Bought New Motocross Boots & Can’t Shift – Break-In

Buying new motocross boots is both a great feeling and a tough one (pun intended) as well. Riding with fresh gear can be like riding a new bike because everything is tight and still altogether. However, when you buy new boots, they are usually hard as a rock and suck to ride in without breaking them in first. That is, unless, you spend several hundreds bills on a pair of MX boots that don’t require break-in.

If you’ve never put your feet in a new pair of boots, just imagine putting your feet in ski or snowboarding boots; stiff and weird to walk in at first. If you can’t bend your ankle up and down then you will have a very hard time shifting, and using the rear brake will have much less feel because you have to move your whole foot.

So, how do you break them in so they’re actually usable for a race or long day in the wilderness? The easiest, although probably the longest way is just by riding with them until the leather of the boot is broken in. Before I go any further, you should know that for dirt bike riding boots work properly and help protect your feet from injury they have to be stiff. If you happen to fall off your bike and land on your feet, and you rarely land perfectly flat, you need the boots to hold together and not flex because your feet are going to do the same.

It can take several hours of riding before your new boots are feeling comfortable, so I wouldn’t do any important rides or racing with them until they are.

If you want to break them in with little to no riding, you can work your riding boots in off of the bike. It’s as simple as bending the boots back and forth at the ankle (where it would normally bend while riding. Just grab the top and bottom of the boot with your hands and flex the shin towards the toes, and then back the opposite direction. Keep doing this for a few minutes until you feel the leather start to loosen up.

New Motocross Boots
New Motocross Boots

Once you’ve worked the boots in with your hands, put them on your feet and buckle it up. Don’t need them too tight as you won’t be riding quite yet. You’re basically doing the same thing as you did with your hands. Just crouch down so your knees are bent and rock your ankles back and forth so the boots stretch out.

After doing this for a few minutes, the your new boots should be flexed enough to be able to ride with them. Go ahead and gear up and hop on your dirt bike for a ride. This simple process will help break your fresh boots in with minimal riding. A good 30 minutes of riding with shifting and braking involved and you are ready to race again with better support!

There’s many other ways to break in your new dirt bike boots, such as heating them in the oven, walking around in them all day, as well as soaking them in water and walking around in them until they loosen up. Any way you do it, there’s going to be some break-in process before you are able to ‘feel’ the shift lever and brake pedal while riding.

If it’s hard to shift at first, try sticking the toe of your boot under the shift lever and lift your entire boot up. It’s a good technique to get used to in case you are standing and need to shift.

Ride safe, and go moto!

-Tom Stark

How To Replace A Dirt Bike Clutch – CR125 2-stroke

If you want to ride or race dirt bikes for the rest of you life, there’s some things that you need to learn how to do and fix on them if you want to save time and money. Replacing the clutch should be one of them, and it’s bound to happen if you’re racing or putting a lot of hours on your bike throughout the riding season. Don’t worry, it’s actually a pretty easy job.

If you’re scared to work your motocross bike, I strongly recommend getting an OEM service manual for your bike if you don’t have one already. The factory manual will have pretty much everything you need to know for maintaining or repairing your dirt bike. There’s dozens of diagrams, specs, maintenance intervals, tips on adjusting suspension, and much more.

First thing is to start out with a clean bike and work area. If the bike is not clean, you run a much higher risk of getting dirt or foreign objects inside the clutch/engine, so at least wash that part of your dirt bike. Having a cluttered and filthy shop area is annoying, and can be dangerous if it’s hard to walk. Make enough room to comfortably work on the bike with clean parts and tools.

CR125 Clutch Cover Bolts
CR125 Clutch Cover Bolts

Once you’re all set up and have the proper tools, it’s time to take the clutch off the bike. The clutch cover is on the right side of the engine, and most covers have about 5 bolts holding it on (This bike is an ’01 Honda CR125).

After you get the cover off, you’ll be able to see the basket/plates. There’s five more bolts holding them together. This is where you may need a special tool to hold the clutch to prevent it from spinning while loosening the bolts. If you don’t have one, a cordless impact can be very handy to get it off, although you’ll want something to properly torque it back down.

CR125 Clutch Hub
CR125 Clutch Hub

All of the disks and plates will come out with the pressure plate. This is when you need to check the basket for wear/notching. It will be pretty clear if there’s notches from the disks. This basket does not have notching or appear to be broken, so it can stay right where it’s at!

