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Found 11 results

  1. Today I want to shift gears, open the floor for discussion, and talk about the state of dirt biking as it relates to the bikes we buy, ride, and maintain. In my relatively short existence, a number of things have happened in the industry which has been interesting to see. A few examples, which are not by any means exhaustive of all that has gone on, include the emergence of the four-stroke power plant, electronic fuel injection, improved tire technology, electric bikes, and the development of air forks. On a more micro-level we’ve seen improvements to materials, new manufacturing processes, and coating processes which have allowed ever increasing performance. As a fellow rider and someone who has no bias or stake when it comes to manufacturers and product offerings, I’d like to hear your thoughts as they relate to today’s machines. My question to you is a simple one, are your needs as a consumer being met by today’s manufacturers and bikes? What aspects of today’s machines do you love and what are pain points for you? If you could do things your way, what would you change? Are there machine variants that aren’t being offered? Leave a comment below that addresses these questions or share your historical perspective! I look forward to your responses. Thanks and have a great week! - Paul https://www.diymotofix.com/
  2. This week I want to talk about two-strokes. To kick off this post I have some awesome news. The Two Stroke Dirt Bike Engine Building Handbook is off to the printers and will be available for pre-sale very soon! Getting the book off the ground has been no cake walk. It's been two years coming and we are so thankful our riders and fans have been patient with us! At the end of this post I'll give you instructions on how you can stay updated on the launch. With that said, let's get started. Today's post aims to provide an overview of the important aspects of the two-stroke cylinder and answers a couple commonly asked questions relating to cylinder modifications. The ports found within a two-stroke cylinder in combination with the exhaust system have the greatest influence on power, torque, and the RPM at which maximum power is created out of the various engine subsystems found within a two-stroke engine. Typically when a new engine is designed the port characteristics are one of the first parameters to optimize. With this being the case they are also one of the first things anyone planning on altering an existing engine should consider improving or tailoring to their specific application. A two-stroke cylinder consists of exhaust, transfer, and occasionally inlet ports (true inlet ports are only found on piston or rotary valve controlled engines). The port heights, widths, areas, directions they flow, and relationships to one another all have a significant influence on how the engine will behave. The cutaway of the cylinder shown details the port arrangement and common nomenclature. The inlet port/passage delivers air into the engine’s crankcase, most commonly through a reed valve, on a dirt bike engine. On older engines, a rotary valve or the piston may also be used to control the opening and closing of the inlet port. On modern machinery, the inlet simply connects the reed valve to the cylinder or crankcase. In this case, the primary restriction in the inlet port is the reed valve and as such the valve’s geometry and flow capabilities often dictate the inlet port's performance. The transfer ports are responsible for moving fresh air and fuel up from the crankcase into the cylinder. This occurs as the piston travels downward after the cylinder has fired. Once the piston uncovers the tops of the transfer ports the blowdown phase is complete, at which point much of the exhaust gas has been expelled from the cylinder. As the transfer ports begin to open, the exhaust pipe sucks fresh mixture up through the transfer ports into the cylinder. To a lesser extent, the downward motion of the piston also aids in creating a pressure differential between the crankcase and cylinder. The shapes and flow capabilities of the transfer ports play a big part in how effectively the cylinder can be scavenged of exhaust gases and filled with fresh air and fuel. The transfer ports also help cool the piston. The exhaust ports dictate how much and how well exhaust gases depart the cylinder. Similar to the transfer ports, the duct shape, angle, length and volume have a large influence on how well gases can flow through the port. Typically, dirt bike engines commonly feature bridge port or triple port designs. General insights into a cylinder’s performance can be made by characterizing attributes such as the timing of the exhaust and transfer ports, the port widths, and the directional flow angles, but a deeper analysis is required to truly optimize a cylinder. Today, tuners and designers rely on computer software which computes a port’s specific time area (STA). As defined in the EngMod 2T software suite, “STA provides an indication of the effective port window area that has to be open for a certain length of time to allow enough gas to flow through the port to achieve the target power at the target RPM for the given engine capacity”. STA values are used to quantify the exhaust, transfer, and inlet port geometry as well as the blowdown phase of the two-stroke cycle. The blowdown phase occurs between exhaust port opening and transfer port opening and is one of the most important parameters in predicting engine performance. By manipulating STA values and subsequently the height, shape, and size of the exhaust, transfer, and intake ports, an engine’s power characteristics can drastically be altered. Port modifications can be made which allow more air to move through the cylinder, ultimately increasing the power of the engine. Conversely, ports can be filled or welded and reshaped which tame the engine and provide less peak power but a broader spread of power. Simple modifications to the ports can also be carried out which improves the air or exhaust gas flow through the port yielding better cylinder scavenging. Can I modify my own cylinders? Unless you have a deep passion for two-stroke tuning, are willing to spend money on software and porting equipment, and are comfortable throwing away botched cylinders, I would recommend having a reputable professional carry out any desired port modifications. Experienced tuners have developed a number of porting combinations that will work well for various makes/models and riding applications which will take the guesswork out of the situation and provide you with a good performing cylinder. Who should consider two-stroke porting modifications? For the sake of simplicity, I will lump porting modifications into two categories: major and minor. Major port modifications would include tasks such as significantly changing the port timings (by either removing or adding material), altering the shapes of the ports, or changing the directions the ports flow. Anyone drastically altering their engine, such as turning an MX engine into a road racing engine, should consider major porting modifications. Other examples of applications that may require or benefit from major port modifications include drag racing, hare scrambles, ice racing, or desert racing. Minor port modifications would include basic tasks such as removing casting flash, slightly altering the ports to achieve the stock port timing, and correcting areas that result in minor flow deficiencies. Just about everyone could benefit from these types of corrective actions; however, if the engine is already performing or producing adequate power, they often aren't considered. I hope you enjoyed this writeup on key features affecting the performance of two-stroke cylinders. To stay officially updated on The Two Stroke Dirt Bike Engine Building Handbook we created an email sign up for our readers. Click this link to see the new cover, the Table of Contents, and some sneak peek pages right from the book. Thanks for reading and have a great rest of your week! -Paul
  3. Paul Olesen

