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New Bike Preparation

NEW BIKE PREP (or new owner) SET UP

Before we start I want to ask the following, please ignore the peer pressure and DO NOT:

(In each case below there is more likelihood of doing more damage than good.)

DO NOT Remove the slide from the carburetor

On the new generation of engines DO NOT remove the hydraulic cam chain tensioner (without good reason).

DO NOT buy an aftermarket fuel screw made from aluminum (even if it has a catchy name)

DO NOT buy an aftermarket cover for your accelerator pump.

DO NOT adjust the chain because it looks loose.


Set up Notes & Checklist:

Side Stand:This piece was designed to hold the bike up, period, its light weight and thus not bullet proof. Don’t even think about sitting on the bike or kick starting it on the stand!


Please DO the following:

Spark Plug: Remove the spark plug cap and lube with dielectric silicone – grip the cap but don’t allow your hand to slide up the cap so you are actually pulling on the wire. When you do have that cap off, lube it with dielectric silicone, AKA “tune up grease” available from an auto parts store.

Oil Filter: Don’t trust the factory on air filter oil!  Oil it yourself and remember to grease the seal.

Bolts: Loctite the shift and kick lever bolts as well as the rear chain guide where it bolts to the swing arm. Some recommend getting a bolt one size longer for the shift lever making better use of the threads in the bottom of the hole.

Rear End: Block the bike up on a work stand and remove the rear wheel.

Slide the brake caliper mount forward and off of the peg on the swing arm. You should now see one of 3 big plastic plugs, the others are located inside-left and front-center. Those plugs need to be popped out, sealed with silicone and re-installed.

Next remove the chain adjuster bolts. Take them out if stiff and chase the threads with a tap now while you can. Next, apply as much anti-seize compound in the adjuster threads hole as you can. Now, reinstall the bolts and wheel. 

Next, remove the rear shock (do this now with the bike already blocked up so the wheel is dropped).  Remove the shock bolts and slide shock down & back. Block the wheel up until the swing arm is at mid travel, find that point where the arm points in a straight line with the front sprocket, and adjust the chain in this location. It will seam too loose when extended, but when you put the shock back on make good notes of its slack, never set it tighter than this!!  When your riding buddies say your chain is too loose, ignore them! 

Crankcase ventilation:  The peer pressure to modify the vent hose can be compared to teenagers & smoking.  Please bear with me for a minute. On a single cylinder engine, when the piston goes down, the crankcase volume goes down by the engines swept volume (such as 450cc). As the piston goes up, it reverses. The system that vents the crankcase is complex.

KTM had a pretty good idea of what they where doing when they routed the hose to the Carburetor inlet on the XC line.  I question their thinking on the SX where they run the vent hose out the back. Example, if you’re crossing a stream in deep water at low idle, do you want dirty water going into the engine when the piston goes up? I recommend leaving the vent hose alone on the XC line. In the SX line, it would be better to vent either into the Carburetor bell like an XC or up into the steering head. The SX system I don’t find acceptable.


While we are on the subject of hoses and stream crossing, read Carburetor Setup 101 and make the mod described there on the Carburetors hoses, the design that Kehein provides was engineered for fire safety which is all very nice but leaves you dead in the water in stream crossings.


  • Coolant Level:  First, on the right side of the head (RFS engine) near the spark plug is an 8mm hex screw.  Unscrewing this bleeds out any air in the head, it should ooze a bit of coolant, re-install.  Next, on the right radiator is another identical screw, and we should do the same except we need to lean the bike to the left like it is on the side stand!  When done, the coolant level needs to be checked at the left radiator and must be no higher than ¼ inch in that tank with the bike upright!  If it is higher than 1/4" inch, as the engine comes up to temp it will burp excess coolant out onto the head pipe causing riders to panic that the bike is overheated, when in actuality it may not even be up to normal temp yet.


  • Oil Level: Oil should be checked at the right side site glass. It is important to wait quite a while after the bike was run to allow for oil to drain back.  Bike must be upright/flat/level and the oil should be between just visible and ½ way up!  If it is overfull, expect the bike to smoke, be sluggish and blow out gaskets.


  • Tire Pressure: Always check tire pressures, my preference is around 13lbs, the lower you run the more you are prone to flat tires and damaged wheels and the faster you are the more air you need.


  • Valve Stem: I like using both a stem nut and metal valve cap. If you are using the nut & washer snug against the rim, eventually (in any setup) the tire will slip on the rim causing the valve stem being to be torn out of the tube. Not good!

If you leave the nut off the stem, you can see the stem angle change if the tire slips on the rim and hopefully have an opportunity & foresight to correct it before it rips the stem out!  (However if you are running without a nut on the stem and the tire is very low, you run the risk of losing the stem inside the wheel when inflating.  Also not good!)


My solution: Stop by an auto parts store and buy a few metal valve caps. Unscrew the stem nut so it is snug against the metal cap and you have the best of both worlds. Stem will tilt rather then rip the tube, the nut will keep the stem in place when you are putting air in.


  • Idle Speed: the engine needs to idle just a bit faster than common, 1,850 being the right number. A lower setting can leave the “automatic de-compressor” still activated and this will kill low end power to the point of causing a “hiccup”. Its probably just right as delivered and you probably feel you should turn it down?