Don't get left behind!
That's precisely what's going to happen when the gates drop and you're trying to compete with a showroom bike or you've targeted the wrong modifications. You might get away with it in a C or D class but once you're racing B and above now you're talking serious competition and a do whatever it takes to win approach. (Exception - "Limited" or "Stock" racing classes only allow showroom floor dirt bikes with no upgrades or modifications.)
Money is often a factor in determining what a rider tries to improve first on their dirt bike and sometimes they make the mistake of going for aesthetics rather than overall performance and comfort while also factoring in their ability. Leaving the engine and transmission intact, it's possible to change just about everything on your dirt bike to aftermarket products and over time as you wear out parts you might do just that.
However, from the first day of ownership some modifications make the most sense and are well worth the investment.
1. Aftermarket Exhaust System
Changing the entire exhaust system or at the very least the pipe or slip-on is pretty much standard across the board for all dirt bike owners. It's usually the first modification done and sometimes right away. The biggest improvement is a significant amount of weight loss when you replace the stock system. Plus, you'll get a boost in power and can choose between low-end or high-end torque performance.
- Check out the Exhaust Page featuring products for 2-stroke and 4-stroke
2. Suspension Re-valve
You can't win races if you're bobbing all over the place or spend so much strength hanging on you fizzle halfway through a Moto. Fine tuning your suspension settings is critical to not only staying on the bike, especially through whoops and coming off jumps, but to conserving energy. There's a reason why you often read about the pros being picky over the suspension system on their bikes because it truly can mean the difference between finishing first or second and sometimes just finishing at all.
As noted in Top Off-Road Dirt Bike Modifications, a suspension re-valve is not easy and should be done by a professionally trained mechanic.
3. Chain and Sprocket
Modifying your chain and sprocket gives you the ability to make some last minute adjustments on race day. Serious riders stash several sets so it's easy to add or subtract sprocket teeth depending on the power gains needed for the day's effort. Aftermarket drive components also provide more durability than the stock counterparts so you won't end up chainless while leading the last lap. Read more with The Ultimate Dirt Bike Sprocket & Gearing Guide.
- Check out the Drive Parts Page for kits, sprockets, chains and more.
Changing the handlebar is second only to suspension re-valve for improving your overall comfort on the bike. The oversized 1-1/8 bar is quite popular but some still prefer the standard 7/8. It's all based on your preference and if the stock bar isn't doing it for you, it's time to find one that does.
- Check out the Bars and Controls Page
If you change out your old bar you'll likely want to change your controls and this consists of more than just the clutch and brake levers. You've got a throttle, a bunch of cables, kill switch, hot start cable and a front brake master cylinder. Read Dirt Bike Handlebars & Controls Explained for more information.
However, most riders grab new brake and shift controls before changing out the other items because that's what's going to affect them most as far as positioning on the bar and overall riding comfort.
- Check out the Levers Page featuring more than 100 different levers
Notice the top five modifications - three improve your overall comfort on the bike. Racing dirt bikes is hard work but fighting yourself or the bike only makes it more difficult to win and it's why factory teams spend so much time testing and tweaking during the off-season and during the week between rounds. No amount of training and fitness can fight off the fatigue that comes from a season's worth of racing. Get comfortable on your bike and the checkers will follow.