    How to Separate Your Crankcases The Right Way

    “Splitting the cases” is often referred to as a daunting or undesirable task, but if you are well prepared and properly equipped then it can be a straightforward job. To alleviate any concerns you may have with the task, I want to discuss best practices and share some tips that you may find useful when dealing with crank bearings that utilize an interference fit with the crankshaft. We’ll get started by discussing preparatory items and work through to completing the job. Preparation I always recommend prepping for crankcase separation by thoroughly reviewing the service manual. This is important in case any special instructions are present, such as guidance on how the crankcases should be positioned. Typically, it is advantageous to lift one half off the other in a certain orientation due to the way the gearbox or other components are installed. Secondly, a review of the manual may highlight any specific hardware that must be removed prior to attempting to split the cases. From a tools standpoint, a crankcase splitter tool is a worthy investment because it will help ensure the job goes smoothly. Case splitters are relatively inexpensive and widely available. Alternatively, for the budget conscious or lesser prepared, a case splitter is something that could be fabricated. Whether buying or making, ensure you pick up a model with a protective end cap for the crankshaft or fabricate one. We’ll discuss the end cap later. The other tools required are all fairly standard and include your typical sockets, wrenches, and soft mallets. Wooden blocks or other soft semi-malleable spacers should be selected which level and raise the crankcases off the tabletop. This allows the cases to be positioned so that the split line between the cases lies horizontally and subsequent splitting can be done vertically. This will help ensure evenness of separation as well as reduce the likelihood of components falling out of the cases unexpectedly. As much as shortcuts are desirable, just about everything external to the cases must be removed in order to successfully split the cases. Clutch, stator, crank gear, etc. must be removed prior to case splitting. Your service manual will provide further clarity as to what needs to come off. Technique & Tips Once you’re ready to separate the cases, the first thing we’ll need to do is remove all the crankcase bolts. The crankcase bolts should be removed via any prescribed patterns outlined in the service manual. Since the crankcase bolts are typically several different lengths, ensuring the location of each bolt is well documented is extremely important. As I discussed in my post on keeping track of bolts, the cardboard gasket method or any other you find suitable should be utilized so that the reassembly process is straightforward later on. After the crankcase bolts have been removed, the crankcases should be inspected one final time to ensure no hardware that should have been removed prior is hitchhiking. Trust me, trying to separate cases only to find there is one last forgotten bolt is quite frustrating! Once you’re confident all the necessary hardware has been removed, position the cases on the blocks with the correct half facing up. Next, install the protective cap over the crankshaft. I advise using the cap whether you own a two or four-stroke simply because in both cases it helps preserve the end of the crankshaft. This is of particular importance on four-stroke engines that utilize an oil feed that passes through the crank. Once the crank end is protected, proceed to install the crankcase splitter. Select threaded holes that are as close to equispaced from one another as possible to promote uniform loading of the case splitter. When threading the case splitter studs into the crankcase, make sure you engage at least 1.5 times the diameter of the stud diameter. For example, if the stud is 6mm in diameter make sure at least 9mm of thread engagement length is achieved. This will help ensure the threads are not stripped when you attempt to separate the crankcases. With the crankcase splitter installed begin tensioning the main bolt against the end of the protective cap. Proceed to tighten the bolt until the crankcases begin to separate about a 1/16” (1.5mm). Once separation has occurred, make sure that separation is even all the way around the cases. Due to the way the case splitter loads the cases, the area near the output sprocket tends to lag. Case separation needs to be even so that the dowel pins used to pair the cases together don’t bind. If the output sprocket end of the cases hasn’t separated, use a soft rubber or plastic mallet to gently tap in that area. Tap carefully and only on case areas that appear sturdy. Once you’ve created an even gap, proceed to tension the splitter bolt, tap when necessary, and fully remove the crankcase. Upon separation, make sure that no gearbox components, such as washers, have stuck to the case. What I’ve described is the ideal sequence of events for a successful case separation, however, occasionally the cases won’t be as cooperative. In the past, I’ve had to deal with crankcases where moisture has found its way into the dowel pin bores and corroded the dowel pins. This effectively seizes the dowel pins in their bores and makes the separation job more challenging. If the crankcases are being resilient to separation, stuck dowel pins may be a potential problem. Most dowel pins are located opposite one another and their exact position can often be referenced in the service manual or in the crankcase section of part microfiches. Once the location of the dowel pins has been confirmed, a torch can be used to lightly heat the dowel pin areas. Heat will expand the metal surrounding the dowel pin and aid in freeing up the stuck pin bore. Usually, a few careful rounds of heat, tension on the splitter, and well-placed tapping is enough to free up the pesky cases and get them separated. Alternatively, if the heat does not help, applying a penetrant to the pin bore areas is another option that may help free things up. If you find yourself dealing with stuck cases, the key is to be patient and think through all your options. In these types of situations, most mistakes are avoidable and are usually the result of rushed decisions. Once the cases have been separated, the remaining tasks of removing the gearbox and pushing the crank out of the remaining case half can commence. I hope you’ve enjoyed this write up on crankcase separation and that it makes you more prepared for the job. If you’ve got additional crankcase separation tips that you want to share, please leave a comment below. For additional engine building information, whether two or four-stroke, check out my engine building handbooks. Each handbook is offered in print or digital form, contains over 250 color pictures, detailed instruction from start to finish on full rebuilds, and contains a wealth of information pertaining to diagnostic testing and precision measuring. Thanks and have a great week! -Paul
  4. In today's post, I'm very excited to share details about my new book,The Two Stroke Dirt Bike Engine Building Handbook. As with all of my blogs and technical resources, my goal has been to bring riders clear and concise technical information. My two-stroke book exemplifies this and puts nearly 300 pages of engine building knowledge at your fingertips. I wroteThe Two Stroke Dirt Bike Engine Building Handbook to be an all-encompassing guide on engine building. From the moment there is doubt about the engine's overall condition to the time the rebuilt engine is broken in, I give you a step-by-step guide to help you work towards a successful build. My aim was to create a definitive resource that hit on all the relevant topics you'll encounter as you proceed through an engine build and take any guesswork out of the equation. Throughout the book, engineering knowledge and practical experience are fused together to detail the how and why behind the way procedures are performed, parts are designed, and engine performance is affected. This is the most important and valuable aspect of the book, and it's something you won't find in a service manual. The book doesn't just tell you to bolt part A to part B, it teaches and explains the correct way assembly procedures should be performed and why it is necessary to do so. It also explains the intricate relationship between parts, where to look for wear patterns, and shows examples of worn and damaged components. If you're interested in making modifications to your engine or if you're curious about how certain modifications affect performance, I wrote an entire chapter dedicated to the subject. Within this chapter a discussion on how performance parts such as expansion chambers, port timing modifications, and cylinder heads alter overall engine performance is included and helpful suggestions are provided to aid you in choosing the correct components for your build, depending on your specific riding needs. If you have a thirst to learn more about how your engine works and a desire to correctly disassemble or assemble an engine to professional standards, you will benefit greatly from this book. Whether a complete beginner or a seasoned builder, with nearly 300 pages and 250 images worth of information, there is fresh and useful knowledge for everyone. There is also valuable material packed into this handbook that doesn't just pertain to the act of building the engine. I include instruction on diagnosing engine problems, sourcing and determining which parts to replace, using precision measuring tools, setting up your workshop, and additional tests and inspections that should be performed when preparing racing engines. If you just want to build your engine back up to stock spec, you are covered. If you want to go the extra mile and prepare a racing engine, you are also covered. In a way, this book allows you to choose your own ending by giving you all the tools and knowledge you need to complete your build at whatever level you decide. As a way to thank you for your support, we're offering TT members 15% off during a special TT pre-sale which runs from now until December 5th (when the book officially launches). Simply follow this link to learn more and order: ThumperTalk Pre-Sale Thanks again for all your support as we've grown DIY Moto Fix from an idea to a thriving community of riders who are passionate about making their machines perform better through their own hard work. Thanks for reading and have a great week. -Paul
  5. Paul Olesen

