How long has your bike been running? When’s the next time you need to change the oil or fuel up with your ATV? Chances are, these and other essential maintenance questions typically go unanswered. If you’re like us, your dirt bike heads to the shop when something fails, your ATV refuels when it’s completely dry and most of your maintenance routine is based on your educated guess about how long it’s been since the last repair job. An hour meter changes everything. If you’re ready to learn what is an hour meter, how it can help you and where you can find the best options, check out this helpful guide today.

What Is an Hour Meter?

Whether you’re rocking a dirt bike, UTV or ATV, your ride lacks the helpful sensors and displays that you’re used to in your truck, SUV or other vehicle. While models can vary in terms of size, performance and display information, most dirt bike hour meter models display all the basic information you need.

If you’re lucky enough to have a bike or ATV that already comes with an hour meter, you may want to consider upgrading to a more intuitive model. Many aftermarket sensors come with far more advantages than a simple hour meter, so you can get to know your bike and get all the latest information on your UTV as you navigate new terrain.

Keep track of maintenance schedules, find out how fast you’re really traveling and plenty of other important factors with hour meters for bikes. Many parts on your bike not only have a recommended mileage before routine maintenance is performed, but many are given approximate hours of operation. This gives you an idea of when to take your bike into the garage and give it a tune up. Hours are more precise than months for maintenance schedules, particularly if you don’t ride your ATV or dirt bike on a daily basis.

If you want to stay on top of your racing maintenance schedule, you need to know when to replace your oil filter, change your oil, replace top end bearings and even replace your piston rings. Whether you want to swap them out every 20 hours or keep them running for longer, you need to know how much action your piston rings and other components have seen. Waiting too long to replace these crucial parts can cause even more damage.

Grab one of the latest hour meters and you’ll even enjoy duel-vehicle support. The latest high-tech meters allow you to input two different off-road vehicles. Simply install a sensor on your bike and ATV and then swap your meter back and forth as you take turns flying around the racetrack or exploring two-tracks on your ATV.

What Can an Hour Meter Measure?

Hour meters vary in size and measuring techniques. Some affordable models are basically a stopwatch that counts the run time of your engine and lets you figure out the rest. These are the easiest to install, the most affordable to buy and give you the basic information you need to stay on top of your maintenance routine.

More premium dirt bike and UTV hour meter options cover far more. High-end hour meters are like mini control panels that cover all the essentials that your off-road vehicle manufacturer left out. For a luxury control panel, look for an hour meter that includes these helpful measurements:

  • Hours in operation
  • Miles traveled
  • RPMs
  • Current speed
  • Stopwatch

Adding a speedometer and odometer to your off-road vehicle is a great way to monitor mileage-based maintenance schedules, monitor fuel levels and tell your buddies just how fast you took that last curve. Whether you’re hooking up your dirt bike, ATV or UTV, an hour meter is a worthwhile investment if you are concerned with preventative maintenance.

If you’re mostly concerned with a single maintenance schedule, like your oil change, you can easily reset your hour meter after every use. That way you can easily keep track of how close you are to your next oil change. It’s also a useful feature if you decide to swap bikes but still want to keep your favorite hour meter.

Installing an Hour Meter

From a basic ATV hour meter to a complete dirt bike control panel, installation is fairly straightforward. Always check out the instruction manual, and be sure you choose a meter that’s compatible with your bike or off-road vehicle before you start strippng wires. Here are some basic steps to get you started with your dirt bike hour meter installation:

  • Pick a spot to mount your hour meter that’s easily visible while riding
  • Check that you have sufficient wiring to reach the spark plug end
  • Connect the wire, typically by wrapping the pick-up wire around the spark plug cable multiple times
  • Secure the wire

These steps are basic guidelines for your hour meter, and each model has slightly different installation procedures. Basically, your hour meter works by picking up pulses from the spark plug wire. This setup is more streamlined than a full control panel, which requires additional wiring and connectors to perform properly.

Be sure to check out hour meters that come with additional features, like a backlit display or waterproof connections. A meter that isn’t ready to get covered in mud and rain water probably won’t stand up to a lifetime of use. If you’re used to even rides and have a control panel that includes a speedometer, it’s crucial to keep the panel well lit as you continue to blaze new trails in the dark.

Gear Up and Hit the Trails

From compact dirt bikes to spacious UTVs, get the most out of your off-road ride by picking up the latest hour meter today. Now that you know how to track mileage on a dirt bike, you’re ready to hit the trails knowing how your bike is performing and when your ride is ready for maintenance. Don’t wait until your oil burns up or your piston rings wear out, but keep on top of your maintenance routine and get the most out of your favorite ride today.