Dualsporting is an awesome thing. You can go just about anywhere, see scenery that the average Joe or Jane would never have a chance to view, and ride both street and dirt, depending on your preference. With its popularity, dualsporting has a whole new outcropping of riders, too. Many riders are completely new to the sport and may not know some of the tricks of the trade. Below is a list of suggestions and ideas that will make your next dualsport adventure more enjoyable. Yes, these tips lean heavily toward the dirt side of dualsporting, so you new dirt riders can actually apply some of these tried and true ideas to your dirt bike, also. There are also some road bike tips. All of these ideas may or may not apply to you, so just pick and choose. Of course a BMW GS rider may not care about chain lube, just as a Suzuki DR rider may not care about a fairing. These ideas are not the gospel of dualsporting, but are intended to let the dualsport rider retain a high SPG (smiles per gallon) factor. Happy dualsporting!
- Carry a small, functional first aid kit. Doesn’t hurt to have a small snakebite kit
too. Murphy’s Law: If you have it, you
won’t need it!
- Carry a roll of mechanic’s/bailing wire and a roll of
Hundred-Mile-Per-Hour Tape (a.k.a.: Duct Tape).
Those two items will fix most anything.
- Carry more tools than you think you need. Of course, towing a rolling Craftsman Toolbox
behind your scoot is overkill and makes your bike handle like a water
buffalo. What tools to take you
ask? When you work on your bike at home,
ONLY use the tools in your toolkit. You
will eventually acquire the proper amount of tools that you may need on the
trail. Murphy’s Law again. Also, don’t forget things like a Swiss Army
knife, etc. to help with many types of fixes and repairs.
heavy-duty tubes and enjoy considerably fewer flats.
- Carry a minimum of two tire irons and learn how to fix tires out
on the trail or always ride with some poor, unsuspecting, tire-changing friend,
whom you will eventually be indebted to for large sums of bribe money.
- Carry a spare tube and make sure it’s a 21-incher. A front tube will also work as a rear tube if
needed. You can carry it on your fanny
pack or backpack.
CycoActive[800-491-2926] makes a cool little tube bag that mounts to your
front or rear fender that makes one less thing for you to carry on your
- Carry a pressurized can of tire repair spooge. If you get a pinhole leak in a tube, this can
of jizm may get you home without having to actually disassemble the tire to
repair. A car can of this stuff will
work, but are bulky, so get a smaller can at your local bike shop.
- Tighten the clutch and front brake lever perches just enough so
that they can rotate in a crash without breaking the lever. Even better, install Bark Busters or
something comparable like the Acerbis Handsavers. Aside from saving you from pinballing between
trees, you will never have to buy replacement levers again.
- Install plastic hand guards over the Bark Busters. This doubles as wind protection to the
fingers on a cold ride and will keep rain somewhat off your gloves. If you have the hand guards that come back
over the top of your grips, BE SURE to hack saw a slit on each side of each
guard, so the top flexes forward. This
way if you go over the bars, your hands won’t be stuck inside the guards,
therefore breaking your wrists.
medium strength Loc-Tite on most every nut and bolt on the bike so they don’t
vibrate off at the least expected moment, unless you’re riding into a cave and
need to find your way back out. Use the
red stuff for the gnarly, larger bolts.
- Carry some spare money in your toolbag, preferably one-dollar
bills and a twenty. Forgetting to bring
your wallet makes it difficult to barter for petrol with a gas station
attendant, woodcutter or logger.
- Bring matches and store them in a zip-lock bag. Better yet, get a compact survival kit. If you break down at the summit of Mount
Everest, a fire will be your best friend.
- Always carry a map. This
way if you get lost, at least you’ll know what state you got lost in. Better yet, get a good map and make photocopies. This way the original map is still legible,
last longer and you can fold the photocopied map into a pretzel if you
want. They may even help in an emergency
if you need to build a fire.
an odometer that has a trip meter that resets (forward and back) in tenths or be
really trick and get an enduro computer.
This makes riding a dualsport event a breeze. Moose Racing and ICO have excellent computers
that also works as a speedometer.
Computers also allow you to sync your speedo to match the unit used to
lay out an event. In other words,
speedometer error is then kept to an absolute minimum, plus it’s always easy to
resynch back up with a roll chart should you get lost.