    How The Two-Stroke Exhaust System Works

    In my last post, I shared details about how the two-stroke cylinder works, in today's post I want to provide an overview of how a performance two-stroke engine's exhaust system works. Adding a performance exhaust system can be a great way to increase power and/or alter the power delivery of an engine. I would also argue that optimizing a two-stroke engine’s exhaust system is equally as important as ensuring the cylinder’s ports are correctly designed for the given application. Not all exhaust systems are designed to do the same things, and much like cylinder port design, exhaust designs are intended to alter power in specific ways. Having a basic understanding of how an exhaust system works can go a long way when it comes to selecting the right exhaust pipe for your engine. Two-stroke exhaust design is complicated and there are many different variables that must be considered when designing a pipe. I don’t intend to go into all of them, but I will share a few of the most critical. Each time the exhaust port opens to release spent combustion gases, pressure pulses are created. Modern pipe designs harness this pulse energy and use it to help scavenge and fill the cylinder. The process starts when a positive pressure pulse is created once the exhaust port opens and combustion gases leave the cylinder. The positive pulse travels down the pipe until it reaches the diffuser, at which point part of the pulse is inverted and reflected back towards the cylinder as a negative wave. This negative wave is very beneficial in pulling spent exhaust gases out of the cylinder and fresh mixture up through the transfer ports. The remaining positive pulse continues on its journey towards the end of the pipe where it encounters the reflector. The reflector acts as the name implies and forces the positive pulse back towards the exhaust port. Once reflected back, the pulse remains positive and, if the pipe is designed correctly, will reach the exhaust port just as the piston is about to close off the port on the compression stroke at the desired RPM for maximum power. Any fresh mixture which has escaped out the cylinder will be forced back in by the positive pressure pulse. The tuned length of the pipe is dictated by the exhaust port timing, RPM of max power, and the speed of sound. Pulse length and amplitude are governed by the angles of the diffuser and reflector. Generally, steeper cone angles create pulses with more amplitude but shorter duration. Shallower angles generate pulses with less amplitude but longer duration. Given these variables, it is easy to see how a pipe could be tailored for specific applications. An engine converted for road racing may utilize a pipe designed for peak power which incorporates steep diffuser and reflector cone angles so that pulse amplitude is not sacrificed. This peak power would likely come at the expense of a narrowed range of power. An engine tailored for woods riding may feature a pipe with shallower cone angles, resulting in less pulse amplitude, but a broader spread of power. The last parameter I want to touch on is how the tailpipe, which is sometimes referred to as the stinger, influences the pipe. The tailpipe creates a flow restriction in the pipe which allows the pipe to have a certain amount of back pressure. Enlarge the tailpipe and the back pressure decreases, make it smaller and the back pressure increases. As back pressure increases or decreases, so does temperature and ultimately the speed of sound. As the speed of sound changes, so does the resonance RPM of the pipe. If the tailpipe is sized too small, cylinder scavenging will be inhibited. When this happens, the cylinder, fresh mixture, and piston will all be overheated. While engineers and tuners can estimate starting pipe dimensions and tuned lengths, a great deal of trial and error testing is usually still necessary to fine tune the exhaust pipe and optimize the design. Unless you intend on building your own exhausts, this work will have already been done for you. When selecting an exhaust system, you need to focus on how the exhaust alters the power curve. Exhaust systems are tailored to deliver more bottom end performance, top-end performance, or performance throughout the power curve. Selecting which system is right for you will depend on how you want your engine to perform. If you’ve chosen to modify your cylinder ports, installing an exhaust system that compliments the porting can be very beneficial. You might be wondering about slip-on mufflers. If you’ve followed along with my explanation of how exhaust pipes work, you’ll notice I made no mention of the muffler. While the muffler can have a small effect on performance, it is not the primary factor. Upgrading a muffler is a good way to reduce weight, but there won’t be a slip-on out there which significantly increases power, in the same way, a properly designed expansion chamber can. I hope you enjoyed this write-up on key features affecting the performance of two-stroke cylinders. As for Two Stroke Handbook news, we received our first printed proof of the book this week! Needless to say, we are inching closer and closer to an official release date. To stay updated on The Two Stroke Dirt Bike Engine Building Handbook we created an email sign up for our readers. Click this link to sign up, see the new cover, the Table of Contents, and some sneak peek pages right from the book. Thanks for reading and have a great rest of your week! -Paul
  6. Paul Olesen

