A trailbike can start out as any type of machine, from a full-blown MXer to a playbike, but beginning with a trail machine in the first place is the safest bet. Bikes like KTM EXCs or XCs, Honda CRF-X models or Yamaha WRs come pretty trail ready but can be made a lot more capable with the right mods.
We have not met a bike that a did not like a properly set up steering damper. The Scotts is our favorite, and the mounting kits are painless and sano. Added stability and less steering fatigue are the benefits.Protection. It is a staple of the hard-core trailbike, and it can start with a sturdy set of wraparound hand guards. Available in both plastic and metal versions with many different mounting solutions, some of our picks are from Acerbis, Enduro Engineering, Tusk, Moose Hard Parts, Cycra and Fastway/Pro Moto Billet. They protect your fingers from trees and shrubs and keep your levers intact when the bike hits the ground.Headlights are good. Good headlights are great. They double your riding time if you can put off sleeping. Trail Tech (pictured), Baja Designs, Electrosport and Nite Rider can all provide luminous solutions that go beyond pure candlepower with wild applications from the high-speed needs to tight trail applications. Remember, good lighting often takes more ignition power and a battery. This KTM 200 has a boosted ignition and a battery located in the airbox.A burly chain guide can save the day. Stock aluminum guides tend to bend and derail chains, stock plastic ones are moderate in strength as well. T.M. Designworks (pictured) and BRP make the best chain guides for tough trail work.The trials tire is a secret that is out of the bag. How good does it work? Well, it has been banned for use in almost every extreme enduro and now even at EnduroCross, so that should tell you something. Plus, they last forever and are good for the trails. Look to Dunlop, IRC, Michelin and Pirelli for the rubber. What they’re not good for is the rider who likes to spin and skid. Often guys are pairing trials tires with tubeless rim kits to run lower air pressures, but beware, you cannot ride on a flat trials tire! Use at least 12 psi to prevent flats with a tube.Although not as crucial as the chain guide (there’s less pushing involved when something goes wrong), having a sharkfin rear disc protector is a good idea to keep your disc rotor straight. Above is a Scotts billet unit that is one piece and replaces the caliper carrier altogether. There are others that bolt or clamp on to the existing carrier and even some new composite ones from T.M. Designworks. As you can see, it gets some use. Some companies like Woodsblaster make a front rotor guard for the true bashers out there.On the bottom side of the bike a good skid plate is worth its weight in gold. Black gold, that is, if you really smack your cases. Pick an aluminum one for massive destruction prevention, but be prepared for extra noise resonating up from the plate. Our favorite choices include carbon/Kevlar and plastic skid plates. E-Line and Acerbis produce some of the ones you’ll find on the bottom of our bikes.Having a tough exhaust system, especially on a two-stroke, can go a long way in the life of your pipe. FMF’s Gnarly pipes are made from 18-gage steel and nickel-plated to keep them looking good; it’s like having a pipe protector (also a good idea) built in.Making sure you have a good muffler is important for a number of reasons, specifically to keep the noise levels down. Almost every exhaust manufacturer makes a noise-compliant system, and FMF even goes out of its way to make special quiet stuff, like this Q Stealth that boosts power where you need it. And that isn’t on a dyno, it is where you feel it on the trail. Keeping the muffler repacked, sounding good and not losing power are mottos to live by two-stroke or four.Getting your suspension set up for your application, height and weight as well as ability level is always a good investment, especially since it usually includes a suspension rebuild-and you know it’s time for that to be done to your bike! The name of the suspension company isn’t as important as your being able to communicate what you’re looking for in your ride. And the difference between a local guru’s specific knowledge and a larger national company’s well-rounded experience is for you to decide when the final work is done. Having a company that offers free revalves until they get it right shows a lot of confidence and a willingness to learn, too.Kickstands come on a lot of trailbikes, but if you are converting an MXer, you’ll find help from Pro Moto Billet, Trail Tech and Moose Hard Parts. It’s a lot easier than finding a tree at every stop.