SCORE Journal

SCORE Journal - July 2019

SCORE Journal - The Official Publication of SCORE Off-Road Racing

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Page 56 of 91

BaJa Prep Tips By Dan Sanchez Photos by Dan Sanchez With a winning history in professional motocross and more than 40-years of riding and racing in Baja, Chris Haines is also known as one of the best racing bike preppers in the business. He more than anyone knows that you can’t just take a stock motorcycle and ride the Baja desert. He, along with his head mechanic Jimmy Holly, demonstrated some basic set-up tips any motorcyclist can use in Baja racing. These simple modifications also apply to anyone going on an off-road excursion through the desert and prevent simple solutions to common small problems that can turn into big ones during a ride. Seats It sounds simple enough, but preparing your motorcycle for Baja can start with some of the simple things like the seat. According to Haines, some riders prefer the stock seats, such as this factory Honda seat, that offers a durable textured top and rubber sides, allowing the rider to stay on the bike better. Others, like SCORE Pro Moto Ironman competitor Larry Janesky, prefer an aftermarket seat that provides more cushion and is covered in a softer suede. Fuel Tank One of the first upgrades that Chris Haines makes to his Baja racing and excursion motorcycles is to upgrade the factory 2.5-gallon fuel tank to an aftermarket 3.5-gallon unit. The extra fuel allows racers to go farther between pit-stops. In Baja excursions the extra fuel allows riders to make it to the next gas station. Quick-Fill Gas Cap In Baja racing, time is everything, so even changing out the factory fuel tank cap with an aftermarket racing quick-fill cap is an easy upgrade. When used with a quick fill fuel jug, it makes refilling quick and safe. Exhaust Modifications Haines’ head motorcycle mechanic Jimmy Holly preps the exhaust system, as it typically gets bent or damaged in Baja racing. Adding thread sealer to the bolts and lubricating the joints with a high-temperature anti-seize makes it easier to disassemble out in the field when necessary. 1 Holly adds a red thread sealer to all bolts that are attached to the exhaust system to keep them from shaking loose. 2 Anti-seize compound is added to all of the exhaust tube joints. It makes them easier to remove should it be necessary out in the field. 3 Holly also suggests elongating the attachment point holes so that it is easier to reinstall the exhaust in the field. According to Haines and Holly, the exhaust should re-attach easily without forcing, otherwise it adds unnecessary tension to the system. Chain AdJustment Holly points out the proper position that the motorcycle’s rear suspension should be, in order to make proper chain adjustments. According to Chris Haines, off-road terrain makes the rear suspension move up and down along its full range of motion. Making sure that the chain is properly adjusted eliminates it from being too tight, which can break and/or cause the chain to hit the engine and damage additional engine components. 1 With the rear suspension in the neutral or level position, parallel to the ground, the chain should have two or three inches of slack, according to Haines 2 Holly demonstrates how the chain is adjusted on both sides equally and also suggests adding silicone to any bolt or screw that attaches to the swing arm. Over time, water and dirt can enter into the swing-arm, allowing rust to form on the adjustment bolts, making it extremely hard to adjust. Radiator Shield Riding through brush and kicking up small rocks can puncture the factory radiator. Haines adds a mesh wire across the factory radiator screen as another level of protection to prevent any punctures that put an end to the day. Radiator Hose Protection The Haines team also adds protection to the factory radiator hose to prevent any accidental punctures from debris. 1 Holly takes a used radiator hose and cuts off about an inch off each end 2 It is then cut in the middle allowing it to be opened up to make a shield 3 The new radiator hose is inserted inside and installed so that the shield faces outwards and can be held on with zip-ties Handlebar & Throttle Repair It’s common for a rider to go down in Baja and if the bike falls on the right side, it may damage the throttle. Haines and Holly offer some suggestions when adding a new handle and to prevent sand and moisture from damaging the throttle in the future. 1 Replacing a damaged throttle is a simple enough task, requiring the removal of the throttle linkage bolts 2 Slide on a new throttle onto the handlebar 3 Holly likes to add a piece of tape, or in this case a round sticker, to the end to prevent water and moisture from entering into the handlebar, which can mess with the throttle in the future 4 After glue is added to the new throttle, Holly sprays some silicone lube into the new rubber handle and slips it over the throttle 5 Holly wire-ties the handle in place to prevent it from slipping off 6 The end of the wire is tucked back into the rubber handle Fork Sleeves While factory forks have seals to prevent moisture and dirt from entering into the shock, Haines’ experience says that silt from dry lake beds and moisture still seeps in. For an added layer of protection, they use aftermarket neoprene sleeves that do the job well. For any additional information on motorcycle prep or to experience a guided Baja Excursion, contact Chris Haines Baja Adventure Tours, (866) 262-8635.

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