    Three Easy Ways to Improve Engine Cooling

    This month I want to discuss three easy ways to improve engine cooling for your dirt bike or ATV and explain why they are effective. As improvements are made to an engine that increase its power, the amount of heat the engine will create will also increase. Effectively removing heat from the engine and cooling it is very important as the power output of the engine goes up. The cooler an engine runs, the more power it can produce. There are three ways that the aftermarket attempts to improve the cooling system of a particular engine. 1. Increase flow through the cooling system. 2. Increase the cooling capacity of the radiators. 3. Increase the pressure of the cooling system. Let's dive in. 1. Increase flow through the cooling system The flow through the cooling system can be increased by installing a water pump impeller designed to increase the flow rate of the coolant. The reason increasing the flow rate of coolant works is because the rate of heat transfer from the engine to the cooling system is directly proportional to the mass flow rate of coolant. This is thermodynamics jargon, but there are two key parts to consider. First, how much coolant is flowing, and second, at what speed the coolant is flowing. The more coolant that flows and the faster it flows will reduce the temperature difference between the point where the coolant enters into the engine and where it exits. This next part is not quite as intuitive. When the temperature difference between the inlet and outlet is reduced, the average coolant temperature is lowered. When the average coolant temperature is lowered the engine will run cooler. This is why fitting a water pump, which increases the flow of coolant through the engine, improves cooling. 2. Increase the cooling capacity of the radiators Radiators consist of a series of tubes and fins which run from the top to the bottom of the radiator. These are often referred to as the radiator’s cores. As coolant enters the radiator it moves through the series of tubes and heat is transferred from the coolant to the fins. Air passes over the fins and heat is transferred from the fins to the air. This transfer of heat from coolant to air is how radiators reduce the temperature of the coolant. Coolant temperatures can be reduced by upgrading radiators in three ways, by increasing the frontal area of the radiators, by making the radiators thicker, or by using materials with better heat transfer properties for the cores. For all practical purposes, increasing the radiators’ frontal area and improving the core materials is rarely a viable option for dirt bike applications. This is because there is little room for the radiators to begin with and they are susceptible to damage, making the use of expensive core materials a risky affair. Unfortunately, both of these options are better improvements to make before resorting to increasing the thickness of the radiators. Increasing the thickness of a radiator is not as efficient of an improvement as increasing the frontal area of the radiator. In order for thicker radiators to cool more effectively than their stock counterparts, airflow past the radiators is key. When the thickness of a radiator is increased, air must travel a greater distance through the radiator before exiting. The speed the air is traveling plays a big role in determining how quickly the air heats up as it moves through the radiator. If the air is not traveling fast enough through the radiator, the air temperature will rise and equal the coolant temperature before reaching the end of the radiator. Once this happens, heat transfer stops and whatever portion of the radiator remains will not help with cooling. In order for a thicker radiator to be effective, air must flow quickly enough through it so that the exiting air temperature is at, or better yet, below the coolant temperature. In conclusion, benefits from adding thicker radiators will be more prominent in applications where speeds are relatively high. Whereas in applications where the bike is hardly moving, improved cooling may not be noticeable. 3. Increase the pressure of the cooling system The last alteration to the cooling system that can be made is to install a high pressure radiator cap. As coolant temperature increases, pressure increases inside the cooling system. The radiator cap is designed to be the pressure release point in the cooling system in the event that too much pressure builds up. This can occur as a result of overheating or a blown head gasket for example. By designing the radiator cap to be the weak link in the system, other parts of the system, such as seals, don’t end up getting damaged from being over pressurized. The radiator cap features a plug and spring on its underside. The spring is designed to compress once a certain pressure is reached, at which point the plug will move upwards and uncover a pressure release hole where excess pressure will be vented. The coolant’s boiling point and ability to conduct heat are necessary factors in understanding why a high pressure radiator cap can help improve engine cooling. Water alone boils at 212°F (100°C) while a 50/50 mix of water and antifreeze boils at 223°F (106.1C). Radiator cap pressure designations are usually advertised in bar, with most stock radiator caps designed to withstand pressures up to 1.1 bar (16psi). The more pressure a fluid is under, the more difficult it becomes for the fluid to vaporize, and the higher its boiling point becomes. When water is under 1.1 bar of pressure, the temperature water will boil at is 260°F (127°C) while a 50/50 antifreeze mix will boil at 271°F (133°C). By installing a radiator cap designed to withstand higher pressures, an additional increase in the coolant’s boiling point will be seen. High pressure caps are usually designed to withstand 1.3 bar (19psi) of pressure. This 0.2 bar (3psi) increase in pressure over the stock system will increase the boiling point of water or antifreeze by 8.7°F (4.83°C). This will then bring the boiling point of pure water or a 50/50 antifreeze mix to approximately 269°F (132°C) and 280°F (138°C) respectively. While this small temperature increase alone won’t do a lot for your engine, coupling a high pressure cap and using coolants with better heat transfer properties can do wonders. Antifreeze (ethylene glycol) alone is not an inherently good conductor of heat. In fact, pure antifreeze conducts heat about half as well as water, while a 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water conducts heat approximately three quarters as efficiently as pure water. This means a cooling system using a 50/50 mix of antifreeze would have to flow faster than a cooling system filled with pure distilled water in order to achieve the same cooling efficiency. What this means for you is significant cooling gains can be made by using distilled water and an additive called “Water Wetter” in place of an antifreeze-water mix. Water Wetter is an additive that improves water’s “wetting” abilities (another whole subject), adds corrosion resistance, and slightly increases the boiling point of water. A high pressure radiator cap in conjunction with distilled water and Water Wetter as the coolant is by far the best route to go for high performance applications where freezing is not an issue. For applications which must still be resistant to freezing, the antifreeze-water ratio can be altered in favor of mixtures incorporating more water than antifreeze so that the cooling efficiency of the mixture is improved. Just bear in mind the freezing point of the mixture as it is thinned with water will be reduced, so you will need to pay close attention to the environment you are operating in so that the coolant is never susceptible to freezing. A frozen coolant system can ruin an engine and makes for a very bad day! I hope you enjoyed this post on three easy ways to improve your engine’s cooling. One more thing before I wrap up! April is Autism Awareness month, and here at DIY Moto Fix we couldn't be more excited to announce that we will be donating 15% of all profits made in April to AutismMX. If you haven't heard of AutismMX, this amazing non-profit brings Autism awareness to the motorcross community. Founder, Matthew Dalton, created this non-profit after finding that motorcross was an amazing way to connect with his autistic son. At DIY Moto Fix this non-profit also touches a chord with us. Our filmmaker and photographer, Kelsey Jorissen, loved dirt biking with her autistic brother throughout their childhood. The Autism MX Project focuses on four areas: Autism MX Day Camps are days for ASD kids and families to have the chance to ride AMX’s little dirt bikes and quads and enjoy the sport of motocross. Team Autism MX Sponsoring amateur MX racers, riders as well as sponsoring AMA pro racers. Through doing so, they are getting out the word on Autism Awareness to millions. AMX Puzzle Piece Apparel from shirts, graphics, goggles, to help stand out and support Autism Awareness. AMX Ride Days for Autism Awareness AMX celebrates Autism Awareness and is a fundraiser for The Autism MX Project. So for the entire month of April - if you buy a book, a video, even a poster - 15% of that purchase will go towards AutismMX and their amazing cause. Thanks for reading and have a great rest of your week!
  7. Paul Olesen

