Meet Kate McKerroll and her Husqvarna FX 350

It’s not hard to get inspired to ride when you look at Kate McKerroll. We’ve seen her rippin’ her Husqvarna FX 350 up sand dunes, through tire pits and over logs. She met her match when she hopped on this bike and we thought we would reach out to get to know a bit more about her and her life on two wheels. Read on!

babes in the dirt

What is your name?

Kate McKerroll

What do you do for a living? Tell us about your job.

My day job - Marketing Coordinator at VICE Media

My night job – Aspiring writer. Stay tuned for the next issue of Fast Times Mag!

My weekend job – Volunteering at women’s off-road events and competing in as many Off-Road Ontario races as my schedule will allow :)

Where are you from?

Barrie, Ontario, Canada

Where do you live?

 Toronto, Ontario, Canada

When were you first introduced to riding dirt? Who introduced you? 

I first rode a dirt bike the day after I learned how to ride a bicycle, when I was 5 years old. From what I have been told about the story, my Dad was certain he would have a son. His plan was to raise his son to be a bad-ass biker dude just like he was! Spoiler alert: He didn’t end up having a son, he had a daughter, but that didn’t stop him from carrying out his plan to raise a bad-ass biker to follow in his footsteps. Thanks, Dad!

babes in the dirt

How long have you been riding?

19 years! Wow, that makes me sound old.

Why do you like riding dirt?

 This is so hard to express in words. Riding dirt has been a part of my life for so long I don’t remember a time without it. It has become a part of who I am. When I was heavily into racing, I devoted my whole life to it. I won’t lie, after nine years of racing and finally winning a Canadian championship, I was really burnt out. I had lost the love I once had for riding. It started to feel more like work than fun and I felt like a lot of people had high expectations of me.

After I won Walton National in 2012 and scored a few top 10 moto finishes at Loretta Lynn’s Amature national, I decided I would take a break, go to University, and take a stab at a normal ~ non-moto ~ life. This is a long winded answer to your question but, it’s important to mention. After taking a few years off, I realized how much I missed it. I missed the freedom, the independence, the challenge! I missed having something that was only mine, something that no one else really understood. It was what made me, me!

I eventually stopped trying to run away from riding and decided I would change my relationship with it. When I got back into riding dirt I decided to take it down a notch and try off-road riding and racing rather than motocross. Since I have made the shift and started riding for enjoyment and FUN rather than constand competition, my love for dirt is stronger than ever. It is the only thing that keeps me 100% present. In today's world, we have a lot of distractions, riding dirt requires an immense amount of focus and concentration. It is the only place where I feel present and focused, I guess you could say it is my way of meditating.

babes in the dirt

Run us through the list of bikes you have had?

Wow! I have had too many to count. To summarize, when I was 5ish, my Dad put me on my first bike which was a JR50 from 1980-something. It was so rad! After that, when we realized we really wanted to make a go of this whole dirt biking thing, he bought me my first KTM. A KTM 50, for my 7th birthday. From there I moved up the ranks as I grew, moving from a 50 to a 65 sx to an 85 sx to a 105 sx and by the time I was twelve I had my first full size KTM 125 sx.

A few years after that KTM started making the 144 sx and  the 150 sx. I always loved 2 strokes and prefered racing them, so we moved up to the 150 sx and that is what I raced for most of my career. I had a short summer fling with a Honda 250F but, it wasn’t long before I wanted my 2 stroke back. I finally sold my last 150 sx a few years ago. Now that I am living in the city and don’t have a truck, it’s really hard to get myself to an MX track to ride. I sold the 150 sx and got a 500 exc which is my commuter, grocery getter, fun-haver and sometimes race bike! It was only this spring that I got a chance to try out the Husqvarna fleet and have been trading between the FE 350 and the FX 350 this summer. Of all the bikes I have had, the FX 350 is such an impressive machine. It is so fast and handles so well! 

What do you ride now? 

I am currently riding a 2018 Husqvarna FX 350 and a 2015 KTM 500 exc. I also rode a 2018 Husqvarna FE 350 earlier this spring, it is such a killer bike!

If you could have 2 bikes what would your other bike be?

