The tips provided below are sure to leave you with a better performing and handling dirt bike as most new dirt bikes don't generally come with much in the way of lubricants where it's most needed, as well as it's not uncommon to find fasteners which are loose even on a brand new motorcycle so we'll be covering the most common things to look for yourself which may save you from future mechanical troubles or lost parts.
Why A New Dirt Bike Needs Serviced Before Riding It
If you're at a loss as to why a new dirt bike needs to be lubricated and looked over before being ridden, this is because most new dirt bikes arrive at a dealership (likely where you bought it) semi-assembled in a shipping container with minimal lubrication on moving parts that include parts such as the wheel bearings, or swingarm & linkage bearings.
Furthermore, new motorcycles are usually unpackaged from a shipping container / crate and the final assembly is usually performed at the dealership by someone that's in a hurry to get this one done so that they can get on to the next dirt bike, street bike, scooter, generator or other product in line.
Simply put, It's a "Flat Rate" labor and production / productivity problem with new motorcycles, so the tips provided here are important to do and check before the first ride.
For the tips below, and for future service, adjustments and tuning of a motorcycle, you're going to need a purpose built motorcycle stand, to enable you to get the wheels off the ground while keeping the motorcycle stable.
Additionally, you'll need a professional assortment of tools, as well as you'll find that having a factory service manual specific to the dirt bike will enable you to perform most services that any dirt bike will require over time.
What Should be Done to a New Dirt Bike Before Riding It
Make Sure the Air Filter is Oiled and Properly Sealed to the Airbox
Immediately after bringing a new dirt bike home, you'll want to first ensure that the air filter is properly oiled, and more importantly, Properly Installed, as doing so could save a new motor from ingesting unfiltered air which usually leads to engine damage and will happen if the air filter is not properly oiled, installed, and sealed to the air box.
If you're unfamiliar with servicing the air filter on a dirt bike, this is something that needs to be done on a regular basis, and the aforementioned link will show you how to properly clean and service an air filter, as it covers everything you need to know from removing the air filter, to cleaning and oiling of the element, to installation. If you're unfamiliar with servicing an airfilter, the previously mentioned article is a must read.
Ensure the Intake Boot is Sealed at Both Ends
Although this is mentioned in the article detailing the service of the air filter, ensuring the intake boot is sealed is of utmost importance so you may want to go over some of the points made in the article on ensuring the air box is sealed, or at a bare minimum, check to ensure the intake boot clamp(s) are / is tight as an unsealed airboot can cause engine damage by allowing unfiltered air to be drawn in.
Drain the Oil and Refill the Motor with a High Quality Oil
Before taking a new dirt bike out for it's first shake down, it's strongly recommended that you drain the oil that may be presently in the motor of your new dirt bike, then refill it with the proper amount of a high performance engine oil as specified in a factory service manual specific to the motorcycle, while also using the oil that you plan on using throughout the life of the bike so that it is consistently using the same engine or transmission oil.
Below, we'll get into some of the other things such as the steering and suspension, after all, that's what's holding you up, and making the dirt bike perform and handle as sweet as the magazine tests says it does, and which may be why you bought it.
Getting the front wheel and steering situated
It may seem painful doing this to a new dirt bike but you're going to need to remove the front wheel and forks, then the steering stem per the factory service manual's outlined procedures, then take a look at what is below about lubricating the front wheel bearings and steering.
Starting with the front wheel bearings
The front wheel bearings are likely very lightly lubricated and are in desperate need of grease, so here's something short and sweet you can do to ensure your front wheel bearings will last.
First, remove the outer wheel spacer(s) from the front wheel and lay the front wheel on it's side being careful to not damage the brake rotor.
Next, using a small sharp pick, very carefully (to prevent damage to the seal) remove the wheel bearing outer seal and with a grease gun loaded with bel-ray water proof grease, or a similar high performance grease, and a grease injecting needle (available at most auto parts stores) inject the grease into the wheel bearing, forcing the grease in between the bearing races and cage while being careful to not make a mess, then reinstall the wheel bearing seal and wipe away any excess grease and do the same on the other side.
Once you are done injecting grease into the front wheel bearings, apply a light film of grease to the hub seals where the outer wheel spacer(s) or axle makes contact with the hub seals and reinstall the outer spacer(s) then set the front wheel somewhere safe.