    Checking and Setting Cam Timing

    Today I'm going to cover how to check and set cam timing, which is something you can do if you have adjustable cam gears in your engine. This is a procedure often performed by race engine builders to ensure the valvetrain performs just as they intend, and ultimately so that they extract the desired performance out of the engine. Adjustable cam gears typically aren't a stock option but are abundantly available in the aftermarket. The following text is exerted from my book, The Four Stroke Dirt Bike Engine Building Handbook, so if you find this info valuable please take a look at the entire book. Degreeing the camshafts is the process of checking, and if necessary altering, the cam timing so that the timing is set perfectly to specified timing values. On stock and performance engines, cam timing can be off slightly due to manufacturing variations in parts such as the camshafts, cam gears, cam chain, cylinder, cylinder head, crankshaft, crankcase, and gaskets. With so many parts having an influence on cam timing, it is necessary to adjust and correct the timing so it coincides precisely with the desired timing values. The biggest factor determining how the camshafts must be timed is whether the cam lobes are symmetrical or asymmetrical. Camshaft lobes that are symmetrical have opening and closing ramps that share the same profile. Asymmetrical cam lobes have opening and closing ramps with different profiles. Symmetric and asymmetric camshafts are timed differently. First we will focus on the timing of symmetrical camshafts. Symmetric camshafts are timed most accurately by determining the position of the camshaft’s lobe center in relation to crankshaft position. A camshaft’s lobe center is where peak lift occurs, which is the most important timing event of the camshaft. Since the tip of the camshaft is rounded, it would be difficult to determine the lobe center by taking a direct measurement of peak valve lift. The opening and closing points of the camshaft are also of little use because the cam opens and closes gradually. This makes it difficult to determine the precise position in which the camshaft opens or closes the valves. The lobe center position is a calculated value based on the position of the camshaft at two specific points of valve lift, typically with valve clearances set to zero. Normally the position of the camshaft is recorded at 0.050” (1.27mm) of lift as the valve opens and 0.050” (1.27mm) of lift when the valve closes. By recording the position of the camshaft at a specific valve lifts, the cam lobe is on a predictable portion of the opening and closing ramps. The center of the cam lobe is exactly in the middle of these two measurements. To calculate the lobe center of a symmetrical cam lobe you will need to do the following: 1. Add the measured opening and closing timings together 2. Add 180 degrees to the sum 3. Divide the answer by 2 4. Subtract the smaller value of the two opening and closing numbers from the answer to reach the lobe center value. Once the actual lobe center value has been determined on the engine, it can be compared to the specified lobe center timing presented by the manufacturer, aftermarket cam supplier, or the engine tuner. If the measured lobe center position coincides with the targeted position, all the work is done. If not, the cam gear will need to be adjusted so the timing is corrected. If you are checking the timing on stock cams and lobe center information isn't presented, you will need to determine the lobe centers the manufacturer recommends. To do this, the opening and closing timing information supplied in the service manual can be used. Aftermarket camshafts should come with a timing card full of useful information to set the cams correctly if they are adjustable, otherwise the lobe centerline can be calculated if the opening and closing timings are known. If you don’t like math, there are plenty of lobe center calculators available on the internet you can use. For the Kawasaki KX250F engine with the stock camshafts, the timing information is as follows: Intake Opens 40° BTDC (Before Top Dead Center) Intake Closes 72° ATDC (After Top Dead Center) Intake Lobe Center = ((40 + 72 + 180) ÷ 2) - 40 = 106° My calculated lobe center timing is 106°. When I check the cam timing, this will be the value the real engine hopefully yields. The lobe center for the exhaust cam can be found the same way. For the KX250F exhaust cam: Exhaust Opens 69° BBDC (Before Bottom Dead Center) Exhaust Closes 49° ATDC (After Top Dead Center) Exhaust Lobe Center = ((69 + 49 + 180) ÷ 2) - 49 = 100° Something not obvious I want to touch on is that if the intake opens after top dead center, a negative value for the opening should be used. If the exhaust closes before top dead center, a negative value should be used here as well. To start the process of checking the timing the valve clearances should be set to zero. Thicker shims can be used and zero clearance can be confirmed with a lash gauge. A degree wheel and pointer will need to be installed on the engine. There are many ways of attaching these items and each engine will provide its own challenges. Here I’ve left the flywheel on and installed a couple washers behind the degree wheel to space the degree wheel from the flywheel. Then the flywheel nut is used to secure the degree wheel. The pointer can be made from welding rod, a coat hanger, or anything else you can find. I’ll be finding TDC with the cylinder head installed, so I used one of the exterior head bolts to secure the pointer. If you will be finding TDC with the head off, choose another location. Before the cams can be timed, TDC must be found. This can be done with the cylinder head on or off depending on the process you use. The piston dwells a few degrees at TDC so more accuracy than zeroing the degree wheel to the piston’s highest position is necessary. Similar to finding the cam lobe center, TDC can be found by measuring equal distances on the piston’s up and down stroke and then confirming that the degree wheel timing is equal on both sides at the measured distances. Dial indicators or piston stoppers are commonly used to do this. HOT TIP: Piston stoppers can easily be made by removing the center section of a spark plug and then tapping a suitably sized threaded hole in the remaining part of the plug so a bolt and lock nut can be installed. The stopper can then be easily threaded into the spark plug hole. Whichever method of finding TDC you decide to use, start by moving the crankshaft to the approximate TDC position. Then without rotating the crankshaft move the degree