Woody's Maintenance Tips
This article by Woody Percival originally appeared in Traction Magazine and has been edited for this webpage by Eric McSweeney.
Editor's prologue: When we ride, we want to ride, not fix, and especially not hang around while someone else who has not done their maintenance and is without proper tools is aided by those that do both, in hot muggy, wet, and/or buggy weather. Bike maintenance is a continuous process - it begins with the ride before as you make a mental note of items that go out of adjustment, are not quite right, come loose, or get broken or bent. It continues as soon as you get home - with a good washing of your bike (if you using a pressure washer, stay away from bearings and seals). After washing and chasing water out of your O-ring chain with WD-40, a thorough inspection as suggested by Woody below, and note taking of items requiring maintenance needs to be made. Order any parts required on Monday morning to be assured of a bike ready for the following weekend.
Edited version of original article:
- Do a once around check on tires, condition and air pressures, 15 lbs, front and rear for rocky terrain (Calabogie, Algonquin areas). Check brake pad thickness, I use a solid rear disc, as it pays for itself in pads saved.
- Rock both wheels side to side by grabbing at the top to check for bad wheel bearings, keep fully greased spares in your parts stock (new bearings come with precious little grease, pry the seals out with a needle, pack with waterproof grease from one side, and replace seals). Waterproof greased packed bearings will last a lot longer. Also check your swing arm for play, side to side on the back wheel at swing arm level.
- Inspect chain and sprockets, keep an eye on the teeth, and pull on the chain at the rear sprocket. If it lifts off the sprocket, it is wearing and should be replaced as a set soon. Even if your chain condition and tension is good, you must keep an eye on your master link clip for wear. For example, on the pre-2009 KTM's the rear chain guide will bend inwards if you hit it hard enough (metal cage) and begin wearing on the clip. This has potential to be nasty, so there are a couple of solutions. Putting on a peened link is best, master links are unnecessary. You can epoxy your clip as well, in the middle of the clip. Also, there are all-plastic chain guides available, a good but expensive solution.
- Don't forget to look for residuals oil on your fork tubes, and rear shock shaft as well, a sign of leaking seals that will need replacement.
- Check coolant level in your rad, and for summer heat particularly with 4 strokes, put in a glycol replacement (such as Engine Ice) increasing the boiling over point to about 256 degrees F.
- Carrying spare spark plugs, and levers are a good idea.
- Check spokes for tightness now and then - more regularly on some bikes - ask another rider how to do this with a quick "tapping" method.
- Finally, while on the stand, check for steering head bearing play, or roughness in steering movement. Bikes with rear shock linkage systems need checked for play while on the stand, by checking up-play on the wheel. It is amazing that some bikes come out of the factory with no grease on major bearing surfaces.
- For my 2 stroke, a regular tranny oil change and frequent air filter servicing are a must.
- Change your brake fluids once a year, and use Motul RBF 600 for best results.
- As it heats up our 2 stroke bikes run richer. A 10 degree temperature (F) increase or decrease = 1 size of main jet for optimum performance. Four strokes are not too fussy but can get "lazy" in the hotter parts of the summer. High engine temps are better resolved by getting the glycol out of the engine and replacing as noted above.
- A quick walk about, applying some blue loctite on the really important nuts and bolts that may have come loose, is worth the piece of mind, as well. A few locations (rear sprocket to hub) require red loctite. A good tip is to use blue loctite on any bolt you ever take off and put back on (unless red is specified). Carry a small tube in your pack.
A couple of hours well spent in the shop - saves you and your fellow riders a lot of grief on the trail.
Current bikes: KTM 250 XC (his fun bike), KTM 300 XC (his working mule)
Favourite riding area: Hands down - north side of Calabogie for its single track nasty challenging trails, including the toughest there are! Beautiful scenery.
Most memorable ride: North central Mexico this year with Paul Rodden and his Oklahoma desert rat friends. Should be on everyone's bucket list.@Look for Presideo on the@Texas map, not much there but the riding is top drawer. Take extra tubes !!!@
Favourite event: Last year's Off Road Ontario Cross Country race at Shannonville.