I am so blessed to already have two bikes right now! But, if I would have ANOTHER, I would really like to add a Vespa to my fleet. It sounds cheesy but living in Toronto I would love to trade my dirt bike for a red or dare I say… pink scoot on Monday morning to zip to work for the week. You can literally park them anywhere and they are so cute.

babes in the dirt

Tell us what you love about the bike you ride now?

The Husqvarna FX 350 is an incredible machine. It has so much power. What I love is, it is basically the bike version of me! A cross between motocross and off-road! Haha! It packs the punch of a true motocross bike, something I am used to riding due to my history in MX, with the gearing and handling of an off-road bike. It is the best of both worlds. Do I even need to mention how epic the electric start is? It almost feels like a cheat! I am also so impressed by the handling, although the FX 350 is one of the most powerful bikes I have ridden, and to be fair, a lot of bike for someone my size/weight to handle, I always feel like I am in control. I really respect the amount of time and R&D that Husqvarna puts into engineering these motorcycles. Building a best in class motor is one thing, but building a chassis that can house that power and perfecting the ergonomics to make the rider feel one with the machine is magic!

What kind of terrain do you like riding the best?

I love flowy single track. There is absolutely nothing better than ripping through some smooth, windy, loamy trail after a bit of rain. Growing up in MX, I do really miss the perfectly watered, groomed tracks, but I have come to love the feeling of freedom you get when you are ripping through single track. As I say this I am thinking back to a loop of single track I rode two weeks ago at the Algonquin Two-Day Trail Ride and it was basically an MX course that weaved between trees. It had sandy, bermed corners, some kickers, some open straightaways, it felt like it was right out of a movie!

I feel like this is a bad answer though, considering that is every riders dream terrain. I also love motocross tracks, obviously, oh, and sand! I rode dunes for the first time ever in April and it was SO EPIC!

babes in the dirt

What kind of terrain is a challenge for you but you want to master? 

Wet roots and wet rocks. I honestly do not like anything wet/muddy. As I mentioned before, I am a totally spoiled MX rider who is used to close to perfect conditions on a consistent basis. When I get into the slippery/mucky crap that is in Northern Ontario I have a bit of a tantrum before forcing myself to carry on and try my best to grin and bear it! LOL! I want to learn to love that stuff and see it as an exciting challenge rather than a chore.

What is the most challenging riding experience you have had? 

This Spring I went on a twelve day riding trip to the Southwest. We rode through Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah and Colorado. Before the trip, I had close to no off-road riding experience. I had really only ever ridden Motocross. I had no idea how challenging it would be and I 100% underestimated what off-road riders go through. That shit is gnarly! Not only did we tackle some of the toughest trails in Utah, the infamous 5-files-of-hell being one of them, endurance also played a part in how challenging it was for me. Twelve days of riding is a lot. Half the battle was getting up each morning, popping some pain killers and pushing forward. I was so proud of myself at the end of the trip, I left a totally different rider. Check out the latest Fast Times Mag for a full recap of my trip! 

Where are some of your favorite places to ride?

 My all time favorite place to ride is at Monster Mountain MX Park in Alabama. It is the MOST epic MX track I have ever been to. It is literally motocross Mecca.

Aside from my dream location, the place I love riding that are closer to home are: RJ Motorsports Park, Simcoe County Forest and the Ganaraska Forest. 

What is on you moto bucket list to ride?

Babes in the Dirt  is on my bucket list!!! It looked so fun last year!

It is also my dream to ride down the coast in Oregon, where the trails meet the beach.

* heart eyes *

babes in the dirt

Do you ride with a lot of other female riders?

This season I have been! I was lucky enough to help out at two ladies training days this spring where I met a bunch of female riders from Ontario. This season I met Stephanie Yankovich, a female off-road racer who has started Dirt Riding Dames, a riding community that encourages girls to get out in the dirt! I am hoping to help Steph with a few of her organized rides in the Ganaraska Forest this summer. If you are a female rider in Ontario, check out her Facebook page: Dirt Riding Dames.

Do you have anyone in the moto world that you look up to? (does not have to be a pro rider)

You!! And all the ladies who are thinking entrepreneurially and using their passion for two wheels to create a platform for others. You are all killing it!

There are more ‘for ladies by ladies’ events/brands now than there has ever been. It is people like you who are creating a stage for ladies to come out and show their stuff in a fun, encouraging environment. Because of the work you and other female event organizers are doing, sponsors are noticing the demand and finally stepping up to support us! On behalf of female riders everywhere – we appreciate you! 

