Don’t Ask: Mini-Bikes, Honda Elsinore, Maico vs. KDX 200 and More

Aug. 05, 2014 By Rick Sieman

If you choose to email a question to this forum, then you must conduct yourself accordingly. Therefore, the following rules are in order:

1. Do not write your email to me IN CAPS. If you do so, I will print out your question and do terrible things to it.

2. Do not request a personal e-mail response. Since I get thousands of questions each month, trying to answer them all would cut deeply into my leisure time, which I value more than your current state of confusion.

3. Try to spell at least in a semi-correct fashion. If you choose to mangle the English language, expect no mercy from this quarter. You might be mocked severely.

4. Do not ask for me to send you copies of my many manuals and literature. I am not in the library business, nor do I want to spend the bulk of my day at the copy machine just because you're too lazy to ask your dealer,  or look around a bit.

5. Don't bother me with truly stupid questions, like how to get 50 more horsepower for a buck and a half

6. Now that you know the rules, think carefully and have at it!

Oh yes … I’ll leave your e-mail unedited, for what it’s worth.

Send your questions to, Attn: Don't Ask.

July 2014

June 2014

May 2014


Despite constant assertions to the contrary, it would seem the good folks at Harley-Davidson have a rather poor sense of their own history. Case in point: a recent Harley-Davidson insert in Dealernews, a magazine that bills itself as the voice of powersports retailers.
The insert, which was also sent to the Harley-Davidson dealer chain, is a glossy, 14 X 20 fold out poster that lists the 2013 recipients of the Motor Company's Bar & Shield award, which, according to the blurb -- and pardon my paraphrasing here -- is based on sales, customer satisfaction, and “various operational measures.” Also listed are the names of long-term dealers, notably that of Dud Perkins, the San Francisco dealer that’s been selling the brand continuously since April 1st, 1914.
Now, you’d think that a company so steeped in tradition and so aware of its own history would choose a cover portrait worthy of its legacy. Something that represented one of their many race victories perhaps, or, I dunno, maybe a portrait of someone that helped steer the company through its many years of success. You have to figure that a company that’s been around since the inception of motorcycling would have literally tens of thousands of images to choose from, one that would sum all that’s good and true about them. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words, so this particular one, which was intended to honor the dealers that made them the company they are today, should be a doozy right?
Well it is. The photo that Harley chose, is one of an archetypical American dirt tracker, backing his archetypical American dirt track motorcycle into turn. Presumably H-D picked the shot because nothing says American motorcycle like an old dirt tracker and no riders better exemplify what the typical H-D rider is all about than guys that raced them, guys that were tough as leather with reflexes of a gunfighter. There’s only one slight problem. The photo that Harley-Davidson used to celebrate their dealers is of a guy named Gary Scott, and what he’s riding is a Triumph.
That the photo is of someone riding a Triumph is bad enough. It speaks poorly of whoever picked it, and of the H-D executives that approved it. But it gets worse. For those of you that aren’t students of dirt track history, the name Gary Scott probably doesn’t mean much. According to the record books he was a hard-charging rider and member of the 1974/1975 Harley-Davidson race team who won the 1975 AMA Grand National Championship, and accompanying number one plate.
 What the record books don’t tell you is that he hated riding for Harley, didn’t get along with the other members of the team, and quit the team shortly after winning the title. He then forbid them to use his name or photo in any of their advertising. To say that the relationship between Gary and H-D was adversarial would be a gross understatement, one he’d later underscore by engaging in physical altercation with his former tuner, and all around Harley good guy, Bill Werner.
In short, the image is something of a slap in the face to the Harley faithful, and their dealers.
It also displays a lack of knowledge about the factory’s history, history which is well documented. Of course Harley has always had a little trouble separating myth from their reality, so perhaps this isn’t such an unusual thing after all.
Mark Zimmerman

We thought we’d share this with you mostly because it’s funny as all hell. So next time you see a Harley rider, ask him if it’s a Triumph just like in the Dealernews.


From the July "Don't Ask!" and my minibike response at the end, here's more "vanishing minibike" pictures taken recently:

If I already sent them, please find it in your heart to forgive me.
David Fruhling

PS: we're on our third day of garage cleaning and I gave up at 9:30 this morning. It's been over a hundred the past few days. Screw that noise!

