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Know a little something about maintenance, fixing, tuning, or modifying MX, offroad, & dual sport motorcycles, ATV or UTV? Or, maybe you have mad skills riding or racing them? Whatever the case, if you have valuable knowledge & experiences that relates to motorcycles, ATVs, or UTVs, please help your fellow riders by sharing your best tips, tricks, and how to articles.

    wrooster
    Originally written for the Yamaha 250F (or 400F/426F/450F) linkage, but the process is pretty much the same for most bikes with rear linkage suspensions.
    tools req'd: none (once you get the linkage off)
    lubes req'd: a high quality, water resistant moly-fortified (or high Timken-ball-test-rated) lithium complex grease.
    other req'd: gasoline, spray solvent, paper towels, Q-tips, toothpicks, tolerant spouse.
    step 1:
    Remove the linkage from your bike. Refer to your manual if you don't know how. Place the linkage somewhere clean, well lit, and where you won't lose the needle bearings when they roll onto the floor. Your kitchen table works well if your wife is not within 100 yards -- but be sure to use the "throw away" tablecloth 'lest you enjoy Hell.

    step 2:
    Disassemble the linkage, separating it into the "connecting rod" (bigger U-shaped part) and the "relay arm" (smaller L-shaped part). Lay the relay arm aside for now. We are going to work on the connecting rod first. Withdraw the collar from the connecting rod bearing. It goes without saying here that if there is ANY rust inside the bearing, it's time for a new set. The iron oxides that constitute rust are very hard materials; left in the bearing, rust will make quick work of scoring the needles and the races.

    step 3:
    Using a small pointy tool (even a toothpick works), pry up one of the needle bearings inside the connecting rod bearing. Now pry the rest up, and let them fall out the bottom into a small container, such as an empty sherbert tub. (note winter beard, it's 8'F today in NJ.) For production, Yamaha uses a synthetic solid lubricant which doubles as a bearing retainer... So the first time you re-grease your bearings you need to get that stuff out of there. You may have heard the term "string cheese" here on TT, well that's exactly what the yellow solid lubricant stuff looks like. I don't have a pic of the string cheese, as this is my Nth time doing the linkage and the factory cheese is long gone.

    step 4:
    Time to get stinky. Clean the loose needle bearings, the collar, and the connecting rod itself using whatever means you have. First I fill the sherbert tub with some gasoline, and use an old toothbrush to scrub-a-dub the parts. After I have all the parts pretty clean, I use brake cleaner spray to finish the job. Let everything dry, as you don't want any leftover solvent thinning the new grease. Then i use a couple of Q-tips and some alcohol to make sure the inside races are really really clean. I drop the needles into a 35mm film cannister, along with some alcohol, and swish them around. Then i fish them out with a magnetic retriever to dry on a paper towel. So now you are ready to re-grease the connecting rod bearing. Since things are clean now, it's a perfect time to inspect the grease seals and ensure that they are not torn. If there is any damage, get new seals; otherwise you're going to need a new connecting rod bearing in the near future.

    step 5:
    Using your grease brush (or your finger), put a generous coating of grease on the connecting rod's internal bearing surfaces. Make a nice layer all the way around. Now it gets a little tedious, but you knew that this part was coming. Pick up a needle, and seat it in the bearing down in the needle recess. Keep it straight. The tack of the grease will hold it in place just fine (don't worry, it's not going anywhere). Place another needle next to it. I sometimes use a toothpick to help position them as they are going in. Repeat all the way around the bearing until one side of the connecting rod is full up with needles. Now repeat these steps again for the other side of the connecting rod. When you are all done, pack even more grease in on top of the needle bearings.

    step 6:
    Slide the collar back into the bearing, ensuring that none of the needles get snagged and drift loose. If you used enough grease, you'll have too much and some of it will get forced through as you push the collar into the bearing (that's good). So you are done with the connecting rod, lay that aside; and now do all the same prerequisite work on the relay arm bearing: disassemble, clean with gas, clean with brake cleaner, finish cleaning with Q-tips -- make it shine. If you have been keeping up on linkage maintenance, and water hasn't gotten to your bearings, this is what a NASA-grade clean bearing looks like:

    step 7:
    Clean the needle bearings for the final time in some solvent, pull the needles out and then prep the inside of the bearing with a healthy coating of grease.