What was our experience at Babes in the Dirt/Babes Ride Out events? (if applicable) 

I haven't been to any BRO events yet L, but I am dying to come to Babes in the Dirt!!

babes in the dirt

What advice do you have for someone thinking about getting in to riding dirt? 

DO IT! It is scary, yes, at first, but it is so empowering! If I can do it, you can do it. If you ride street, dirt riding will help you take your riding to the next level. If you don’t ride at all, start! As I mentioned before, there are more events/opportunities for ladies now than ever, for anyone thinking of taking the leap, we are all here cheering you on. 

Anything else you would like to add? 

Just a big thank you to Husqvarna Motorcycles Canada, Fast Times Magazine, Tiger Distribution and Everstoked Adventures for your support as I make my way back into the off-road world. I couldn’t do it without the amazing people behind me.

And - If any Ontario/Quebec ladies are reading this, join me for the Ladies Ride and Social in the Limerick Forest on August 25th!

babes in the dirt

 

 

Let's talk Suspension | Some insight on what you need to know before you lower your dirt bike!

 Photo by Genevieve Davis

Photo by Genevieve Davis

For some of us ladies, we find stock dirt bikes can be a bit too tall to be comfortable on. Lowering your dirt bike and getting the suspension properly set up for your height, weight and riding style will most definitely improve your experience on the bike! We felt it was time to address the issues that we hear so much about from so many Babes in the Dirt!

The first thing you should know is that any high performance motorcycle is set up to have 12”-13” of suspension travel which is why they are so tall. Stock bikes are set up for the average rider which is (you guessed it) a dude that, on average, is taller and weighs more than most females. For some female riders and the riding style they plan on participating in the most, the stock suspension is ideal. To determine what is best for YOU, there are some key things you need to take in to account and a few recommendations we have.

  1. LEAVE IT TO THE PROFESSIONALS. Once you start playing with the suspension in your garage you are majorly messing with the geometry of the bike. The linkage and ratio pressure of the shocks are set up that way for a reason and if you don’t know what you’re doing then you are doing you and your bike a disservice! Shortening the front forks and rear shock requires disassembling delicate components and requires specialized tools. This is definitely a task best performed by a trained suspension technician that understands how to lower a motorcycle properly.

  2. DO NOT USE A LOWERING LINK. Don’t listen to your friends that say “just throw a lowering link on there” by doing this you completely throw off the balance of the bike and all that engineering that took years to perfect goes right out the window. The linkage system is a crucial part of the rear suspension. It is important that the front forks and rear shock act together. When you add longer lowering links, it changes the leverage ratio, which can cause all sorts of problems. Think about it like this; the shock has the same travel but less distance between the wheel and fender which can result in bottoming out.

  3. An important question to ask yourself is: What type of riding do you plan on doing? Mostly trails? Moto X Track? Enduro cross? Fire roads? Dualsport? Different types of riding require a different suspension set up. For example: If you plan on launching your bike off some sweet jumps on an MX track, you are going to need that suspension travel when you land. If you are mostly riding smooth trails, desert riding and fire roads you probably don’t need quite as much travel.

  4. Height is not the only factor when figuring out how much your bike needs to be lowered (or not). Your weight (with all of your gear on) is important to factor in as well. We recommend bringing your gear with you when you drop off your bike to get set up. You will need to jump up and down on your bike to see how much your weight compresses so that they can properly set the sag. Sag is the name given to the amount of suspension travel used up when the bike settles with a rider on board.

  5. Do not over lower you bike just so that you can touch the ground better. Yes, touching the ground is important but not as important as ground clearance. Ideally being able to touch with the balls of your feet is very comfortable but it all goes back to what type of riding you plan on doing.

  6. You can also look in to simply get a lower profile seat so that you can reach the ground better but this does nothing in terms of setting up your suspension for you and your riding style.

Not having your motorcycle set up specifically for you can result in some very frustrating situations. Trust me, I have been there. I am guilty of impulse purchasing a bike that was way too big and heavy for me and had suspension set up for a dude that was twice my weight and about a foot taller. It was not a pleasurable experience once I ended up on some tight single track trails in Kennedy Meadows. In fact, now that i think of it, that was the last tie I cried on a motorcycle. Yep, thats right, I cried! Out of sheer frustration and exhaustion from trying to battle the beast on some pretty technical sections. I call this experience PH (pre Husqvarna) Everything changed for me once me Husky came in to my life.

