One of the things dirt bike owners and enthusiasts will agree on is that they’re not cheap investments. That’s why it isn’t uncommon for those who want to purchase one to wonder and ask, “How long do dirt bikes last?” After all, you want to make sure you don’t spend your hard-earned money on something that will break down after a few months.
So, how long do dirt bikes last? Like with some products, there is no specific number in terms of lifespan. But, on average, you’ll expect it to last 5 to 20 years (or 100 to 500 hours or 15,000 to 30,000 miles), depending on certain factors.
To give you a better understanding of how long a dirt bike will last, let’s get into the specifics. Likewise, allow me to share great dirt bike maintenance tips to ensure it lasts as long as expected, even exceeding its lifespan.
How Long Do Dirt Bikes Last?
Did you know that the average lifespan of your dirt bike will depend on whether it has a two-stroke or four-stroke engine? Well, a 4-stroke engine dirt bike will last longer than a 2-stroke unit.
But, a 2-stroke unit might last longer than a 4-stroke engine bike if the former is more well-maintained.
How you use your dirt bike also significantly affects its lifespan.
If you use it more frequently and don’t maintain it regularly, it will have a shorter lifespan than when you use it less frequently and maintain it regularly. I also would like to note that bikes used in rocky terrains will break down faster than those used in dunes or flat terrains.
For instance, your 4-stroke dirt bike is expected to last up to 500 hours when mostly used for casual riding. With the same type of usage, your 2-stroke bike can have a maximum lifespan of 200 hours.
When you typically use your bike for off-road riding and driving, your 4-stroke and 2-stroke engine bikes will last around 300 and 100 hours, respectively.
How To Maintain Your Dirt Bike
Now that you know the crucial role of maintenance in your dirt bike’s lifespan, let’s get into the nitty and gritty details.
What are the best practices for dirt bike maintenance? Well, there are two categories of maintenance procedures to keep in mind: routine and periodic.
11 Routine Maintenance Best Practices
This type of dirt bike maintenance covers those that you need to perform regularly. You need to do some before and/or after using the bike, while others should be done weekly.
That said, here are some of the recommended routine maintenance practices every dirt bike owner should know:
1. Check the Tire Pressure
Before and after you ride your dirt bike, make sure you don’t forget to check the tires’ pressure using the appropriate gauge tool. When checking right after riding it, you have to wait for the tires to cool down.
Ideally, your bike’s front tire should have a pressure of 8 PSI for muddy terrains and 14 PSI for dry terrains. For the rear tire, it should be set at 6 PSI and 12 PSI, respectively.
2. Wash and Dry
Some might raise their eyebrows, thinking that washing a dirt bike isn’t a maintenance practice. But grits, dust, and dirt can lead to some parts rusting and wearing.
For instance, mud can quickly eat into your dirt bike’s engine block and aluminum frame. When it does, it will leave some visible pits.
Meanwhile, grits and dust usually collect on the dirt bike’s sprockets and chain and in between the brake discs and pads and other moving parts. Not only will these minute particles make the affected parts less efficient, but they will also wear out the part more quickly.
When washing your dirt bike, you must always do so gently. Avoid using abrasive cloth and brushes.
A soft-bristled brush is enough to efficiently remove mud or dirt from the wheels and tires without causing damage. Of course, you still have to be gentle when brushing.
Likewise, it’s best to use a bucket of water instead of a pressure washer. But if you prefer to use one, make sure you deflect the water away from the dirt bike. Doing so ensures you don’t force dirt and water into your bike’s electrical and engine components.
I also highly suggest using an airbox cover to protect the carburetor from debris and water.
Of course, you also have to make sure you dry your dirt bike. For the exterior or frame, simply use a clean, soft microfiber cloth. You can allow the interior parts to air dry or use a leaf blower.
3. Clean and Oil the Air Filter
A clean and well-oiled air filter is vital in ensuring your dirt bike’s optimal performance. It also protects the engine parts, such as the cylinder and piston ring, from damage.
While it’s highly suggested to use an air filter with a spray-on air filter cleaner, you can use a homemade cleaning solution. Simply mix an equal amount of mild all-purpose cleaner and water. You must also use a soft-bristled brush to remove any debris stuck in the filter’s nooks and crevices to clean your air filter thoroughly.
Once your dirt bike’s air filter is clean and dry, coat it with high-quality air filter oil to lubricate it and protect it from dirt and water.
4. Lubricate Moving Components, Seals, and More
Once your bike is clean and dry, apply petroleum-based, PTFE-based, or Moly grease or oil to some important parts. They include specific components, such as seals, cables, sprockets, bearings, and other moving dirt bike parts.
Not only will grease make it easier for the components to move as expected. It will also help seal out dirt and water.
5. Check for Leaks
The next thing you need to do is to inspect your bike for any leaks. If the ground where you washed and dried your bike is still wet, move it to drier ground.
Check your bike’s engine for any oily spots and the ground underneath the bike for drips or oily areas. Likewise, inspect the exhaust and cylinder’s surroundings for any soot-like marks. All of these can indicate leaks.
