If you are gullible enough, winning is a lot easier. Why? Because the biggest step in the whole process is convincing yourself that you are going to win. If you actually believe that, if you have so much self-confidence that you feel like you belong in the lead, then the hard part is done. You do belong in the lead.
Where does that kind of self-confidence come from? You get it by doing your homework. You have to eliminate your doubts, one by one. If you have trained all week, then your doubts about endurance will go away?but what about the bike? You need to have confidence in that department as well.
Believe it or not, motorcycles are just machines. They aren’t grouchy, they do not hold grudges and they don’t try to get even with you if you mistreat them. If a motorcycle is put together properly, it has to finish. It doesn’t have a choice. So, every racer has to pay attention to his bike during the week as if the entire race depends on it. It does.


Years ago, when Fred Bramblett first started acting as my tuner, he didn’t have that much experience working on XRs. I gave him a short checklist of the things I had been paying attention to between races, and he took care of them. As time passed, I noticed that the list had grown longer and longer. Every time we had some kind of failure, Fred would sit down and think about how it could have been avoided. Now I never worry about a bike failure. Typically, I get over 20 races out of a bike. In that time, I don’t have to worry about any major mechanical engine failures, such as broken gears or valves.

1. Clean and degrease. The longer you wait, the uglier it is. If little green sprouts start popping up, you have waited too long, We usually use Hondabrite, a cleaner sold at Honda shops. I think SIOO, Maxima, Clean Up and Simple Green are good cleaners as well. I spray light oil over all the parts that can rust.
2. Strip and inspect. We take off all the plastic so that we can get a good look at things. This also makes it easier to get the bike really clean. We look for cracks in the frame, the pipe or anything else.
3. Inspect wires and connections. The electrical systems on most dirt bikes aren’t terribly complicated. You just have to look at three or four connections. They might well be full of water because you just washed the bike, so pull them apart and clean them. Maybe you should put a little dielectric grease on them.
4. Check footpegs and mounts. I bend my pegs a lot by hitting things (rocks, trees, helmets). That’s okay; I just don’t want the pegs breaking off. Make sure there are no cracks and that all of the pins, springs and things are in place.
5. Clean airbox. Wipe out the inside of the airbox and make sure that all of the clamps on the airboot are in place. The inside of your, engine is a bad place for dirt.
6. Clean your air filter. I use a Twin Air filter. K&N filters also work well but tend to stop airflow completely when they get clogged. The Twin Air will still let air through at that point, even if some dirt gets through. If I get to that point, I still might have a shot at winning the race, even at the cost of a new motor. In really dusty races, I use a foam sock around the outside of the filter. When it gets clogged, I can pull it off by pulling a string while I ride?kind of a tear-off for my filter.
7. Inspect and lube linkage. The XRs have grease fittings on the shock linkage that makes this easy work.
8. Inspect chainguide. This is serious stuff. I have lost races because of not paying enough attention to my chainguide (see the July ’93 issue of Dirt Bike). The chain will fall off if the guide is bent, broken or worn.
9. Check pipe. The silencer can crack and its gaskets can get worn. This causes
messy goop to splatter on the frame.
10. Inspect foot controls. I have reinforced the stock shifter so it’s more difficult to bend. I also use cables to keep them from getting clogged with brush,
11. Replace tires. I do this every race.
12. Inspect wheels. While the wheels are off, I make sure the bearings are in good shape, and I look at all the spokes and check for tightness.
13. Inspect brake rotors. These have to be flat and they have to be tight. After muddy races, they might be grooved.
14. Grease the axle. If I get a flat during the race, I don’t want to struggle with a dry axle that doesn’t want to come out.
15. Replace the brake pads. I want fresh brake pads for the start of every race, even if they are only half worn. The thicker the pad, the more insulation there is between the hot disc and the fluid.
16. Clean and inspect fork. I pull the wipers down and clean them off. I look for oil seepage.
17. Flush brake fluid. Brake fluid can wear out, just like anything else. Every race I replace the fluid in the rear brake, especially. If you have ever lost your brakes in a race, you know why, I use DOT 3&4.
18. Lube cables and throttle. Let me repeat that. Lube cables and throttle. Use graphite under the twist grip.
19. Change the oil and filter. If you are really compulsive, you can tear apart your old oil filter and check for metal parts.
20. Flush fuel tank and fuel system. We make sure there’s no debris in the bottom of the tank. You can take off the petcock and check that screen, if you like, but you can actually see it through the filler hole. We also drain the float bowl.
21. At this point, we start reassembling the bike. The plastic parts go back on, complete with fresh stickers. Don’t laugh; that pays the bills. Fred counted 98 stickers on the bike. I’m looking for two more sponsors, just so it’s an even number.
22. Tighten the sprocket bolts and motor mounts. These deserve a little Loctite.
23. Tighten the axle and the pinch bolts.
24. Inspect and tighten rim locks. Don’t be afraid that you may break them by overtightening. That means they were going to break in the next race.
25. Check brake lines. If you see anything that looks like moisture around the hydraulic fittings, replace the hose. Like I said, brake failures are no fun.
26. Tighten brake reservoir cap. There is a part on the XR250L that locks the reservoir cap down, I use it on my 600 to keep my leg from loosening the cap.
27. Adjust clutch. Do most of your adjusting in the cable. You should have plenty of adjustment left in the clutch perch, to give you something to adjust during the race.
28. Tighten handlebar and controls. I use Pro Taper bars, and they never slip because of the large diameter. Because I use handguards, I don’t have to leave the perches loose on the handlebar. The handguards will protect them in a fall.
29. Look at the spark plug wire. Go ahead, look. Think of how silly you would feel if it was loose and you missed the first lap.
30. Double-check the air filter. Before everything goes together, run your fingers around the back side of the air filter to be sure it is properly seated. It can look perfectly fine from the outside and still have a big enough gap to suck in a lawn chair.
31. Adjust chain. With an O-ring chain, you don’t have to lube it. In fact, it’s better if you don’t. Chain lube just attracts grit that can chew up the O-rings. A thin coating of silicone or light oil just keeps rust away.
32. Tighten seat bolts. Once I had a nightmare that my seat came off in a race. Ever since then I have asked Fred to double-check the bolts. I also use a zip-tie to hold the seat on just in case. Fred might think I’m strange, but, darn it, my seat ain’t coming off.
33. Inspect steering head. Get the front wheel off the ground and move the handlebar from side to side. If it grinds, creaks, groans or flops, you need to adjust it. I also safety-wire the steering head nut.
34. Check the engine oil level. Make sure that there’s enough oil on the dipstick and that the drain plug is tight.
35. Safety-wire the grips. Nothing is worse than holding your grips, but not your motorcycle.
36. Tape the control levers. I put a little friction tape on my levers. It gives the controls a good’ feel, but you have to replace it every few rides.
37. Safety-wire everything else in sight. As time goes by, we have learned to safety-wire more and more stuff. That big 600 can shake off a lot of nuts and bolts. The swingarm nut, the kickstarter, the chainguide and the pipe mount bolts all get the wire treatment.
38. Fill it up. Who knows? You might get busy at the track and forget to put gas in the tank. If you use race gas, it isn’t as critical that the fuel be fresh.
39. Start the bike. You should ride it around, up and down the driveway at least. If you have forgotten anything, it should show up. Maybe.
40. Go racing.


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