a smudge of grease to all bearings:

  • Swingarm
  • Linkage
  • Steering
  • Wheel

Now lubricate the cables.

Adjustments/Tightening

Screw in everything that screws out using the torque wrench where applicable. Check and tighten the spokes while checking for wheel trueness. On 4-strokes check and adjust the valve lash (or valve clearance).

Replacements

Preventing a piston failure prevents engine damage. Check and replace, if necessary, the piston rings and check for clearance. (And while there, clean the power valves if you have a 2-stroke.) Replace the piston if it fails the necessary clearance. In a nutshell, perform a top end.

Replacing the chain sliders, rollers and guides before they wear out as well as the chain and sprockets prevents possible injury to you and damage to the bike. Replace stripped bolts and fatigued or stretched springs.

Unlike the human body that requires exercise to stay young, the more you "exercise" your dirt bike or ATV the quicker it gets old. But incorporate some preventive maintenance and you just might keep your machine younger for a longer period of time.

Written By: AndrewT