    Start placing the needles into the bearing and work your way around the entire bearing. Repeat for the other bearing.

    step 8:
    Gob even more grease into the two bearings, and reinsert the collars into the relay arms. Now reassemble the entire linkage mechanism -- HOWEVER YOU MUST PAY CLOSE ATTENTION TO YOUR MANUAL REGARDING THE ORIENTATION OF THE BOLTS! If any one of the bolts is put in backwards, the attached nut will hit the swingarm and you will do lots of damage to something that is expensive. DO NOT USE MY PICTURES AS A REFERENCE FOR BOLT ORIENTATION -- Always consult your manual for the proper bolt orientation during re-installation of the linkage onto your bike.
    step 9:
    Clean up, wash hands, get wife to admire your handiwork

    Wife makes comment about relative importance of things, take wife out to dinner immediately.
    step 10:
    Now start in on the swingarm bearings...
    Note:
    More info on greasing your linkage bearings -- and details specifically for the Yamaha 250F's -- can be found in this Yamaha 250F FAQ page:
    http://www.thumperfaq.com/swingarm.htm
    Also note that there are several links at the bottom of the 250F FAQ page which hold even more useful information.
    revolucien
    After practice at a muddy track one day, I found one of my fork seals bleeding. One of the old pro's showed me this trick.
    Step 1
    Grab yourself some generic tear-offs (film negatives will also work) and cut the end off one of them with some scissors.

    Step 2
    Remove the fork guard and place a flat screw driver between the edge of fork and the dust wiper and gently pry them apart sliding the dust wiper cover down.

    Step 3
    Take the tear-off and slide it against the fork tube, in between the fork tube and seal.

    Step 4
    After working it around the fork pull it out and you should see some small particles. Believe it or not those will cause your seals to leak badly. Repeat this several times and you should see less and less.

    Step 5
    After, don't forget to also clean the dust wiper before replacing it. Put the dust wiper back on and try bouncing on the forks a little and take a look, it should be cleared up.

    This won't help if your seals are worn out but, it may save you a trip to bike shop and the cost of replacing seals.
    There is also a tool called Seal Mate designed specifically for this purpose if you don't want to use tear-offs or film negatives.
    In addition you may want to use a neoprene fork seal protector. These ‘seal covers’ filter out and help prevent particles from reaching the seals and therefore reduce the need for cleaning and also extend the life of the seal.
    Wayward Son
    The best and most successful method to winterize your dirt bike is to not stop riding during the winter months. Unfortunately, many enthusiasts live in areas of the country where they really have no other choice but to store their bike for the winter. How you choose to store your machine will make your springtime start up a happy day or an expletive filled adventure. So, what steps should you take to winterize your ride? Click to page two where we'll cover step 1 of The 6 Steps in Winterizing your Ride.











    Exterior Preparation
    Clean the entire bike with a mild detergent and water. Avoid directly spraying bearings and seals as to not force water into them. If you use a pressure wash, be VERY careful of this. If possible, start and ride the bike to evaporate any water trapped in the motor and drag your brakes to dry them as much as possible. Clean your chain with a bristled brush and mild degreaser, such as most household dish soaps. Liberally spray your clean chain with WD-40 (Water Displacement 40th Attempt) and wipe off the excess with a shop rag. Finish the process with your favorite spray chain lube. If you have an o-ring chain, make sure to use o-ring safe lube. While you’re still in lube mode, take your WD-40 and spray down the foot peg pivots, kick start pivot, folding shifter pivot and lever pivots. When doing this, it’s a good time to inspect brake pads, suspension linkage, chain and sprockets and such for wear. If your motorcycle is equipped with grease zerk fittings, go ahead and give them a few squirts of quality grease. Lastly, air up the tires to spec.







