How To Make Your Clutch Last Longer – Quick Tip

“Budget” and dirt bike riding usually don’t go hand-in-hand, but there are many ways to make it more affordable. This tip is something so simple that will make your clutch last longer. You may already do it some of the time without even knowing it, but you may be able to improve upon it. It is a problem that I see quite often (I see a lot of guys/gals on street bikes doing it as well).

By now you’re probably thinking, just tell me what it is! Okay, I don’t like reading much either so I won’t waste time. When you come to a stop, put the bike in neutral and let out the clutch if you are going to idle for a period of time. That’s right, all you have to do is remember to keep the transmission in neutral with the clutch engaged (lever released/out).

If you’re still reading this, you may be wondering, “But why?” That is a valid question, so let me explain. When you pull in the clutch, even when the lever is all the way to the handlebar, the clutch fibers and friction plates are still spinning against each other ever so slightly. Even at idle, the friction of the plates rubbing will cause them to heat up. This will result in them warping over a shorter time period if you regularly do this on rides.

Dirt Bike Clutch
Dirt Bike Clutch

So, how do I know when and where to change this habit? Simple; if you come to a stop and know you’re going to sit there for more than a couple seconds, shift it in to neutral. You may forget to do this more often that not at first, but if you make a habit of it, it will become just that.

I hope this quick tip helps. Free free to post a comment, question, or a suggestion.

-Tom Stark

Pre-Ride Checklist – 11 Things To Inspect On Your Dirt Bike

A broken dirt bike sitting in my garage is not a happy sight. What’s even worse is when I haul my dirt bike out to the track or trails and it breaks down shortly after my riding session begins. There will always be those kind of days sooner or later, but I have learned how to prevent most mechanical gremlins from occurring just from experience over the years.’

I started taking maintenance seriously when I had an incident that fried a top-end when it probably could have been prevented if I had only checked the coolant level prior to riding. I have now taken the time to figure out a maintenance routine that will keep my bike running better and longer. This list of items to check are the most common things that break or cause a bike failure.

  • Oil/oil filter:

First thing to do is check the oil level and cleanliness. Running out of oil will not only end your day, but also result in a major engine failure. Some dirt bikes have a sight glass on the side of the crankcase to check the oil level, while other bikes require you to check the dipstick. Certain bikes may also require the engine to idle for a minute to circulate the oil before checking it. Always remember to check the oil level with the bike standing straight up in order to get an accurate reading. If you have a four-stroke dirt bike with an oil filter, replace it (or properly clean it if re-usable) every 1-2 oil changes.

  • Air Filter

The next common part to cause problems is the air filter. A dirty air filter can make the bike run rough due to lack of air-flow. A dirty filter will also allow dirt to get past it and into the engine. Having a clean air filter will prolong engine life. Foam only lasts so longer until it starts to degrade and literally fall apart. Strong cleaning chemicals, such as gas, will speed up this process. While filters are meant to be cleaned and reused, do not reuse one if it has any rips, damage, or if you can easily pull chunks out of it.

  • Fresh Gas

A low-performance engine, such as an air-cooled four-stroke, may not be finicky with the gas you run through it. However, old gas will eventually cause problems because it degrades with age and will gum up in the carburetor or throttle body. If you run race gas or mixed gas in a motocross bike, I suggest using it all within a week or two, if not the same day. The longer it sits out, the more it degrades. I have personally had complications using mixed race that was several weeks old; the result was me rebuilding the top-end on my 125cc 2-stroke. If your bike is not running right compared to the last time you rode, there’s a good chance that the gas is either bad, or the carburetor is dirty because it has sat for too long.

  • Spark Plug

There’s three things that an engine needs in order to run; air, fuel, and spark. Once you confirm that it’s getting air and fuel, the next thing to check is the spark plug. First of all, are you getting spark? If yes, then inspect the spark to see if it’s black and/or wet. If yes, then the plug started to or has already fouled. A proper color to see on the tip of a spark plug is tan or light brown. This means that the air-to-fuel ratio is correct. However, gas these days can be pretty lousy with all the additives and give you inaccurate readings. For more information on testing spark, read This Article on Diagnosing a No-Start.

