Not all motocross and trail riders give their bikes the attention required to keep them in top shape, which often leads to perfectly good bikes getting scrapped or being parted out after they spend a while rusting away in the shed. The good news for riders with a little extra time on their hands is that if there’s not extensive rust damage, getting an old, ugly bike back into great shape isn’t as hard as it might seem. Read on to find out how to bring a dirt bike back to life.

Sometimes Appearance Is Everything

What many riders don’t realize is that the primary issue with an old dirt bike looking less than its best often isn’t mechanical. It’s a matter of outward appearance. Even a few months of racing and trail riding can leave an otherwise perfectly good bike looking broken down and haggard, but all it takes to get it back to looking its best is some new plastic and customizing your dirt bike.

Why Buy New Plastic?

Some riders may be wondering why experts suggest replacing plastic instead of trying to restore old parts to their former glory. The answer is simple. New plastic kits are generally quite affordable, with many available that cost less than $200, and they’ll make even old bikes look brand-new. It’s also easier to replace plastic than it is to try to restore older pieces.

Plastic Restoration Options

While it’s usually more cost-effective and less time-consuming to purchase a plastic kit and replace old, worn-out parts, some riders prefer to keep everything the same. It takes a lot more work to restore plastic than it does to replace it, but it is sometimes possible. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Choose a plastic restoration product.

Wash all of the parts that will be treated.

Sand down the plastic.

Apply the restoration product.

Paint the restored plastic, if necessary, to match the rest of the bike.

Apply new graphics.

Cleaning Aluminum

Not all of the exterior parts of a dirt bike are made of plastic. Riders who want to restore older dirt bikes will also need to treat the aluminum surfaces to restore a healthy shine. To clean the aluminum, mix a tablespoon of white cleaning vinegar with two cups of warm water, then apply it using a non-abrasive cloth or pad.

What About the Engine?

So far, this article has focused exclusively on aesthetics. Now, it’s time to discuss how to clean up an old and dirty but otherwise functional engine. It’s easier than most riders might think, and it doesn’t take a ton of mechanical expertise. Just follow these simple steps:

  1. Spray out the dirt and dust using a can of compressed air.

Cover all of the engine’s sensitive parts.

Apply an engine degreaser, let it sit as needed, then rinse it off.

Scrub hard to remove any stubborn dirt and grease.

Dry the engine’s surface.

Apply a rubber seal protectant.

That’s all it takes to get an old engine cleaned up to the point where it can be taken out for a test ride.

Get Back to the Trails

Whether riders have recently purchased old bikes for discount prices or they’ve realized the error of their own ways and have decided to clean up an old bike that’s been sitting in the shed for months, or even years, the restoration process takes some time. When it’s finished, though, that old dirt bike will look brand-new and be ready to take back on the trails. Just make sure to give it the love and maintenance it needs in the future.