How To Warm Up A Dirt Bike – The Right Way

Ya know what grinds my gears? Ignorant riders that do not know how to warm up dirt bike the right way. I hate to see a bike go to waste when it could have easily been avoided, and then the owner wonders why their top-end blew… There IS a right and wrong way to start your dirt bike, and it isn’t any harder to do it correctly.

2-Strokes

2-cycle motocross bikes are high-performance race-machines, and should be treated as such. This is not to say that they aren’t reliable, because they often are if you take care of them. Doing routine maintenance and proper warm-up procedures are a must to keep these running right (or at all).

The wrong way to warm up a 2-stroke (which I see way too often): Starting up the bike with a cold engine, and once it’s running, repeatedly holding the throttle open for a number of seconds until it’s relatively warm. After the rider revs it out until it won’t “cough” and smoke any more, he/she puts it in gear and goes WOT!……..

Umm......... yeah.

First of all, it sickens me to see people (even ones that take decent care of their bikes) do this to their precious machine. What they probably don’t realize is that the piston needs to warm up and “expand” to the size of the cylinder bore. If it expands too quickly (by revving the snot out of it on first start up) it could cause a cold-seized engine, whether it be a crank bearing or the piston. This may not happen the first time, but if done over and over, it will. As a result, your bike will be out of commission, and your wallet will be one or three sizes smaller.

Do THIS, or Your Bike Will Break…

Now the correct way to start a cold engine that will make it last much longer, is as follows… Before you even turn the gas petcock to “On”, shake the gas tank around so that the 2-stroke oil and gas are mixed properly. Now turn the gas and choke on (depending on air temperature). Turn the engine over a few times to make sure it has enough lubrication. Without touching or giving it much throttle, give it a good kick to start it up. Leave the choke on for 30-60 seconds after starting it up. During this time you should NOT touch the throttle; let the bike warm up by itself.

Depending what the air temperature is, you should let your dirt bike idle for 1-3 minutes. After this time, give the throttle a little flick, and it if still bogs or hick-ups then it’s not warm yet. If it revs like normal, then it’s time to put it in gear. Although, it’s still NOT time to go WOT (wide-open-throttle). The bike won’t be up to full operating temps, so you have to click down into first and putt around on it. This should be done by going up to about 1/2 throttle for another couple minutes (possibly longer if your bike continues to hesitate upon acceleration). After cruising around for X amount of time until it’s hot, THEN it is time to let ‘er buck!

4-Strokes

On the flip side, 4-stroke motocross bikes do not require as much warm-up time as a 2-stroke does. This is because four-stroke engines run at higher temps, and if they aren’t getting enough air-flow they will over-heat (more on this in a future article).

Now do as you would a 2-stroke; turning the gas and choke on, give it a couple squirts of gas to prime it (luckily you don’t have gas to mix). Now start the bike, but don’t touch the throttle when kicking or it may kick back and leave you with a bruise (if you need help on actually starting your dirt bike, check out our vid on How To Start A Dirt Bike). Once your bike is running and idling smoothly, you can flip the choke off. Now, you only have to let it idle for about 30 seconds to a minute; any more than that for a 4-stroke motocross bike and it will start to get hot. If you want to stay on the safe side, you can cruise around on it for another minute or two, but after that you will want to get it breathing.

It really ticks me off when someone doesn’t let their motocross bike warm up before riding it like it’s stolen. Although it’s their dirt bike and they paid for it (hopefully) and can do what they want with it, I hope you are smarter than that. Do your bike (and wallet) a favor, and take the extra couple minutes to let your high-buck motocross bike properly warm up.

-Tom Stark

You Can Find a Good Motocross Dirt Bike For $1500 or Less

Let’s face it, motocross is not a cheap sport. When races cost around $30 per class, then paying for gas (both bike and vehicle), parts that break, memberships, and the list goes on. Although it seems like dirt bike racing is only for the wealthy, especially in this economy, I can help get you get started into this awesome sport by showing you how to find a cheap race bike. Not a beat-up POS, but something that runs or may just need some TLC.

This Is A RACE Bike We’re Talking About Here

Before I go into much detail, there are a couple things I must tell you. If you aren’t willing to do some mechanical work, or even learn how, there’s no use buying a motocross bike. If you want to buy a dirt bike and not have to do much of anything to it, get a Honda XR. Motocross bikes are high-tech race machines, so they will break sooner or later. By keeping up on simple maintenance you will help prevent major failures and big repair bills, though.