- Bring raingear. Remember
this is the Northwest and rain is a way of life (along with webbed feet &
- Carry some cold weather gear.
You can always remove clothing, but donning it when you don’t have any is
ugly. Hypothermia is cold and can be a
sneaker. You can also buy a newspaper
and stuff it inside your jersey and pants for cheap insulation. Surgical gloves help keep the pinkies warm,
- Carry goggle or face-shield cleaner. Pledge furniture polish and a small
terry-cloth towel work excellent, fill in the divots on the lens or fairing
shield, plus the Pledge will make rain bead up and run off the lens in the event
of showers. Your friends will also
comment how you smell “lemon fresh.”
a no-fog cloth on the inside of the goggle or face-shield lens. You can only hold your breath for so long
when you fog up in cold weather or rain.
Use the aforementioned Pledge on the outside of the lens.
- Carry a neck kerchief.
It can filter dust from your lungs, help keep vines from cutting your
jugular or just plain keep your neck warm.
Plus it makes you look like John Wayne.
a map holder. CycoActive has some really
nifty ones that mount to your forearm or crossbar, so you don’t have to
constantly pull the map out of your jacket.
You can read while you ride.
DOT legal bumpy tires if possible. This
applies to those folks that are more into the more-aggressive, off-road
style. Most stock dualsport tires are
wimpy once dirt is encountered and heaven help you if they meet the smallest
area of mud! If you have a dirt bike,
run your used dirt bumpies on your dualsport bike. This way you’ll get twice the life. Just don’t plan on doing any road
- Don’t modify your exhaust unless it makes it quieter. Everyone hates loud bikes, especially those who don’t ride and they vote, too. This is motorcyclings’ worst enemy and I cannot stress this enough. Less sound equals more ground! Promote Team Stealth. Sneer at anyone with a loud bike.
- Wear riding shorts under your pants. Aftermarket companies make these and they
will make your cheeks much happier after a long ride. Bicycle shorts also work, but make sure they
have something like chamois in the buttocks area. Monkey butt bites!
- Don’t ride by yourself.
Your worst riding buddy will suddenly become your best friend when you
break down in the middle of Timbuktu. If
you do go ride by yourself, let someone know where you’re riding before you
leave. A rescue unit makes for an
unhappy sweep crew.
- Carry a camera.
Dualsporting allows you to go where no one else can and provides numerous
scenic vistas that you’ll want to take home.
- Bring along some food & water. It’s surprising how good even an old, moldy,
half-eaten Powerbar tastes when you’re hungry and convenience stores with
gallons of thirst quenching fluids are not too plentiful in the forest
you run old-style, conventional forks, install Race Tech’s Gold Valve Emulator
fork mod. This nifty little unit will
make your ho-hum conventional fork work like a cartridge fork and is well worth
- Carry a small, wood saw or wood zig so that you can cut small
logs out of your path. This is
especially important in spring after the heavy snows have dropped small trees
across main paths. There are many types
of compact saws available at your local hardware store, whether folding or chain
or make a headlight lens guard. Plastic,
driving-light lens guards can be purchased at auto parts stores and can work
okay, but Meier Plastics, Dual Star (www.dual-star.com) and Steahly Off-Road
Products (800-800-2363) also sell some sano Plexiglas lens protectors for many
dualsport bikes. Price a new headlight
lens and you’ll become a believer.
an O-ring chain. They will last many
times longer than a standard chain, so the benefits more than outweigh the
slightly higher cost.
- Connect a wire or chain between the frame and brake pedal. Do the same between the frame and shift lever. This will keep small sticks and low flying creatures out of these sensitive areas and protects them from bending like string cheese. Many aftermarket companies make these items, also.
heavier springs on both ends. Most
dualsport bikes are horribly under sprung and will wallow like a sick jersey cow
when dirt is encountered. Stiffer
boingers will actually make your bike ride smoother and softer when set up
- Make friends with your local welder and have him fabricate a
“pipe snout” for the end of your exhaust so that it points the exhaust downward,
and away from ears. There is no reason
for it to point upward or straight back!
- Wear comfortable protective gear like a chest protector, elbow
guards and knee guards. It’s worth it in
the long run. My motto is: Pain Hurts,
so dress for the crash and not for looks.
a good quality, rather-large enduro jacket.
