Dirt Bike Upgrades – Personalizing Your Dirt Bike

In a sport where personalization and power counts, then dirt bike upgrades are a must.  As dirt bike riders we are always looking for the best dirt bike upgrades. The best dirt bike upgrades that give us that extra edge to get the holeshot and beat everyone on the line for the first corner. Or an upgrade that sets your dirt bike apart from others. In this article, I take a look at the best dirt bike upgrades for your new bike!

What are the best dirt bike upgrades?

  • You
  • Suspension Set-up
  • Skid Plate
  • Handguards
  • Disk Brake Guards
  • Handlebars

When you review this list it’s all about rider fit and bike protection, these are the standard upgrades you should do, so the bike is protected and you feel comfortable on the bike.

Let us Start With YOU

Instead of dumping hundreds of dollars worth of upgrades into your new dirt bike, what if you saved most of that money for gas and tires? The truth is that the weakest link on any dirt bike is usually the rider. We are usually the issue! Wouldn’t we be better served to save the money on upgrades and simply put in more seat time?

If the bike is new to you, then you don’t have a feel for the bike, and seat time will help improve your riding and give you a better feel for what upgrades would best suit you. Start with getting comfortable on the bike, and protect your investment by adding a good skid plate, then ride it, then ride it some more. Too many times riders start adding upgrades to there new bike – they are just wasting money on components they don’t need.

I’m just stating the obvious, seat time is what your bike needs. We all want to be faster riders. We all want to be more skilled riders. We all want to be a better ride than the “other guy” – that’s just our nature, if there’s an upgrade that gives us that advantage, we do it. The reality is, the rider is the weakest component of any dirt bike and is the one that needs upgrading – we can do that with more seat time.

Suspension Set-up

Comfort is a great starting point, setting your bike up to fit you is critical. Set the SAG and the compression and rebound clickers to the factory spec, that’s it. As you ride to try to dial-in the suspension to fit your riding style and comfort. This is done by using the compression and rebound clickers to fine tune to your liking. But do not have your suspension professionally done.

Getting the SAG set right is critical, but I don’t recommend spending the money or the time to have your suspension completely re-worked until you have spent time riding your dirt bike and can tell what changes need to make. Getting your suspension re-worked before you get 10 to 15 hours of riding time is just wasting money. Unless you can tell them what the suspension doing and what needs to be improved if not, they’re going to set your bike up to what they “think” it should be. Yes, it may be better than stock but it will not be the best set-up for you and your riding style.

Don’t get me wrong, having your suspension set-up to you is a great upgrade and will make the bike perform to your style of riding. But having it done before you get riding time and can give feedback will result in something a little better than the stock set-up.

Protecting Your Dirt Bike And You

Some of the best and critical upgrades are designed to protect you and your dirt bike. On every dirt bike, I buy the very first upgrade I do is add a skid plate. It doesn’t matter if you are going to ride tracks or trails protecting your engine has to be on the top of every rides list of upgrades. This is one upgrade I recommend spending the money on a skid plate that is specifically designed for your make and model of bike, most universal models don’t offer full protection. Enduro Engineering offers great quality skid plates that are affordable and offer great protection.

Brake-guardWith the engine protected let us look at the brakes. Don’t spend your hard-earned money replacing damaged parts that could have been protected. The Tusk Billet Rear Disc Brake Guards are made from strong high-quality aluminum to help protect your motorcycle brake rotor from rocks, stumps or anything else that is thrown in its way. These tough disc guards are anodized to add that factory racing look to your bike.

  • Reduces the chance of rocks, stumps, and sticks from damaging your motorcycle rear brake rotor.
  • Strong high-quality CNC machined aluminum.
  • Durable anodized finish.

For less than $60 you can protect your rear brake rotor with the Tusk Brake Guard. Again, this is one of those must do upgrades that will protect your dirt bike. I do recommend the Tusk brand, make sure you get model specific components.

Last of the protective components upgrades are Handguards.  Handguards are somewhat personal, there are many types and styles to choose from and the ones that are right for you is a personal preference for many riders. Handguards fall into two different categories, off-road handguards for trail riding and motocross handguards for track riding.

