The longer days, warm temperatures and scattering clouds mean only one thing: Summer is around the corner.
For many of us, that means waking our dirt bike or ATV out of their long winter slumber to get it ready for the coming riding days. While others, who manage to ride year-round, need to fine-tune their bikes for the seasonal transition. Where ever you fit, now is the time for a summer maintenance check on your 4-stroke so you and your trusty ride can weather whatever the hot months deliver.
If it's been a while, now is a good time to re-read your owner's manual. Say what? Yes, we know you can probably perform routine maintenance in your sleep. But it is a good idea to browse through the manual to ensure you're covering everything. Every manufacturer puts their own spin on the 4-stroke and just like heading to the grocery store with some items in mind, you're bound to forget something.
As for our part, we've put together a general list of the must-be-dones on a 4-stroke dirt bike or ATV. It's not comprehensive by any means but highlights those parts and elements essential to a strong running ride.
If you didn't properly drain the old motor oil for your bike's winter nap do so now. But, if you left your dirt bike or ATV in storage with fresh oil, just check the levels, top off if necessary and you're good to go.
The year-round rider simply needs to check the maintenance intervals and change as needed. Since we're a bit fastidious with our 4-strokes, it's not a bad thing to change the oil early if you're changing other fluids and parts. It's nice to have an all-over fresh bike, isn't it?
We're not done yet. Fork oil. This requires changing too. Changing the fork oil prolongs the life of the fork bushings and seals.
The same school of thought with the oil applies to the filters. Change out the old but if you left new oil and air filters installed for the winter months then just double check the oil filter is secure and the air filter wears enough air filter oil.
Likewise, if you've been riding, a visual inspection of the air filter tells you when it's time to change and always replace the oil filter when changing the oil. Now is also a good time to clean the airbox, too. Scrub it out and start with a fresh filter and a clean box.
Nuts and Bolts
If you haven't done a thorough check of all the nuts and bolts for some time you're in for a surprise. Hours of riding eventually loosen that which tightens. Grab a wrench and give every nut and bolt a turn - some might require two or three. Some might be lost and gone forever so you'll need some new ones.
Don't forget the spokes.
Brakes involve one of the more comprehensive checks because you'll look at the calipers, pads, brake line and fluid. Address any worn parts now not after crashing because you couldn't stop in time.
Change the spark plug every year regardless of use. It eliminates any worry and actual malfunction, plus spark plugs are relatively cheap when compared to other parts.
Out with the anti-freeze, in with the coolant.
Bearings probably represent the most neglected part(s) on a dirt bike or ATV. Mostly because riders forget about them. And they're not exactly always the easiest to get to. Regardless, replace any worn out bearings and grease them.
Check all cables for wear and ensure connections fit tight. Check clutch and throttle operations prior to ride day.
Checking the suspension is especially important for dirt bikes left on a stand all winter. Sitting in a cold shed or garage for months plus perhaps you've gained or lost weight - all this affects the suspension settings so you'll want to make the necessary adjustments before ride day.
Rounded out or broken knobs means one thing - get new tires. Otherwise, double check the tire pressure.
Chain and Sprockets
Check the sprockets for tooth wear and cupping, and check the chain for rust and a flat wear pattern on the top or bottom. Remember to replace both chain and sprockets regardless of wear on the other.
Neglect is simply a part of owning a bike. Eventually, we look past the small things and sometimes if we're honest, we put-off doing the bigger things. If disregarded too long the bike looks run down and performance suffers. So, take this opportunity to carry out a deep cleaning.
- Plastic cracked or broken? Graphics faded and/or ripped? Get some new ones
- Grips worn down? Install those fluffy pillow tops
- Bars bent? Replace them!
Of course, the graphics won't affect performance but a slick looking bike does a lot for self-confidence. Don't underestimate how much uncomfortable grips and misaligned handlebars affect your ride. As you lead the pack a few laps only to finish outside the Top 10 and wonder what happened to your stamina, look no further than all the little things that rob your strength.
To continue your education, check out these delighful articles:
- Tips for Quick-Cleaning Your Dirt Bike
- Routine Motocross Bike Maintenance Tips - 4 Stroke
- The MotoSport.com Dirt Bike Pre-Ride Checklist
- How to Maintain Your Dirt Bike or ATV Transmission
- How To Make Your Dirt Bike Plastic Look New Again
Own a 2-stroke? Read Your Summer Maintenance Checks For Your 2 Stroke.