Drain transmission fluid and refill to proper amount
Be sure the cooling system is full. If adding fluid is necessary, use a 60% water/40% antifreeze mix or a motorcycle specific, ready to use, coolant. If the bike is a two-stroke, be sure to pre-mix the gas to a suitable ratio with a quality premix oil (we recommend Motul 800 or VPC2 mixed 36:1).
Oil air filter
Most bikes are purchased with a dry or inadequately oiled air filter. It is best to oil the filter with a quality foam filter oil (we recommend Maxima FFT). Apply a thin film of grease around the lip of the filter before reinstalling it. It is also a good idea to check the intake boot for proper fit to the air box and carb.
Set tire psi
Bikes generally come off of the showroom floor with over-inflated tires. Set the tire pressure between 11 and 14psi depending on track conditions/preferences.
Grease headset and linkage
Most bikes are delivered with lightly greased or dry headset and linkage bearings. If not greased properly, these bearings will rust and become notchy after a few washes. Disassembly the headset and linkage, pack the bearings generously with waterproof grease and reassembly. Loctite and torque the headset nut and linkage bolts to keep them from loosening on the track.
The wheels will never be as true again as they are when the bike is new. Find a starting point and tighten the spokes ¼ turn, all the way around. Continue the tightening sequence until the spokes are tight. If done properly, the wheel will remain true and the spokes will stay tight for a long period of time.
Check and Loctite bolts
Grab a T-handle, one size at a time, and check the torque on all external bolts of that size on the bike. Apply Loctite to any critical bolts (ex. Headset nut, kick starter lever bolt, front brake caliper bolts, shock mount bolts, subframe bolts).
Antiseize chain adjusters
Remove the chain adjuster bolts, apply anti-seize to the threads and reinstall them. This prevents them from seizing and breaking off in the swingarm a few months down the road.
Lever and cable adjustments
Start by sitting on the bike. Rotate the handlebars to a position that is most comfortable. Set the levers approximately horizontal with the bars and slide them inward so that when fully engaged, they do not hang off of the end of the bars. This gives you better leverage as well as decreases your chances of breaking the levers in a crash.
Be sure that the throttle turns freely and has a slight amount of free play before moving the slide. Adjust the clutch so that it engages and disengages properly and still has a 1/16” minimum of play at the lever. Set the brake lever and foot pedal at comfortable engagement points. If your bike has a cable operated hot start or compression release, make sure that it has a slight amount of free play.
Set race sag and check suspension adjustments
Set the proper race sag for your weight by adjusting the spring preload collars at the top of the rear shock. This will dramatically affect the handling characteristics of the bike. Also, check to see that all suspension adjusters are set to the settings specified in the manual. These are fair starting points for most bikes.
Breaking in a bike correctly will reduce the chances of engine failure. Warm the engine up slowly until the radiator or cylinder is at normal operation temperature. Shut the engine off until the cylinder is cool to the touch. Repeat this process three or four times, taking care not to over rev or over load the engine. Ride the bike through the gears a few times for 10 – 15 minute secessions using the same precautions. Once again, check over the bike before riding at normal pace.
Read your owner’s manual for safety recommendations and don’t forget to install a bar pad!
More on in-depth procedures and complete race preparation in the near future