Buy it big enough so that you can wear shoulder pads underneath. Also, make sure that it is fairly water
resistant and has plenty of pockets.
There are a few dualsport jackets out now that have built in plastic
shoulder and elbow pads that are ideal, also.
Many jackets, like the Moose, have huge zippers that allow you to
partially unzip your jacket for extra ventilation.
- When riding a dualsport event that is using a rollchart, use
bright highlighter pens to mark the danger sections on the course chart
beforehand. This way you will be better
alerted before you confront the
- Always run scotch tape over the entire full length of the backside of the rollchart. This way if it starts raining and the chart
gets wet; it won’t tear apart like soggy pancakes.
- Install an aftermarket air filter. Most dualsport bikes are fairly restrictive
on the carburetor intake side of things.
By opening the airbox a bit and installing a less restrictive air filter,
you may even gain a few ponies. While
you’re at it, do this old desert-racer trick: oil only the “inside” of the foam
air filter. This way when you’re in a
very dusty ride, the filter won’t pack up solid. The filter will still be able to breath, even
though riddled with dirt.
- (For older bikes with drum brakes) File down your brake shoes. Get a file and file grooves from side-to-side
at a 45-degree angle on the actual pad.
Make the grooves about one or two inches apart from each other. These grooves will channel water off of the
pads after a creek crossing. This was
mandatory for old Husky riders. The
reason they were fast on wet events was because they couldn’t stop!
- Lube anything that moves.
Use light oil like WD-40, Bel-Ray 6-in-1 or silicone spray to lube
important moving points after you wash your bike. Items to oil are kick-starter pivots, folding
footpegs, bar levers, shift levers, brake pedal, side stand, etc.
lower tire pressure when riding mostly in the dirt. A good range is about 15 to 25 psi. for
dualsporting, depending on the tonnage of your bike. The extra traction is worth it off road.
- Next time you change your tires, be sure to install rim locks on
both rims if your bike is not pre-equipped.
This will keep your tube from slipping in the rim and allow you to run
the lower air pressure. Oh, and don’t
forget to rebalance the rim with some girthy spoke weights, once the rim locks
are installed, otherwise the wheels will shake like a paint mixer down the
those cables. Most bike shops will
gladly sell you a cable luber thingy and, combined with a light lubricant,
you’ll be impressed at how much easier that clutch lever is to pull in
afterwards. Your bike will even feel
- Carry spare items in your tool kit like various nuts, bolts and
a spare spark plug.
- Carry a good quality backpack.
You really won’t notice it that much while riding.
- Wear earplugs on long rides, if you wear a dirt helmet. The little foam type are ideal and comfortable when riding long sections of pavement while getting to your favorite riding area.
- When riding on dirt roads, treat them like pavement and ALWAYS
stay on the right. Becoming a hood
ornament for a Peterbilt truck can really ruin your day.
- Install a larger aftermarket gas tank. Clarke Products is one company that has a large selection. Some dualsport bikes can only go about 75 miles before they are gasping for petrol. Knowing you have plenty of gas helps if you end up lost in the middle of Nowhere, Washington.
- Install an inline gas filter.
The stock fuel petcock filters may not have the filtering capabilities
that you would like. While you’re at it,
drain your carburetor float bowls at least twice a year. Why? The fuel filters will keep out the
crunchy mung and drool, but won’t keep out water that might be in the gas. Allowing water to sit at the bottom of the
float bowl long term allows the formation of things best left unsaid.
- ALWAYS pick up your trash and pack it out. Set a good example of dualsporting and pick
up someone else’s trash, too.
- Drive with your headlight on high beam. You will be noticed from farther away and have less chance of a head-on collision.
- Keep the racing with your buddies to a minimum. At least keep it down when there is any
non-motorcyclists around. They see it as
a dirty, loud and unacceptable sport.
Change their minds.
- Carry a spare throttle cable.
In a pinch, you can shift without a clutch, but you need a throttle cable.
- Don’t ride on private property without permission. ‘Nuff said.
to know your Forest Service representatives and rangers. They know all the little back areas that most
people don’t and can suggest a good ride.