CR125 Clutch Basket
CR125 Clutch Basket

Next we can measure the springs and plates to see what’s in spec. Refer to your OEM manufacture’s manual for minimum length on the clutch springs and minimum thickness of the metal plates. The min. length of each spring for the CR125 is 35.2mm (1.386″). I measured mine with a dial caliper and it read about 1.430″ (36.2mm), so they’re still within spec.

Measuring Clutch Spring
Measuring Clutch Spring

Next you can measure the metal plates. If they’re still in spec, feel free to use them as long as they don’t show signs of overheating (discoloration). I just bought a complete kit for this bike, so I’m putting in all new plates and disks. Sometimes you can just get away with replacing the fibers/friction plates since they usually wear out faster.

Most clutch plates you will have to soak in oil prior to putting them back on the bike. If you start and run the bike with them dry, you’ll greatly increase your chances of breaking or damaging the clutch. I just take bucket, pour a little engine oil in, and one-by-one place each plate and disk in, swirling the oil around so it covers all of them.

Soak Plates/Disks In Oil
Soak Plates/Disks In Oil

Now you’re ready to put them back in. You’ll start with a friction plate, and alternate until they’re all in. There’s one more friction plate than metal disk, so you’ll start and end with one.

 

CR125 Clutch - Friction Plate
CR125 Clutch – Friction Plate

 

CR125 Clutch - Metal Disk
CR125 Clutch – Metal Disk

After the plates and disks, it’s time to put the pressure plate and springs in. Now you’ll need something to hold the clutch assembly again so you can torque down the bolts. Again, check your service manual for proper torque specs. This CR125 requires 7 ft. lbs. for the pressure plate bolts.

All that’s left is to put the cover back on and fill ‘er back up with oil! Before starting the bike, pull in the clutch a few times and make sure everything feels right, like it’s disengaging and engaging. On the first start, warm the bike up properly by letting it idle for at least a couple minutes. It’s not unusual for the clutch to drag at first; it just needs to be broken in.

Once the bike is warm, ride the bike around for a few minutes to make sure everything is still functioning. After that, you’re good to go! I recommend changing the oil after a few hours of riding if not sooner to get rid of any shavings from the new engine parts.

Click Here To Buy My Clutch Kit!

-Tom Stark

7 Tips To Make Your Dirt Bike Run Again De-Winterize

It’s almost February, and you know what that means…. Spring is right around the corner! For those of us that don’t live in the southern states, unfortunately, we have to Winterize our dirt bikes and most other motorized toys. I have a strong dislike for the cold, and knowing that warmer weather is just a couple months away makes me even more anxious to get my bikes out. But, before you pull it out of the garage/shed from storage and tear it up again, there’s some things you’ll want to do to make sure it’s going to run right. This can also be helpful for people that have recently bought a dirt bike that has been sitting in someones barn for years.

Wash It

Yes, I know it may just be dusty, but unless you thoroughly washed it before you put away last fall, it’s a good idea to scrub everything down. You will see the effect of this years down the road; your dirt bike will still look like new (besides the worn paint), but others will have crusty, oil-stained, dirt-colored bikes. This is usually on the bottom of bikes, but if you take care of it, then it will be easier to sell in the future.

Clean The Carburetor

Dirt bike carburetors often get dirty and gummed up from sitting for a couple months. Even if you can get the bike to start up, chances are is that it’s not going to run right. The cheapest way to fix this is with a carb cleaner and an air gun. You should pull all of the jets out and thoroughly clean them. The smallest amount of dust can cause problems, even if you can’t see it. Then you’ll want to spray in the carb through all of the passages. It may take a couple times to clean everything out.
The more expensive, yet much more effective way, is with an Ultrasonic carburetor cleaner. These were originally used for cleaning small jewelry items, but the half gallon tank can clean dirt bike carburetor parts, as well as injector parts (for you FI guys). It uses special liquids with an ultrasonic frequency that washes away all the dirt, grease, and grime off of parts. Just stick your parts in the tank and let them sit in there for a few hours and they’re good as new!

Change Oil

After sitting for a while, oils and liquids gather dirt and impurities. It’s best to drain the old fluids and put in some new oil. You don’t want your engine to lock up on your first ride of the season when it could have been prevented with $10 of oil.