When I got my Husqvarna FE 250 I wanted to make sure that I got it set up just right for me. I was determined to take my riding to the next level. I am 5’6” 125 pounds and do mostly trail riding that can involve some more technical terrain like single track, rock quarries, and an occasional log and river crossing. I had my bike professionally lowered 2 inches and I can touch on the balls of my feet which I am very comfortable with. Getting my bike dialed was a complete game changer and I credit that (and the overall superiority of Husqvarna engineering DUH) with my progression as a rider these past few years. I highly recommend that riders spend the money and do it right! You wont regret it!

Here are some places that I recommend having your suspension done.

Northern California:

http://www.santacruzsuspension.com/

Southern California:

https://gbcapodieci.wixsite.com/espsuspension

Thanks you to Suspension Guru Rich Dandalo of #SantaCruzSuspension for helping to go over the technical details and consult on this blog!

Meet Stephanie Anderson @throttlefortwo and her Husqvarna FE350S

She has been riding for over 20 years and been coming to Babes in the Dirt for the past 2! Stephanie has ridden some of our bucket list locations and constantly has us drooling over her awesomely remote photos on the trails. We caught up with her to hear more about her life on two wheels, love of her Husqvarna FE 350 S and her lust for the new fuel injected 2-stroke TE 250i.

babes in the dirt

What is your name?

- Stephanie Anderson

What do you do for a living? Tell us about your job.

- Well, for a few more days I am a Property Manager of a mobile home park, but as of next week, I will be unemployed for a few months.  Me, my husband, and our two Siberian Huskies, will be traveling around the country with our travel trailer and motos in search of a new place to call home and start our own business.

Where are you from?

- San Diego/Temecula, CA

Where do you live?

- Mammoth Lakes, CA

babes in the dirt

When were you first introduced to riding dirt? Who introduced you?

- When we moved to Temecula in the mid-90’s, dirt was pretty much everywhere, so I was lucky enough to make friends with kids in school that grew up riding quads and dirt bikes.  Unfortunately, my parents never let me have my own dirt bike as they were always worried I would seriously injure myself (which, now that I’ve crashed at least a dozen times and broken my fair share of bones, I can see why J).  So I spent most of my younger years on a variety of friend’s loaner bikes cruising around the wine country and out in the southern California deserts (Ocotillo Wells/Glamis).  

How long have you been riding?

- About 20 years, but more actively for about that last 10.

Why do you like riding dirt?

- I like riding dirt for too many reasons to list!  But one of the main reasons is that it opens a whole new world of places to go and things to see.  There’s no better feeling than being able to take a spontaneous trip down a random dirt road and find that it leads to a secluded lake, or takes you to the top of a mountain with 360-degree views.  Not to mention, you can take dirt detours when there is traffic J.

Run us through the list of bikes you have had?

- Handful of CRF/XR 50s

- 2013 Honda CRF150R

- 2014 Kawasaki KX250F

What do you ride now?

- 2016 Husqvarna FE350S

- 1980 Honda XL250S

babes in the dirt

If you could have 2 bikes what would your other bike be?

- A new fuel injected 2-stroke Husqvarna, of course ! Actually, as much as I would absolutely LOVE a new TE 250i, I would really like to add more of an adventure bike to the collection.  Our ultimate dream is to take an international motorcycle trip, and having a bike that can still handle dirt, but also be able to put down some serious road miles with a full load of camping gear would be optimal.  What exact bike that is, I really have no idea yet, but I am hoping over the course of the next 5 or so years, manufacturers will continue to cater to smaller riders such as myself, and I will have more options. 

Tell us what you love about the bike you ride now?

- The FE350S is the ultimate adventure mobile!  There aren’t a lot of motorcycles that you can say are completely capable in (and meant for) the dirt, but also street legal.  We can be on technical single track one minute, and then cruising the highway through Yosemite the next.  The places we can go are almost endless!  Also, because of fuel injection!!!  You just can’t beat being able to ride at 8,000ft. elevation one day, and then 800 ft. elevation the next without skipping a beat or needing to re-jet (it was a serious problem when I had the CRF150R which was carbureted).   

