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No More Broken Levers---Tech Tips


Been riding for a long time, and here is some stuff that I have gleaned along the way, that might help someone in this obaminable economy that we are in. Some of these I owe to my own genius, but several of these I owe to many years of reading DB articles after the Godfather of Dirtbiking himself, Super Hunky, and still others to my family tree of moonshine runners and gifted "agricultural engineers". My hope is that the readers will be able to save some $$$ to use it to STAY IN THE DIRT!

NOTE: The following are merely

#1---To prevent levers from breaking, unmount your perches, wrap plumbing teflon tape around the bar several times, then remount.

Works unbelieveably well.

#2---Many bearings/seals/etc are interchangeable among all the Jap bikes; however, for some unknown reason, Suzuki will sell them considerably cheaper.

Or, most autoparts stores / bearing shops/ industrial supply / machine shops, now carry NTN bearings now, which are Jap and often the same maker as your bike's bearing/seal.

The bearing dimensions will be stamped on its race. If not, carry the old one with you and ask nicely; the parts guy will probably have no trouble in measuring it and cross-referncing it. Anything from wheel bearings to crank bearings I have bought. Buy the best you can afford while remaining able to afford to RIDE! LoL

#3---The auto world has considerable stuff that we can use, from hard parts to soft parts to very trick tool ideas (that you can subsequently make yourself.) I regulary make my own non-critical paper gaskets from Felpro gasket stock; once you mike the thickness/es that you need, then go buy this stuff by the sheet at a FRACTION of the bike price.

Smear a film of grease on the part's edge, lay it face down on the gasket-sheet, and voila---you know can take your scribe and cut it out. Yes, posterboard makes pretty darn good gasket too, or your kids' construction paper, but Felpro is def best.

You do want the gasket to have grease rubbed into it on both sides to allow you to remove it w/o tearing it next time. No, it will not leak, unless you have irregular surfaces.

I do use yamabond/three-bond for magneto covers that tend to flex, like plastic ones...

#4---Pipe-to-head junctions: Auto parts stores will have sheets of "high temp gasket material". This is not dirt cheap, but much cheaper than buying it in liquid form, and a heck of a lot easier to work with, and reusable to boot! Cut out a doughnut of it and sandwich it inbetween the pipe and jug. Spray it liberally with silicon spray to help ease the pipe in.

#5---Shimming an old rat bike with bronze shims can really serve to tighten up the old bird---Suzuki owners take note. These can also be had at an auto machine shop; you may buy them by the handful or by the set/kit (even cheaper.) Buy a metric kit if thay offer it, and it will be loaded with different ID/OD/thicknesses of bronze shims.

#5--If you are loop-out prone, remove the washers on your rear-fender bolts, and even remove any that are not absolutely necessary: I am from the old school that still belives that a slow, controlled wheelie is a danged nice trick, so...This Tip allows the fender to *usually* get ripped off w/o breaking it into pieces, as these two will just pull thru. I even go so far as to cut out the fender's upper mounting holes on their 7 o'clock thru 5 o'clock positions with a pair of heavy wire-cutters, removing a wedge-shape piece. Adding nickel-sized automobile fender-washer ensures proper grab, yet the fender will pull off once the tire grabs ahold of it...on some (ie, older bikes) that have large rear-fenders, you can even cut the fender using a bandsaw/etc, so that the only piece that can get ripped off is a much shorter one that barely extends under the seat. Use sheet metal screws to help secure if needbe.

#6--That Plastic-renue product does indeed work pretty darn well; tho u could use products for polishing plexiglass from an auto-body supply store. If you go to a knowledgable store, bring a *clean* fender with you, and the parts guy can tell what kind of compound it will require. A genuine automobile buffer with a pure-wool bonnet will do great at adding back a shine, in of itself. Use it dry.

