How To Prep Your Dirt Bike For A Motocross Race

I love to race motocross, there’s no doubt about it. I’m sure you think the same if you’ve tried it. If not, learn How To Start Racing Motocross here. But if there’s one thing I hate the most, it would probably be a broken bike on race-day. I try to keep up on maintenance as best I can so that my dirt bikes won’t fail when I’m on for a ride or on the day of a race. There are many things you should do in order to prepare you dirt bike for a motocross race, so I’m going to tell you how.

They May Be Called “Dirt” Bikes, BUT…..

Clean Motocross Bike

First of all, is your bike clean? You should never put away your bike dirty. Although I hate to admit it, I do not achieve this goal just because I can’t at times (getting back extremely late at night, not having a pressure washer, etc.). But it’s very important that you keep your bike clean. It will make everything last much longer, and working on the bike will be easier when you have to do maintenance on it.

Filtering The Impurities

Okay next question…. When’s the last time you changed oil and filter? It depends on your bike, but you should change oil every couple of races, or every 5-10 hours if you ride in between. Oil filters should be replaced every other/second time you change the oil. Many riders make the mistake of not changing the oil often enough, and this results in seizing of the engine. A big NO-NO, especially for four-stroke motocross bikes. If they even run low on oil, the cam(s) might not get enough lubrication, causing them to score and possibly seize. And if one thing goes out on them, often it will destroy more parts. So don’t forget to do you oil change intervals!!!

Breath of Fresh Air

Next on the list is your air filter. Another crucial part of maintaining your dirt bike that many riders neglect doing. Cleaning or changing an air filter is easy, and cheap, so there’s no excuse for not doing it. Hardcore riders often clean it every ride, but that isn’t necessary if you aren’t riding in sand or mud. Clean it every 3-5 hours or so and you should be good. Your engine will last much long if it’s sucking clean air going to it instead of dirt. Make sense?

Cleaning and tightening your chain the day before will save you a headache. Not only will this help prevent the chain from falling off or breaking, it will save you time if you’re in a hurry on race-day.

Lay Some Rubber Down!

Tires can help you win a race. If it’s cracked or worn out then it’s time for a new tire! Tire pressure is also very important for racing. Although you’ll probably have to check/change it throughout the day, it’s good to pump them up to 15 psi the night before. A good pressure for soft terrain is about 10-12 psi, and hard-pack about 13-15 lbs.

Check Your Fluids

There are many fluid lines on a dirt bike, so remember to check those for cracks, wear, and tighten them if they’re loose. These include lines for gas, coolant, brake fluid, and clutch if you have a hydraulic clutch. Top them off and/or flush them if they need it (I’ll show you how to flush fluid lines in a future article/video). Also, check your brake pads to make sure they aren’t worn out. You don’t want to start racing and all of the sudden you have no brakes.

Splitting Cables

Motocross Bike Maintenance

Check your clutch and throttle cables for wear. If they are starting to fray, replace them. I also recommend you to lube your cables every few rides just to help prevent them from seizing up.

A fouled spark plug can end your day like that. Or, it can hold you back just one moto/practice if you are smart enough. If you haven’t changed plugs in a while, you may want to check what it looks like and possibly replace it. You never know when it could go out, especially if you’re jetting isn’t spot-on. Always remember to bring a spare plug or three; 2-stroke motocross bikes sometimes eat through them quickly. Click here if your bike is fouling plugs.

Don’t take the chance…

Last but not least, don’t forget to use fresh gas!!! I am a living example of this, but in my terms it was a little more extreme. I had a riding accident late August this year (2010) and hurt my shoulder, so I was out for about two months of any real riding… Well when I went riding at the end of October, I took my 125 out for a good ride on a sand track. After an hour or less of riding the bike it stalled and couldn’t get it started. I found out it was bad gas, causing it to score the piston and cylinder.

The reason I say this case is a little more extreme is because I have to a mix of race gas and pump gas, mixed with castor oil; all of which don’t last very long, especially when mixed together. So the best thing to do is buy gas the day before, and wait to mix it (if you use additives or 2-stroke oil) until race-day.

That should pretty much do it. If you do all of these things, there will be very little chance your bike will break down. Good luck, and ride safe!

If you have dumped many dollars into your ride, you may want to consider getting Dirt Bike Insurance in case something should happen to it.

-Tom Stark

How To Prepare For A Motocross Race

Physically

Before you go to a race you must first be a physical shape. This means that you should be able to at least complete the required laps without slowing down or getting lazy. By doing that you must be exercising and working out almost everyday. This doesn’t mean it has to be intense training, but it does require some effort. A good workout would be going for a long or fast bike ride that requires more strength and gets your heart pumping faster. Swimming is also great because it works every muscle in the body. Running helps a lot too if you have the time to do that. And of course, there is always riding your dirt bike that will help. The more you ride that the longer you should be able to last during a moto. Practicing in the heat can be difficult, but it will be an advantage in those longer motos when the heat starts getting to the riders. Working out is good, but if you it too much to the point that you are sore for more than a day after doing so and continue to work-out, then it does not help you. In fact, it’s bad for you because you don’t let your muscles heal from working before. So I suggest that you find a good routine that gets you working harder, such as going to a gym if you have the time, running, swimming, or riding your bike.

Mentally

Now many people don’t realize it, but being mentally strong for a race is just about as important as being physically strong. You have to have confidence in yourself to race at your full potential. Getting nervous right before the race is a very common thing for pretty much every racer, but that’s because we are all human. You must be able to focus and block out all other things before the gate drops. If you are thinking about what’s going to happen, what you’re going to eat after the race, or whose in the stands watching, then those are going to distract the entire race if you can’t get them out of your head. The goal for me is to not think about anything except what to do when the gate drops. My mind should be on the hole-shot and getting the that first corner ahead of everyone else. If you are both physically and mentally strong, then you are more than likely a step ahead of your competitors. Good luck, and have fun racing!

-Tom Stark