 

What kind of terrain do you like riding the best?

- Hmm, that’s a tough one . . . I really love it all!!!  But if I had to narrow it down, I would say snow.  I’m not the best at it, and to be honest, I used to try to avoid it, but I’m slowly getting more comfortable with it and it couldn’t be more fun.    

 

What kind of terrain is a challenge for you but you want to master?

- Definitely rocks . . . Being vertically challenged, I am still working on clutch and throttle control to account for the fact that I can’t ever reach the ground to put my darn foot down J.  Thankfully, I finally did some much needed upgrades to the suspension and steering, so hopefully my skill level will catch up to my confidence level sometime soon ha.

What is the most challenging riding experience you have had?

- When we first got the Husqvarnas, we had some friends visiting with their dirt bikes so we decided to take a trip completely in the dirt from Mammoth Lakes to the ghost town known as Bodie.  It was about 65 miles one-way through all kinds of different terrain.  We hadn’t owned the bikes for very long, so I didn’t have the bike set-up and dialed in specifically for me just yet.  We hit some really deep and soft sand/silt on the backside of Mono Lake that just seemed to go forever, so I was struggling for a while to keep the front end stable, and then proceeded to take a literal face plant into an actual plant J.  I was too worked to go back home the same way we came, so I also go to experience my first solo ride on the highway, and at night too.  It was definitely a trip I will never forget!       

Where are some of your favorite places to ride?

- Definitely right here in my own backyard!  The Eastern Sierra is packed full of places to ride, with everything from mellow fire roads and sand dunes, to tight single track and even snow.  It really is an off-roader’s paradise!  And the views aren’t too bad either J.  I also really enjoyed the moto tour we took in Maui.  It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences and the terrain was like nothing I had ever been on before (we went through a sugar cane field that was so dense we couldn’t even see the actual trail).  We were fortunate enough to be the only two riders on the tour that day (which was usually a group tour), so we got really lucky and the tour guide took us on an epic journey which ended so high up that we found pine trees! 

What is on your moto bucket list to ride?

- Australia

- Russia

- Moab, Uta

Do you ride with a lot of other female riders?

- Unfortunately, no L.  My few female friends that do ride live about 6 hours away, and not a lot of women in our area have motorcycles.  99% of the time it’s just me and my husband, but I am really hoping that will change.  I have been fortunate enough to cross paths with some super cool ladies thanks to Babes in the Dirt and Instagram, who I would love to get together with someday soon.   

babes in  the dirt

Do you have anyone in the moto world that you look up to?

- Megan Griffiths . . . girl seriously rips and is ALWAYS smiling.  She really makes everything looks so easy but is always so humble about it.  She is so passionate about riding and it shows!  I really hope to someday be able to attend one of her clinics and learn to go over logs instead of crashing into them J.  Also, because I struggle so much in the rocks, Sarah (aka @spacecat.moto) . . . lady KILLS it out there in Utah in some truly epic terrain!  Pretty sure she eats rocks and vertical walls for breakfast J.

What was your experience at Babes in the Dirt/Babes Ride Out events?

- I made it to Babes in the Dirt both this year (2018), and last year (2017).  Although I always bring my husband and fur kids so we always camp outside of the actual event, it’s still one of my favorite weekends of the year.  The first year, I was solo and ended up crashing attempting to go back down the big hill climb (ha oops).  Within seconds there were several people more than happy to help get my bike upright and down to the bottom.  One of the nicest Park Rangers I have ever met found some ladies to bring my bike back to the road, went and tracked down my husband who was cruising around in my 4Runner, brought me back to the main camp, and treated my wounds.  The Babes in the Dirt staff and many of the other ladies there for the event kept coming up to me and asking if I was ok or if I needed anything.  It was so awesome to be completely alone and not know anyone, but still feel welcomed and right at home.  This year we could only make it for a day, but it was still an epic day of riding and I even convinced my fellow female rider friends from San Diego to attend as well (and they loved it).  From the most experienced rider to the first timer, it really is an event that can be enjoyed by all. 

What advice do you have for someone thinking about getting in to riding dirt?

