How to freshen up your old dirt bike

You may have an old dirt bike that you don’t want to sell, but it is overdue for some upgrades. I will give you some tips on how to freshen up your old dirt bike to make her running and looking better.

Please note that this is assuming that your engine is still in good condition. If your bike lacks compression, you should get the top end checked out.

Air filter

Having a clean air filter is extremely important. Whatever dirt gets sucked through a dirty air filter, goes straight into your bike’s engine, which will cause premature wear on the piston, rings and quite possibly even cause damage to the cylinder.

I highly recommend that you invest in more than one air filter. This way you can take the dirty air filter off & wash it after every ride, then swap the dirty filter with a clean one, to make sure that dirt does not enter your engine.

Chain and sprockets

The only way you going to get the power from the engine to the back wheel is through your chain and sprocket. Considering these are moving parts, they will wear down over time and compromise the performance of your bike.

I strongly suggest you replace the chain as well when replacing the sprockets. A worn out chain will cause your new sprockets to wear out quicker than normal. O-ring chains normally last much longer and require less maintenance. I highly recommend the DID chain if you ant your chain to last. It may be more pricey than normal chains, but in the long run, it will work out cheaper.


Replacing your bike’s old tires with a new set of tires will make a big, noticeable difference with your bike’s performance. Whatever type of tire you choose depends on the type of riding you do. For instance, if you do mostly technical enduro riding on rocky terrain, it will be a good idea to get soft, sticky tires. For all kinds of different terrain, medium compound tires will be the way to go.

Exhaust Packing

Replacing the exhaust packing is something that is very often overlooked, but this can make a significant change in the power delivery of your bike. If you have a 2-stroke bike that is running rich, chances are that your exhaust packing is soaked in oil. Replacing the packing can add up to 2 HP to your bike’s performance and it is such an easy job, that won’t take you very long to do.

Reed valves (2-strokes)

You should often inspect the condition of your bike’s reed valves if you have a 2-stroke dirt bike. The smallest of gaps can negatively affect your bike’s performance. If your bike feels a bit sluggish and feels like it is not very responsive, there is a good chance that it is time to replace your reed valves.

Aftermarket reeds, such as V-Force or Boyesen Pro can significantly improve the throttle response on your bike.


Have a look at the bearing on your bike. If any of the bearings show any signs of play, replace them. Wheel bearings especially tend to take abuse when riding in muddy conditions. Dust and dirt will compromise the performance of your bearings. If the bearings still seem good, it will be a good idea to still give them a good clean and lube with grease

Brake pads

Sometimes when your brake pads are very old and especially if the bike has been standing without being used for some time, the brake pads may become weak and can disintegrate quite easily. Brake pads are fairly cheap and of vital importance, so make sure the pads are in good condition.


Often we ride around with bent or half broken levers. Get these replaced, not only is it unsafe to ride with broken levers, but it will improve the appearance of your bike. You can replace them with OEM parts or you can replace them with pivot (unbreakable) leavers, which will last a whole lot longer.


Something as simple as a new set of grips is often overlooked. A new set makes a noticeable difference. You’ve got plenty of options in this department, from your traditional waffle grips or the new ODI lock on grips. Personal preference on what works for you is ultimately the deciding factor. The traditional grips require wire or glue to install. You can also use clear lacquer spray which works just as well. Alternately, if you get the ODI lock-on grips, it’s as simple as installing and tightening a bolt.

Seat cover

Seat covers do sometimes wear out from sliding up and down on the seat, which causes it to be less grippy than what it is meant to be. This can also cause the cover to be weak and tear quite easily. A torn seat will be very noticeable and will make your bike look ugly. Replace the seat cover to significantly improve the look of your bike and to offer more grip.


If your bike is left outside in the sun over time, the plastics are probably faded quite badly. While it may be nearly impossible to restore it to the original condition, it is possible to restore it to look a whole lot better.

To restore the plastics, you will have to sand the plastics down and use products such as Plastic Renew to make it look good again.

Alternatively, you can buy completely new plastics if you cannot restore your existing plastics.


Finally, if you really want to bling up your bike, invest in some new graphics. Applying new graphics on your dirt bike will drastically improve the look of your old bike and make it look new again.

If you are planning to apply the graphics yourself, but you’re not too sure how to, learn how to do it here.




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