As an experienced rider, you’ve mastered the fundamental ways to improve a dirt bike’s performance. You don’t use Wal-Mart oil and cheap air filters, and your bike’s brakes and steering are pinpoint precise.
It’s high time you took the next step toward greatness with these advanced dirt bike mods for performance enhancement. If not, catch up:
Like playing sports with quality equipment, it’s easier to improve your skills on a dirt bike that responds well to your growing skillset. We always suggest you start on a bike you’re not in love with (at least cosmetically), but there’s no reason to buy a different bike when there’s plenty of potential sitting in your current ride, waiting to be unleashed.
Without further ado, these are far and away 5 of the best ways to improve your dirt bike’s performance.
Chopping your bike’s stock exhaust might be tempting, but the only thing you'll be improving is noise. Repacking your muffler will help too, but to get the best power boost you need to go aftermarket.
Bike manufacturers design exhaust pipes to be efficient, quiet, and aesthetically pleasing. The aftermarket is focused on gains, so pipes are usually lighter, louder, and simpler. Dropping weight down low results in a better center of gravity and a more flickable bike all around. Shedding resonance chambers and catalytic converters means waving goodbye to emissions control and quiet pipes. But hey, loud pipes save lives on trails too.
Better throttle response, more power, and a more engaging riding experience – it’s no wonder aftermarket exhaust is the most popular way to get power gains on a dirt bike. Not to mention, a nice set of pipes is just plain sexy.
On a street legal dirt bike, removing that pesky catalytic converter might put you in a legal gray area. But you already knew that, you hooligan you.
Installation time: < 1 hour
While you’re in there: Check tightness of all bolts, check radiator hoses and radiator if applicable
The go-to for increasing power on a fuel injected dirt bike is, of course, bigger injectors and a tuning box like a Power Commander.
Carbureted bikes are a bit more… interesting.
Since the carb controls how much air and fuel are delivered to the engine, even small changes here will have a huge impact on performance.
As a baseline, set the air/fuel mixture, timing, and idle adjustments using your owner’s manual or an online guide. The next step is changing the jetting, which can return massive performance improvements all around. But long before you crack open the carb and start messing around, make sure you have the basics of dirt bike tuning covered:
Keep your spark plugs gapped and fresh
Run high quality fluids
Change fluids and filters often
The best way to prolong the carb's lifespan is to ride your bike often and don’t hold back. This keeps the floats and accelerator pump working smoothly. Older carbs could benefit from a healthy dose of a carb cleaner like Seafoam, but by that point a full rebuild is usually on its way.
Even a full rebuilding and re-jetting session will only take a few hours max.
Installation time: 1-2 hours
While you’re in there: Clean the carb, inspect the top end and fuel lines
The pros change gearing for almost every track they run. You don’t have to get that crazy with it, but even re-gearing once can more closely align your riding style with your dirt bike's natural tendencies.
Gearing is split into two extremes: acceleration and top speed. More acceleration comes from a larger rear sprocket or smaller front sprocket, or even both. This results in a lower gear ratio that’s better for tight, punchy courses. The opposite mixture gets you more speed, with a larger front sprocket and/or smaller rear sprocket giving the bike more legs for distance.
Since sprockets are relatively inexpensive and changing them is a breeze, start by going up or down 1-2 teeth on the rear sprocket. Note the difference and change the formula from there, and keep in mind that changing 1 tooth in the front is the same as 3 or 4 at the rear.
Installation time: < 1 hour
While you’re in there: Inspect the chain and bushings, verify rear wheel alignment
Buying aftermarket suspension for a dirt bike is one of the most expensive bolt-on upgrades around. A fork or shock swap is a job for the confident only, and if your components are worn or outdated a swap might be your best option. I say take the cheaper route first – get the most out of your stock setup before dropping big bucks on upgrades.
Many riders don’t realize that huge improvements in handling can come from simply tuning your bike's stock suspension for your weight, especially on a modern dirt bike. This process factors your body weight and the weight of your gear and, using the adjustability that’s built into your stock suspension, transforms the entire character of your bike with minimal effort.
After just a few hours of suspension tuning your dirt bike will feel more balanced and easier to control. What’s not to love about that?
This is how to adjust your suspension, and here's all the reasons you should.
Installation time: 1-2 hours
While you’re in there: Check for wear, listen for scraping and rubbing
Picture a guy on his sofa playing Xbox and a professional gamer making millions a year. Both use the same controller, the same game, and the same console – maybe even the same techniques. The difference is experience.
You’ve probably seen a high-dollar Husky get dusted by some spraypainted 1980s two-stroke a time or two. Head to the local racetrack and you’ll see a $25,000 Ducati Panigale get passed by a Craigslist Special Ninja 250. The same thing happens in every sport every weekend, everywhere. Turns out the old adage “Money can’t buy you skill” is 100% true.
The world’s best dirt bike won’t make you a better rider. It will certainly help, and doing these advanced upgrades along with the 5 Best Easy Dirt Bike Upgrades will ensure your dirt bike is ready to handle your growing skillset. But nobody picks up a guitar for the first time and shreds like Slash – it has to be earned, refined, and perfected.
Luckily, you don’t have to go it alone. The dirt bike community is a vibrant and helpful group that is happy to help a fellow rider learn new skills. Ask and ye shall receive help, pointers, and everything in between, and if you’re not seeing that camaraderie in your current circle you’re looking in the wrong place. For real.
Installation time: Years
While you’re in there: Live your dreams, find inner peace
Street Legal License Plate
A street legal dirt bike is an awesome thing to have in your arsenal – if you’re ready, that is. Prices start at just $299 and if we fail to make your dirt bike street legal, you get your money back. Call or click learn more, or have us call you:
Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments!