1. Start With the Basics
Remember, to take advantage of your machine, you need to care for it. Too many amateur riders dive headfirst into modifications, believing that under performance is direct result of stock settings and parts. Truthfully, there is a learning curve with dirt bike ownership. Every novice needs to focus first on the fundamentals. If you want to get the most out of your dirt bike, make sure you are adhering to suggested maintenance schedules. Do yourself a favor and read through your owner"s manual or pick up a service manual for the specific year/make/model dirt bike you have and learn how to perform a tune-up. A tune-up ensures that your bike"s engine and other components operate as designed, meaning you can reach the bike"s full performance potential.
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After you understand the basic maintenance requirements of your bike, you can begin altering the design or swapping out parts. However, before delving into mechanical alterations, it is best to swap out your tires. Do some research and locate the right tires for your riding style and the terrain or track conditions. Proper tire selection can help improve traction and handling, directly affecting the speed and performance of the machine. Additionally, each time before you ride check your tire pressure and add or remove air as needed.
2. Use a Better Fuel
You may be thinking we are talking about race gas, which could be an option (more on that in a second), but we"re talking about the stuff you get from your local gas station.Splurge for the higher octane premium gas when you go to fill up your dirt bike tank. Although it"s more expensive and can seem really tough to do when gas prices rise, you"re only putting in a few gallons—maybe 1-2 gallons if your filling your dirt bike gas tank and/or only 5 gallons if you"re filling a gas can or gas jug. Spending a few extra dollars for something like 91 octane is worth the little bit of extra money when it comes time to ride. Another thing to consider when it comes to choosing your fuel is to pay attention to the gas stations in your area. The gas station that is always busy will have the freshest fuel since they will continually have to replenish their supply.
While race fuel is an option, albeit an often rather expensive one, it"s not always the best option for everyone. You really need to be careful if you think you want to go the race fuel route with a bone stock dirt bike engine. Running too high of octane in your dirt bike can be detrimental to the performance of your motorcycle. Most race fuels are typically best suited for modified engines, or will at least require you to do some re-jetting/tuning to ensure proper performance.
3. Help it Breathe
Getting more air into your machine is a key way to get better performance. A premium air filter can work wonders on the ability for air to flow into your engine. Dirt, dust, and debris can build up on the air filter thus reducing air flow. While your stock air filter will do it"s best to allow for air to continually flow, there can be dirt and other harmful particles that can get past. Upgrading to something like a dual stage Pro Filter from Maxima or a Twin Air Filter can make a big difference. With differing media types and sizes these premium filters can help keep out larger particles on the exterior layers and then filter out even smaller debris with the secondary layer. With tight fitting seals that secure the filters to your air box, you get a strong draw of air directly through the main portion of the filter.
Depending on the premium air filter you choose to go with it may come pre-oiled which will make for easier installation and it may also be reusable which means you can wash it and re-oil for multiple uses while also saving money.
4. Upgrade Your Factory Clutch
While the clutch on most dirt bikes is satisfactory for novice riders straight from the factory floor, changing the manufacturer clutch for a more race-specific or race-ready style can lead to some significant gains. However, those gains will not come in the form of horsepower. The upgrade you will notice is in the ground power, meaning better acceleration, pickup, and control which ultimately leads to better overall speed and performance from the engine.
Swapping out the clutch, like changing the muffler or fuel, is not a complicated process. Most novice riders can figure out the steps and install the new clutch in under an hour; however, it is not the installation that prevents many owners from changing the clutch, it is the price. Many riders, especially those new to racing, may feel that the gains from altering the clutch are not worth the financial investment. However, every little increase counts for the more experienced rider, getting them to the finish line even a 10th of a second faster than their opponents.
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5. Increase the Flow Rate
A more intricate modification with a 4-stroke engine involves flow-porting. Porting requires a specific set of skills and tools, such as a flow-bench. The flow-bench can measure the engine"s vacuum level, determining the necessary level for air removal from the intake port and exhaust flange.Porting is only part of the process for improving your bike"s performance. You will also need to polish the interior of the cylinder heads, ensuring everything functions correctly and air flows extremely smoothly. Flow porting is all about improving the flow rate of air and creating a genuinely high-performance machine. However, as with other modifications, porting requires a delicate and practiced touch and is best left to the professionals.