- Take it slow and start off with something nice and mellow.  There are all kinds of fire roads and open riding areas to practice at that are great places to get a feel for the dirt without having to worry about obstacles or other riders.  As someone who learned to ride in the dirt before learning to ride on the street, I can tell you there is a learning curve both ways, so just do what you feel comfortable with and practice, practice, practice.  And remember, you don’t have to be a pro to have fun!

Anything else you would like to add?

- I would like to say thanks to the Babes in the Dirt staff, Husqvarna, and all those involved with putting together such a rad event.  Seeing so many ladies from so many different walks of life come together for the love of motorcycles is truly an amazing experience!  How many beers will it take to convince you to do more Babes in the Dirt events?!?!? JJJ

Riding Season is coming up quick! Make sure your bike and your gear are ready to GO!

Dirt Bike Season is Almost Here! October 1st in California is the start of Red Sticker Season so it’s time to make sure your bike and gear are as ready as you are. A  little pre-maintenance goes a long way! Our friends at Thousand Oaks Powersports have you covered! Read on to make sure you are dialed to hit the trails!

babes in the dirt
 photo by Genevieve Davis

photo by Genevieve Davis

Our shop is buzzing with anticipation for the upcoming riding season! With all the new gear and bikes rolling in it’s hard not to get amped up. There is also word that we may see another El Nino style winter which means desert riding will be perfect again!

First of all, if it’s been a while since you’ve ridden, start your bike. Let’s see if it fires up!

Fuel, Air, and Fire

If your bike hasn’t moved in awhile and you left gas in the tank then you may need to clean out your fuel system. Generally the pump gas we use begins to evaporate and separate after only a couple weeks. As it evaporates it leaves behind all of the grime that is mixed into the gas. This separation will cause your gas to “gum up” your fuel system and restrict the flow of fuel from the tank to the engine. It’s almost like having rubber cement in your fuel system. If your engine isn’t getting the correct amount of fuel it won’t run properly. The amount of fuel running through your carburetor or fuel injector is only ounces at time so a little clog makes a big difference. The best way to know if your bike needs a carb clean is to turn it on. If your bike doesn’t idle with the choke off or you’re getting popping from the exhaust when you turn the throttle then your fuel system is dirty. Your carburetor may work okay like that at sea level but when you go up in elevation (Hungry Valley is 3000-6000 feet) you’re going to have a bigger problem. If your bike warms up and idles with the choke off you should be in good shape. Using something like an enzyme fuel treatment or “ring free” treatments can help prevent and alleviate fuel system clogs. If that doesn’t work then get your carburetor or injector cleaned. Always follow the manufacturer's recommended dosage when using fuel treatments.

If you’re going to clean your carbs or injectors it's a good idea to have your spark plug replaced at the same time. Having an extra spark plug in your gear bag is always a great idea as well. Your bike needs to breathe so make sure your air filter is clean. Cleaning an air filter is messy but it’s pretty easy to do. If your air filter is falling apart then replace it. Air filters are pretty inexpensive so throwing a new one on is a good idea.

Oil

Most dirt bikes require the oil to be changed every 10 to 15 hours of riding. Changing the oil, filter, and crush washer is a pretty easy job on a dirt bike. A lot of dirt bikes call for a 10-W40 or 10-W50 oil and usually take a quart or less. KTM and Husky’s are about 1.1 quarts and use a full synthetic oil. Your local shop should be able to tell you what the oil specifications are for your bike. Try to avoid looking at forum pages to see what you need for your bike’s oil. We’ve seen some disastrous results based on opinions in online bike forums. Bel-ray has a great lubricant advisor to tell you what your bike needs.

Traction

Your tires are the only part of the bike that should be in contact with the ground when you ride. If your tires are worn, cracking, missing treads or the treads are peeling off then it is a good idea to put on new tires. Pushing a dirt bike with a flat back to camp is a bad time. When riding dirt the earth is always moving underneath your tires so it’s a good idea to have plenty of traction. If you are unsure about which tires to put on your bike give us a call and we will go over the differences in tires with you. Also, check your tire pressure and make sure your tubes are holding air. Whenever you change your tires always put in a new tube and check your rim band. You may also need a rim lock. We recommend using a heavy duty tube over a regular tube.