wheel so that TDC on the wheel coincides with the pointer. Next, set up your piston stops or measure piston travel on both sides of TDC. In this example I’m using a dial indicator which extends through the spark plug hole down into the cylinder. I’ve decided to take measurements at 0.050” (1.27mm) of piston travel before and after TDC. At each measurement point the number of degrees indicated on the degree wheel before and after TDC should be the same if I have found true TDC. If the degree wheel values don’t read the same before and after TDC determine which way the wheel must be rotated so that the values become equal. Then carefully rotate the degree wheel without rotating the crankshaft to alter the degree wheel’s position. Once altered, recheck and confirm that true TDC has been found. This can be a tedious process but is extremely important for checking cam timing accurately. Repeat the procedure for checking TDC 3 - 5 times to ensure repeatability and accuracy. After true TDC has been found, be extremely careful not to inadvertently move the degree wheel or pointer. Do not rotate the crankshaft using the nut securing the degree wheel to the crankshaft. Instead, use the primary drive gear nut or bolt to rotate the engine over. Next, set up a dial indicator on the intake or exhaust lifter bucket, depending on which camshaft you are checking. You’ll have to use some ingenuity here in determining the best way to secure the dial indicator to the engine. I’ve used a flat piece of steel and secured it to the cam cap using the cylinder head cover holes. Make sure the indicator travels as parallel to the path of valve travel as possible for accurate readings. Also makes sure at least 0.060” (1.52mm) of travel from the indicator’s resting position is possible so adequate valve lift can be measured. Once the indicator has been set up, the cam timing can be checked. Whenever checking timing only rotate the engine over in the direction of engine rotation. Reversing engine rotation will result in inaccurate measurements due to the reversal of gear meshes and chain slack. If you miss a measurement point, rotate the engine over until you get back to the previous position. Slowly rotate the engine over until 0.050” (1.27mm) of valve lift has occurred. Then record the position of the degree wheel. Next, rotate the engine until the cam begins to close the valve. Once only 0.050” of indicated valve lift remains record the position of the degree wheel. Repeat this process of checking opening and closing positions 3 - 5 times to check for repeatability before calculating the cam lobe center. Once you are confident in your measurements proceed to calculate the cam lobe center. On the KX250F engine my intake lobe center is as follows: Measured Intake Open (0.050” Lift) 39 ° BTDC Measured Intake Closure (0.050” Lift) 74 ° ABDC Intake Lobe Center = (( 39 + 74 + 180 ) ÷ 2 ) - 39 = 107.5° On my stock KX250F engine the actual lobe center is 107.5°. At this point if I had adjustable cam gears, I could rotate the gear slightly so that the lobe center corresponded to the specified lobe center value. The same procedure is followed for checking and adjusting the exhaust cam timing. Remember if mistakes are made when setting cam timing big problems can result, so it is best to be very patient and focused when performing this task. Always check your work 3 - 5 times to make sure the timing is repeatable and making sense. When tightening adjustable cam sprockets, use a locking agent and be sure to torque the bolts to their specified values. When working with single camshafts that have both the intake and exhaust lobes ground on them, focus your efforts on achieving correct intake timing. Correctly setting intake timing is more important since it has a larger effect on power. The intake valves also have higher lift than the exhaust valves, potentially creating clearance troubles between the piston and valve if the intake valves are mistimed. With your new fangled ability to adjust cam timing, you may be wondering what happens if you advance or retard the intake and exhaust cams from their standard positions? The lobe separation angle refers to the number of degrees which separate the lobe center of the intake lobe from the lobe center of the exhaust camshaft. The lobe separation angle can be calculated using the following formula: LSA = (Intake Centerline + Exhaust Centerline) ÷ 2 As a rule of thumb, reducing the lobe separation angle by advancing the intake and retarding the exhaust camshaft will increase valve overlap, move power further up the power curve, increase cylinder pressure, increase the chance of detonation, and reduce the piston to valve clearances. On the contrary, increasing the lobe separation angle by retarding the intake cam and advancing the exhaust cam will have somewhat of the opposite effect. There will be less valve overlap, power will move to a lower RPM, chances of detonation will be reduced, and the valve to piston clearances will increase. The likelihood of finding more or better power by advancing or retarding the camshafts is not all that likely because manufacturers, tuners, and aftermarket companies already test specific combinations of cam timings to death. In addition, if the lobe separation angle is reduced, the piston to valve clearances should be checked to ensure they are adequate. My advice is to run the prescribed cam timings to reduce the chance of problems occurring. Asymmetric camshaft timing can be set in a similar fashion to symmetric camshafts, however instead of focusing on the lobe center position, the specific opening and closing points will need to be measured. Timing cards supplied with asymmetric cams should have specific instructions for setting timing, but normally valve clearance is set to zero and cam positions are recorded at specific lift heights. Based on the measured opening and closing positions, adjustments are made to the timing until the timing matches the specified values. I hope you enjoyed this exert on checking and adjusting cam timing. As always feedback is appreciated so please leave comments below. If you're interested in more engine building info check out my book The Four Stroke Dirt Bike Engine Building Handbook. Right now we are having a 4th of July Sale where everything on our site is 20% off with the discount code fourthofjuly2017. Just be sure to enter the code upon checkout so you receive your 20% off! So if you've had your eye on our Four Stroke Dirt Bike Engine Building Handbook or even our Value Pack, but haven't pulled the trigger yet - go for it! Availabe at: DIYMotoFix.com - Paul
  8. Paul Olesen

