So you want to go racing, huh? Before you can hit the track for an official race, you’ll need to make sure your bike is ready! As we go through the article, we’ll be setting up a 2012 KX450F for racing.
Safety wire is used to secure bolts and keep them from loosening, by wiring the books in a tightening direction. Many industries utilize it, most notably aviation. When it comes to what you should safety wire, some of that can depend on your racing organization, what you require for peace of mind, or your level of OCD. For any tech inspection, the bare minimum is going to be any bolt or cap with liquid behind it. This means drain bolts, level-check bolts, and fill caps. Other things that may be required are caliper bolts and axle pinch bolts.
If your bike hasn’t been safety wired before, then you’ll need to source new hardware that has pre-drilled holes, or drill your existing hardware. If you decide to drill your hardware, you’ll need a bench vice, cordless drill, and a handful of 1/16” drills. Make sure to have a few extra drill bits on hand in case you break any! Obviously, you’ll need to make sure you have the safety wire and specialty safety-wire-pliers to do the wiring.
To get started, make sure all your bolts are properly torqued and then mark them where they need to be drilled. The holes should be drilled in a manner that the wire is always pulling in a tightening direction. Pull the bolts off and put them in a bench vise with soft jaws so that you don’t mar up the threads. Drill the bolts where you marked them and reinstall on the bike to proper torque specifications. Cut a piece of wire more than twice the length of the run between all the bolts you're writing together and start wrapping your first bolt. Pull the wire through, evening up the ends, and then twist it with your fancy pliers so there is just enough twisted wire to reach the next bolt. Continue until you have your run of bolts wired and finish with a short pigtail on the last bolt. Bend the pigtail inward so it doesn’t snag anything.
In some instances, you can wire a spring clip in so that you have a “quick-release” safety wire. Great for oil and radiator fill caps that may need to be accessed more often than other things. If done properly, the setup should still apply some torque so that the bolt/cap in question remains tight. Though, the most secure method is to wire everything traditionally so you can keep it tight and secure.
Make your life easy!
While you’ve got your drill out, you should do one other thing to make your life easier. When removing a supermoto wheel from swingarm, many times the lower chain guide can be a hang-up. It’s painful seeing a brand new Alpina Carbon rim graze along the tip of a steel bolt, ouch!
Remove the chain slider temporarily so you can work on it. The two holes that go all the way through both sides of the guide are what you’ll be addressing. Countersink the holes on the inside edge, nearest to the wheel. Now, take those two long screws to the hardware store and pick up two Flat Head Socket Cap Screws of the same length. Note the way the two screws are measured in the picture. Install the guide with your new Flat Head Screws from the inside, and reinstall the nuts on the outside.
This will give your chain guide a nice smooth face on the inside so you can remove and install your sweet new wheels much easier!
To keep your bike (and the track surface) protected from crashes, you’ll want to outfit your bike with some form of crash protection. You might see sliders in a myriad of locations on various bikes. For supermoto, the most typical are axles and pegs. Those are some of the most contacted points on the bike during a crash. Sliders are easy to install and save you a lot of unnecessary wear and tear on the bike.
Handguards will keep your levers protected. The most solid ones wrap around the end of the bar so that there’s a solid connection on both ends. I recommend using threaded inserts on the ends of the bars. They’re a more solid connection than the traditional “wedge” style hardware that come with most handguards. They’re available from manufacturers like G2 Ergonomics. Putting bar end sliders on the end of the guards will keep those in good shape, should you unintentionally exit the bike mid-corner.
Coolant & liquids
Regular antifreeze is not acceptable for racing due to the glycol that’s used in it. It can be very slick when spilled onto the track. So dump that out and replace it with distilled water and some form of additive like Water Wetter. The distilled water won’t have the minerals in it that corrode your engine like plain old water. The Water Wetter (or similar product) will raise the boiling point of the water back to an acceptable range for better operating temperatures like antifreeze does.
You’ll also want to address fuel. For carbureted bikes, you’ll need a catch can of some type that will hold fuel that may spill out due to regular riding (hard leaning back and forth, jumping), or a mal-adjusted float that is constantly filling the float bowl.
Oil can become an issue as well. Due to the high RPM and back & forth lean angles in supermoto, this happens a lot. Unfortunately, MX bikes don’t take care of this properly like some street bikes do. If your crank breather is routed to the airbox, that airbox will then drain the oil directly in front of the rear tire. Not good. On some bikes, the vent bypasses any filter and goes straight to the open air. Not good either. Install a catch can or oil recovery system that will not only hold/return any oil that spits up, but also continue to vent the engine properly through some filtration.
If you’re taking your street bike to the track, you’ll need to remove or cover your lights. If you are going back to street riding soon, the temporary solution is to tape them up with masking tape. It seems to work the best as it will be easy to remove and doesn’t leave as much of a residue like other adhesives. You'll want to cover up any glass or plastic that could break and scatter along the track.
Overall Maintenance and Condition
Give the bike a thorough check for anything that is leaking, broken, or otherwise not as it should be. Brakes should have a good, firm feeling and not be mushy. Check for loose bolts, proper tire pressure, etc. Don’t leave anything to chance; if it looks like it could cause an issue, address it!
Don’t be that guy who causes an incident because proper safety checks and devices weren’t in place. Nobody wants to crash, especially because of someone else’s oil slick. So make sure your bike is prepared to hit the track when you plan on going to your next track day or race. Have fun and keep the rubber side down. (Or pegs, if you can drag 'em!)
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About the author:
J.R. (Jeff Rydalch)
I might just be the biggest supermoto enthusiast in the world. Maybe... I started riding supermoto in 2009. I have raced from beginner to pro, and although I don't consider myself a pro, I certainly enjoy the challenge of racing with them. I'm passionate about supermoto in many ways; Toxic Moto, the Utah Supermoto Championship, and most recently SMR articles! I hope you enjoy what I write. If not, you can't unread it! HAHA!