Controls

You’re going to want to make sure your controls work as well. Pull your levers and make sure they pull smoothly. If not, the cables may need to be lubricated or replaced. A lot of new bikes have hydraulic systems. Make sure you’ve got fluid in these systems before you go. If you check your brakes and they seem soft then it probably means you need to add or replace brake fluid. Brake fluid heats up and cools down when you ride. This thermal change breaks down brake fluid. Brake fluid lasts an average of 6 months before it begins to go bad. Check your brake fluid levels as well. This is also true for street bikes. Going fast is a lot more fun if you know you can stop when you want to. While your checking your brakes make sure you have a look at the brake pads as well.

Drive

In our experience most riders over look good chain maintenance. Cleaning, lubricating and adjusting your chain will help your bike run more efficiently. It will help to keep your sprockets in good shape as well. At the very least, apply chain lube to your chain before every ride. If you clean your bike after every ride don’t forget to use some chain cleaner on your chain and sprockets. If your chain is rusty and has a bunch of kinks in it then it’s time to replace your chain and sprockets. It’s always a good idea to change your front and rear sprockets each time you put on a new chain. You can lose up to 20% power delivery with a poorly adjusted chain.

Spark arrestors

You’re going to need one to ride most places in California. Modern bikes and exhaust systems are so much better than the old days that running a spark arrestor full time offroad won’t hurt the performance of the bike nearly as much as legend may have it. If you do have an older bike then you may want to invest a little money in a new pipe with a spark arrestor. It will probably help the performance of your bike a both low and high speeds and more importantly it’ll make your bike sound cool!

Batteries

So maybe your bike has a battery and it’s been on a charger or tender for the last 3 months. That doesn't mean your battery will be charged. Check it early before you go just in case you need to replace it. Lithium Ion batteries are a great replacement battery for dirt bikes and they save a lot of weight as well.

Helmets

How old is your helmet? If you don’t know the answer to that you can check under the padding and there should be a date the helmet was created. If it’s more than 5 years old it’s time to replace your helmet. The Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) liner in helmets break down over time. This means if your helmet is more than 5 years old, when you need it to work for you it will be about as useful as wearing a styrofoam cooler on your head. That vintage helmet you picked up  might look cool but leave it on the shelf at home. Maybe your helmet isn’t too old but you ‘re wondering if it’s still in good condition. Look under the liner and check for white cracks. Sometimes the inside of helmets are painted black to make it easier to identify if a helmet is no longer safe. If you see some cracks in your EPS liner it’s probably time to change your helmet. In the picture below there is a small crack in the EPS liner near the front part of the helmet. This helmet is no longer safe to wear.

babes in the dirt

Buying a new helmet? New helmets should fit snug but not tight. Your cheeks should feel squished like you couldn’t chew gum without tearing up the insides of your mouth. Over time this eases as the helmet padding packs in a bit. When you go to try on a new helmet, wear it around the store for at least 5 minutes to make sure the shape of the helmet won’t give you any headaches. If it doesn’t make it 5 or 10 minutes in a shop it won’t last an hour or more out in the dirt. Different brands have different shell shapes and many of the top brands have removable padding that you can swap out for different thicknesses to get just the right fit.

If you are buying a new helmet get the best you can afford. It’s your head and it’s worth way more than the cost of a cheap helmet. Stick with brands that you’ve heard of. Working in a motorcycle shop we hear horror stories all the time, please get yourself a good helmet!

One more thing on helmets, never throw them around or let heavy objects rest on top of them. Take care of your helmet so it can take care of you.

Bike prep checklist

  1. Check running condition

  2. Spark plug

  3. Air filter

  4. Tires

  5. Tubes

  6. Rim strips

  7. Rim lock

  8. Levers

  9. Cables

  10. Brake fluid

  11. Brake pads

  12. Chain

  13. Sprockets

  14. Oil level

  15. Oil filter

  16. Spark arrestor

  17. Battery

  18. Grips

Thousand Oaks Powersports

1250 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd

Thousand Oaks, CA 91362

805-497-3765

www.thousandoakspowersports.com

@topowersports

 photo by Genevieve Davis

photo by Genevieve Davis









 

Riding Season is Here! Time to Brush Up on Trail Etiquette

With riding season coming straight at us we thought we'd brush up on our trail etiquette. No matter how many years you've been riding, it's always a great idea to remind yourself of these simple ways to keep yourself, your friends, and other riders as safe as possible while being courteous at the same time. Take a minute to review and please share! Even though you may be experienced and knowledgeable, there are so many new riders that may need an introduction or a friendly re-fresher on trail etiquette :) The more we talk about it, the more riders it will reach <3. 

