Preparing for Dirt Bike Riding Season

The weather is warming, and Spring has sprung, so it’s time to prepare for dirt bike riding season! For those living in Northern latitudes, Spring is the annual kick-off to dirt bike riding season, which means it’s time to dust off that winter-stored motorcycle, roll up your sleeves, and get busy with your riding season preparation.

In addition to preparing one’s motorcycle for the riding season, it’s also the time to determine when the dirt bike trails in your area open and whether your state requires OHV registration. To help get you started with your riding season prep, we share some tips and offer suggestions for getting you and your motorcycle ready for the Spring riding season in the following guide.

Preparing for Dirt Bike Riding Season
Photo: Jesse Felker Media

Inspect Your Dirt Bike for Spring Riding

Although the winter offseason is the best time for major bike maintenance projects, one should consider some basic maintenance tasks when preparing for the Spring riding season. Preseason maintenance tasks one should consider:

Oil Change – Get rid of that old grimy used oil and start the season with a fresh oil change and new oil filter.

Change the Air Filter – as the lungs of your motorcycle, a fresh air filter improves performance and extends engine life. Remove, wash, oil, and replace for optimal on-the-trail performance.

Inspect the Battery – For those with an electric start, inspect your battery and check that it has a full charge. Pro Tip: when not riding for any length of time or when storing your bike for extended periods, use a trickle charger to keep your battery properly maintained.

Inspect Tires and Wheels – There’s nothing quite like a fresh set of tires—especially at the start of riding season. Inspect the tires on your motorcycle, looking for excessive knobby wear, cuts, and holes that can lead to a flat. If you’re running stock tubes, replace them with thicker, heavy-duty units designed for rugged trail riding. With the wheels removed, inspect the wheel bearings, replace them if needed, and be sure to check for loose spokes and tighten or replace them as needed.

Spring Dirt Bike Maintenance
Photo: Jesse Felker Media

Inspect Drive System – Your motorcycle’s chain and sprockets are one of the most important items to inspect before starting your riding season. Inspect your chain by moving it side-to-side and lifting it off the rear sprocket, looking for excessive slop, which can mean it’s time to be replaced. Look for excessive cupping and missing teeth on the sprockets and replace them. Pro Tip: Install new chain and sprockets together at the same time for optimal performance and longevity.

Replace Exhaust Packing – An excessively noisy motorcycle can make for a long and loud day in the saddle. It’s also good trail etiquette to be sure your motorcycle is as quiet as possible, so repacking your exhaust silencer is an important step in helping keep trails open. Replace that old exhaust packing for a quieter ride and improved performance.

Inspect Rider Controls – Check your motorcycle’s controls for excessive wear by inspecting the handlebars, grips, levers, and throttle, and clutch cables. Replace damaged items and make any necessary adjustments. Pro Tip: The start of a new riding season is the perfect time to try a new handlebar bend or change to a new style of grips or levers.

Gear To Check or Purchase Before the Riding Season Begins

The gear one wears and carries on their person and motorcycle can mean the difference between a fun or frustrating day on the trail. Be sure to inspect and replace any questionable items while also considering new gear that will enhance your ride experience.

Inspect Your Riding Gear – We recommend checking all riding gear—especially one’s helmet and riding boots—before the season begins, looking for wear and tear and potential crash damage. Remove the liner from your helmet and look for any cracks or signs of damage to the EPS liner. Inspect the soles on your riding boots and look for holes that may permit water to enter in wet conditions. Repair or replace any items such as riding gloves or goggles that are questionable.

Review Your On-bike Tool Kit – The preseason is the perfect time to review the contents of your trail tool kit for on-the-trail repairs. Pull everything out of your tool kit, check if anything is missing, worn, or damaged, and replace them as needed. Your trail tool kit should include an assortment of wrenches that fit your motorcycle, tire repair items, zip-ties, tape, and any other emergency repair items you deem worthy to carry when riding in the backcountry.

Add Storage Bags – The start of a new riding season is a perfect time to adda quality tank bag or handlebar bag for added storage without carrying the extra items on your person or in a backpack or fanny pack. Both types of bags offer easy access to your GPS, phone, camera, tools, snacks, or other items without stopping and getting off the motorcycle.

spring dirt bike riding
Photo: Jesse Felker Media

Add Bike Armor – If your bike doesn’t already have any protective products installed, the start of the season is the perfect time to add items such as a skid plate, radiator guards, linkage guards, handguards, and

Add an Oversized Fuel Tank – Add mileage and some peace of mind knowing you’ll have enough fuel on your ride with an oversized fuel tank. Purchasing an oversized tank will also eliminate the need to carry fuel bladders or bottles for extra fuel capacity.

Purchase a Satellite Communicator – Offline communicators like the Somewear Global Hotspot provide trail riders with an added layer of safety by providing the ability to communicate without cellular service. These communicators allow one to send messages from virtually anywhere without cell service.

Add a GPS System for More Accurate Trail Navigation – Getting lost is no fun in the backcountry, so using a GPS system like the onX Offroad App will help make life on the trail more fun and enjoyable instead of worrying about getting lost and stranded.

onX Offroad: The Essential gps app for off-roading
7-Day Free Trial (No credit card required)

Determine When Dirt Bike Trails Are Open in Your Area

In many places across the country (especially in the West), trails have assigned open and close dates. As a proponent of good trail stewardship, we suggest that riders always follow these dates while also being conscious of staying off overly wet and muddy trails that can ruin trails and eventually require repairs.

when do dirt bike trails open?
Photo: Jesse Felker Media

Determining what trails are open in your state and local area varies from state to state, but many have a motorized trails website. Useful websites for trail access information, rules, regulations, and registration requirements include the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) website and your state’s Parks and Recreation website.

Fortunately for those using the onX Offroad App, it takes only a few simple steps to access the open and close dates for dirt bike trails in your area. Start by opening the onX Offroad App and navigating to a trail on the map. Tap on a trail, then swipe up to reveal trail details, including its Open Dates. It’s that simple!

onx offroad dirt bike trail open dates

Get Out and Get Riding!

Prepping for Spring riding doesn’t have to be a chore. We created this guide as a jumping-off point to begin your riding season preparation. Our hope is this guide serves as the catalyst for your personal preseason preparation. Take one section at a time and prepare yourself for the unknowns of the off-road riding season. Now get out there, get riding, tread lightly, and have fun.

spring dirt bike
Photo: Jesse Felker Media
onX Offroad: The Essential gps app for off-roading
7-Day Free Trial (No credit card required)

All Photos Courtesy of Jesse Felker Media.

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Dale Spangler

Dale Spangler is a lifelong motorcycle enthusiast introduced to two wheels at the age of eight and began racing motocross at 12. After chasing his dream of being a professional motocross racer through the mid-90s, he moved on to a career in the powersports industry, where he’s spent the last 28+ years as a marketing specialist, writer, and content creator.