Change Filter(s)

Air filters should be cleaned/replaced every few rides, and sometimes sooner, depending on the riding conditions. It protects the engine by keeping dirt and other foreign materials out of the carburetor. Dirt is an engines worst enemy, so don’t forget to clean the air filter. This goes for the oil filter as well, as it collects impurities in the engine oil. The oil filter on a four-stroke should be replaced every other ride. They’re dirt cheap (no pun intended), and will prevent a major failure later on. Two-strokes don’t have oil filters, so that’s one less thing to maintain.

Getting ready for Spring!
Getting ready for Spring!

Lube Chain

If you want your chain to stay in one-piece, lube it up before you go on your first trail ride or moto session. A rusty chain can and will cause problems sooner rather than later. I don’t think I need to go into much detail, but a broken chain can blow a hole through the left side of the crankcase…

Fresh Spark Plug

A fouled plug is one of the worst problems that can happen on a long trail ride, especially if you forget to bring a spare. You should replace your dirt bike’s spark plug at least once a year. Not only does it give the bike more power compared to an old and fouled plug, but it will start and run much better. Don’t forget to pack spares!

Oil It Up

If you live in a relatively humid environment and your bike has been sitting for more than a couple months, there’s a good chance the cylinder walls have started to rust on the surface. This can be really hard on it and the piston rings on the first start up. To reduce the chances of a failure and damage, pull the spark plug off and pour a light amount of oil down to the cylinder. Then, slowly kick the bike over to get the oil to cover the walls.

Fresh Gas

Yes, technically this is number eight, but it’s very important. Gas goes bad fairly quickly, especially if it has additives or premix. So, drain all of the gas out of the tank and/or carb if you haven’t already, and put in some fresh gas. Old gas can and will cause problems, especially on higher performance bikes that require fine carb-tuning.

If you’ve completed all these steps on how to de-winterize your dirt bike, it should be more than ready to go! Have fun, and ride smart!

-Tom Stark

XR100/RM80 Conversion Pit Bike Build On A Budget – Part 5

Time to start putting the big stuff back on to make this a rolling chassis… So far I really don’t have as many hours in this project as I anticipated. Although, it’s far from being over. To see what I finished in my previous article of this build, go to Part 4 Here.

First, we’ll put the rear shock and swing-arm back on…

RM80 Shock and Swing-arm

 

Then comes the front-end and wheels to make it a rolling chassis with an engine.

It is going to look ugly for a while…

Now I want to share with you some of the issues I’ve come across on this conversion build, and try to solve them so everything properly functions. First of all, the brake pedal has some interference with the kick-starter shaft. This is probably the easiest to solve, as you won’t need to make your own pedal like other builders did with the CR85 chassis. The brake pedal still operates, but you can just grind a small notch in it to make clearance for the shaft.

Brake pedal hitting kick starter shaft.

Next problem, which I’m still trying to figure out, is the airbox/intake. I want to make everything look as close to stock as possible, so I’m still using the XR100 intake boot from the carburetor to the cylinder head. The RM85 airbox outlet for the intake boot is on the wrong side of the shock, and I can’t flip the intake boot because there is no clearance as it sits. I may have to modify/chop a section of the airbox out. Right now I have a pod filter on it right now for testing purposes.

Airbox outlet on wrong side, and no clearance to flip the intake boot…

And for the part you may or may not have been waiting for…… Since I do not like the look of the out-dated RM80 body-work, I decided to go the extra mile and convert it to the newer and much better looking RM85 styling. I did research on what parts are the same and to see if anyone else has converted theirs. I found out the front fender is about the only bolt-on for the newer plastic, and I couldn’t find anyone else that had done the conversion. That’s too bad… Because you’re going to learn how! If you’re already doing the XR100 conversion, the process to convert to RM85 plastics isn’t any harder than what you’re already doing; just takes a little patience and fitting of parts.