  • Tire Pressure

Have you ever been on a ride and felt the front-end get a really mushy feeling? Sort of like a…. flat tire!? Getting a flat stinks, and it’s even less fun to change it on a dirt bike rim. Always check the air pressure of both tires before riding. The pressure will change with temperature as well, so you may need to add, or even reduce the pressure throughout the day.

Well maintained dirt bikes last a lot longer.
Well maintained dirt bikes last a lot longer.
  • Coolant

If you have an air-cooled engine, you lucked out on this one (the disadvantage is lower performance, but that may not be a necessity anyway). Before starting your bike, pop the radiator cap off and look to see if the coolant level is at or near the top. If you need to tip the bike over far to see it, you may want to figure out why the coolant is low before riding. If it was full on the previous ride and now it’s noticeably lower, it’s probably because the engine started to overheat. It could be a minor problem caused by riding too slow for too long. If you’re continuously losing coolant then you have bigger problems.

  • Chain

A properly adjusted and clean chain will ride smoother and last a lot longer. Signs that the chain needs to be replaced are: kinks, excessive wear or side-to-side play, rust, or stretched beyond the length of the adjusters. You can remove links and continue adjusting it, but there is a much higher risk of snapping a link if it is stretched that far. It’s good insurance to bring a couple spare master links with you in case you do have a mishap. You’ll need a chain-breaker as well.

  • Loose Bolts

This is often overlooked by riders due to lack of experience or just plain ignorance. Some bikes vibrate more than others, and bolts can and will come loose overtime. Loose triple clamp, subframe, or engine mount bolts may break or fall out and cause a catastrophe if you have a hard impact. It may result in broken parts, and quite possibly a bodily injury if it causes a crash. You shouldn’t need to check every single bolt for every riding occasion, but you should make a routine habit of checking all of the critical bolts and torquing them to spec every 5-10 hours of ride time. If you put a lot of hours on a dirt bike, you will start to get the feel for how long things last and when certain parts or bolts need attention.

  • Brake Pads

The faster you ride, the faster you will need to stop in order to turn or dodge an upcoming obstacle, such as a tree. A quick peak at the life of the pads can prevent an accident such as this from happening. If the pad is almost to the end of the wear bar or metal then it’s time to replace them. It’s a fairly simple job on most dirt bikes if you follow the manual. Yes, I know that if you are a guy then you probably don’t want to read instructions, but an OEM manual is a very valuable tool to have if you want to save money by wrenching on your bike(s) at home.

  • Spokes

When is the last time you have checked the tension of the spokes on your set of wheels? If you can’t remember then now is a the time to check. If any of them feel loose, tighten them until they are snug. Spoke wrenches come in many sizes for all of the different sized spokes to make the job easy. Just don’t go too far when wrenching or else the spoke will pop the tube.

  • Controls

Last, but not least, you should test and make sure all of the controls are properly functioning. Is there proper play in the clutch lever (1/8″ to 1/4″ of travel at the end of the lever)? Are the front and rear brake strong; meaning they don’t have a spongy feeling? If they feel like mush or are weak and the brake pads are good then you should bleed them to get any air out that could be in the system. This is assuming that both brakes are hydraulic. If you have drum brakes, check the tension/play in them and adjust if necessary for optimum braking performance.

Any cables that are starting to feel stiff should be lubed. Check for any fraying in the line. If any visible damage, it’s best to replace right away or else it may break when you’re 20 miles into a trail ride. As for hydraulic brake (or clutch) lines, inspect for any rips or tears in the hose. If it’s leaking at the master cylinder or caliper, there’s a good chance that the crush washer or banjo bolt has failed. Do one thing at a time when attempting to fix a part or you will get in over your head in a hurry.

While virtually any part can fail, a regular inspection and servicing of all the items on this list will give you a much better chance of riding all day without a bike problem. Preventative maintenance may not always be fun, but 30-60 minutes of scrutinizing your bike beats losing a whole or even half a day of riding. Just remember that an OEM manual is your friend. Whenever you are wrenching, always check your bike’s specific manual for proper torque and adjustment specs.