#7--Radiators/Pump seals!!: do not use antifreeze containing silica, ie, SAND! The sand does indeed keep everythign scrubbed clean, but also scrubs your seals, too! I used Honda Coolant for years, but now Havoline/others??, make a silica-free coolant as well. If you are in warm weather and desperate for as much cooling as possible, ~1Tbs aspartame+distilled water is very effective as a coolant. But you get no seal lube/boil-protection with this, obviously. But I have never lost too much water using it, so. (Note: Adding any coolant negates the cooling-advantage of the "DIY engine ice mix"). Usually around here I just use 95% distilled and coolant, but none of my bikes are hurting for extra cooling either.

#8--Free takeoff's: Go to your closest AMA Qualifier race, and you will find perfectly good plastic/tires/etc being thrown in the trash barrels after everyone leaves. Most of these guys have heavy sponsors and so change their tires after two motos, bars after one crash/tweak, etc, etc. They will even throw away 75% good brake pads if it is a mud race, b/c they dont want to get stuck with overheating/thin pads in the next moto. They are also a wealth of inside setup info about your particular bike, b/c most of them are fast as hell but not quite fast enuff to have a factory rig, so know their $hit when it comes to setup. Even if your bike is a few years old, they usually remember what the hot setup was. Their knowledge can save you a bunch of heartache and even more wasted money on things that will not help your particular bike.

#9--Tire changes: Did you know that there was once an American ISDE team that could change rear tires using NO tools but their hands?? And inside of 9 minutes at that. They said their main key is to keep the tire's 12 o'clock beads in the rim's trough (ie, keep the beads farthest away from you in the deepest part of the rim, where the spoke nipples are. (Since the trough's circumference is much smaller than the tire's, you have instant slack created.)

This "trough-trick" allows you to pull the tire towards you further, down into the trough of the rim, creating a much larger gap for the 6 o'clock beads/beads nearest you, so you can get it over the rim's edge. Drop the wheel disc-side-down "into" a 5gal plastic bucket, to help keep the tire in the rim's trough, and to serve as a wheel-stand to spare your lower back!

Sometimes on stiff sand tires, I go so far as to put 2 small C-clamps on the tire at 10 and 2 o'clock to squeeze the beads together, enabling me to keep the tire in the rim's deep trough until I get to that spot.

I def use LOTS of WD40 all over the bead, inside and out!! This is key! Three spoon-billed tire irons are also worth their weight in plutonium, and some great, cheap add-ons to make it even easier are a bead-buddy and a DIY valve-stem threader (take a discarded valve-stem core and put it with a small fishing swivel and heavy braided nylon string, to thread into the tube and fish the tube/stem thru the rim to save your knuckels!)

Another installation tip is to slather the tube with pure talcum powder---not corn-starch powder---and to leave enuff air in it to resemble a flying saucer but NOT a do-nut. Leaving the tire out in the summer sun for a few hours is a help too.

Also, use rim protectors to keep from marring up your rims. They are plastic, clip-on covers aobut 3 inches long. Motion Pro/parts houses/your friendly auto parts store all have them, as tire shops use them to protect automobiles' aluminum wheels...

All this aside, to protect both your marriage and your relationship with Christ, it is not a bad idea to take the wheel and tire to walmart and spend the $5: around here, for $5 they will mount an ATV/dirtbike tire! Esp. if you hand it to one of the guys and tell him to do it whenver he gets a chance, sometime that day. Oftentimes on their lunchbreak they are allowed to do some personal work...

#9---Acrylic home floor wax makes a fine bike-shine, as does plain old silicon spray to a lesser degree, tho NOTHING compares to Honda's bike detailer. I have tired unsucessfully several times to dupe that stuff, but it is the bomb. Btw, the acrylic floor wax must be applied with a sponge, and in one direction, else you will see "mop lines" in it once it dries. Once you wash your bike it comes off, but will def last long enuff to dump the bike on the next sucker---er, "qualified buyer".

#10---If you will spend $60 for a cheapo Karcher electric power washer at say a Harbor Freight [insert sounds of angels singing here and mumble the HF anthem], and then NEVER run it w/o spraying, it will last forever as a fantastic bike washer. (If you do not keep water running thru the pump, ie, keep constantly spraying, the little pump gets too hot, causing it to fail prematurely. This is about its only flaw.)