Also, make them aware of dualsporting and our needs as responsible forest
to an auto parts store, buy a package of metal, valve-stem caps and install one
on each tire. Make sure that they have
the fitting on the end of the cap that allows you to remove the valve core. Besides allowing you to reliably remove the
valve core in the event of a flat, it will also seal in air if the core has a
foldable mirrors. Acerbis makes a small
unit that mounts to your bars and will quickly fold out of the way, should you
decide to hit some narrow trail. Baja
Designs and Meier Plastics sell an even better one that folds out of the way
completely and won’t vibrate.
smaller turn signals after you break your originals. The rear blinkers seem to have a face-off
with inanimate objects first. Many
aftermarket companies sell smaller blinkers that work great and don’t stick out
like a shish kabob. White Brothers now
sells a flexible mount for these blinkers that allow them to take an impact in a
more reliable fashion than the stockers.
- Carry some “Mountain Money”.
When you’re out in the middle of a deep, dark forest and nature calls - a
roll of toilet paper beats poison oak any day.
Plus, when you’re the only one who was smart enough to carry Mountain
Money, you could conceivably sell it for $5 a sheet to your riding buddies!
- Carry a towrope - another Murphy’s Law.
- Carry a three-foot piece of spare fuel line. You can store it most anywhere, even inside
your handlebars. When your buddy has
petrol and you don’t, a three-foot piece of tubing makes life beautiful when
Sno-Seal or Mink Oil on your riding boots to keep out Ma Nature’s fluids. Unfortunately it keeps moisture in too.
- Carry a hack saw blade and a small pair of wire cutters. You’ll find stray barbed wire in the darndest
places. Also, never ride through any
fire pit. At some point, some maroon has
probably burnt up a tire, therefore leaving wire chords lurking in the ashes,
just waiting to wrap themselves around your spokes.
a positive image for the sport. We
already have a less than acceptable image to non-riders. Be polite, non-confrontal and happy. Wave to everyone. Be part of the solution, not part of the
trail courtesy and be polite to other forest users. They deserve to be there too.
- Carry a compact space blanket.
If you have to spend the night on a mountain, you’ll use anything to stay
warm. Some sporting good stores also
have portable hand heaters. Once
activated, these things actually generate much needed heat.
politically active and let your politicians know about our sport. Let them know it is a wholesome, and
acceptable family sport, and that we’re not a bunch of stereotyped Hell’s Angels
(no thanks to Marlon Brando).
Bag-Bomb, Gold Bond or some form of topical ointment on your lower cheeks to
help prevent monkey butt. If you can
stand the verbal abuse, Vaseline also works well.
you’re a heavy sweater, (and can stand yet more verbal abuse) attach a women’s
sanitary napkin on the top inside of your goggles. This will absorb copious amounts of
perspiration that would normally drip into your eyes or the inside of your
goggle lens. The napkins will also aid
in healing gaping cuts and scrapes, should the need arise.
dusty rides, squirt a small amount of baby oil on your goggle foam. This will aid in keeping dust out of the
inside of your goggles much like your bike’s foam air filter with filter
sunscreen on your face. Wind and sun can
make your face as dry as a lizard’s belly.
Don’t forget Chapstick on your lips.
reflective tape or day-glo paint on your fanny pack tools. This way you will always know which tools
belong in your toolkit. An added feature
of the reflective tape is being able to find them on the ground or at
- Carry a small flashlight so you can find your tools at
- Carry a 35mm film canister as a container for spare nuts & bolts, razor blade or hand cleaner.
- Visit you local store
and get a small, dinky tube of hair shampoo (one of the eval/demo sizes). You can use this to wash off your hands,
should you need to do repairs along side the trail.
- Carry a set of jetski gloves with you for inclement weather. If you end up riding in the rain, these gloves somehow still keep your pinkies warm.
- Carry a spare master link and chain breaker FOR YOUR CHAIN. Don’t be caught with a master link that fits
the wrong chain! (Don’t ask!)
- Carry plastic zip-ties. Smaller zip-ties have a million uses. Six or seven large heavy-duty zip-ties (spaced around the wheel) work well for wrapping the rim and tire if you get a flat that is unrepairable. This will prevent the tire from coming off the rim. If you have no tube (or the one you have stopped working), pack up the inside of the tire with as many sticks and twigs as you can cram in (an old desert racer trick). This will give you a virtual bib-mouse insert to get you home.
