How to Care for Your Dirt Bike

by Don Kress
Dirt bikes take far more abuse than on-road motorcycles.

Dirt bikes take far more abuse than on-road motorcycles.

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Caring for a dirt bike is much more than just keeping it sheltered in a garage when not in use. If you don't keep the bike well maintained, it won't last for very long, particularly under the hard stresses that dirt bikes tend to encounter. Regular oil changes are an absolute necessity, but so is keeping the bike clean. This prevents rust and dirt deposits that can actually effect the motorcycle's performance.

Items you will need

  • Soap
  • Water
  • Nylon-bristled detailing brush
  • Sponge
  • Engine oil
  • Oil filter
  • Spark plug gap tool
  • Air filter


Step 1

Clean the dirt bike regularly with car wash soap and water to prevent rusting and overheating problems. Keeping the dirt bike clean will help it to run cooler, particularly if it is an air-cooled bike. On liquid-cooled dirt bikes, hose out the radiator fins after every muddy ride to prevent buildup of dirt in the fins, which blocks air flow and allows the engine to overheat.

Step 2

Scrub dirt, dust and grease out of the engine components with a nylon-bristled detailing brush, and then use a car wash sponge to clean dirt, bugs and dust off the fenders, headlamp and fuel tank.

Step 3

Clean the rims and spokes with the sponge after every ride to maintain the chrome finish of the rims and prevent pitting due to corrosion. This helps the dirt bike retain its resale value.

Oil Changes

Step 1

Read the dirt bike's owner's manual to determine not only what type of engine oil you should be using -- either two-stroke or four-stroke -- but also how often you should change the oil.

Step 2

Replace the engine oil filter when you perform the oil change service on the dirt bike. Dirt bikes, by their very nature, are prone to accumulate more dirt and debris than other motorcycles.

Step 3

Check the spark plugs during every oil change service to make sure they are not clogged with carbon deposits. If they are, use a wire brush to clean them off, and then a spark plug gap tool to check the gap between the spark plug's electrodes. The required gap can be found in the motorcycle's owner's manual.

Air Filter

Step 1

Change or clean the air filter whenever you perform the oil change service. Typically, the air filter for dirt bikes is located on the side of the engine on top of the carburetor, just below the fuel tank.

Step 2

Remove the air filter cover using a screwdriver or socket wrench, and then pull the filter out of the filter housing, being careful to not allow any dirt or dust from the filter to enter the clean side of the air filter.

Step 3

Clean or replace the filter as needed. Some aftermarket performance air filters can be cleaned, while paper filters cannot be cleaned and have to be replaced. You can tell the difference by the color of the clean side of the filter. Washable filters are colored, while paper filters are white.

Tips & Warnings

  • Make dirt bike maintenance a regular habit, and you will be less likely to forget to perform the maintenance when it is due.


  • "Motocross and Off-Road Motorcycle Setup Guide"; Mark Thompson; 2010
  • "Motocross & Off-Road Performance Handbook"; Eric Gorr; 2004
  • "The Essential Guide to Motorcycle Maintenance: Tips & Techniques to Keep Your Motorcycle in Top Condition"; Mark Zimmerman; 2004

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images