    New and Re-plated Cylinder Prep

    Today I want to share some pointers on preparing new or re-plated cylinders that will help ensure your engines run stronger and last longer. Plus, I've got an update on the two-stroke book I've been working on that I'd like to share. Let's get started! A Universal Concern First, both new and re-plated cylinders must be cleaned prior to assembling. Normally the cylinders will arrive looking clean, but looks can be deceiving. I have no doubt that the factories and re-plating services clean the cylinders as part of their processes, but I highly recommend cleaning the bores a final time prior to use. Shown below is a new Yamaha cylinder that I extracted quite a bit of honing grit out of. If left in place, the honing grit will ensure that the piston rings will wear out faster than they need to, so be sure to take the time to properly clean new cylinders prior to assembly. What’s the best way to clean the cylinder bore? Start by using warm soapy water and a brush to clean the cylinder. Take your time and be thorough. After the majority of the honing grit has been removed switch to automatic transmission fluid and a lint free rag for one final cleaning. As a test to check cleanliness, rub a cotton swab against the cylinder bore. If the swab picks up any debris and changes color, your cleaning duties are not over. The swab should be able to be rubbed against the bore and remain perfectly clean. Two-Stroke Port Dressing For two-stroke owners, the second item I want to bring to your attention is port dressing. Port dressing is a term used to describe the process of deburring/breaking the edge at the intersection of the cylinder plating and the ports in the cylinder. During the plating process, plating usually builds up excessively at the edge of the port and must be removed after honing. Proper removal is critical to ensure acceptable piston ring life. Manufacturers and plating services will break the edge in different ways and to different magnitudes, which ends up being a whole other topic. The important thing is to ensure that any new or re-plated cylinder you use shows visible signs that the port edges have been dressed. A dressed port edge will be easy to spot because it will feature a different surface finish than the cross-hatch created from honing. This is easily visible in the image shown above. Many port dressing operations are done manually so some irregularity in the geometry will usually be present. If there is no visible edge break on the port edges, I would be highly suspicious and contact the service that plated the cylinder or sold the cylinder and confirm with them if a step was missed. Typically a chamfer or radius in the .020 - .040” (0.5 - 1mm) range is used. Two-Stroke Power Valves Lastly, it is possible that some of the power valve components, such as blades or drums, will not fit correctly on cylinders that have been replated. This is because the plating can occasionally build up in the slots or bores where the power valve parts reside. Prior to final assembly, be sure to check the function of the power valve blade and/or drums to ensure they move freely in their respective locations within the cylinder. If plating has built up in a power valve slot or bore, it will need to be carefully removed. To do this, appropriately sized burs for die grinders or Dremel tools can be used. If one is not careful, irreversible damage to the slot or bore can result. When performing this work proceed cautiously or leave it to a seasoned professional. Burs for the job can be difficult to track down in stores, but are readily available online from places like McMaster-Carr. When purchasing burs, be sure to pick up a few variants, such as rounded and square edged, designed for removing hard materials. The Two-Stroke Book From February to March we photographed the entire book. From April onward we have been formatting and proofreading. Needless to say, we are in the final stretch! If you want to stay updated on the moment the Two-Stroke Dirt Bike Engine Building Handbook is ready for pre-order, sign up at the link below. We can't wait to get this book out the door and into your garage. Sign Up for Updates on the Two-Stroke Book Thanks for reading and have a great rest of your week! -Paul
  9. Paul Olesen

