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Break In Your New Dirt Bike Before You Hit The Trail

Chaparral Motorsports
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August 7, 2015
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Last Updated: June 26, 2020
2016 KTM 450 SX-F
2016 KTM 450 SX-F - Photo: S. Romero

Buying a new dirt bike can be an exciting time and you most likely are eager to hit the tracks right away. However, if you take your bike directly from the showroom onto the trail, you might have some challenges or even worse, you could harm the bike on your first run.

That's why it's smart to break in your new dirt bike to ensure it has a long-term life, instead of pushing your engine to the limits on day one. It's also good to remember that your dirt bike was most likely shipped to the dealer and parts were assembled on location. This means that some of the parts are still very fresh and not able to take on a supercross race right out of the gate.

There are several experts who have their own strategy on how to properly break in a dirt bike engine. When it comes down to it, a lot bike break-in methods are based on personal preferences.

However, there are some essential things to look out for when you get a new dirt bike and want prep your ride for the trail.

Three-Peat Your Heat Cycle

2014 KTM Freeride 250 R
KTM Freeride 250 R Engine - Photo: Marco Campelli

One of the first things that you should do is ensure all the tiny parts in your engine are functioning properly. You don't have to be a gear head and know all the ins and outs of an engine, but instead, understand that the engine is the livelihood of your ride, and it needs to last as long as possible.

One of the best tricks to break in your engine is through a three-peat heat cycle. This method is an old standby for many riders and absolutely easy. Simply turn your engine on, let it idle for 10 minutes with a few revs here and there. Then, turn off the engine and let it cool completely. Once your bike is cooled, repeat the 10-minute idle with revs. After you do this three times, you will have given your engine a good variation of a heat cycle to get used to future riding.

Low Idle Rides

2014 Honda CRF125FB Big Wheel
Honda CRF125F Big Wheel

Other motocross owners like to give their bikes a low idle test ride in between heat cycles. This isn't a bad idea either because you're getting all the moving parts to work together at a low idle speed. This won't push your bike to the limit, but it will give it a little more break in than only three heat cycles.

Simply take the bike around the block and stay in low gears. Come back, let the bike cool, start it back up and let it idle for 10 minutes. The low idle rides could give your dirt bike a little extra break in.

Ensure Your Bike Is Heated Up

2016 Yamaha YZ250F
2016 Yamaha YZ250F

One of the worst mistakes new dirt bike owners can make is taking their ride out to the trail without properly heating up the engine first. Since the majority of your engine is made out of aluminum parts, you need to heat it up and let the engine run for a while so all the parts can expand and get ready to run. One trick is to let your bike idle for a good 10 to 15 minutes, and put your gloved hand on the radiator cap to test the warmth.

If your cap is cold, you need more time. However, if you feel warmth through the glove, you're ready to hit the trails. With proper oil changes, tire pressure, fluid flushes and new filters, you can ensure your bike's engine will last for years to come.

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