- Make or buy a front fender extension. This really helps keep spooge from peppering
your goggles when riding in the wet.
- Don’t use the little valve stem nut when installing a new
tube. By leaving it off, you will be
able to see ahead of time if your tube is slipping around inside the tire.
a Ski-Gee on your goggles. A Ski-Gee is
a miniature windshield wiper for goggles that attaches to the thumb of your
glove. It can be purchased at your local
- When approaching oncoming riders, let them know how many riders
are behind you (in your group). Hold up
two fingers if you have two riders behind you, etc. A clenched fist or showing a zero says you’re
the last one. Refrain from using the
middle finger if there’s one more rider behind you. Doh!
a pre-filter on your airbox, such as Factory Foam. This is wide, porous foam that can be cut to
fit the top of your airbox. Be sure to
oil it just like your regular filter.
It’s easier to swap out one of these than swapping out a complete
- Coat your bike before wet or muddy rides. Spraying liberal doses of Pledge furniture polish or WD-40 on the underside of your fenders allows the mud to fall off quickly. Spraying WD-40 on the motor does the same thing and the mud will spray off with water afterwards.
duct tape to waterproof the edge of the viewing window on your roll chart holder
in case it rains. Don’t forget to make a
small drain hole at the base of your rollchart holder should water actually get
- Mount your roll chart holder on the left side of your handlebars
so that it is easily accessible with your thumb while riding. This way your left hand can keep a death grip
on the bars.
- Wire your grips to the bars.
Before installing grips, insert glue on the inside and then safety wire
them to the bars afterwards. This will
prevent the grips from coming off in a wet event.
disc brakes, use an anti-squeal compound on the puck side of the brake
pads. This will keep them from calling
all the neighborhood dogs in a 20-mile radius when you come to a stop. Anti-Seize also works.
- When the wheel is removed, coat the axle with a thin coating of
Anti-Seize compound and then apply liberal amounts of marine grease on top of
that. Your bearings will last much
longer. Oh yeah, when you do replace
your wheel bearings, replace them with double-sealed bearings, not the
single-sided ones that come with most bikes.
If your dealer can’t replace with these, take your stockers to a local
bearing store and they can set you up.
shim washers on your carburetor jet needle.
Most dualsport bikes have no needle jet adjustment and run too lean. By inserting a tiny washer under the clip,
the needle can be raised, which can richen the mixture.
- Carry a tube of 5-minute Epoxy or other liquid metal. This can seal or weld most anything in a
pinch and will let you get home if you bust a hole in your motor cases.
- Install a one-way, vent-tube valve on your gas tank overflow
hose to save gas. Just cut your overflow
tube and insert. Be sure to install it
in the proper direction!
- Fill your brake fluid master cylinder to the top of the reservoir, leaving no air. This way you will not have air in your brake line if you tip your bike upside-down in a crash. To keep from boiling you brake fluid on long downhills in the summer, be sure to install the best high-temp, Dot 4 brake fluid too. Motul makes some great stuff.
- When changing tires, be sure and lube the beads with soapy water
or something like silicon spray. Tire
changing is worlds easier then. Also,
before mounting the tire, use baby powder on your tube and the inside of your
tire. This allows the tube to seat
inside the tire without pinching or wadding.
- Zip-tie the spokes where they intersect. This prevents a broken spoke from causing
more damage if it breaks.
die-electric grease on the inside of the spark plug cap. This will allow the cap to be removed easier
while sealing out moisture. If you foul
a plug, use a knife to clean out the carbon and retry it.
a small amount of silicone rubber on the screw threads before re-installing them
into the plastic items like tail light and turn signal lens. This keeps them from backing out without
being too tight (basically a sloppy version of Loc-Tite).
you folks with radiators, run distilled water only. This will keep corrosion to a minimum. While you’re there, add the proper amount of
some great stuff called WaterWetter.
Redline Oils makes this stuff and it helps keep your favorite motor from
reaching meltdown, i.e. running cooler.
- DO NOT use Armor-All on your seat. Unless you want to put some on your buddies seat and watch him slip-and-slide in his saddle all day like a drunken rodeo!