    Four Stroke Cylinder Head Reconditioning

    It's time to open up a can of worms and talk about a hotly debated topic in the powersport community - four stroke cylinder head reconditioning best practices. I've perused the forums and had discussions with people about reconditioning four stroke cylinder heads and there appears to be a lot of mixed opinion and beliefs on what is right or wrong. I'm certainly not going to say my take on the subject is the only way, but I do want to share my opinion, explain the technical details, as well as touch on the machining process. The text below is out of my book, The Four Stroke Dirt Bike Engine Building Handbook, and details why cylinder heads should be reconditioned a certain way. Whenever new valves are installed in a cylinder head, it is best practice to recut the valve seats since the valves and seats are mated parts, otherwise the new valves are very susceptible to premature wear when run in the old seats. If a major overhaul is being performed, there is a good chance that enough seat wear will have occurred during the engine’s life that the valve seats will need to be recut before new valves are installed. This may be news to you, so I want to provide an explanation of why this is necessary. The term concentricity is used to describe the relationship between the axis of two circular objects. When two objects are perfectly concentric, their axis match up precisely with one another. In the case of the cylinder head, the valve guide axis and the valve seat axis must be as close to perfectly concentric as possible and parallel to one another. Usually, guide to seat concentricity is kept around 0.001” (0.025mm) or even less for racing applications. This is achieved by the factory by using a manufacturing process where the valve guides are reamed first. Then the freshly reamed valve guide bore is used to center the valve seat cutter. Once centered, the valve seat is cut. This process is then repeated for all the valves and results in very good concentricity between the valve guides and valve seats. As the engine is run, the valve guides, valve seats, and valve faces will wear. The valve guides will wear from front to back in an oval shape at the top and bottom of the guides. In a cross sectioned view the valve guide will take on an hourglass shape. The guide will become oval as a result of thrust forces stemming from the way the camshaft contacts the lifter bucket or rocker arm. These forces are transmitted to the valves and cause the valves to thrust against the sides of the guides, eventually causing the guides to become oval shaped. Once the guides start to become oval shaped, the valve faces will no longer be as concentric to the valve seats as they originally were. When this happens the valves will start to slide against the seats, causing the seats and valve faces to wear. The valve seats will eventually become out of round and the sealing between the valve face and seat will suffer. Installing new valves into oval shaped guides and out of round seats will ensure that the new valves wear out very quickly! To ensure the new valves being installed last as long as possible, the cylinder head’s seats and guides must be reconditioned once they are worn out. Complete cylinder head replacement is always an option, but I want to focus on freshening up the original head which is usually a more economical option, but comes with many more variables surrounding the quality of the job. There are numerous services offered in the marketplace for valve seat cutting, however, not all valve seat cutting methods are equal in terms of quality. There are hand operated seat cutters, dedicated seat cutting machines, and a few other options to choose from. Selecting the correct seat cutting process and entrusting the work to a competent engine builder is very important. The valve seat cutting process should mimic the OEM process as closely as possible. A concentric valve seat will never be able to be cut without first servicing the valve guides. If the valve guides are out of round then they will either be reamed to a slightly larger size if they are not too oval in shape or they will be replaced. Once any issues with the valve guides are addressed and they are perfectly round from top to bottom, it will be possible to cut the valve seat. Ensuring the valve guide is perfectly round is extremely important since the valve seat cutter is centered off of the valve guide bore. Cutting the valve seat concentrically to the guide requires a combination of skill and using modern machinery. The best valve seat cutting equipment in the world is worthless without a good experienced operator running it. There are two main factors which make cutting a seat concentric to the valve guide difficult. To start with, the valve seat cutter uses a pilot which locates in the valve guide. Since the valve stems are very small in diameter the pilots used to guide the seat cutters are also very small in diameter. A small diameter pilot shaft that centers the cutting tool can flex easily, which presents a real problem when cutting the seats. The next issue that arises when reconditioning seats is that often times the cutting tool will try to follow the path of the old valve seat which can make it hard to cut a concentric seat. Couple these factors together with slop within the machine, setup error, and operator error and you can see how quickly things can come out of alignment and you can end up with a poorly cut seat. In addition to seat concentricity, the depth the seat is cut to will influence valve spring pressure, shim sizes, and the compression ratio of the engine. All three of these variables will be reduced the deeper the seat is cut, which is not a good thing. The surface finish of the seat itself will influence how well the valve seals. A seat with chatter marks or other machining blemishes will not seal as effectively as a smooth seat. The valve seat width and the contact point between the seat and the valve face are also very important. Due to the complexities involved with cutting valve seats on modern four-stroke dirt bike engines, the job should not be left up to just anybody. There are numerous businesses which specialize in valve seat cutting which have both the right equipment and expertise to do the job correctly. I highly recommend spending some time researching and finding a reputable cylinder head machining company when it comes time to recondition your head. If the cylinder head must be shipped off in order to do business with a reputable company, the additional wait will be worthwhile. If you found this information helpful and would like more technical info on maintaining your four stroke engine, check out my book, The Four Stroke Dirt Bike Engine Building Handbook. Thanks for reading and happy wrenching! As always if you have comments or want to share your thoughts please leave a note below. -Paul Available at: - Amazon - Moto Fix Website
  10. Paul Olesen

    Maintenance Readiness

    I hope you all have been out riding and enjoying spring. I got back into the hare scramble racing scene over the weekend after a three year hiatus and had a blast. Today, I just want to share a quick tip and start a discussion on preparatory things that help shorten the time it takes to do complex maintenance tasks, such as rebuilding an engine. Quick Tip Prior to turning a wrench carefully look over the service manual scanning through all the applicable procedures and subsystems. If I’m working on an unfamiliar model, I find it is helpful to jot down a rough outline of the disassembly sequence. This saves me time in the long run as I don’t have to rely as heavily on the service manual or continually flip through various sections. Another option is to use post-it notes to bookmark each relevant section in the manual. Mark the post-it notes with numbers or headings so you know where to turn to next. Earmarking or bookmarking the torque tables is also a huge time saver no matter the task. Be sure to scan through the manual as well to identify any specialty tools that are required that you may not have. Discussion Points What other preparatory things can be done to help speed up the major maintenance process? Is there a method to your madness or do you dive right in? Thanks for reading! Paul https://www.diymotofix.com/
  11. With warmer weather and the riding season around the corner for many of us, I wanted to cover a topic that can either make or break an event. Whether you’re competing in a racing series or traveling to the track or trail, let's talk about event preparedness. More specifically, what spare parts should you keep on hand? Plus, what methods do you use to keep your spares organized? Honestly, I struggled with organization until I started working on this post. I had no method to my madness. Every time an event came up I’d do the same thing; throw a bunch of stuff in a box or the back of my van and head to the event. The sad part is I now realize this was a weakness of mine for quite some time, but didn’t do anything about it! Maybe you can relate? I finally said enough is enough. I don’t throw my tools in a cardboard box when I go to a race, leaving what I bring to the fate of my memory. So why would I do that with the spare parts I bring? I started solving this problem by compiling a spreadsheet detailing what spare parts I keep on hand for ice racing and hare scrambles. I realize that each discipline will differ and may have niche parts that should be kept. The goal here is not to definitively define what spares one should keep on hand, but to have a conversation and provide a resource that can be used to help people get set up based on their own needs. Once I took inventory of everything I felt I wanted to bring to a race, I went to Menards and went hunting for the perfect organized storage bin/toolbox. Here’s what I ended up with: Naturally, once I returned with the toolbox, my list grew and I probably need to go back for a bigger one. I intend to store a copy of the spreadsheet in the tote so I can keep tabs on inventory and know exactly what I have available. Should I get another bike, this system is easily replicable and my plan is to get another organized toolbox that goes with it. This system is how I went from being an unorganized “throw it in the van at the last minute” rider to a more relaxed well prepared rider. I’d love to hear how you handle event readiness, what you bring, and how you keep track of it. My hope is that by sharing our strategies we’ll save someone the misfortune of having a bad day at the track or trail. Perhaps I'll even end up with more things I need to add to my list. -Paul If enjoyed this post be sure to follow my blog and sign up for my newsletter! DIY Moto Fix Newsletter
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