Motocross Handguards

Motocross handguards provide additional protection from the roost, especially on rocky tracks. If you’ve ever participated in motocross events you’ll know roost hurts and even with a thick glove layer on you can feel the sting of rocks peppering your hands and fingers. Motocross handguards not only keep the roost out but help deflect it from other parts of your body. You brake and clutch levers will thank you too.

Off-road Handguards

Handguards for off-road and enduro riding is practically required equipment. Yes, you might still find success without handguards for a relatively short 20 lap moto race, just as long as rocks or chunks of brick don’t makeup part of the soil. However, compare that to a three-hour GNCC event through the woods and you won’t ride off without them. Handguards for off-road riding prove to be so popular they are also known as “bark busters.”

The difference in off-road and enduro is the higher probability of slamming the gripping end of your handlebars into a tree. If your bike is not equipped with handguards you’ll be out of action until the bones in your fingers heal. Plus, you’ll be thankful for the protection from the constant whipping of branches as you rip through the forest. To safely and effectively ride off-road you’ll need a great pair of handguards.

Handlebars

I put handlebars last on my list of upgrades because this one is a little more challenging to figure out.  Handlebars are about rider comfort and safety. However, unlike the power parts of your bike, what constitutes the “best” handlebar is entirely based on personal preference.

Picking the Right Bend for You

There are numerous methods of identifying a good bend for your personal tastes, and there is no correct way to choose. A simple method is to analyze what you feel would be more comfortable based on your existing handlebar bend.

Another method encourages you to do 20 pushups, then sit on your bike with your eyes closed, and position your hands where you imagine the handlebars should go (both straight and in a turn).

The “right” bend for you is whatever feels most comfortable. However, you might want to note that if you sit down a lot (such as in more casual trail riding), you might gravitate toward a handlebar with plenty of pullbacks, while if you stand a lot (such as if you race motocross), you might want a straighter bar.

Altering Sizes

Height

Height is one of the three primary measurements of a bar’s bend. Choosing a bend isn’t the only way to influence the height; you can also utilize risers. Getting the right height is particularly important if you’re tall. Fortunately, many bends come in “high” versions that are specifically designed to accommodate taller riders.

Keep in mind that if you set your handlebars too high, they will be uncomfortable while sitting, but if they are too low, they can limit your range of motion.

Width

Some riders who race in the woods cut a small piece off each end of the handlebar to make it narrower. This makes it easier to avoid hitting trees. However, bars that are cut too far will not handle as well. In general, you should use handlebars that are as wide as your shoulder, and the manufactured size works fine.

Pull Back

When you clamp your handlebars, you can pull them toward you before tightening the clamps. While limited variation is fine, beware of excessive modification as it can position the handles awkwardly for your wrists.

Flexibility

Handlebars were traditionally made of steel. However, many modern handlebars utilize an aluminum alloy. Aluminum handlebars are just as strong as steel but offer significantly more flexibility.

Flexibility is important as it can make your ride more comfortable and even reduce arm pump. When shopping for a handlebar, be sure to pay attention to details in the product description that mention impact absorption and flexibility. Some handlebars – such as the Fasst Flexx – are specifically engineered to maximize flexibility.

If you bend your handlebars in a crash, replace them. Bent bars do not handle as well (or as predictably), creating an uncomfortable and possibly even dangerous riding condition. Avoid bending the bars back into their original shape as it compromises the structural integrity of the bars; they can more easily break. Instead, do the safe thing and replace them entirely.

I recommend the Fasst Flexx handlebars for those that have arm, wrist and should pain. The Fasst Flexx handlebars are very expensive but for many rides with previous arm and hand injuries these bars take up a lot of the shock, the would go throw your hands and arms.

Final Take

Racing off the beaten path can always get sketchy, so you’ll never be prepared for everything. Plus, everyone has their different priorities that suit the type of riding they do. I recommend starting with the components that will protect you and your bike, then upgrade components that make the bike more comfortable for you.  So tell me your priority add-ons and why you think their worth having on a bike or just tell me something I should’ve had on the list.

Full disclosureThe links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you buy anything, I’ll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Your support is greatly appreciated and helps me keep the site going.

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