Good News, Bad News, Dirty News

dirtbike dirt bike motorcycle repair motorcycle maintenance service service department

When you have to deliver bad news to a customer, it's a good idea to serve it up with some sort of silver lining. For example, let's say you take in a four-stroke dirtbike for routine service and discover that the valves are past their limit of adjustment or that the cylinder compression is way down.

The bad news is, you have to call the owner and tell him that internal motor work is needed. The good news is that while you have the motor apart you can work your magic to increase its performance.

Another example could be a bike that's in for blown fork seals. You suggest a re-valve and suspension tuneup while the bike is down. The key is to remember that no one enjoys paying for maintenance and repair, but paying for an improvement in performance is a whole lot easier to swallow.


Talking to shops around the country, I found similarities in doing business with dirtbike customers. It seems the good news is that average dirtbike customers are far less finicky about the work they order than their streetbike-riding counterparts. One service manager even told me he'd gladly trade in his Gold Wing riders for dirtbike riders, just because the dirt guys are so much easier to please.

The bad news is that for dirtbike riders, the life expectancy of their motorcycles are much shorter than that of Gold Wings, which is why the service intervals for four-stroke dirtbikes are much more frequent than those of streetbikes. Add to that the dusty, dirty environment off-road riders play in, and you have a recipe for a quick demise.

Additionally, like an ungrateful cowboy, many dirtbike owners ride their machines hard and put them away wet — to sit for long intervals until their next wild weekend. Treatment like that accelerates wear and tear and can result in sluggish performance, leaking seals or a total breakdown. Now it arrives at your dealership with the owner expecting a hundred-dollar tuneup to be the fix. Sorry, Charlie!


But the good news is that you can suggest performance enhancement as the silver lining and turn a sour situation into a sweet deal. Do the motor or suspension work in-house or outsource it to a reputable company to a put a smile back on your customer's face, (And make a little extra money to boot). Not a bad idea, right?

Pro Circuit in Corona, Calif., has been in the dirtbike business for 30 years. Owner Mitch Payton was a desert racing professional from way back who had a knack for race tuning.

He still runs the company, along with a team of tuners, machinists and specialists who can massage your average two- or four-stroke dirtbike into one that runs faster and jumps higher, just like that old Keds commercial (Wow, that just dated me!).

Pro Circuit performs thousands of motor and suspension mods a year for the professional racer, the weekend warrior and dealerships around the country and overseas. David Alari, PC's sales manager, told me the most popular work they've been doing lately is four-stroke head work, high-compression piston upgrades, race cam installation (grinds are developed by Pro Circuit) and suspension re-valve and setup.


While the work they do for most dealers is less radical than what they do for manufacturer race teams, the results are right in line with what a regional racer needs; more usable power across a wider range of RPM, and suspension expertly tuned to rider weight and skill level. Products and services cover the Big Four Japanese and KTM brands.

Many of the employees are racers themselves, so motor and suspension mods are tested and developed not only on their in-house dyno, but also at the track. The company has over a half-dozen specialists manning the phones if you need help. That's always a good thing on those days that nothing seems to be going right.

If it's your first time to send assemblies in for work, Alari recommends that dealers pick up the phone and have Pro Circuit walk you through the steps to get it right the first time. Dealer pricing is available on all products and services.


Even if you don't need a source for motor or suspension work today, it's worth a few minutes to visit Pro Circuit's Web site ( to take a walk down memory lane with the many famous riders and teams the company has been associated with over the years, and to check out its products for sale. Pro Circuit designs and produces a wide variety of performance parts, from titanium intake and exhaust valves and billet cams to exhaust and linkage systems and launch controls.

Aiming to be a one-stop shop, Mitch Payton has done a great job turning a passion into a profitable venture — and so can you. That's the really good news.