    Next: Fuel System



    Fuel System
    There are different methods of winterizing fuel systems, but these are the methods I prefer, having had good luck with them throughout my lifetime. If your bike has a steel fuel tank, it’s very important to fill it to the brim with fuel. Filling the tank completely will stop it from rusting, which is a major issue in some areas. Plastic fuel tanks are more forgiving, but keeping it full will minimize the formation of condensation. Fuel stability is another concern, as most fuels begin to breakdown after about 60 days. I prefer to fill the tank with race fuel. In contrast to pump fuels, race fuels can be left for longer periods of time and will not turn to varnish. The alternative is a product called Sta-Bil. Many people use this product with good results and it is a safe bet when race fuel isn’t available. Once the fuel has been stabilized, start the motorcycle and let the fuel circulate throughout the entire system.









    Next: Electrical System



    Electrical System
    Not all dirt bikes have a battery, but if you’re lucky enough to own a bike with a magic button, this area concerns you. I prefer to use a product called Battery Tender. It keeps the battery fully charged by using a float charge that keeps the battery peaked. Battery life has lot to do with the climate it’s stored in. If your bike is stored in an unheated area, remove the battery from the bike and store it in a heated a space. Basements, storeroom or a even a closet will work. Keeping the battery from freezing along with a Battery Tender or like product will keep the battery at its best.









    Next: Engine & Cooling System



    Engine & Cooling System
    A fresh oil change should be done before you store your bike. Dirty engine oil contains corrosive contaminates that you don’t want to leave in the engine over the winter. I also prefer to install a fresh spark plug at the same time. If you’re in a coastal region, a fogging oil should be applied through the spark plug hole also. The fogging oil will be available at some auto parts stores and definitely at boat/marine shops. With the spark plug out, shoot a few sprays down the spark hole and turn the motor over a few times. Once the fogging oil has been applied, install the fresh spark plug. The cooling system should also be prepared. You need to make sure that the coolant is up to spec. Fresh coolant is a good idea, but you can check the condition with a hydrometer that should be available at any auto parts store. With any motorcycle fluid, when in doubt change it. Besides engine fluids, the brake and clutch fluid (KTM or Magura Juice Clutch) should be topped off and replaced if there is any doubt. Brake fluid naturally draws moisture over time, so changing it before you store you bike each year is a good idea.









    Next: Storage Location



    Storage Location
    Now that your motorcycle has been prepared for storage, it’s time to choose a location. If you have the luxury of heated storage, all the better. The less you expose the motorcycle to extreme temperature fluctuations the better. Once the location has been chosen, I recommend putting the motorcycle up on a stand. Using a stand keeps the weight off the tires, eliminating the possibility of creating flat spots. This also allows the suspension to relax from the weight of the bike. If a stand is not option, using a piece of plywood to park the motorcycle on will keep the tires from dry rotting, sitting on a cold concrete floor. Once the motorcycle is situated, throw an old blanket or tarp over it. This will keep the dust to a minimum. If you are in a coastal region, skip on the cover. This may trap moisture under the cover, contributing to corrosion. In fact, coastal riders should also not be afraid to liberally apply WD-40 to the exterior of their motorcycle.







    Next: Spring Prep



    Next Spring
    When the wonderful sights and smells of spring arrive, it’s time to ride! Since you did all the work when you stored your bike for the winter, spring start up will be a breeze. Install the battery if so equipped. Drain the carb float bowl to allow fresh gas from the tank in. Even though the fuel was stabilized, the small volume that is contained in the float bowl will deteriorate much quicker than the much larger volume in the tank. Double check all fluids and you may even consider changing the oil again if it was stored for an inordinate amount of time. Check the air pressure in the tires and your ready to fire it up. If you did your job correctly, the motorcycle should spring to life. Take a extra few minutes at warm to check for any fluid leaks or strange noises. If all is good, you’re ready to tear it up!

    Next: Year Around Riding Option



    If you just gotta ride year around, consider a snowbike conversion kit such as this kit from the folks at MotoTrax:











     

    We want to hear from you!
    We recognize that like most things, there are a number of different ways to accomplish the same task. We'd love to hear what's been successful in how you winterize your stuff, so don't be shy! Help us expand this topic by posting to the comments section below.
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