We like to stay in touch with Dave throughout the year, as he always gives us the proper perspective on things that relate to dirt bikers.


This morning I caught some low lifes trying to steal my SR500/650. I had to run them off. Good thing there was only 7 of them.

German Army helmet was just sent to me by my new German friend, Oliver Stahl. He's a paramedic based out of my old Giebelstadt Air Base in Bavaria. We've been swapping coins, food, trinkets and sh*t. This helmet is heavier than ****!
All I need is a little "DOT" sticker!


Mr. Sieman:

I have a vintage Honda MR 175 Elsinore that I am interested in selling. I bought it new in 1976. I am the original owner. It runs great.

It has about 4000 original miles on it. They are mostly highway and trail miles. (I put a stopper switch/tail light on it and registered it as an enduro in 1976.)

It's never been ridden hard and still has the original tires on it. I was told a couple of years ago that vintage motocross riders would be interested in it.

How (where) would you suggest that I advertise it?
What is it worth?

Dave Matuszak

If it’s in absolutely perfect condition, you might get $2500 for it. In average condition, you can look for about $1200 to $1500. In less-than-perfect condition with a few parts missing, 900 is just about it.  You can advertise it for free in or Mark’s Vintage


Hi Rick,

I don't know you, but I'm reaching out for some info if you have it. Here is a pic of what I just picked up I believe there 1971s but I have never seen this color before one of the vins jt1 400225  please help if you can. 
Thx. Joe Madison
Sent from my iPhone

JT1 SERIAL # JT1-000101 - 041708

JT1 SERIAL # JT1L-200101 - 201152 W/LIGHTS

JT2 COMPETITION SERIAL # JT1-050101 - 071150

JT2 SERIAL # JT1-300101 - 330000 W/LIGHTS

They came in the following colors:

1971 Yamaha JT1-L Desert Orange #07

1972 Yamaha JT2-MX Yellow / Black #04,

1972 Yamaha JT2-L Mandarin / Yellow

That tells you that the previous owners painted them blue.



Do you remember back in 1977 i think it was a punk kid Brake Checked you Bigtime and you fell over. It was at a Saddleback Saturday Race. You waited for me and when I got off the track after the race was over you yanked me off my bike and almost killed me.
Rick Maki
I don’t recall the incident, but did race at Saturday Saddleback many many times. If, indeed, you are one of the people who purposely brake-checked me and I didn’t kill you, consider yourself very lucky.


Hi Rick,
Got the book today. Thanks for signing… nice !
If I sent you via PayPal to you email $20 or so would you be able to direct me on a current or used bike for Africa?
The deal is: “What to buy to take to Gabon.” Parts no issue as I will take 100% of my parts.  There is a Honda dealer over there but too far away to be practical and 500% cost):
I work in Gabon West Africa having an apartment there and free weekends.  I work 4 weeks on then come home to USA for 3 weeks(not working) for next 2 years.  Gabon:  I live on the sea coast, sandy beaches for 50 + miles both ways, jungle roads (loam and sand /loam hard pack), occasional downed trees about 20- 30” diameter one must jump (I am OK with that) … and, no EPA (for bikes), BLM, black choppers, tree huggers (I am left to my own morals to protect the jungle and beach).  Normal crap gasoline, one grade, probably leaded but not sure.  I’d take BelRay MC1+ with me if need be.
Last hard riding (Desert racing) was 20 years ago on my vintage Maico 4 speed 490 1983.  Sold due to hard times.  That bike was always on the pipe.  Now recovered financially and ready to buy same vintage (hard to find 1983 Maico 4 speed but looking if you know of one, or anything else dependable with same power band), or a new two stroke, new 4 stroke (all m’xer versions as the off-road 4 stroke 450s I have ridden are boring).  Wanted open class 450-ish.  I have been out of this (new bike stats) for 20 years, just when 4 strokes were coming on.
Delima:  I am a diesel engine mechanic and think I know the laws of physics and 4 strokes simply cannot produce what a two stroke can, RPM for RPM (I may be wrong).  4 Stroke:  I know using exotic materials and cams, valve diameters, lift, etc.,  the 4 strokes can be fun, but it doesn’t make sense where they get their power unless we rev them up.  Power is a ratio of the square of the speed change so I guess they just rev higher plus exotic engineering and materials.  Is this more/less accurate?  I rode a 3-4 year old Honda CRF 450 ‘R’ over in Gabon and it was a rocket ship.  I think I read somewhere on your site that new 4 strokes are made from light weight engine components to limit G-forces and the mean effective pressures just hammer the guts; so dependability suffers unless you are a factory dude who can rebuild it every 20-30 hours of hard heavy sand fun rides.  The parts I bring over for the guys that have CRF 450 Rs are strange frame (bushings, wheel bearings) and cooling system parts.
Dependability is important due to limited parts, time, tools and a place to repair a fun bike. Simple is better.
I road my Maico hard and never really had to do major repairs except normal wear surfaces.
Recommendations please, including new two-stroke or finding an old two-stroke. Also, I cannot have a bike where I need a notebook computer to work on it. I have a cowboy hat and a claw hammer.
George McCoy

