ATVR: That's the recommendation for stock machines. How about the people who are putting high-compression pistons in their engines or milling the heads of two-strokes?
AK: The pump fuel is OK for a stock four- or two-stroke engine. Once you start milling the head of a two-stroke or go higher than 11:1 compression on a four-stroke I wouldn't run anything less than the 50/50 at the very least.
ATVR: Finally, what is the absolute most necessary thing people need to do with their quads for a long life?
AK: Changing the oil and oil filter after every weekend ride along with the air filter are the best things they can do. The Honda TRX450R is the only quad that doesn't share the transmission oil with the engine oil. Every other quad on the market has a system that allows clutch material to mix in with the oil and go through the entire engine. All of that material is very abrasive and can lead to premature engine wear, and if your air filter passes dirt, that is just as bad. If you change these on a regular basis, you'll extend the life of your engine that much longer.
ATVR: Awesome tips, Al! Thanks for taking the time to help educate our readers. I'm sure they'll all appreciate it.
Loren Duncan, Owner, Duncan Racing International
ATVR: Loren, I appreciate your taking the time out of your busy day to give our readers this great information. When customers bring their ATVs to your shop for a preseason service, what are some of the most commonly neglected items you see?
LD: Lack of air filter maintenance, changing the oil and oil filter and the drive chain adjustment.
ATVR: What does a preseason service at your shop include?
LD: This will vary from shop to shop. At DRI we check over the machine from back to front. The ATV is inspected for any obvious loose, missing, bent or broken parts. This also includes missing cotter pins that sometimes are forgotten about. We also check and adjust the chain and all control cables, check valve clearance, adjust the cam chain, change the oil and oil filter, replace spark plugs and clean the air filter. To top all of this off, we do a test ride to make sure the machine is ready to go to the desert. This is a critical part of the service to us. You can start the machine up in the shop but there's no substitute for riding it to make sure that it runs good, the clutch works well and that it shifts properly.
If the customer complains about weak performance, we will also perform a leak-down test on four-strokes and compression test on two-strokes for an additional charge. Another thing we see quite often is people leaving the fuel from last season in the tank when they store their ATV. This can cause a ton of grief because the gas can go bad or dry up causing poor-running or clogged jets. This is when the tank and carburetor need to be removed for cleaning.
ATVR: That's a good bit of advice. What recommendations do you have for the people who say, "I don't ride that hard" and put off rebuilding the top ends of their engines? There's no doubt that sand riding puts a tremendous amount of stress on them.
LD: The best thing to do is keep track of the hours put on the motor, do regular services and a yearly leakdown test to gauge engine wear. We highly recommend the use of an hourmeter on all ATVs. There's some truth to the "I don't ride that hard" theory, but it still requires maintenance. If you take care of your engine, it will last much longer than if you don't.