CHOOSE AND PREPARE THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT
I will be the first to admit it. It’s good to be a factory rider. When you don’t have to worry about the bike being ready, you automatically have a big advantage.
These days, though, motocross bikes are amazing. Not only are they competitive right off the showroom floor, but they are phenomenally reliable. To make them break, you just about have to work at it. That’s a stark contrast to the old days when a bike had to be expertly prepared just to survive a single moto.
Still, I’m always amazed at the ways people find to create a DNF. Total neglect actually isn’t such a bad deal compared to some of the things people do trying to get more performance from a perfectly good motocrosser. Most riders would be better off to dial in their suspension and jetting then leave the bike stone-stock. Beyond that, stick to a maintenance routine just like you stick to a training routine.
Here is an idea of how you could divide up your week.
Sunday. When you get home from the races, wash the bike and look it over. If you let the bike sit too long, the chain and other parts will rust. Assess the damage. Look for missing nuts and bolts and any cracks in the frame. Oil the chain and clean the filter. Make a list of the things you need. The same goes for your truck or van. Clean things up and see if you need any supplies.
Tuesday. Pick up supplies for next week’s race. Whether you need a new tire, oil or tear-offs, get it early in the week in case something has to be ordered. Wednesday. If you went practicing midweek, that’s fine; just clean up the bike and oil the chain again.
Friday. If your bike needs a new tire, put it on just before the race so you have a fresh edge. The same goes for the clutch plates. A top end is different-you should have done that earlier in the week so you had time for break-in.
Here’s a list of things you should check before the race:
- Throttle operation: smooth, with good return.
- Air filter: don’t clean it if it isn’t dirty. Make sure it’s oiled.
- Coolant: just check to see if it’s full.
- Chain: tight, oiled and reasonably fresh. Make sure the masterlink keeper is in good shape.
- Sprockets: reasonably fresh.
- Brake pads: no more than halfway worn.
- Cables: no drag or excess play.
- Tires: Properly inflated and reasonably fresh.
- Nuts and bolts: check the ones that get loose frequently.
- Steering head bearings: check for slop or drag.
- Suspension linkage: check for play.
- Spokes: on new bikes, they come loose every ride.
13. Gearbox oil: change.
It might sound like a lot, but all of that stuff can be accomplished in about an hour. There are other jobs that need to be performed every two or three races, like changing the brake fluid, greasing the various bearings and changing the spark plug. Top-end rebuilds and power valve cleanings are necessary, but the time between jobs depends on what model you have. Check your manual.
Once the bike is ready, you need to go through a checklist to make sure you have all the right stuff with you when you go racing. Here are my suggestions:
⦁ Spark plugs.
⦁ Air filter.
⦁ Chain lube.
⦁ Clutch plates.
⦁ Brake pads.
⦁ Safety wire.
⦁ Hand grips (and cement).
⦁ Duct tape.
⦁ Inner tubes.
⦁ First aid kit.
⦁ Spare gear (socks, goggles, gloves, jersey).
This list could go on and on, but eventually you graduate from being prepared to being paranoid. If you are prepared, chances are you won’t need it anyway.