Dirt Bike Valve Maintenance: When to Replace or Adjust


Learning how to tell when your dirt bike valves need adjusting is a skill that all riders need to learn. Don’t worry, I got you covered. I will show you how to determine when your dirt bike vales are bad, but I will not stop there. I will also show how much it costs to adjust the valves.

As a general rule, riders should replace the valves of their dirt bikes about 3 times before the seats need to be completely replaced. Some people end up riding up to 150 hours before they need to replace their valves, but this isn’t always the case. The best advice that all professionals agree with is to check the valves every 50 to 60 hours. If you ride hard and go on bumpy roads often, it doesn’t hurt to check them sooner. In case they look in poor condition, it’s always cheaper to adjust or replace them instead of overlooking them, which can lead to damaging the engine.

Doing the proper maintenance work and taking care of your dirt bike will save you money and trips to the mechanic shop. Keep reading to find out how to determine when the dirt bike valve is worn out and how to replace or adjust it.

image showing how to maintenance Dirt Bikes's valve

When to Replace Dirt Bike Valves?

replace dirt bike valves

While some people manage to ride for up to 150 hours without having to replace or adjust a valve, others have to do it only after 50 hours. This depends on the type of bike you are riding and how often you are going on off-road trails. As you can imagine, joy riding on the highway doesn’t put that much pressure on the valves. Nonetheless, the general rule is that you should check the valves every 50 to 60 hours for signs of wear and tear.

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Do you usually ride around 250/450F? This is considered “hard” riding, and the dirt bike will soon start showing signs of damages. I am not talking only about the valves; other parts will start breaking down as well. The best thing that you can do is to check out the valves every 15 to 20 hours. If you do this, you are making sure that the engine is running well and that you won’t have to pay a colossal sum in auto repairs.

Did your dirt bike got flooded? You might want to check out my article on how to fix a flooded dirt bike.

How Do You Know When Your Dirt Bike Valves are Bad?

A common question that I get asked a lot by friends who are new to off-road adventures is how do you know when your dirt bike valves are bad? You can tell if a valve is bad when it’s tight and out-of-spec. However, the wear and tear might be difficult to spot for beginners. So, I prepared a couple of tell-tale signs that show one of the valves is working well:

  • The dirt bike will begin misfiring;
  • You will notice a loss in power;
  • The compression will be lower;
  • The valve will hang idle;
  • The valve will pop in deceleration;
  • The dirt bike will start harder when it’s cold outside.

If you want to make sure that the valve needs adjustment, the best way to determine this is to look at the valve clearance. As complicated as this might sound, I promise you that it’s super simple. I was intimated by dirt bikes for a long while, but experience taught me that it’s better to learn how to maintenance work myself.

How Much Does It Cost to Get Dirt Bike Valves Adjusted?

adjusting dirt bike valves

The price to adjust your dirt bike valves is $150 at most repair shops. However, the price varies on the following factors: the number of valves per cylinder, the engine size, and how much adjustment is required to get the valve working right. Therefore, the dirt bike valve adjustment cost can go higher than $150 if the dirt bike is not in good shape.

Even though it’s never pleasant to spend money on maintenance and repairs, I assure you that paying $150 for a motorcycle valve job is cheaper than having to replace them. That’s not all. If you ride your bike and the valves are not adjusted properly, this can lead to more engine damage that will put a dent in your wallet. Once again, proper care and maintenance will save you money in the long run.

How to Check and Adjust Valve Clearance on Your Dirt Bike

Checking and adjusting the valves of your dirt bikes is something you need to learn to do if you are planning to become an avid rider. You will have to deal with faulty valves every couple of months and if you have the right tools around the home, it doesn’t hurt to learn how to check and just the valve clearance. I will explain how you can fix your dirt bike’s valves in an easy to follow guide. I will also include a YouTube alternative guide if you have an easier time learning from videos.

Required Tools: feeler gauges, torque wrench, valve clearance adjustment tools, new valve shims (if needed).

#1 Preparation

Begin by removing the seat, fuel tank, and side panels of your dirt bike. This is necessary to have full access to the engine.

#2 Measure the Valve Clearance

Using a feeler gauge, you should measure the valve clearance and determine what adjustments need to be made.

#3 Adjusting the Valve

Here comes the tricky part. Based on the measurements from step #2, you will need to adjust the valve using the valve clearance adjustment tool. In case the valve is messed up, you also need to replace the valve shim.

#4 Reassembly

After making sure that the valve has been adjusted proeprply, you need to start putting everything back together. My advice is to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid any errors.

#5 Test Ride

Now that the valves have been adjusted and the parts are reassambled, you should take the dirt bike for a test ride. Listen carefully to the engine and pay attention how the throttle feels. If the valve adjustments were made correctly, the dirt bike will run smooth.

The Video Alternative

What helped me learn how to do the proper maintenance and mechanical stuff such as checking and adjusting the valve clearance on my dirt bike was watching YouTube videos. There’s no better way to learn a new skill other than to watch a professional do it in a step-by-step manner. If you don’t know which is the best video on this topic, you don’t need to worry because I selected one for you. You can find it below.

Bob Kelly

Hey there, my name is Bob and I've been riding ATVs, dirt bikes, and UTVs for most of my life. Going on outdoor adventures has always been my passion. I love sharing tips and tricks with beginners who are getting ready to join the world of outdoor enthusiasts. You can reach me at bobtheatvguy@gmail.com if you want to get in touch.

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