POS Motocross Bike

Lastly, before I get started, if you are on a budget then do not get a four-stroke motocross bike……. I repeat, DO NOT buy a four-stroke. Although they are easier to ride faster and have many advantages over two-strokes, you don’t want to get one and have to put 2k into it because it ran out of oil or dropped a valve. You’ll be right back where you started. If you really want to stay on a budget then start out with a two-stroke, trust me.

What Bikes Are Good?

Now the reason I said $1500 is because you almost always have to put some money into a used dirt bike. You should be able to find a decent bike for around $1000, so you have 400-500 if it needs any work. There are many good two-strokes to start out on, so finding one shouldn’t be that difficult. The hard part is finding one that hasn’t been beat on and neglected, too much. Yamaha’s have always made great two-strokes, both 125 and 250’s. 2001 and newer were excellent bikes. If you want a 6-speed YZ125 then don’t get a 2002-2004, but that doesn’t mean they are bad bikes. 2005 and newer would be the optimum choice because they switched to all-aluminum frames, but finding a cheap one may take some time.

Your best bet for a Honda is probably a 2000-2001. The CR250 those years has been touted as one of the best in its class. The engine is powerful, suspension is good, and handling is great (even though it’s not quite as good as the 4th gen; 2002 and newer). The aluminum frame CR125 is known by its “slow-as-a-snail” engine just because it has no-bottom end power, and the power-band isn’t as usable as other 125’s. I think this bike would fine for beginners if it’s properly set-up and geared, as the handling is great. There are many things you can do to the CR125 to make it more competitive; most of which are cheap (more on that in a future article). 2005 and newer CR’s finally became good all-around bikes, but by then the four-strokes took over and Honda quit making their two-strokes after 2007.

Suzuki two-strokes are good all-around, but you’ll want a 2001 or newer. Kawasaki didn’t make the greatest 125’s early on, but that could be easily changed, if you put money into them. 2003 and newer are great if you can find them.

What To Look For In A Cheap Dirt Bike?

A cheap bike is fairly easy to find… Finding one that needs the least amount of work is what you’re looking for. Generally, the lower the hours a bike has, the better the shape it will be in. When searching through the classifieds after you decided which bike to get, look for a motocross bike that has been maintained. If the owner actually took care of it, you won’t have to replace as many parts. A stock bike will probably be the best because it won’t have been tampered with. Don’t worry too much if it has modifications though.

Work ‘Em Down!

Once you find a relatively nice bike, the first thing you should do is try and work the person down on his/her price. Remember, patience is key. In most cases, the longer you wait on buying a bike, the more willing the owner will be to go down on their price. Whatever you do, do not let emotions get in the way. I know this may sound dumb when talking about buying a bike, but I know of many people that were too anxious when looking for bikes that they either bought the first one they looked at or didn’t wait for the seller to go down on their price. Do not be discouraged if the first bike or two is not in your budget or is too beat up. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BUY IT! Just walk away if the owner is being less than honest or if he/she won’t budge on their price (unless of course it’s already a steal).

Going To Look At Your Future Baby…… Maybe?

When you go to look at a bike, there are many things you’ll want to check over. The main parts that wear out or break are: levers, tires, suspension, top-end, brakes, clutch, chain/sprockets, handlebars, radiators, subframe, wheels, and plastics. The cost for these parts add up quickly, but a lot of them are maintenance, so if they are worn/broken then you should deduct some from the price of the bike. Levers, brakes, and sprockets are relatively cheap, but the main areas you should be concerned about are the engine, suspension and chassis (whether they’re worn, damaged, or straight). Also, you may want have the owner take the seat off to get a look at the air filter. If it’s clean then he/she probably takes at least some care of their bike.

P.S. Used two-strokes almost always need a new piston, so that should be one of the first things you do to the bike after buying. Even if the previous owner said it was just rebuilt, it’s a good idea to pull the jug and find out for yourself. I’ve made the mistake of not doing this and it cost me dearly. Besides, you’re only down about $25 in gaskets if it’s fine, and you’ll have a clear-conscience.

Bring Cash, Test The bike, Keep Silent…

Cash Talks

After you look the bike over real well, ask if you can ride it. Remember to bring cash because some people won’t let you ride the bike without it. As you’re letting the bike warm up idling, listen for any knocking, rattling, or other unusual noises in the engine. Once the bike is warm take it for a spin, going through all the gears and using the clutch. Everything should be crisp and tight.  Signs of a worn-out clutch are slipping, not fully engaging, or whacking the throttle wide open and the clutch disengages. A clutch kit runs around $100-150, possibly more if it needs a basket or hub.