Oh yeah, most home hot water heaters have a readily accessible drain valve, already threaded to accept a water hose! Imagine that... And we all know that hot water not only cleans better than cold, it also evaporates much much faster than cold, thereby preventing a lot of potential problems associated with water retention in various places...see also #18 below.

#11---If you do not have the cash for the washer, buy an old-fashioned, QUALITY, broom. This and a 5gal bucket of hot soapy Dawn-water will do literally almost as well. Hang the broom when done of course, or it will dry in a bent form.

#12---Auto Wrecking yards and scrap metal yards frequently have dirt bikes/skeletons in them. I have gotten some fantastic winter projects for peanuts this way. Sadly divorces occur a lot nowadays, and when they move, many times the bike that they inteded to fix up for umpteen years suddenly is a problem: do they store it or just get rid of it? Those free want-ad papers are ripe with deals as well, for this very same reason...

#13---!!Take your electrical connections apart while they are still clean and apply some dielectric grease to them!! Years down the road you will be very very glad; jap electrics still basically stink after all these years, so dont weaken an already marginal flow with corrosion/poor contact.

#14---Needle bearings/bushings: I know we should all grease our linkages every time we wahs our bikes, etc. But since we barley have time to ride, I assemble mine with automotive engine assembly lube, which is very high in moly and graphite. This means that after many abusive rides and washings, there is usually still some forme of lubrication in there.

#15---Go here for stuff that even I don't know. Super Hunky is crustier than Eric Gorr, but maybe even craftier...


#16---...here's another that I forgot, especially if the bike is new/been 100% cleaned up:

I also remove the throttle assembly, remove all liquid lube from the inside of tube and bar w/contact cleaner, and lube w/locksmith's powdered graphite; ESPECIALLY if running handguards where the throttle-end grip has been cut out. (To avoid retaining grit). An alternative is the white lightening brand of cable lube taht sets up as a dry teflon powder that is made for bicycles.

#17---And one more: Never will a bike be as clean as it is new, so I take this chance to go ahead now and mark crucial-but-seldom-removed bolts/nuts w/a paint pen to facilitate confirming them visually, and remove the tank and spray the elec parts/connections w/aerosol di-electric protectant. (And spraying the rest of the bike under the tank/area w/aerosol silicon or WD40 will go a long way in making it easy to clean with just a spray hose and no scrubbing once its eventually coated w/dried mud.)

#17---For all you tall guys (and gals): To raise your bars w/o having to spend a lot of ca$h, proceed to your local friendly bike salvage yard, find a couple bar clamp "caps" that match/align with the ones currently on your bike already.

First, as with all clamps and caps, take a rat tail file and grind off any sharp edges, to prevent them from cutting into/weakening your aluminum handlebars over time.

Now take off your bars, place this 2nd set of clamp-caps upside down beneath your handlebars, but on top of your existing bar-clamp.

Now put your existing clamp-caps on top of that.

Buy some new, longer clamp bolts to make up for the added thickness of the added clamp-caps, and "voila", your bars are now the same familiar bend but ~1/2" higher, and wa-a-ay more comfortable while standing!

If they are too high, cut them thinner and retry.

I do this to all my bikes that don't have aftermarket clamps/high bars, as I am 6'2" and also suffer from bone spurs in my neck, so bending over while looking up is darn painful, not to mention slower...

#18---There is no comparison to using S2000 / aka Honda's Hondabrite bike wash, but a pleasantly suprising 2nd place is Mr.Clean. This is what Carmichael's Kawasaki mech showed me at a Dallas SX in '98, and he is right, as long as you rinse it well as with all effective cleaners...I am also a big fan of Simple Green, but Mr.Clean seems a tad stronger and smells great.

Once the bike is clean, buy a QUALITY spray bottle from your local friendly janitorial/auto detailing supply store for about $3, fill it from a gallon jug of WD40, and proceed to spray the bike all over, sans bars y seat. Spray even under the tank and belly. (You must use a quality spray bottle, as no other spray bottle will spray a fine enough mist, ruining the whole trick.)