Next, check your bike’s brake calipers, fluid reservoirs, hydraulic brake cables, coolant pipes, radiators, and water pump gasket. Doing so will help you find where the specific leak is.
If you find any leaks or the possibility of having one, make sure you have your bike inspected professionally.
6. Inspect the Chain (Tighten or Replace, as Needed)
Checking for chain tension is critical to know whether it needs replacing or adjusting. It should neither be too tight nor too loose. Else, it won’t be able to compensate for the movement of the dirt bike’s suspension.
A tight chain can break the countershaft bearing, which can lead to the chain and engine case breakage. Meanwhile, a slack or loose chain can wear out the sprockets more quickly than expected.
To ensure your bike’s chain has the right amount of tension and isn’t worn down, you need to refer to the owner’s manual. It indicates the right chain slack measurement and the number of links.
A tight chain will only require adjustment, while a loose one requires replacement.
7. Inspect and/or Replace the Sprockets
If your bike’s chain requires replacement, it’s also best to replace the sprockets because they’re most likely worn out.
If it only required loosening, inspect the sprockets for any broken and/or hooked-over tooth. Also, check for any grooving in between the sprocket teeth. All of these indicate sprocket replacement.
8. Inspect Bolts and Nuts (Tighten or Replace, as Needed)
Bolts and nuts can loosen due to vibration while driving the bike. Inspect every bolt and nut and tighten any loose ones. If any of them look worn or can’t be tightened, replace them.
9. Inspect Control Cables (Replace When Needed)
Inspect your clutch and throttle control cables for any kinks or frays, and replace them when needed.
10. Check the Bearings (Replace When Needed)
There is really no telling when you need to check the dirt bike’s bearings. After all, it depends on where and how often you use the bike. Thus, I highly recommend doing so regularly.
To inspect the different bearings, here’s what you need to do:
- Swingarm Bearings: Place your bike on its stand, hold it firmly, and move its swingarm from side to side.
- Swingarm Linkage Bearings: While your bike is on its stand, grab its rear wheel and move it up and down.
- Wheel Bearings: While your bike is on its stand, firmly hold it and move its wheels from side to side.
- Steering Head Bearings: Sit on your dirt bike and hold its front brake. Slowly push and pull your bike’s handlebars.
If you notice any changes in the play, replace the specific bearing.
11. Check and Top Up Engine Fluids
Dirt bikes require several fluids at a certain amount to ensure they work optimally. It’s best to check the engine coolant’s level after using your bike. Top it up with the recommended coolant when needed.
While doing so, check the brake and/or clutch fluid levels. Top them up with the recommended fluid when needed.
4 Periodic Maintenance Best Practices
Certain dirt bike maintenance practices must be done at specific intervals or periods, including:
1. Change the Oil and Oil Filter
The frequency of changing your dirt bike’s oil and oil filter will depend on how often you use it and where you often drive it. That said, bikes often driven on muddy, sandy, or dirty terrain should have an oil and filter change every 8 to 10 operating hours.
2. Flush and Replace Fluids
Like engine oil, dirt and moisture will collect in the coolant, brake fluid, and clutch fluid over time. This will affect your bike’s performance and can lead to damage to the components.
Ideally, you should flush and replace the fluids annually. Ensure you check the owner’s manual for the recommended brand and/or fluid type.
3. Replace the Air Filter
Ideally, you should replace your dirt bike’s air filter after around five rides. However, this will depend on where you drive the bike. Hence, inspecting it before or while cleaning it is always best.
If your bike’s air filter has lost shape, it’s time to replace it with a new one. The same goes for an air filter that shows signs of wearing and tearing.
4. Change the Piston and Rings
Like the filters, the rings and piston’s lifespan will depend on how often and where you use your bike.
Generally, you must replace the pistons and rings of two-stroke dirt bikes used in races every 15 to 20 operating hours. Meanwhile, a four-stroke bike driven in the same conditions requires piston and ring replacement after every 30 operating hours.
For bikes driven less frequently and in less aggressive terrains or conditions, you can replace the rings and pistons every 50 to 100 operating hours.
Owning a Long-Lasting Dirt Bike
Manufacturers design dirt bikes to last for years, especially since they’re driven in some of the harshest conditions. The exact number of years, hours, or miles isn’t written in stone. Nevertheless, proper care and maintenance will help prolong its lifespan.
Make sure you familiarize yourself with the manufacturer-required regular and periodic maintenance practices. You can also use my guide as a checklist.
Lastly, don’t forget to protect your dirt bike from environmental factors like weather changes and dirt. Consider purchasing a heavy-duty, waterproof motorcycle cover (view on Amazon). A durable security chain (view on Amazon) and weatherproof, alarm-equipped lock (view on Amazon) is also a good investment, as it helps protect your dirt bike from thieves.
Kris is an avid off-roader and outdoor enthusiast who loves to brave the elements and take on challenging terrain. He also enjoys sharing his passion and knowledge with others so that they, too, can appreciate the ride.