Annual Maintenance 2019
The off season for Trials riding in your area is the perfect time to do some annual maintenance on your Trials
At least once a year your Trials motorcycle should get your full attention to keep it in good working order
during the time you are riding and depending on it to run great and trouble free.
Whether you do the annual maintenance yourself or take it to your local Trials dealer a good going over will
keep your bike along with all its operating parts working and performing as they should.
My personal Trials machine as well as every bike that is in my shop gets a full maintenance service, either
annually or before I sell the bike; you should do the same to your bike(s) at least on an annual basis.
Full maintenance of a Trials bike is pretty easy to do with basic tools; it will take about a day to complete a full
service. Regular annual service can extend the life of bearings and bushings save on future repairs costs and
lessen the chance of breakdowns during the riding season.
Along with the obvious bolts and nuts associated with the areas of maintenance listed below all Trials
motorcycles have numerous, specific bolts and nuts that attach and/or ground the electrical components,
secure the exhaust system, rubber chain guides, radiator mounts, engine/transmission, etc.
Don't over look these bolts and nuts; a loose electrical ground wire can wreak havoc on a day of riding.
Before starting maintenance on any bike, wash and clean it thoroughly.
If possible do not use a pressure washer on your bike, the use of a pressure washer can damage stickers and
plastics as well as force water into bearings, bushings, fan motors, push water into the air box and engine or
bend radiator fins. If possible wash your bike by hand with a yard hose, brush, bucket, and soap. Washing is
not just for cleaning the bike, it also gives you a chance to go over the bike looking at and feeling different
components looking for loose or missing bolts and nuts as well as other broken or cracked part and mounting
After washing, ride the bike to warm it up, drying and forcing water and moisture out of places where you
don't want it, as well as warming up the transmission oil. This is a great time to practice the compulsory moves
associated with Trials riding; balance, full lock turns, controlled wheelies, hop turns, etc.
When you have the bike warmed up, drain the transmission oil.
While the bike is on the bike stand draining the transmission oil or after the oil has been drained and the bike
is back on the stand, this is the time to check the wheel bearings for wear or damage. With the bike on the
stand and the weight off of the wheels see if there is any side to side movement in the wheel at the hub, spin
and listen or feel for any roughness coming from the hub area. If there is side movement or roughness in the
hub your bike is ready for new wheel bearings.
You should also check the wheel spokes at this time. Spokes can be felt or listened to for tightness, fill for any
movement, or tap each spoke with a small wrench and listen to the sound; a tight spoke will have high pitch
"ting" while a loose spoke will sound more like a "thud" sound.
If your spokes need to be tightened, don't just tighten one side or one group of spokes, this can throw the rim
off center or out of round.
I prefer to remove all that I can from the bike getting its annual maintenance, leaving only the frame, handle
bars, controls, engine and swing arm.
If you are going to check and service the steering head bearings now is the time to do it. Once the bearings are
serviced, reinstall the triple clamp, handle bars and controls.
Secure the front brake caliper to the handle bars to protect it when further maintenance is done.
This is also the time to remove the throttle, clean, lube and reinstall.
When the forks are removed, service as needed.
The forks on your bike take a beating all season, with the movement and friction of the internal parts the fork
oil will break down and become contaminated with microscopic metal fillings, changing the oil will flush a lot
of this contaminated oil out of the fork system, if your bike has been ridden for 2 years it is time to change the
With the forks, tank/air box and rear fender removed it is time to check/change the radiator fluid, lube the
front bushing on radiator fan with a little WD40, install a new spark plug, check the rear brake fluid reservoir,
check/tighten all of the exhaust mounting bolts and nuts along the length of the system and look at the brake
Removing the wheels from the bike allows the wheel bearings to be checked and serviced as needed; laying
the wheel flat on the floor or work bench remove the outer rubber seal so that you can see the bearings. Add
additional water proof grease to the bearing, you will be surprised at how little grease comes in a bearing from
the manufacturer. Trials being a water sport at times can leave moisture in the bearing damaging and
shortening its life. A wheel bearing can easily be serviced extending its life.
