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Benchtop Basics 101>Episode 1>

Benchtop Basics No. 1

Your new Mini Moto

Upon receiving your bike, fully inspect it for damages and notify the shipper if you find any damage immediately.  The bikes are inspected at our warehouse for damage prior to shipment to you.  If there is any damage, it is the responsibility of the carrier.

You'll need to fold out and tighten the clip-on handlebars, and tighten the hand controls with metric Allen key wrenches.  On some models, you may need to attach the footpegs.  To attach the footpegs, first remove the footpeg hanger plates, attach the pegs to the plates, and then re-install the hangers.  Check the bike over to make sure all screws and fasteners haven't loosened during shipment, and consider using a threadlocker such as Loctite.  Racers often safety-wire all fasteners, and some racing organizations require it.

If your bike is water-cooled,YOU MUSTput coolant (water or water/anti-freeze mix) in your cooling system reservoir before operating your bike or engine damage will result (note: anti-freeze is often prohibited in racing). On most models, you must remove the fuel tank to gain access to the coolant reservoir. Remove the plug from the radiator to purge air from the system during filling (allow it to fill until water comes out of the hole). It may take a long time to properly fill the radiator, so we suggest either filling the radiator directly through the plug hole, or blowing air into the filled reservoir to pressurize the water into the radiator - then replace the plug, and top off the reservoir to the fill line (some models may not have a radiator plug and may take longer to remove access air from the cooling system). The water pump only operates when the bike is in motion - always observe a cool-down lap after hard use to prevent boil over. If your bike begins to overheat after shutdown, merely roll it around to circulate the coolant.

If your bike is air-cooled, please observe proper cool-down intervals to prevent engine damage.  Do not operate your bike for more than 10-20 minutes (depending on ambient air temperature) without allowing it to cool.


Preparing the bike for starting:

First of all start with fresh gas.  Get yourself a new gas can at the home center (the red Rubbermaid ones work best), and go out and get some fresh 93 octane premium at the pump. 99% of all starting problems come from using bad and or old gas.  For more info on fuel, check our website's TechFAQ section - Mid-South MiniMoto TechFAQ

Before initially fueling your bike, check to see that there are no plastic shavings in the fuel tank from the manufacturing process (they're essentially harmless, and there is a fuel pickup strainer built-in or fuel filter on most models, but why not clear it all out?).  Make sure the fuel tap is open - you'd be surprised at the number of times we've been called with "e;my bike won't start"e; problems caused by people simply NOT TURNING ON THE FUEL FLOW.

Mix the fuel in the jug with 3 ounces of a good semi-synthetic 2-stroke oil (like Klotz) to each gallon of gas for the first batch (this works out to somewhere between 50:1 and 40:1) and fuel up the bike.  You can run 2 3/4 ounces to the gallon of fuel thereafter (closer to 50:1).  Avoid full synthetics during break-in, they may keep your rings from fully seating.  Use a high quality racing 2-stroke oil - avoid the home center bought industrial engine oils.

The choke on the most Italian Mini Moto's is pretty easy to get to.  The 14mm carb has a small lever you flip down to engage the choke, and a quick snap to full throttle releases it (perform this maneuver only with the bike on the stand, or you will likely launch the bike out from under you).  The choke on some models is almost impossible to operate - you would need very tiny hands to get to it.  On the 17.5 mm carb, it's a lift & twist operation, and you must release it manually - GOOD LUCK.  Needless to say, we avoid using the choke much ;-) ...but thankfully, these things start pretty easily without it.


Starting the bike:

Pull the cord very slowly once or twice to prime the motor. Bring the cord up until you are just coming up onto the compression stroke, and then allow the cord to retract. Then, making sure that the internal ratchet pawls feel like they have a good bite on the ratchet wheel, go for the actual "e;pull start"e;. It's actually more like a "e;tug"e; than a "e;pull"e; …don't just "e;yank"e; the cord, because theinternal starter pawls quickly snagging at the nylon starter wheel during violent pulls is the primary cause of premature starter wheel failure. Don't pull the rope all the way to the very end, and don't pull it like you're trying to start the family lawn mower - it's not a big heavy Briggs & Stratton nor a Tecumseh industrial motor - this is a purpose built racing engine. The entire Polini motor probably weighs as much as just the crankshaft on the Briggs. Treat it like the fine piece of racing engineering that it is - don't yank the starter. With care, a starter ratchet wheel can last an entire season - abused, it can fail in one afternoon.

For more info on starting procedures, check Episode 2:  Start me up



Opinions on proper break-in procedures vary WIDELY, depending on who you ask.

Initially, you should ride the bike for only a few minutes and then allow it to cool.  "e;Heat cycle"e; your new motor a few times in this manner to help to break it in.  It's a good idea to let the motor warm up for a minute on the stand before your first ride of the day.  Failure to do this can result in what is known as a "e;cold seizure"e;.  While still on the stand, try bringing the throttle up slowly to learn just where the clutch engages, so you don't get immediately ejected upon grabbing your first handful when you first try to ride it.Note: These bikes are capable of high speeds, and can "e;wheelie"e; VERY EASILY, ejecting the rider if too much throttle is applied.

To break in the motor, you want to ride it "e;nicely"e; for about the first hour's riding time, but remember that you have a centrifugal clutch.  You should not ride the bike around so slowly that the clutch never fully engages.  You can tell when the clutch is fully engaged by the sound of the motor, and by the direct-drive feeling you'll get when the throttle is applied more liberally, and speed is allowed to build.

Don't ride your bike around so slowly that you are slipping the clutch the entire time or you will burn out the clutch!


Your Mini Moto is a real miniature GP racing bike. It is simply not designed to be operated at parade speeds.  You may need to adjust the clutch to the rider's weight.  For more information, check our website's TechFAQ section - Mid-South MiniMoto TechFAQ

After about the first five or ten minutes of riding, and thereafter periodically, check the bike over for any loosened fasteners, and to prevent damage to your engine, always check your spark plug periodically as well to verify proper fuel mixture.  The plug's insulator should be a medium tan color, if the fuel mixture is correct.  If your plug is gray or white-ish, your engine is running lean, and damage may result.  For more information, check our website's TechFAQ section - Mid-South MiniMoto TechFAQ

This information is the intellectual property of Mid-South Minimoto and may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, unless authorized with the express written permission of Mid-South Minimoto.
Copyright 2000-2004 - all rights reserved.

This information is provided in good faith as a guide. We are not responsible for any typographical or informational errors or omissions.  Due to the many mechanical and technical variables, this information is to be used only as a guide, and is in no way guaranteed to be accurate or applicable to your engine, your bike, or your world in any way.

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