Now, GET TO IT, and ride safe!

-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

 

How To Sell A Dirt Bike

How to sell a dirt bike or motorcycle

Almost every single dirt bike or motorcycle ad I see has at least a couple defects in it. This makes it more difficult to sell a bike, especially in this poor economy. So if you want some tips on how to make your ads more professional and how to sell a bike more quickly, listen up!

Making a bike look good:

People will be a lot more interested in your bike if it looks nice. That’s starting with making your bike clean. I always spray my bike with soap and water, then I scrub everywhere I can get to with a tooth brush. Taking the plastics off makes it easier and you can get into a lot more spots that you couldn’t before. If you don’t mind spending a little bit of money on New Plastics and/or graphics, then I highly suggest doing it. It will allow you to sell the bike quicker and you might get your money back doing it. It makes the bike look really nice and fresh because not everything is scratched up anymore. Make sure you don’t go overboard on replacing or refurbishing parts, such as repainting the frame, case covers, etc. along with plastic and graphics to make it literally look new, otherwise buyers might think there is something suspicious and get scared away. Make sure not to just clean it before someone comes to look at it, but also for the pictures, because it’s not very inviting to look at a bike that is dirty in the ad.

Pictures:

Pictures is an absolute must if you want to sell a bike. People don’t want to travel far without seeing a bike and find out that it’s an absolute wreck. I suggest that you post at least one or two pictures of your bike/item.

 

Title:

One of the first things you want is a good title, which isn’t very difficult, but I have seen quite a few ads that are titled, “Dirt bike for sale.” Now that may be true, but does that say much about what it is? Not really, and not many people are going to click on it if they just say that. So if you want a good title, make sure you have most if not all of the model info. For example, a good and simple title is. “(Year of bike) (Make of bike) (Model name).” It’s that simple. Here is a title that I have for one of my dirt bikes, “2001 Yamaha YZ125.” It’s really that easy.

Description:

This is where I see the most mistakes or defects in peoples ads. Anything from spelling, grammar, to too much detail and too long. To have a professional looking ad you want to write just enough info for people to see so they don’t contact you asking a million questions. All you have to write is a little bit about the bike, such as a sentence or two about its history, what’s been done to the bike, what aftermarket parts it has, and anything else that a buyer should know.

Price

The price is one of the most crucial pieces to selling a bike. Many sellers think their bikes are worth gold because they have thousands in aftermarket parts, or that they just put two grand into rebuilding it. Aftermarket parts add next to no value to bikes. In fact, some people would rather buy a stock bike, so if you have stock parts, I would suggest you put them back on and keep the aftermarket parts, or just sell them with them off of the bike. Just because you put 1500 into rebuilding the engine does not mean it’s worth that much more, it means that they blew the bike up and other parts will probably need replacing soon. Rebuilds DO NOT add to value because they are just maintenance. Now for figuring out your price, it depends on the model, year, and what kind of shape the bike is in. If it’s in good shape then take a look at other ads people are posting. Usually they are asking 10-25% more than the bike is worth, so I suggest you post it for a little less than the average.

Replying to buyers:

First of all, if you are using Craigslist and are not going to check your email every day or two, then please put a phone number so someone can reach you!!! I see hundreds of ads that do not have a phone number, so I have to wait for them to reply on email, that is if they reply at all. If you do check your email every day then you should be good, but I would still say that a phone number is a must.

Selling the bike

When a buyer arrives, make sure you are kind to them and do not get upset or have an unusual behavior at all. Probably the number one rule I use when selling bikes is “being honest.” You have to tell the truth and not hide anything to the seller so that they won’t come back to you after buying the bike complaining about something you lied about. It is much easier for everyone if you’re out front with everything about the bike, that way you can be confident in selling your bike. Also make sure that the buyer knows that this is an as-is sale, and if something happens to the bike there is no warranty if it’s a used bike. If you happen to sell it you will either want to give the seller the title or make a bill of sale telling who bought it, who sold it, what the price was, VIN # of bike, name, number, so that nothing will come back it you if it’s stolen or something.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to reply. Thanks for viewing, and good luck selling your bike!

-Tom Stark