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Words of Wisdom

[Dirt Bikes]


Dos and Don'ts of breaking in a new bike.

Last month my cash flow was positive enough that I figured, "What the hell, I haven't bought a new bike for some time, and my '86 XL600 keeps getting heavier every year." So I bought a new Kawasaki KLX300.

I have broken in several new bikes in my 25+ years of riding. I thought I might share some of the things I have discovered along the way.


  1. The number one thing to do to a new bike is make it better than new. Jay is actually better at this than I am. He has heavily modified his XL600, RMX250, and XR600. He has not "fixed" his Honda Nighthawk yet, but that is not a dirt bike, so it doesn't count.

    First thing I did after riding the KLX around the parking lot at work was call Thumper Racing and order a new exhaust tailpipe insert. After that, I got serious and ordered a 33-mm Mikuni pumper carb, large-diameter head pipe, and crankcase breather kit from Stroker, along with a lighting kit from Baja Designs. Acerbis rally guards, Renthal aluminum bars, shorty clutch lever, and better-than-stock skid plate were also needed, as was a color-coordinated Moose XCR jacket from Jeff at MXSouth. Oh yeah, don't forget the manufacturer's shop manuals. Jay gave me the fender bag off his XR, so I didn't need to buy one of those. I do not understand why Kawasaki does not put one on the stock KLX. If you see someone riding a green and purple Kawasaki with a bright orange fender bag that says Honda, you'll know it's me. Please lend a hand to help pull the bike off if you see I'm lying underneath.
  2. Do give the bike a once-over before the first ride. Lube any bearings you can and make sure the air filter is well oiled. Kawasaki uses some sort of light vegetable-like oil on their filters. I prefer the honey-like goo from K&N. Also, check the tire pressure, suspension settings, and sag.
  3. Do change the oil and the oil filter after the first 250 miles or first off-road ride, whichever comes first.

New BikesDon'ts:

  1. Do not go with Brad to the desert for the first few hundred miles on your new bike. If you do, you will end up putting what are supposed to be the first "easy" miles on your bike crossing sand dunes or riding up gnarly, sandy hill climbs at wide-open throttle. If that is not enough, Brad will treat you to fast dry-lake crossings, sand washes, power-line roads, and plenty of high-speed pavement riding after you are 100 miles out, nearly out of gas, the sun is on the horizon, and somebody's headlight (Brad's) has stopped working.
  2. Do not try to drag firewood to the campsite with your new bike. Brad and Jay will shoot bottle rockets at you, and when you fall down and are helpless under your bike, they will shoot more rockets at you and laugh. The rockets with a loud report are their favorites.
  3. Do not ride across semi-dry lakes with your oil filter installed backward. (Jay did this to his XL. It died on the next trip in Baja.)
  4. Do not try to ride out on a flat tire when everyone else has ridden out of site. The tire's flopping about will get you panicked and you will get lost.

Nope, don't do any of these don'ts to your nice new bike, unless you are a dumbass. So, OK call me Dumbass. Brad does.