Babes in the Dirt

Symbols: The presence of a symbol without a red slash through it or the presence of a symbol beneath the words "OPEN TO" indicates the route is open to that use. Make sure you take a look at what other vehicles (or animals) will be using this trail. 

 Be familiar with who you are sharing the trail with and be on the look out. Always yield to animals and non motorized trail riders.&nbsp;

Be familiar with who you are sharing the trail with and be on the look out. Always yield to animals and non motorized trail riders. 

Staging: Staging is where you off-load and prepare for your ride. When staging, pull off the road at the trail head to prepare your vehicle and group. Don’t block access to the trail while staging. Be mindful of trailers and stow your ramps & other loose items. Be aware of how much space you are taking up to be courteous of other adventure seekers coming in throughout the day. 

 Keep exits and entrances clear at all times

Keep exits and entrances clear at all times

Use Hand Signals: One of the most necessary ways of keeping you and your group safe is by using hand signals to alert other riders of how many riders to expect coming up or down the trail within your group. When passing or meeting other riders on the trail, give them a hand signal to let them know how many riders are left behind you in your group. Use four fingers if you have four or more riders behind you. Riders behind you should be signaling how many are behind them as well. Below, images show (2) riders behind lead, (1) rider behind lead and when you see the closed fist, the trail is clear as the fist represents that person is the last rider in the group but remain alert, no telling when another group will be heading your way.

Letting Others Pass: When approaching another vehicle from behind, pass on the left, keeping a safe distance and speed. Once past, let them know the number of remaining vehicles in your party. This can done by speaking to them or using hand signals.

Finally, understand vehicle differences. Motorcycles have a certain minimum speed they can travel before they want to flop over, especially on rough, rocky, or uneven surfaces. When passing a full-size 4WD vehicle, be patient. It can take a while for them to maneuver to the side of the trail. Motorcycle and ATV riders need to be mindful not to roost the vehicles they just passed. Nobody likes a cracked windshield or a mouthful of dust. 

Off-Roaders Guide to Babes Ride Out 6

Hey Off-Roaders!!!! As you know, Babes Ride Out 6 is an event focused on street legal motorcycles. But... that does not mean that you dirt lovers can't come out and have some fun! The desert has a couple of great OHV areas for you to play in if you don't have your M1 and is a dual sport paradise if you are plated!

 Photo by YVE Assad

Photo by YVE Assad

Some of the many dualsport trails you can enjoy in the high desert!

Photos cutesy of WLF Enduro

JOHNSON VALLEY:

Home of the famous King of the Hammers Johnson Valley is a dirt riders dream. Full of fun trails, hill climbs, dry lake bed and open dirt roads.  There is something for every level of rider here!

Here is some info about the OHV area HERE

Directions to Johnson Valley OHV from the event HERE but there is a closer staging area option HERE

babes in the dirt

GIANT ROCK:

Giant rock has a history all its own! From UFO conventions to mysterious phenomenon, this place has drawn in people from all walks of life. It just so happens to be excellent terrain for off-roading. There is plenty of wide open spaces for Braaaping and tons of interesting trails and terrain. 

Here is some info about the OHV area HERE

Directions to Giant Rock from the event HERE

Please remember, there is no dirt-bikes allowed off the truck or trailer in the campsite. No braaaping in or around the campsite whatsoever. This is the property owner's wishes so please respect it. Both of the above riding areas are not far and you can totally have some fun! Enjoy! AND see you at Babes in the Dirt 4 in April 2018!

 

 Photo by Drew Martin for Atwyld

Photo by Drew Martin for Atwyld

Pioneertown to Big Bear OFF-ROAD:

Watch the Joshua Trees turn in to pine trees as you leave the desert for the mountain. Pioneertown to Big Bear is a 19 mile moderately trafficked point-to-point trail located near Rimrock, California that offers scenic views and is rated as moderate. Make sure you down load GPS so that you stay on trail. There are many websites that share info about this commonly used route! Plated bikes only! Click HERE for more info