Dr. Dirt’s Wrenching Tips: New Bike Prep

New bikes that arrive at a motorcycle dealer are shipped in crates and require minor assembly to get them ready for the showroom floor. Dealers that do not have enough room to floor bikes or store the crates rely on bike assemblers to store and build the bikes when they are needed. Usually an assembler is regional and will handle many dealers in the area and a few different brands of motorcycles. Motorcycle manufacturers require the dealer to do a pre-delivery inspection, or PDI, on every new bike sold. Once the PDI is done, the bike is ready for delivery and your work has just begun. Here are some things that you should do after taking delivery of your new steed!

Controls: Make your bike fit before you ride it. Adjust your handlebar mounts in the fore/aft position that best suit your size and riding style when sitting on the bike. Once the mounts are set, adjust your handlebars to your liking. When tightening your handlebar bolts tighten the front bolts first. Wrap a loop of Teflon tape under the clutch and front brake mounts then adjust the levers for height and reach. Tighten the bolts so the levers will be able to move if you fall. Be sure to check your throttle and clutch play. Safety wire your grips now so they don't come loose on your first ride. Adjust your rear brake and shift lever height so you can reach them when sitting and standing.

Wheels: Brake rotors often have rust inhibitor on them so they need to be cleaned with contact cleaner before you use them. The wheels on a new bike come straight and true but the spokes need to be checked before you ride. Go around the wheel and tighten any loose spokes 1/4 turn until they are all equally tight. On some wheels you may have to go around it a few times to get the desired tension. Check your spokes every moto for the first few rides. Sprockets bolts often need to be tightened on a new bike and should be checked after the first few rides. Tire pressure is checked during the dealer's PDI but is often set high so reset it to 10-13 psi for MX and 13-14 psi or more for off-road use. Although most riders will choose to wait until they are ready to change their tires, it is a good idea to remove the stock rim strips and replace them with two wraps of 1" wide Gorilla tape. To prevent flats it is worth changing the stock tubes to better quality or heavy-duty tubes. Put those stock tubes in a fanny pack or spares box, they will make a good trade item with a buddy someday.

Suspension: Set the sag on your bike before you ride it. Once you have set the rider sag check the free sag to ensure the stock spring rates will work for your weight. Make sure your front wheel is installed properly installed and all the bolts on your fork and axle are set at the correct torque. Count your suspension clickers and make sure they are set on the stock settings so you have a baseline to begin with. If your new bike was manufactured more than six months prior to purchase recharge the nitrogen in the shock, as the bladder is porous and will lose its charge over time. Change the fork fluid after 5-10 hours of use. Suspension components will have the most metal-to-metal wear and contamination during the first few hours of operation. Your suspension linkage and headset will come with a minimal amount of lube. It's best to re-grease it sooner than later before it gets dirty.

General: Air filters get shipped with a minimal amount of oil and grease so they won't cause an environmental meltdown in transport. Make sure yours gets properly serviced. Apply Dielectric Grease to electrical fittings if you ride in wet conditions or wash your bike frequently. Install graphics and decals to protect fork tubes and plastic before they get scratched. Even though your dealer checks in the PDI, inspect the engine oil and coolant level. Change your engine oil and filter after the first ride to ensure you get the maximum metal contaminants out of your engine. It doesn't hurt to check all the nuts and bolts—there's nothing worse than having a fender bolt fall off on your first ride and have it flopping around the track. Finally, and most important, you need to RTM: Read The Manual!

Want more Dr. Dirt Wrenching Tips? Check out the Dr. Dirt section of Dirt Rider magazine, or stay tuned to the website for future stories and info. To suggest a topic for an upcoming installment or to ask Dr. Dirt a tech question directly, send an email to drmail@sorc.com, subject line: Dr. Dirt.