Don’t Jump For Joy Yet

If everything checks out on the test run then proceed by checking over the bike once again just to make sure there’s no major damage. Remember what I said about being patient. The longer you stall while looking at the bike, the higher chance of the seller reducing his/her price or telling you something about the bike he/she didn’t before (very common if the seller has a big mouth).  When you make an offer (if you haven’t already over the phone or email), it’s usually best if you go about 200-300 below what they’re asking in cash. Possibly more if you think he/she is willing, based on his/her mood and what they’ve told you. But if they seem pretty firm then offer $100 less. If they really want to sell the bike, money talks.

They Didn’t Take My Offer…..?

Don’t worry if the seller didn’t take your offer. There are several things you can do after this… First of all, there’s a good chance they will counter your offer and go in-between their asking price and what you offered. If it’s still a good deal then go for it. If they don’t take your offer, though, you can offer a little more to see if they bite. Otherwise, if the bike just isn’t worth much more than you offered because it’s so beat up, all you have to do is walk away and find another bike…. There are plenty more out there, it just takes time.

Here’s The Typical Scenario

Typical used YZ125

Let’s say you buy a 2003 YZ125 for $1000 that’s in relatively nice shape. Not that bad of a deal, but it needs a little work. The previous owner said he did the usual oil changes, but that’s about it. It’ll need a new air filter for sure ($20). The chain and sprockets are pretty worn and will need to be replaced soon ($100). Plastics have some scratches but aren’t broken. The levers are bent ($20), and the bars are a little tweaked, but are fine if you bring them back with a little muscle. Brake pads are almost to metal ($50). All fluids should be flushed and replaced: oil, coolant, brake fluid, fork oil ($50). Fortunately the previous owner just replaced the rear tire, and the front still has plenty of tread, so we’ll leave that alone. Now before you go and start tearing parts off this bike and tuning it up, I HIGHLY recommend you get a Manual for your bike. If you want access to more manuals online, CyclePedia has many to choose from. It will make your work MUCH easier, and you won’t be breaking bolts from improperly torquing them.

Last, but not least, is the engine (Like I said before, I’d recommend taking the top-end off to see what it looks like, even if the previous owner said it was just rebuilt). On this bike the piston has some usual wear marks, but it and the cylinder are not scored. So, we’ll just order a new top-end kit: piston, ring, circlips, and wrist pin ($90), as well as a new top-end gasket kit ($20).

Most of These Parts Can Be Bought From Amazon.com

Let’s do the math!

  • ’03 YZ125: $1000
  • Manual $25
  • Filter: $20
  • Chain/sprockets: $100
  • Levers: $20
  • Brakes: $50
  • Fluids: $50
  • Top-end/Gaskets: $110

This reaches a grand total of………

$1375 for a great bike that will last for quite some time……. Which leaves you with $125 for gas, replacement parts, modifications, or towards your next bike! Good luck, and don’t forget to be patient!

-Tom Stark

Dirt Bike Trail Building Tips – Know The Land

Hare-Scramble Practice Track

After long and hard work of building a loop of riding trails, it’s a blast to get on them right away. Unfortunately, they will quickly get boring…. That is, unless, you incorporate some obstacles in them. These “obstacles” can range from: fallen trees, to large rock sections, all the way to rutted hill-climbs with a combination of logs, rocks, and tree trunks all the way up.

For most of us that don’t have machinery that can move and haul equipment and obstacles as such, we have to get more creative. Depending on how technical you want your trails to be, the goal is to make the trail so that you can incorporate as many obstacles as possible with minimal/no effort in moving them. I try to make it so that if there is a large/difficult obstacle, such as a downed tree, I make a line that goes over it, as well as one that can go around for less-experienced riders (if possible).

Even if you have a trail loop already, you can still go back and scrutinize what you can add to the trail. Who knows, you may find an even better route than what you had before. Go ahead and change it up if that’s the case, even if you didn’t find any obstacles to include.

 

What I try to look for are some nice rounded logs/downed trees, long fly-aways, steep hills/hill-climbs, valleys, and anything else that will mix it up, while still keeping the trail flowing, which is key (more about that in a later article). For logs, I usually make the trail go perpendicular over them (better for beginners), and sometimes stack them up in a pyramid-like shape to make it more challenging.