I don’t know how many hours I spent trying to figure out what I need to do, but I think it will be well worth it. This was because the 80 vs. the 85 parts looked the exact same, so I said screw it and ordered a tank, shroud, seat, side panels, and airbox off of eBay  After setting the tank and seat on the dirt bike, there were no mounts/holes for the rear of the seat to bolt to… So I took another look at an RM85 frame, and it finally dawned on me. Doh! There’s a post on the frame under the rear of the seat where it and the side panels bolt too! Since I’ve already done a lot of modifications to the frame, I figured this would be fairly simple. On the flip side, I made yet another mistake. The last year of the RM80 was 2001, but it got upgraded side panels, as well as fenders in 2000, although the tank/shroud remained the same. I didn’t know this when I ordered a seat from an ’01 RM80, but it doesn’t fit on the 2002 and newer RM85’s, nor a 1999 and older. This is a mistake that cost me, but now I know that they don’t match.

I used some scrap steel to make this. It’s about 7 gauge material, so it’s strong enough to hold up your rear-end. I just measured the distance between the seat mounts, cut, welded, and kept grinding the post until it fit, and the plastic bar touched the frame (see pic). I’ll drill the holes after I find out exactly where it’s going to be welded onto the frame.

Rear Seat Post

That’s all for today. I just ordered the last of the plastics I need for the conversion, so the next update will be making everything fit together, and possibly the start of a custom exhaust… I’m hoping to have this bike 100% ride-able with just two more updates, so don’t forgot to come back and check soon!

-Tom Stark

XR100/RM80 Conversion Pit Bike Build On A Budget – Part 4

This ultimate pit bike build is slowly but surely coming together… If you read the Previous Article on RM80/XR100 conversion bike, you’ll see that I had just welded up the frame cradle and set the actual XR100 engine in to make sure it fits. There are still some important features I have to add to the frame, but other than that, it’s just a lot of odds and ends to get the bike up and running.

The cradle is done, and the engine can plop right in, but first we need to strengthen it up. Why do we have to take the time to add more structure to it? This is an adults pit bike, and the whole reason we do these conversions is to make it a better performing bike that’s built to last! If it isn’t any stronger than the XR100 chassis it’s just going to break going over jumps, and may result in an injury for the rider.

I added a ‘gusset’ to the front of the frame cradle/down tube. I saw this on most of the other pit bike conversions, so I figured it was important to have. I just used a scrap plate of metal and cut it down to fit over the square tubing. (Don’t worry, I will be cleaning up my welds and the rest of the frame before it’s completely finished). Always remember to clean/grind the metal that you’re going to weld, otherwise it won’t get any penetration and will crack under load.

Frame Cradle Gusset

Next thing is to add/replace the upper frame tube that goes right over the engine. The original one was already cut off when I got the bike, so I just had to bend a piece of tubing and weld it in there. Since I didn’t have a great bender it took a while to get the piece to fit, and even then there’s less clearance than I would like.

Top Frame Brace

This will be a lesson for you, and for my next build. Although I can probably bend it a little more, I will still probably be pulling the engine out to do any work on the top-end. If I really wanted to take the time, it’s not too late to adjust the mounting location for the engine. If I were to do it again, I would lean the engine more forward so it sits within a half inch of the down tube, and that alone might lower it enough to be able to remove the valve cover. Fortunately, the XR100 has such a simple layout that it’s just a few bolts and the engine is out.

Now That the engine cradle and mounts that I machined are all ready to go, it’s time to stick the actual engine back in and start routing electronics. There was just barely enough room in the frame above the cylinder head. Since this is a budget build, and I didn’t want to use the mounts off the XR100 frame, I cut up a couple pieces of scrap sheet metal, bent them, and then ground them until they just barely slipped through the rubber fittings. I put a small ‘hook’ on the ends of them to help keep them in place.

Mocking Up The Electronics

Once I got those bent and fitted, I had to make a spot for the ignition ground to bolt to. I’m as cheap as it gets, so I just took a nut that the ground bolt fit in, and welded it to the inside of a washer.

It’s cheap, and it works.

Now here’s how it looks with all the mounts welded up. Looks like the electronics are ready to go, so we can move on to installing the bigger components…

Everything fits and works. If I can do it on an RM80, anyone can do it on a CR80 with more room.

I know it may not “look” like much, but these are some of the key components of this conversion build that are important to know if you’re considering starting an awesome project like this. Look for the next article soon, as I’ll be putting on the suspension, wheels, and other parts that make it look more like a dirt bike. Not to mention the start of my own little conversion in itself…. I’ve already said too much, so stay tuned.

Part 5: RX100!

-Tom Stark