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HOW-TO: Prep for your next ride

April 3, 2017
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— Riding is the fun part; the work that allows you to ride successfully, not so much. But you don’t have to spend hours in the shop for each ride. We asked Ty Zimmerman, manager of the Motoworks racing team, to give us a 12-point checklist for pre-ride prep. At first, he didn’t understand the concept. A successful racing team has more points on its checklist than NASA. But once he thought a little while, he boiled it down to a concise list that will get the weekend warrior at least to the battlefield.

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Washing your quad isn’t just about having it look pretty. It gives you a chance to look things over carefully. Broken parts can be concealed by layers of mud. Be careful not to direct the high-pressure spray directly at areas that carry bearings. A thin coat of WD-40 helps disperse water afterward.

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Some riders change oil every ride. There’s no need for a recreational rider to go that far, but you should check the oil level every single time. If it’s been 10 hours of ride time or if the oil starts looking like chocolate milk, you’re probably overdue for a change.

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Unnecessary filter changes actually can result in motor damage. Every time the filter comes off, there’s a risk of dirt falling into the intake. On the flip side, even a clean filter needs to be re-oiled if it’s been more than a month or so. Inspect the filter every ride.

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Your chain tension should be checked every time you ride. Be careful not to over-tighten; that could do serious damage. Check it with the ATV slightly weighted so that the swingarm is in a straight line from the front sprocket.

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Tire pressure is critical on ATVs. The amount of pressure depends on the type of tire, the type of riding and if you have beadlocks. The Motoworks team runs Tire Balls, which means that the tire has to be taken off the rim to check pressure. The benefit is that they never get flats.

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Coolant lasts a very long time, but the level should be checked before each ride.

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Quads obey the laws of physics just like planets and other massive things. When they are in motion, they want to stay that way, so check your brakes. The most common brake problem is damage to the discs, so spin the hub with the wheel removed to see if it wobbles.

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Front-end nuts and bolts should be checked every ride, even if they have never come loose. A backed-out bolt can cause the steering to lock up.

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If your quad won’t start, you’ll have a short ride. Check the battery before you ride. You might also check the charging system. A voltmeter should read about a half volt higher when the motor is running.

Your clutch lever should have about an eighth of an inch of freeplay. Less will cause the plates to wear prematurely; more will cause the clutch to drag.

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You should check virtually every nut and bolt on a new quad after break-in. After that, use your own judgment. Sprocket bolts and swingarm pivots are frequent offenders.

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