Our first pictorial and start of our desert bike set up will be the wheels. We decided to start with this because it is usually the item most riders or racers pass up when prepping their bike for a race. To some of you this might be a basic review, to others it may be the first time but it needs to be done.
1st- We check the rim for trueness and will look for dings, dents or bends. You can check this by spinning the wheel when the bike is on a lift. Take a piece of tape and mark the ding or bend before you take the rim off the bike. Unless you have a press and know how to fix a dent or ding you might want to take it to your nearby shop that fixes rims. They can break! So after the rim is straight from dings and dents, we then check the spokes for tightness. For a simple check of your spokes you can take a spoke wrench and lightly ding each spoke and listen for it to ring. You will hear the “dead spoke” it will thud, not ring. Tighten that spoke tell you get a nice ring like the others and then check all the spokes again. Keep this up until all the spokes are tight. Note: If you have allot of loose spokes make sure you have not taken the rim out of trueness and have made the rim wave. If so It will then need to be trued. Be careful when you tighten the spokes, take your time and go slow.
2nd –Now we have taken the rim off the bike. Removed the tire and tube and will prep the other features on the rims. Check the rim carefully for cracks or splits. We then will check the bearings for any ratchet or loose feeling when rotating the bearings. If you rotate the bearings and they are loose or have that ratchet feel replace them!!! You can get these from a bearing house with the numbers stamped on the bearing races. You may have to take a screw driver and gently pop the dust seal out of the rim to get to the bearing numbers. Or your nearby dealership will be happy to help ya. But will probably have to place an order and you will have to wait, so we go through the bearing houses. If you have to replace your bearings like we did in this picture. Take a punch or long screw driver and punch the bearing out from the opposite side your working from. Then remove your spacer, flip the rim over and remove the opposite bearing the same way. When you replace your new bearings, you can use a socket that is the diameter of the outside race and gently knock the bearing into place with a hammer on the socket. Don’t forget your spacer before installing the second bearing. Also check the spacer for burs or wear before you install it. Replace or repair with a file if necessary.
3rd - We then zip tie all our spokes. We do this to keep the spokes tight against each other so they don’t flex and possibly break under stress. Our last Baja 1000 we blew out spokes even with them zip tied but never lost one. They stayed on the bike rim and the rim never failed.
4th – We now re-install the desired tube and tire of choice. We prefer a Bib Moouse for the front and a heavy duty 16mm rear tube. We never use a bib Moouse on the rear. It won’t handle the heat the bike displaces on the rear tire under racing conditions, and will disintegrate at high speeds. We also use 14-16 PSI in the rear tube to help from pinch flats. If you do not want the expense of the Bib Moose in the front, use a heavy duty 16mm front tube and use 14-15 psi for pressure. Pinch flats are a big problem, you don’t want one in a race. Use higher air pressures as well! Another good item is SLIME in your tubes. IT WORKS! You can get it just about anywhere.
NOTE: We use Woody’s Wheel Works in Denver to “supper lase” our race rims. These are stronger with larger spokes and are laced in a way that they cross three times instead of once or twice like most factory or stock rims. They can also completely go through your rims and get them race ready if you don’t have the tools or don’t want to tackle this yourself. Feel free to call them at 303-936-0232 and tell them Rsenal Racing sent ya.