Now, towel dry the plastic if u so desire, and you will be amazed at this stuff's effectiveness at both protecting everything and repelling stains (we have red clay here). Your bike will be stain-free after years of this practice. A gallon of WD40 will last years. There you go, have a factory-clean scoot for pennies on the dollar.

Honda's spray bike-detailer is great stuff for detailing/shining, but I rarely use it when I have already wiped the plastic down w/WD40---unless the plastic is white, in which case I have found NO equal cleaner for getting dirt out of scratches w/o damaging the plastic.

#19---Silencer packing:

Caveat: In my experience, there is no equal in performance to good ol' PROPERLY packed silencer using fiberglass packing/regular fiberglass house insulation. BUT, unless you wrap it a tad too densley, it will have to be re-packed every ~6hrs, and you will both hear the need, and FEEL the need, esp in your top end power on a 2T.

BUT, seeing as how most people have such little time to ride/wrench, the below method is 90% as effective in power-vs-quietness, and yet lasts 200% longer...

STAINLESS steel wool, torn into ~jaw-breaker sized pieces, stuffed into it piece by piece, "firmly-but-gently", per above. (You MUST use quality stainless, as regular wool will break into pieces during heat-cycles, which will blow out of your exhaust in glowing bits of wire!! You have been warned!!).

I use pieces/stuffing on oval-shaped silencers, b/c it is otherwise impossible to both fill the apexes of the can, w/o OVERfilling (ie, being too dense) at the sides of the can (when using wrap-style insulation).

It is not "quite" as quiet (pun intended) as using fiberglass/house insulation, but darn close and as well lasts muuch longer in that 4T heat.

ps---I do not have good luck in trying to wrap the core with steel wool, even when encircling the final cocoon with a piece of baling wire. It does not like to wrap, it separates. That is why I usually pack the silencer with pieces.

pps---This baling-wire trick is a tremendous help in allowing you to "set the density" on your cocoon for round-shaped silencers, so that the final cocoon is not too dense, yet not too thin.

Masking tape works pretty well in a pinch, but is much harder to adjust/judge the final cocoon's size. You have to rip off the tape until you get the tightness right, rather than merely tug on the baling wire to adjust/loosen it...

A quiet bike will not only keep your riding places open, it is one of the MAIN things I do to a beginner's bike to spawn confidence---a quiet bike can be hauling a$$ but yet not sound so intimidating. I will even go so far as to choke off an mx bike's exhaust some, just to get it even quieter than stock, for a girl/kid/beginner...jetting is seldom affected very much. You can also make an insert to put into the silencer, and some are sold pre-made nowadays. Electrical conduit connectors are a great start, but silicon-rubber plugs from automobile sparkplug leads work perfectly on lots of minis...just experiment. Putting a lid over the airbox helps sound as well.

#20---Speaking of taming a bike down for a kid/wife, on most bikes simply installing an automotive body-washer between the pipe and cylinder will choke down power nicely. It needs to fit snugly on the OD, but generally the ID should only be ~1/4". This little hole enables the bike to run perfectly except to go absolutely flat above 1/3-throttle. Beautiful stuff.

#21---Slather your plastic with Windex before installing graphics. This allows u to postion the graphics and amazingly does not affect the glue. You must work quickly though, it only helps for a few seconds. I like to hit my graphics with either the sun or do it in the house, b/c cold ones are much harder to work with.

#22---Eirc Gorr's Tech books on working on dirtbikes and how to set up particular models is worth its weight in gold, esp. to the beginner. A manual for your bike is important, but this book will teach you how to work on any of them in general, and has lots of pictures. I like Haynes manuals for an aftermarket shop manual, but you can download manuals online to a CD, for $5 now as well. Then pay your print shop $10 to get a whitepaper copy.

#23---When you go to a race, watch team mechanics as much as possible, without talking, and you will learn some cool tricks of the trade.

#24---A cheap cordless drill that allows you to pre-set the torque is a wonderful timesaver. Run in/out nuts and bolts with it to save tons of time. T-handle wrenches are another wonderful add-on. A $20 1/2" air impact with a $40 pancake air-compressor will save you many trips and $5 bribes to the local shop. [play the HF anthem again here...].

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