How To Warm Up A Dirt Bike – Pro Checklist

Warming up a dirt bike correctly will ensure that your engine is looked after and serves you well for many rides to come. Failing to warm up your dirt bike engine before riding can lead to a blown engine.

Not warming up a dirt bike the right way can easily lead to destruction and a wasted engine. This is something that can be easily avoided with a little bit of patience and a little bit of knowledge (which you are about to learn).

Warming up a dirt bike correctly will ensure that your engine is looked after and serves you well for many rides to come. Failing to warm up your dirt bike engine before riding can lead to a blown engine.

Warming up a dirt bike engine is a simple process that will save your engine and your wallet from unnecessary expenditure. Follow the simple steps to warm up a dirt bike engine, regardless of two stroke or four stroke, liquid cooled or air cooled.

The Wrong Way To Warm Up A Dirt Bike Engine.

This is something that I’ve seen many times before. It makes me cringe when I see riders warming up their bike like a marshmallow in a bonfire. Check out our guide to starting a dirt bike with a cold engine. Some riders will cold start a dirt bike and instantly begin winding the throttle and holding it open until the engine is warm and stops smoking. At this point, the rider hops on the bike, drops into first gear and off they go. 

This is one of the fastest ways to destroy a dirt bike engine.

Before you can start a dirtbike, you need to make sure that the internal parts of the engine such as the pistons and cylinders warm up. During this process, the piston expands to the exact size of the cylinder bore. If a metal part heats up and expands too quickly (by ringing the neck off of a cold engine) it may cause a cold seizure in the form of a crank bearing or piston. This doesn’t always occur instantly, but if repeated over time, an engine seizure is inevitable.

how to warm up a 2 stroke dirt bike engine

Check out my guide to recommended dirt bike pistons

The Right Way To Warm Up A 2 Stroke Engine

The right way to start and warm up a two-stroke dirt bike engine begins long before you even plant your foot or finger on the kick/push starter.

  • First, shake your bike from side to side to ensure the 2-stroke oil and gas are properly mixed.
  • Flip the gas switch on.
  • Turn on the choke (if you have one).
  • Make sure your dirt bike engine has enough lubrication by turning the engine over a few times.
  • Put your bike into neutral gear.
  • Find the top of the pressure point of your kickstart by pushing down with your foot. Not all the way down, just enough until you feel the pressure build of the first stroke resisting against your foot.
  • Without opening the throttle too much (if at all) give a mighty kick to the starter which should ignite the engine and breathe life into your bike.
  • Once started, let the bike idle with the choke up for about 60 seconds.
  • Don’t rev the engine. You only want to rev the bike if the idling is so low that your bike cuts out. If that is the case, open the throttle periodically adding just a small spurt of fuel into the carb to keep the engine running.
  • After 60 seconds, your engine should be warm enough to turn off the choke, but not warm enough to start revving wildly.
  • Let the bike idle for another two minutes, periodically twisting the throttle enough to spike the revs. If it sounds like the engine is bogging down, it has not yet warmed up.
  • Your bike should now be revving like normal and it’s time to drop into first gear.
  • Climb onto your bike and go for a chilled “warm-up lap” opening up to about half throttle for a couple of minutes until your bike feels responsive to the throttle.
  • NOW your two-stroke dirt bike is ready to ride full throttle.

How To Warm Up A 4-Stroke Dirt Bike

4 Stroke dirt bikes do not need as much care to warm up the engine compared to a 2 Stroke. The reason is that 4-stroke engines are designed to run at higher temperatures. The steps to properly warm up a 4-stroke dirt bike are similar to a 2-stroke, although some steps can be skipped as follows.

  • Turn on the gas.
  • Turn on the choke.
  • Open the throttle a few times to inject fuel into the carb, priming the engine.
  • Start your bike without opening the throttle. If you open the throttle while cold starting a 4-stroke, the high compression could kick back and cause an injury.
  • Once started, let the engine idle for 30 seconds. 4-stroke dirt bike engines do not need to idle for longer than a minute as this will cause your engine to get too hot.
  • As an optional step, you can go for a short, first-gear, “warm-up lap” for just a minute or two. 

If you ride a liquid-cooled 4-stroke dirt bike, you should avoid letting it idle for too long. Letting your 4-stroke idle for too long will cause the bike to overheat and can result in an extremely hot head pipe. 4 Stroke engines are not designed to idle for long periods of time before the bike overheats. The engine needs airflow through the radiators to help keep it cool and running at optimal temperatures.

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