TEN THINGS YOU CAN DO TO INCREASE PERFORMANCE FOR FREE
(1) Free power. One of the easiest ways to boost power for free is to drill holes in your airbox cover. Sure, you can buy a vented cover for your KTM, Husky, GasGas or Yamaha, but drilling holes yourself is free. More air into the airbox allows your engine to breathe easier and produces a quicker throttle response.
(2) Brake refurbish. Over time, the friction material on your brake pads will eventually wear down and you’ll need new pads; however, while your pads are wearing down, they’ll be losing more and more stopping power. You can refresh your pads for free by removing them and rubbing them on a rough patch of concrete or sandpaper to get a little more life out of them. This trick also breaks in your pads.
(3) Grease. Although grease isn’t free, most riders have some in the garage and don’t use it enough. Greasing your steering stem, linkage and swingarm pivot bearings will actually help your suspension and chassis work more smoothly. Additionally, cleaning and greasing underneath your throttle tube will help it twist more easily, which can reduce arm pump immensely.
(4) Bolt torque. Not everyone owns a torque wrench, but it’s fairly easy to find someone in the pits who does (don’t be scared to ask for help). Ensuring your nuts and bolts are tightened to the proper torque setting improves your bike’s handling and prevents bolts from falling off. Triple clamp bolts, engine mounts and front axle nuts are the most important because they affect how much your chassis will flex under a load. Plus, swingarm pivot bolts come loose but are rarely ever checked.
(5) Fork legs. After washing your bike, make sure to wipe down your lower fork legs with a clean rag to remove any water spots or dirt left over. Your fork seals slide over the lower fork legs constantly, and they are prone to leaking if damaged by even the smallest amount of dirt.
(6) Wet foam. Remove your seat every time you pressure-wash your bike, and use a rag and spray bottle to clean it off. Seat covers are not completely waterproof. If you soak your seat, the foam will absorb water. This makes your seat heavier and causes the foam to break down much quicker.
(7) Wheels. One way to reduce drag on your wheels is to clean your wheel spacers and axles. You can wipe them with a rag and even use a Scotch-Brite pad to clean the axle before lightly coating it with grease. This helps your wheels spin freely, which can help your suspension work better and slightly improve power. Also, when you’re changing tires, remove your inner tubes and use a wire brush to clean any dirt out of your rim. Then, re-tape the center of the rim (preferably with strong Gorilla-style duct tape) to prevent flats.
(8) Suspension. Setting the proper sag on your dirt bike should be high on your priority list, as it affects the handling of your bike so much. Some riders never check it; others set it and forget it. To get the best use out of your suspension, check your sag before every ride. After your chain is stretched, your rear wheel is adjusted backwards on the swingarm to maintain proper tension. This affects the leverage on your rear shock. Plus, after your shock is broken in, the sag can change.
(9) Footpegs. Over time, footpegs become worn down and lose their sharpness. Use a file to sharpen your dull footpegs to increase traction. Sharp pegs boost safety because they keep your feet from slipping off the pegs and getting twisted, smashed or run over.
(10) Binding forks. Most riders don’t know that front wheels can be installed improperly. To put the front wheel on properly, slide the axle through and snug it down (while the pinch bolts are loose). Then, temporarily tighten the pinch bolts on the left side. Next, tighten the front axle to the recommended torque setting. Then, loosen the left-side pinch bolts, spin the wheel, and jolt the front wheel to an abrupt stop with the front brake multiple times. On the final time, hold the front brake lever on as someone else tightens the pinch bolts. This aligns the fork legs, makes sure that the front rotor is centered on the brake caliper, and make sure it’s centered on the axle. To finish off, tighten the pinch bolts on the left and right sides.