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Preparing Your New KDX

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 What the dealer should have done!

By: Canadian Dave

You're smiling ear to ear and why not you just picked up your new KDX. Whether the bike is new off the showroom floor or new-to-you there are a number of simple adjustments you should make before you even fill the tank with premix.

Grease - OK I'll say it right off the bat, I should have known better. There its out, I confess. When I picked up my new 1998 KDX220 I diligently went over the whole bike from top to bottom and yet I neglected to regrease the suspension linkage. It was one of those " learning experiences " you'd gladly live without. Looking over any new Japanese built bike you would think grease was worth its weight in gold. From the factory the linkage was so lightly greased you'd swear it wasn't done at all. I'd only owned the bike half a summer before it was time to rebuild the suspension linkage. Slightly used needle bearings and seals anyone? They're going cheep only 4 months on them. I expected it was a fluke but I've heard the same story from new owners with bikes from all the major manufactures to know better.

Here's the deal. When you pick up your bike grab a container of waterproof grease. I like Bell Ray but there are a number of great products out there. Disassemble the rear suspension linkage, using a clean rag wipe as much of the existing grease out as you can ( if it’s a new-to-you bike then clean the bearings out with solvent and air blow dry ) and repack the bearings. Don't forget to slather a generous layer on the seals either. You don't want to damage them before you even have a chance to ride. If you're really on the ball you do the same thing with the steering stem bearings too.

Nuts'n Bolts - With your torque wrench and shop manual in hand go over the bike and insure all the external fasteners have been properly torqued. Chances are you won't find anything but better safe than sorry. Anything that looks expensive to replace like the kick starter, foot peg on older KDXs, rear brake lever, kick stand, body work mounting hardware ( except the rad shrouds they're threaded into brass inserts ) etc should be removed and refastened using a non-permanent locking agent like Blue LocTite. If you ride popular trails you know why and probably have a stash of extra parts, of unknown origin, you've found on the way. I have a couple silver kickstands and a kick-starter up for grabs. They'll make a great gift, though I have no idea what they might fit. The rear sprocket bolts often vibrate loose. Applying thread lock will help insure they stay in place too.

Chain - Brand new KDXs come with some sort of " stuff " on the chain to prevent it from rusting on the trip over. I don't know what the heck it is but I can tell you it would make a terrific bonding agent. If you don't clean it off your chain you'll be spending the next week cleaning it off every imaginable surface on the bike. While you're there make sure the chain is properly adjusted and lubricate the chain with something less like caulking. WD-40 will work to condition the O-rings on the factory O-ring chain and use your favorite chain lube on non o-ring chains.

Brakes - The brake rotors are coated with a rust inhibitor from the factory too. The dealer may have taken the time to clean them but better safe than sorry. Using a can of brake or contact cleaner go over the rotors really well.

Check the brake fluid levels and insure they're operating properly. If you want to give your new baby the royal treatment pump good quality DOT 4 brake fluid through the entire system and bleed the brakes. If you've owned your KDX for a while it’s a good idea to flush the brake system and refill it with DOT 4 fluid. It withstands the demands of off road riding better than DOT 3 and will improve braking performance and feel.

Fluids - Check you coolant and transmission oil levels. Once you have competed the break-in procedure flush the system and replace both with your favorite brand.

Controls - Adjusting the controls to best fit your body size and riding style is one of the most important things you'll do. Adjust the fork tube height to fit your personal preference. Most people who ride in open areas run the fork caps flush with the upper triple clamp to reduce headshake and improve high-speed stability. Riders who stick to slower tighter conditions, like in the trees, often drop the forks a few millimeters for better cornering. It’s a trade off. You reduce performance at one end to improve handling at the other.

The handlebars will need to be adjusted ( tall riders check out "Mods For Tall Riders" ). When you're finished there you'll want to turn your attention to the handlebar mounted hardware. Many riders will remove brake and clutch levers, wrap a couple layers of Teflon tape around the handlebars under the perches, reinstall the levers to the desired height and torque them to factory specs. Now in the event of a crash the Teflon tape will allow the perches to rotate reducing the chances of braking a lever.

Check that the gearshift and brake pedals are set to your liking. If not make the appropriate adjustments.

Suspension - Set the race sag. Most KDXers will set their sag between 95 and 100mm. For instructions on how to set your race sag check out MX-Tech's web page.

Filter and Airbox - Remove and completely disassemble the airbox. To insure that no foreign material can enter the intake tract apply a bead of black silicone ( because it looks the best ) to the face of the intake boot and to the air-filter retainer ( not the filter cage ) and quickly reassemble it before the silicone dries. This will insure a perfect seal between these parts. Put the air box aside until the silicone has set and reoil the air-filter. Like grease filter oil seems to be worth its weight in gold. Don't forget to use a good bead of grease around the filter's sealing ring.

Tire pressure - Just like the rest of us the factory over inflates newly installed tires to insure they seat properly on the rim and just like us some times they forget to deflate them back to the proper pressure. Depending on riding conditions most rider will set their tire pressure between 11 and 14 psi. 11 psi works best for loose conditions like sand and 14psi for extra protection in rocky conditions.

Breaking-in that new engine

You just laid out a bunch of cash for you new KDX and you want to make it last. The method you used to break in your new engine will have a serious effect on how well the engine performs and how long it lasts. This procedure is basically the same as what is outlined in your owners manual if you have a brand new bike and is the method the majority of the worlds top mechanics will use. If you've just rebuilt your engine's top end you should treat your engine like it's new and follow this procedure as well, less the transmission oil and coolant change.

First off its not necessary to richen your jetting, richen the premix or add some sort of chemical concoction to your fuel. Following these directions will insure your engine is properly broke-in.

    • Your KDX has a coated cylinder rather than an old tech iron sleeve. The coating is porous to help grab oil and its super hard to prevent wear. You'll need to seat the rings into the piston but seating the rings into cylinder isn't a concern. To do so start the bike and let the engine completely warm up. Ride the bike at an easy pace for 15 minutes making sure you don't lug or over rev the engine. Basically avoid the mid-range power band and don't lug the bike in an inappropriately high gear. Stop the bike and let it completely cool down. Repeat this procedure three times.
    • Once you have 45 minutes of easy riding on the engine you can quicken the pace a little for 30 minutes remembering not to strain the engine. Let the engine completely cool. Drain and flush the transmission to remove any debris and add your favorite oil. Drain and flush the cooling system to remove any debris and add your favorite aluminum compatible coolant. Those with 1995 to 2000 KDXs can add oil to the upper part of the sight glass to reduce normal transmission/clutch noise.

The owner's manual recommends replacing the piston and rings after break-in. Why? Added insurance. Once the cylinder is coated at the factory its honed to the exact bore. Its possible that this process has left a burr behind, most likely in one of the ports. As the piston passed over the port it can snag the burr, scratching the piston and rings and possibly damaging the lining. The lining is incredibly hard so the chances of actually tearing the lining is very very slim. A seized piston rarely damages a lined cylinder. Disassembling the top end gives you the opportunity to inspect the cylinder, piston and rings for damage. If your piston and rings are damaged you'll need to replace them with new ones. This is normal wear and tear so don't expect your dealer to hand them over. If however your cylinder is damaged its time to fire up the siren and have it replaced. Disassembling a brand new top end and at a minimum replacing the gaskets doesn't sit well with most people. Because the majority of burrs are in the intake and exhaust port if you remove the reed valve assembly and pipe you can turn the engine over and inspect the piston for scratches by looking through the ports. The choice is yours. Do what you are most comfortable with.

If you have any comments or suggestions smack the email icon and send them my way.
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