Dirt Bike Crash
How To Avoid Your Next One

On this page you will find a list of mistakes that might cause your next dirt bike crash. Some are huge and some are small. But in order for you to get the best performance out of your bike - for your racing and to avoid your next crash - you should eliminate all of them.

The instinctive approach to a dirt bike crash is to ask where the rider went wrong. But have you ever considered that sometimes even a really good rider couldn’t have avoided the crash?

If the suspension is out of sync you have a good recipe for broken bones.

Being a bit reckless and always going faster than my guardian angels could manage I had a couple of good dirt bike crashes. But only later when my bike was set up properly I realized that crashing is not necessarily the riders fault. A good rider can sometimes save the situation – that is true. Good suspension though will save the situation before the rider has to.

If you don’t know the first thing about spring rate, setting sag and clicks, then go to my suspension page to read through the basics. Here I will list the biggest mistakes that you can do to your suspension. If you want to know more about the “why” then follow the links in the text.

  1. Never remove shims or oil from your suspension unless you are totally sure you know what you are doing. Do not let anyone else do this to your suspension unless you are 100% sure they know what they are doing!
  2. Avoid changing front and rear sprocket sizes too much from original as this can have negative effects on shock action.
  3. Don't tighten your front axle incorrectly. Dirt bikes have a floating axel on the right fork leg so that you can align the forks correctly to prevent friction.
  4. Don't neglect your fork seals. Lubricate them after washing your bike.
  5. Don’t over tighten the lower triple clamp bolts as this can distort the fork outer tube thus causing friction problems when the internal fork bush passes the lower triple clamp.
  6. Don’t add unnecessary weight to your bike such as heavy guards. My husband worked for WP Austria and they once had a big party when they managed to save 400g from the forks by changing to thinner walled inner tubes.
  7. Never add too much weight to your wheels. Choose the lightest double thick enduro tube you can find. Don’t use 2 double tubes in one wheel (e.g.one cut and put around the other). This is terrible for handling.
  8. Don’t put more than 250ml slime or similar puncture prevention treatments in each wheel.
  9. Never run your tires at more than 1 bar and preferably use an 18” rear wheel for enduro and off road.
  10. Don’t use cheap tires as they lack tire wall stiffness. Cheap tires often are too stiff or too soft and have weak sidewalls. This is bad for suspension action.
  11. Don't ride with wrong springs for your weight. Chose correct spring rate.
  12. Don't ride without setting the rider and static sag.
  13. Never change fork spring without changing shock spring and vice versa. This will affect the balance of the bike in a bad way.
  14. Never lower the bike by loosening the preload on the shock spring and pulling forks through. Suspension is meant to work in a specific part of the stroke and doing the above causes balance problems and harsh suspension.
  15. Don’t adjust clickers more than 5 clicks either side of standard. Compression you can adjust more but standard or close to it is normally best.
  16. Don’t use cheap aftermarket fork seals when servicing your suspension. Replace bushes as well when you change seals and also use only genuine ones.
  17. Don’t use handlebar raisers. They have a negative effect on handling, fork action and cornering.
  18. Never push air bleeders with front wheel touching the ground.
  19. Don’t buy a steering damper if you have head shake or stability problems. Address your balance problems first and then consider the damper. Masking problems with a damper is not a solution.
  20. Don’t neglect your linkages. Make sure that linkages are well greased and have no play in them.
  21. Never run your chain too tight as this causes shock problems

Suspension is one of the most important aspects of a modern dirt bike. Incorrect changes or adjustments can be the reason for your next dirt bike crash. They have disastrous effects to your bikes handling. Bike geometry and suspension work hand in hand. The front of your bike influences the back and vice versa. It is important to be 100% sure that you or whoever else adjusts your suspension is competent and has the necessary knowledge to do the job.

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