How to get the Steering and Controls Setup
With the forks removed and the steering stem and lower clamp out of the head tube, before you go any further by cleaning or greasing the bearings this is a good time to upgrade to a better triple clamp, as these can greatly enhance the handling characteristics of most new dirt bikes.
Once you have a new triple clamp assembly, or even if you are sticking with the stock triple clamps and steering stem for now, it's important to make sure everything is clean, which means removing the light film of grease that was already on the stock steering bearings and outer bearing races that are in the head tube of the frame, or ensuring the new
bearing(s) with the aftermarket clamps are clean and free of any dirt or other contamination.
Once everything is clean, and using a high performance waterproof grease such as the readily available bel-ray waterproof grease, apply this liberally to the bottom bearing if it is already installed to the stem and pack it in between the bearing rollers, cage and inner race of the upper bearing along with applying a thick coat of grease to
the outer part of the bearings before reassembly to the head tube.
With the bearing greased, now reassemble and tighten everything per the factory service manual's procedures, or by following our article detailing how to install the forks and front wheel.
As an added mention, Be certain to follow the procedure for installing the front wheel and axle, as well as the procedure outlined for torquing the axle to prevent the dreaded fork bind, as forks that are binding can greatly hamper the fork's steering and handling performance.
About the Swingarm, Linkage and Shock Pivots
Following the steps outlined in a factory service manual, and again, as painful as it may seem to be doing this to a new dirt bike, you're going to need to remove the swingarm, linkage, and shock so that you can get some grease into the pivot areas where there is not much from the factory.
When servicing the swingarm and linkage bearings, it is a pretty good idea to remove the grease that is in place with clean rags and a cleaner such as brake clean if a parts washer is not available, then be sure to dry everything thoroughly with compressed air before greasing and reassembly, but be sure to not lose any of the many small needles that
make up a needle bearing.
Once everything is clean, you're going to need to lubricate everything well upon reassembly with bel-ray water proof grease or a similar high performance lubricant, applying the grease liberally to all the needles and packing it into the bearings that are held together with cages, then reassembling everything and using a quality torque wrench to obtain the specified torque value, torquing all the pivot bolts to the specified torque listed in a factory service manual.
Before you reinstall the rear wheel
While the rear wheel is off the bike, (that is presuming you removed the rear wheel before removal and disassembly of the swingarm, linkage and shock) it is a good idea to remove the spacers on the outer parts of the wheel hub and using a small sharp pick, very carefully (To prevent damage) pry the wheel bearing outer seal out and using a grease injecting needle (available at most auto parts stores) with a grease gun loaded with bel-ray water proof grease or a similar high performance lubricant inject the grease into the wheel bearing, forcing the grease in between the bearing races and cage while being careful to not make a mess then reinstall the wheel bearing seal and wipe away any excess grease and do the same on the other side.
Once you are done injecting grease into the rear wheel bearings, apply a light film of grease to the hub seals where the wheel spacer contacts the seal and reinstall the outer spacer(s), then reinstall the rear wheel and adjust the chain and using a quality torque wrench, torque the rear axle nut per the factory service manual's specifications.
You Really Should Check to Ensure Everything's Tight
Once you're done with doing everything listed above, it's almost time to load up your new dirt bike and ride but before you load it up, be sure to check the bike over with tools in hand, being sure to check the tightness of all the fasteners including spokes, fork pinch bolts, axles, chain adjusters and whatever else you can get a wrench or socket on.
You're likely to find that some fasteners may be loose as some fasteners are not always tight when a new dirt bike is assembled at the factory and checking fasteners after each ride may save you lost nuts, bolts or other small parts, as well as possibly avoiding any track or trail side problems.
Then some final thoughts...
Now that your new dirt bike is back together and you have begun to stop sweating over having it apart, you may be wondering why I didn't mention anything about disassembling the forks or rear shock to change the oil in them. Well, for now, once you have performed the steps outlined above, it's time to load it up and air it out so as to get the suspension broke in.
Once the suspension has had some use, I recommend that you remove the forks and shock, then either send them out to have the oil changed and revalved to fit your riding style, or pick up one of Race Tech's Suspension Bible's and learn to do the work yourself.
Finally, It's time to ride this thing but remember, when you get back from riding, proper dirt bike maintenance is essential, and these dirt bike maintenance articles will keep a new dirt bike performing at it's best for some time to come.