Dirtbikes come from the factory now with some serious technology. The riding experience with no upgrades is already fantastic for riders; however, what should you do if you want to improve the riding experience even more? The answer is not as straightforward as it seems. It depends on what you plan on doing with the dirtbike and whether or not you want to ride it on the trails or on the track. For example, some upgrades for trail racing will add unnecessary weight and create a disadvantage for track riders.
Whether you plan on taking the dirtbike on trails or on a track, the suspension is a great place to start that will help you in all aspects of the ride. Believe it or not, dirt biking is very physically demanding, and upgrading the suspension will help out your arms and shoulders so you are less sore and ready to race again much sooner. Front shocks would provide the most significant result, but they are often the most expensive suspension part to buy. Other suspension parts include linkage and triple clamps. Fork seals are the cheapest option that will also help improve the suspension.
An exhaust system is another great upgrade for dirtbikes. There are both slip-on and full exhaust systems. The slip-on makes the bike louder and adds an aesthetic factor. However, the power you gain, if any, is not that significant. However, a full exhaust system will add much more power to the bike, make it significantly louder, and add aesthetics. The only downside to having an exhaust like this is that with it being so loud, your neighbors will likely get aggravated if you ride it around the yard or too close to other houses. These exhausts can get so loud that you can hear them from a couple of miles away.
The next possible upgrade is the chain/sprocket. Getting a bigger rear sprocket and/or smaller front sprocket allows you to get more bottom end (the bottom half of the motor containing the transmission). Alternatively, get a smaller rear sprocket or a bigger front sprocket if you want to open it up and get some more top speed. If you’re into motocross racing, an aluminum sprocket with a non-O-chain is recommended. But if you’re off-roading on trails, you may want to get a steel sprocket and an O-ring chain. Again, motocross riders want to keep their bikes light and fast, and an aluminum sprocket is lighter than steel. Recreational riders are not recommended to switch their factory chain because typically, that is the most reliable one and will last the longest.
If you are on more of a strict budget, you may want to upgrade the hand grips and footpegs, along with the clutch, shift, and brake levers. Upgrading these things does not add any power to the bike or change the way it rides at all. Instead, these upgrades will change the bike’s look, as the new parts will match the overall color scheme. Some people will claim that the different levers are lighter, providing you with more of an advantage, but it does not make a noticeable difference in my personal experience.
With all things considered, I think the best first upgrade for a dirtbike is a full exhaust system. Typically these systems will cost you around $800-$1,000. I love the sound of a loud bike, and the power increase you get with this upgrade is well worth the money. On my own bike, I have a dual exit exhaust that allows for even more air to be pushed through the engine to create more power. As far as the noise factor, it is not a very big deal. You just have to be considerate during the times you ride in a local area where there are lots of houses.