Pro Wrenching Tip—Drilling Small Holes in Dirt Bike Tires

A unique way to get more traction from off-road motorcycle tires.

Tires are not just for putting power to the ground. They are also an integral part of your suspension. How much the sidewall flexes helps absorb some of those hard hits. Five-time Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) champion Rodney Smith, now media manager for Beta USA, was serving as mechanic for defending AMA EnduroCross champion Jonny Walker at round 2 of the 2023 series when he gave us this pointer on how to get that squish factor working in your dirt bike’s tires.

Riders are always looking for every advantage they can get, no matter how small. Five-time GNCC champion Rodney Smith gave us a tip we had never heard before: Drill small holes in dirt bike tires to allow air to escape when they hit rocks or roots, which decreases deflection.Shan Moore

We noticed small holes had been drilled around each side of Walker’s tires. Here’s what Smith explained to us: “Back when I was racing GNCCs, Dunlop told me that if you drill small holes about 6 inches apart around the perimeter of the tire on each side, when you hit a rock or tree roots, or even if it’s hard-packed and slippery, [the holes] will allow air to escape the tire without deflecting,” Smith said. “It’s a small advantage, but I think today, everyone is looking for every advantage they can get. We do it to the front and rear tires, and at the first round in Everett, Washington, it was a bit slippery and Jonny seemed to have an advantage in the rocks.”