Some of my friends consider me to be, as they call it, a “Maintenance Nazi.” Though I’m not fond of the name, it’s true. I have seen way too many dirt bikes, cars, and other motor-operated machinery suffer due to none at all or lack of timely scheduled maintenance, which can take a $10 oil change and turn it into a $500+ complete top end rebuild — and yes, I’ve been there and done that too.
I have been reading a lot of topics lately that relate to maintaining our beloved dirt bikes. It’s been interesting to see the different maintenance schedules have been and how they differ from one person to the next — and they are very different. Your manual will give you some good insights into how often and what lubricants you should be using, but I often find there is some wiggle room and some logical reasoning behind straying from the “recommended.”
I have also found that off-road dirt bikes, e.g., XR, CRF-X, WRF, etc, tend to have a more relaxed maintenance schedule (at least those maintaining them seem to think so) vs. the maintenance schedule done by most dedicated motocross (MX) dirt bikes — and even there, the schedule and lubricants used are typically quite different. Schedules ranged from once or twice a season, to every other ride, to once every few hours. Of course if you don’t ride much in a season, your once or twice a season could be the same as once every other ride, so take that into consideration.
Now what I have to say relates to my results as I’ve maintained my 4-stroke MX’er. I do maintain 2, 2-stroke MX’ers as well, but that’s a topic for a different post. Below are some suggestions for keeping track of time, so you’ll actually have a schedule. No I am not a mechanic, and No I don’t know everything, I’m only telling you why I do what I do, and hopefully give you the desire to properly maintain your dirt bike on a schedule with some additional information so you can make a more informed decision, and hopefully have a longer lasting dirt bike.
Keeping track of time…
There are many ways to keep track of engine time. It is my opinion that without some method of keeping track of time, your maintenance schedule turns into a guessing game — which is not how I want to take care of my dirt bike that I routinely let propel me off 50′ jumps. There are several ways to do this, so pick one and stick with it. These are listed in the order I recommend them. The list is not conclusive by any means, so if you have a suggestion, leave a comment below.
- Buy and install an hour meter. Hour meters are awesome. They take all the guess work out of keeping track of time — this is how I do it and I HIGHLY recommend it, though I didn’t always do it this way.
- Keep track of how much fuel you use. Before I knew about hour meters, I changed my oil after I’d burned through 5 gallons of fuel. In my estimation, 1 gallon lasts for about 1 hour of ride time. This works well so long as you don’t share your fuel container with someone else.
- Number of rides. This is my least favorite method, but it’s better than a guess. The problem with this method is that not all riding terrain locations equate to a specific amount of motor run time. For example, if I go to the track, I will typically put 1 hour on my motor. If I go trail riding, I’ll more than likely put anywhere from 2-5 hours on the motor. If I go to the sand dunes you’ll put even more — and sand dunes IMOP are hard hours. So take that into consideration. So if you maintain your bike every 3 rides and you went to a track, trail, and then the sand dunes, the hours on the motor are vastly different than if you had gone to the track 3 times. The track might only yield 3-4 hours of motor run time, where as 3 trips to the sand dunes could yield as high as 15-20 hours of hard motor time — if it were me, I’d be changing the oil after every sand dune trip. So again, consider where you rode when it comes to using the “number of rides” method.
It’s pretty interesting to see how time spent riding with friends can yield vastly different hours on a motor. Some guys just ride longer than others during the same amount of time spent at the track, trail or wherever. I found a few years ago after getting my first hour meter that a day at the track only yielded 30-40 minutes for me, but would yield 1.5 hours for my brother. That was an eye opener and was to me a solid reason to keep investing in hour meters.
So in short, what I would do is check your manual to see what sort of schedule they suggest, then tailor your time tracking method above to meet that recommended schedule. You’ll sleep better knowing where your bikes maintenance stands.
Stay tuned for more maintenance tips over the coming weeks.