Off-Camber Switch-Back Section

If there are any hills, I look for a line to make a sweeping corner that turns and goes up the hill. Once I get near or to the top, I make a 180 degree turn to go back down, if possible. It’s hard to tell you what to look for exactly, since every woods is different. You just have to look for lines that connect and flow well, and possibly include obstacles.

Remember to get some Helmet Cam footage of your trails, and if you have any more ideas, feel free to comment. Ride safe, and stay tuned for my future posts on Trail Building!

-Tom Stark

KX250F & RMZ250 2004

2004 Kawasaki & Suzuki 250F

2004 RMZ250

If you’re looking at getting an older 250f, and possibly a Kawasaki or Suzuki, then you should probably consider some of this info. When these companies made their 250f, it was more like a Kawazuki 250f, because Kawasaki and Suzuki had partnered up. So most of the parts on these bikes are interchangeable. This was their first year making the 250f, so just by that you should be a little worried.

2004 KX250F

As some might expect, these bikes were not the greatest reliability-wise in 2004. Although they were fast bikes, they had an overheating problem caused by a bad/weak water-pump. Another defect these bikes had was in the valve-train that caused the valves to burn-up more quickly. These problems can get bad and scared me away from buying one of these bikes. This is not to say that these bikes do not perform. They have plenty of power, and if you really want to get one then I suggest you get a newer style complete cylinder head and get and aftermarket water-pump and impeller to fix the overheating problem. If you do that then the bike should be fine, but by the time you spend all that money on parts you could have bought a newer bike more than likely. Good luck, and remember that no matter what you ride, have fun and stay safe! Thanks

-Tom Stark

 

FMF Fatty Pipe – Review

 

The FMF Fatty Pipe For 2-Strokes is the most copied 2-stroke dirt bike pipe in the world, so you know that FMF makes a guaranteed quality pipe. I like making my dirt bikes go faster, and a pipe is a simple bolt-on that can do that. The FMF Fatty exhaust is the first one that came up because it’s the most popular, so I figured it must be worth it..

Your 2-Stroke Will Have A Power-Band!

Not that it didn’t have one before, because there are people out there that truly don’t know that a power-band is not an actual “part” on a dirt bike (more on that in a future article). The Fatty pipe was built to not only increase the power-band on your 2-stroke, but to increase power across the entire RPM range as well. This makes for a great addition if you do a variety of riding types (motocross, trails, play-riding).

Hold Onto Your Panties

When your dirt bike is jetted correctly, you will instantly notice better throttle response at idle and across the rev-range, so you’d better hold on (but not too tight or you’ll get arm-pump!).

FMF FATTY PIPE - 2-STROKE

You Get To Control The Snap of Your 2-Stroke

Two-stroke motocross bike are snappy when on the pipe. More so a 125, because almost all of the power is up top, leaving nothing down low. This makes them more difficult to ride for people that aren’t used to them. Don’t worry though, FMF someone manage to get more power out of your two-stroke, while making it easier to ride with a more linear power-band. It will still hit hard, but the power is spread out so the bike isn’t so peaky.

Rev That Sucker To The Moon

So far you have more power with the fatty, better throttle response, and a smoother power-band that makes it easier to ride… What more can you ask for? Oh yeah, more over-rev. Stock pipes often “sign-off” early, causing you to shift more to keep it in the meat of the power. Well the Fatty pipe continues to rev even further than stock without the power dropping too dramatically.

It’s Pretty Much Plated With Gold

If you have used a stock pipe on your two-stroke then you probably know how easily they get dents in them. FMF uses a lower gage metal, meaning thicker, so it withstands a lot more abuse before denting up.

Classic FMF

And to top it all off, FMF gives this exhaust pipe their “Tru-Flo” stamping process to guarantee that it will fit, look, and perform great. Really, this is the do-it-all two-stroke pipe. Four-stroke exhaust pipes cost an arm and a leg, but with the Fatty you get high-quality performance at a great price.

What Are Others Saying About The FMF Fatty Exhaust Pipe?

The FMF Fatty has received dozens of enthusiastic reviews from almost every buyer. It has an average of 4.8 out of 5 star rating on MotoSport; the best selling pipe.

Some of the consumer comments:

  • Unbeatable Performance
  • Great 2 stroke pipe
  • Awesome pipe on my CR!
  • Good buy
  • OPENS IT RIGHT UP

Buy My FMF Fatty Pipe

-Tom Stark

P.S. Check out my other review for the FMF SST Pipe

’01 Yamaha YZ125 With FMF Fatty Pipe