Check the brake rotor bolts, remember the front rotor is floating and will have some movement between the
rotor and the mounting bolts and spacers, as well as the rear sprocket bolts and nuts while you are working on
Before removing the rear wheel, note the chain adjusting cams on the rear axle, if the cams are fully rotated
out or close it, it is time to replace the chain and sprockets. A worn chain and sprocket is a bad accident
waiting to happen. The chain has tremendous pressure on it while riding and you don't want a chain to come
off of a worn sprocket and/or break. A chain derail or break will cause damage to you and your bike.
On bikes that the fuel tank is removable; remove the tank, shake well and drain as much fuel as possible from
the tank out of the fill hole. You will be surprised at all of the debris and water that can be in your fuel tank.
If you suspect water or other contaminants in the fuel tank of a mounted tank such as the Vertigo, 4 screws on
top of the fuel tank will remove the top lid, fuel pump and filter. With the top removed you can easily siphon
out or flip the bike to remove the fuel and wipe clean the bottom of the tank.
2010 to 2015 Sherco rear tanks can be easily remove to dump fuel using the fill hole.
Once all of the maintenance and checks have been completed on the top of the bike, it is time flip the bike
upside down. It is easy at this point since a lot of the weight and awkwardness has been removed with the
wheels and forks. Gently roll the bike chassis off of the stand, resting it on the handle bars and the exhaust
pipe or rear frame, get a riding buddy to help with the flip if needed. As noted above the front caliper is
secured to the handle bars so that it isn't bouncing around while the chassis is being flipped.
Now the bottom of the bike is exposed allowing easy access to the rear brake pedal pivot point, bash plate
bolts, swing arm linkage (Dog Bones), swing arm pivot point, side stand mounting bolts and the drive chain
Check the bash plate, side stand mounting and pivot bolts and the drive chain tensioner bolt for tightness. The
side stand and skid plate bolts do have a tendency to loosen.
The rear brake pivot point also has a bearing or bushing. Remove the brake pedal, clean, grease and reinstall.
Blue Loctite may be used on the bolt or nut threads since they do come loose with use.
From the bottom of the bike the rear linkage is very expose and easy to service.
The rear linkage consists of multiple pivot locations, the Dog Bones as they are sometimes called, attach the
suspension linkage to the frame, the rear shock and the swing arm. There is also the swingarm pivot joint;
attaching the swingarm to the main bike frame. These joints or pivot points have bearings, bushing or both
that allow the joint(s) to pivot and move with the action of the rider, bike, shock and swing arm.
These joints should be inspected frequently throughout the riding season and serviced at least annually.
Some up and down movement in the swingarm is common on any used bike; the rider needs to determine if
the movement is from loose bolts and/or wear and how much movement is acceptable. Obviously if there is
excessive movement and/or very noticeable wear or missing bearings new bearings and/or bushings should be
Remove the bolts holding the dog bone suspension together (if you start by removing the 2 small 13mm bolts
that attach the dog bones to the frame, this will allow the linkage to drop away from the rear of the frame and
foot peg area so that the larger linkage pivot bolts can be removed unobstructed by the foot peg mount).
Removing the bolts will give you access to all of the bearings, bushings and spacers in the linkage system. The
swingarm will hang free as well as the shock will be disconnected (the bottom shock mount that is in the
center of the linkage assembly does not have a bearing, just a rubber/metal bushing that is not serviceable,
you can remove the bolt and apply a thin coat of waterproof grease or anti seize if you like. I generally test the
securing bolt for tightness and make sure there is not excessive wear in the rubber bushing and do nothing
more. If the bolt is removed apply Blue Loctite to it when re-installed.
The swing arm hinge linkage bolt can be removed after the suspension linkage has been disassembled, this will
allow the swingarm to be moved to help remove the long hinge bolt. Vertigo's have 2 pivot bolts, removed
from each side of the the bike, on older Trials bikes the hinge bolt can also be held in place by some pinch
bolts on the back of the transmission.
