If there's one thing to remember when planning a ride day on the track or trails it's you won't remember everything.
That's why a pre-ride checklist is imperative.
If your bike is not dialed in or running on low fluid levels it can certainly wreck your ride in the short term and cause permanent damage in the long term. Therefore, consider the pre-ride check list as part of the overall maintenance routine you follow to keep your bike running for years to come. Besides, needing something when you're miles away from home or nowhere near the closest dirt bike parts store can end the day before you kick start the bike.
So, don't think for one minute you'll remember all the steps to a successful day of riding. Once the hustle and bustle of loading and getting on the road starts you'll probably forget the gas.
The following Dirt Bike Pre-Ride Checklist should be used for Motocross, trail riding and dune riding. Some of these checks can be done at home but a few require waiting until you arrive at your riding destination. Print it out or open on your smartphone or tablet as you get ready for the day.
1. Check Oil Level
This is probably the one thing you won't forget but if you do and the bike is running low on oil it's an easy way to burn out the engine. See our Oil Change Guide when it's time to change.
2. Check Air Filter
Probably right up there with checking oil level but check it off so you know you've done it.
3. Check Coolant Level
Important for all type of riding, but extremely important when dune riding. This is also a good way to tell if you've got a leak or some other problem with the engine. Time to change? Check out How to Flush a Radiator on a Dirt Bike.
4. Check Brake Fluid Level
Like the coolant check, this is a good way to see if there's an underlining problem because the fluid shouldn't change much, if at all. If the brakes feel spongy with adequate fluid it's time to change the brake fluid. See How to Bleed Dirt Bike Brakes.
5. Check Chain and Sprocket for Wear
Pretty easy. On the sprockets check for tooth wear, cupping or bent teeth. On the chain, look for rust or other signs of corrosion, a flat wear pattern on the top or bottom and easy side to side play. If you notice any of these signs, replace the whole drive. See The Ultimate Dirt Bike Sprocket & Gearing Guide for more information.
6. Check Chain Slack and Lube
This goes hand-in-hand with checking for wear on the drive parts. Once you've cleared the parts ready for riding ensure the slack is at an optimum riding level. Then put on a fresh coat of lubrication. The rule of thumb on chain sag is two to three fingers of slack. See How to Tighten a Dirt Bike Chain.
7. Tighten Spokes
Shouldn't take more than a few minutes to give each spoke a quick tighten. And don't finger check! Use the right tool. Check every third one until you've checked them all.
8. Tighten All Nuts and Bolts
Once you've finished with the spokes give the nuts and bolts that keep the bike intact a check.
9. Check and Adjust Control Levers
Does everything work and feel OK? Are the levers still in the preferred position since your last ride day? Make adjustments now not when everyone else is ready to roll out or you're lined up waiting for the gates to drop.
10. Set the Sag
Check the distance between the fender and swing arm first with the rider off the bike and then with the rider on the bike. If you've got more than 105mm of sag add free-load to the shock spring by turning the spanner ring clockwise. Check out our Guide to Motocross Suspension Tuning for more information.
11. Check Air Pressure
Air pressure changes with elevation so leave this one just before you throw a leg over your bike. Check the tire air pressure where you're riding not at home. See How To Get Ideal Dirt Bike Tire Pressure.
12. Bleed the forks
Another item left until you reach your destination. Air in the forks, just like tires, changes with elevation. If you forget to bleed the forks you'll know right away.
13. Don't Forget the Gas
You won't believe how often this very important ingredient to successfully riding dirt bikes is forgotten.
If you've check marked all of these you're ready to ride! We've created a stripped down version of this this Checklist below (Click on it!) in a graphic you can print out or keep open on your smartphone or tablet.