It’s no secret- Chinese dirt bikes – Coolster, Apollo, SSR, Kayo, Tao, etc. – are much more affordable than their Japanese and European counterparts. But despite the low price tag, they can nonetheless last 10+ years if you treat them right.
The key to maximizing the lifespan of your Chinese dirt bike is to carry out routine maintenance. With that in mind, we’ve put together a brief guide on how to maintain Chinese dirt bikes properly.
With over 20 years of experience, we’ve put together 12 easy tips to maintain your Chinese dirt bike which will help you avoid mechanical failures and costly repairs, and keep your motorcycle in tip-top shape all year long.
Ready? Let’s get started!
12 Chinese Dirt Bike Maintenance Tips
Before we get into it, bear in mind that these are meant to be general maintenance tips, as maintenance may vary between different manufacturers. Always consult your owner’s manual first and follow your manufacturer’s guidelines.
1. Assemble It Properly
Ideally, you should try to buy your Chinese dirt bike pre-assembled by professionals. At ATV Wholesale Outlet, all of our dirt bikes are professionally assembled for you and undergo a rigorous 3-phase quality control inspection, giving you confidence that your new powersport is ready to ride as soon as you take it home.
If you decide to order your dirt bike online, be ready to take the time necessary to assemble it yourself and make sure you follow the assembly instructions to the letter. This can be a tricky process, as often time’s instructions are written very poorly and may be difficult to follow. Proper initial assembly will help ensure your dirt bike is safe to ride and minimize maintenance requirements later down the line.
2. Clean Your Bike After Every Ride
Keeping your dirt bike clean is important. Letting dirt, oil, and debris build-up cause rust, mildew, and dry rot to your bike over time and can result in serious damage.
You should wash your bike after every single ride and before performing maintenance. We’d recommend just using a bucket of water and brushing it carefully to knock off the mud.
If you use a pressure washer, exercise caution and avoid forcing water and dirt into areas where it can damage the electrical components and engine. You might even want to seal off the carburetor with an airbox cover.
Once you’ve washed your bike, it’s equally important to dry it. If you leave it wet, the metal can rust and bolts, nuts, and bearings can become damaged. A leaf blower works well for this. After it’s dry, you should also re-lubricate cables, bearings, etc.
3. Clean and Lubricate the Chain
It’s especially important to keep your dirt bike’s drive chain clean, dry, and lubricated. This is another step you should take after every ride. If the chain gets very muddy, you might want to let it dry overnight first so you can brush the mud off more easily with a nylon brush. Once it’s clean, lubricate it with a good chain lube from a trusted brand.
4. Change the Oil Regularly
One of the most common questions we get asked is: how often should you change dirt bike oil?
You’ll get a different answer depending on who you ask, but a good rule of thumb is to change it at least once every 10 operating hours. We recommend the dipstick method- simply pull out your oil dipstick and check the color of the oil. If it’s dark and dirty, change the oil!
That said, some riders change the oil after every ride to extend their engine life as much as possible. As always, the best advice is to follow your manufacturer’s recommendations.
5. Change Your Brake Fluid Periodically
Aside from oil, you should also replace your brake fluid periodically as it absorbs moisture from the air over time, which raises its water content.
You don’t need to change brake fluid as often as oil – once every year or two should be enough. But again, defer to your manufacturer’s recommendations. Most manufacturers will recommend DOT-4 brake fluid for dirt bikes.
You should also check your coolant level regularly and fill it up as needed.
6. Check and Adjust Chain Tension
Your bike chain may become too loose over time, or too taut. There should be enough slack to compensate for suspension movement, but not enough for you to remove it from the rear sprocket.
The ideal amount of chain free-play is around ½ an inch when the swingarm’s parallel to the ground. Follow your manufacturer’s instructions on how to adjust the chain. But the process usually involves loosening the axle nuts on the back wheel, loosening the locking nuts, turning the adjuster bolts to adjust the tension, then retightening the nuts. There’s plenty of good YouTube videos which demonstrate how to properly service your chain.
7. Tighten Nuts, Bolts, and Spokes
Your dirt bike’s bolts and screws can vibrate loose over time as you ride, which is why you should give your hardware a once-over every time before you ride, and tighten them up if necessary. The same holds true for your spokes. It’s worth getting a good-quality spoke wrench for this.
8. Check and Adjust the Throttle Cable
Regularly inspect your bike’s throttle and clutch cables. If they’re frayed or kinked, replace them. You should also test the throttle control to make sure it has the right amount of free play.
To do so, place your bike on a work stand, start it up, and let it idle. After that, turn the handlebars through the complete range of travel and if you hear an increase in the engine RPM, add free play to the throttle cable. You should also make sure the throttle is responsive and snaps back crisply when you twist it.
9. Clean Your Air Filter
The air filter is what keeps your dirt bike’s fuel system and engine clean. It’s very important, so it’s worth cleaning it after every ride.
This will help to ensure you don’t get any extra dust or dirt in your fuel system and improve performance. We’d recommend using a high-quality spray-on air filter cleaner but alternatively, you can just use a mix of general-purpose dishwashing soap and water.
10. Check Tire Pressure
It goes without saying that a flat tire is a surefire way to ruin a great day on the trails. That’s why you should always check your tire pressure before you ride, and make sure it has the proper pressure for the riding conditions.
Dry conditions usually require a higher PSI, but check your owner’s manual for recommendations. You should also always keep a few spare tire tubes on hand as a backup.
11. Store Your Dirt Bike Appropriately
It’s important to store your dirt bike safely in a covered indoor area to protect it from the elements. Leaving it outside allows rain, UV rays, moisture, snow, etc. to damage the body and mechanical/moving parts. Ideally, you should store it vertically on a stand.
If you’re storing it over the winter, you’ll need to winterize it. Follow your manufacturer’s guidelines for advice on how to go about this, but it’ll usually involve removing the battery and connecting it to a maintenance charger while not in use, as well as cleaning your bike and doing some basic maintenance like cleaning, lubricating, etc.
12. Maintain Your Brakes
Brakes are probably the most important part of your bike. You need to be able to stop safely to ride. Keep your brake and brake shoes clean to extend their lifespan and replace the shoes if you notice you have to pull your brakes harder to stop.
You May Find Helpful: How To Maintain Your Chinese ATV
Always Buy From a Reputable Dealership
Aside from routine maintenance, the best way to make sure your Chinese dirt bike lasts as long as possible is to buy from a reputable dealership.
ATV Wholesale Outlet is the leading supplier of dirt bikes in Northern California in Sacramento. We offer unbeatable prices and all our units come pre-assembled, with a bumper-to-bumper warranty. Plus, we’re a full-support dealer and have our own in-house repair shop that’s always stocked with replacement parts for our vehicles. You can see our selection of units online here or visit us in-store to explore your options.