When removing the hinge bolt be very careful to not damage the threaded end of the bolt. This bolt is
aluminum in a lot of the bikes and can be stuck in place by oxidation of dissimilar metals and/or from binding
of parts as it passed through the steel swingarm spacers, frame and the back of the transmission. Gently using
a punch, that will fit the small hole in the center of the bolt end, or a flat driver lightly tap the bolt out. If the
bolt does not move easily, don't force it; try to get some penetrating oil into the bolt channel to help break the
oxidation bond. Too much force on the end of the aluminum bolt can mushroom and damage the bolt end
Another word of caution when removing the hinge bolt; since the bolt(s) attach or thread through, 3 separate
parts of the bike, engine, frame and swing arm, if the bike as met with a few rocks or logs in its day you may
need to loosen or remove some or all of the engine mounting bolts and bash plate bolts to get the hinge bolt
out and back in. Seems that most bikes that have been ridden will have some of the mounting points tweaked,
be patient loosen and remove bolts and things should come apart and go back together. Be careful to line
bolts up with the threads before starting so that the bolts are not cross threaded during installation. This could
add some maintenance time to the overall time allotted.
Once the hinge bolt(s) is out, the swingarm can be moved back away from the mounting area exposing the
spacers and bearings in the end of the swing arm. The chain and hydraulic brake line does not need to be
removed to service the swingarm. Check, clean and service the bearings as you did with the dog bone linkage.
Once you have serviced the swing arm bearings they should be good for several seasons unless you ride a lot
in water or use a pressure to clean your bike.
Now that all the rear suspension parts have been serviced, new parts installed as need, etc., it can go back
together, just reverse the order of takedown when putting it all together.
Once the components you have been servicing on the bottom of the bike are together, flip the bike upright
onto the bike stand and reassembly can continue on all of the top components and wheels of the bike.
I do like to use a thin grease layer or anti seize or a combination of both on the bolt shafts as I reinstall. If an
area had some corrosion or oxidation when it was taken apart, wire brush and clean the area and apply some
anti seize since you know this area could be a problem in future maintenance.
Since bolts and nuts have a possibility of loosening with riding, apply a small amount of Blue Loctite to the
threads on assembly.
I do not use Loctite on the axles, front axle pinch bolt, triple clamp, front brake caliper or handle bar bolts.
This is my personal preference and others may use Loctite on these bolts and nuts, it is a personal preference.
I do use anti seize on these bolts since they are prone to oxidation. I would also recommend the use of anti
seize on the front axle pinch bolt, the bolt on the bottom of the right fork leg (I have had experience with this
small bolt seizing and they are very difficult to work on since you can't get any of the front end apart without
removing this one bolt which in turn allows the front axle to be removed, etc.)
As you are installing the bolts and nuts, whether using Loctite or not, apply a small amount of grease or anti
seize to the base of the bolt head, nut or washer. This will allow the bolt or nut to easily spin on without the
dry surfaces binding or causing a small amount of friction that can stress small bolts and nuts and it will allow
the correct torque of the bolt or threats without the torque reading coming from the dry surfaces of the parts
Torque all bolts and nuts to the manufactures specs that are easily found on each bikes manufactures web
Do not over torque any bolt or nut. So many times I get bikes into the shop with an axle bolt or nut so tight
they cannot be loosened without a large wrench and/or extra leverage. Axle bolts torque values are generally
listed at less than 40 foot pound (a comparison; the torque specs on the lug nuts of your pickup truck are
listed at 120 foot pounds, I have removed axle bolts on a bike, that have been torqued at very similar foot
pounds). I also see triple clamp and handle bar mounting bolts that are over torqued leading to possible fork
damage, bolt stretching or breaking when trying to remove them.
Remember to refill the transmission oil to the proper amount.
Give the entire bike a final once over just to confirm that all looks good and the bike is ready to go.
After your first good ride on the bike check for any bolts or nuts that may have loosened, after this you should
be ready for another season of riding.
If you have any questions about any of the maintenance you are thinking of doing or have done on your bike
don't hesitate to contact Thumbs Up Trials Supply for help. If I can't help, I can help find the resources needed
to answer your questions.