Kawasaki KDX 200
While a 490 Maico is really a fun bike, I think the single best all-around bike you could possibly get would be a Kawasaki KDX 200. It has a six-speed gearbox properly spaced, excellent suspension, superb handling and is very lightweight. I bought a 1990 KX 200 when I lived in Baja just to have is a good all-around trail bike. As the years went by, I ended up riding the KDX 200 more than any of my other bikes. I know that you want an open bike and the power that goes with it, but get a good clean 90s KX 200, add a tooth or two to the counter shaft and go riding. You won’t believe how much fun this bike really truly is. By the way, no charge for the advice.

Bike: Honda MR250, points ignition, no battery, Keihan 34 mm
Carb set up: idle set screw all in for fastest idle, throttle cable adjusted - 1/8 inch play, air screw factory set at 1 1/2 turns, needle in middle position (Alt. 1600 feet), timing ok and points look ok condition: bike starts cold w/ 4-6 kicks with and w/o starter choke, idle revs up nice for 30 seconds or so and then slowly idles down to stall - no throttle screw or idle screw adjustment corrects the slow down, new - old hot or cold plug results are same - runs great, slows down and stalls without giving it throttle. With throttle the bike runs fair, smokes a lot and the plug tends to be black and wet and black oil comes out of the exhaust pipe. Tried a 6 volt auto coil and the mid-range improved, the slow idle did not.
I bought the bike with 900 miles and it now has 1500, and the condition described above has been there for the entire 600 miles, except for once when out of frustration to do something, I adjusted the throttle cable to almost 0 play. Everything worked great, front wheel wanted to launch from idle in the first 3 gears and the next time out with no further adjustments, the bike returned to its former mode. Is the smoke and oil due to fuel/oil mix, spark or carb? I’m out of ideas.
Please help, I’ve owned bikes from 68 and I’m no expert, but
I love to try!
Thank you

A few items you might check. Nowhere in your email did you mention the jetting that was in the carburetor. It’s possible that the jets themselves are way out of specs. Get a manual and see what the stock jetting is. Secondarily, if any of the jets or orifices in the carb are clogged in any way, that could be the problem.



Dear Rick,

I agree that the QUB Greeves was underrated, I suspect that its dated appearance didn’t help in that respect.
I thought you might be interested in these photos I took of a unique Greeves, it’s a factory prototype that never made it into production. Dating from 1972 it’s a full 500, from a time when most open-class two-strokes were around 360-380cc.  The right-hand side photo shows clearly that it was of genuine unit-construction, compared to the production Griffons that had a separate gearbox bolted to the crankcases, like all earlier Greeves.  The frame is different from that of a standard Griffon, and it has a tubular swing arm in place of the box-section item on the production bikes.
You might notice that the fabricated kickstart is unusually long. This is because the bike has high compression (14:1 was quoted to me) and combined with being a full 500 it takes a mighty kick to get it started, hence the need for maximum leverage from the kickstart lever.
It seems that the bike was a bit of a beast, and almost unrideable in the wet, the power being too much for the chassis and tyres of the period.  Even Greeves works rider Bryan Wade (for good reasons known as “Wild Man Wade”) found it too much and preferred the production-derived 380 works bikes.
I was told that Greeves were also working on another prototype with a gear-driven primary drive and a left-side gearshift, so they were actively trying to modernise the bikes, but the factory closed before these new bikes could make it into production. Another case of “what might have been”.
This prototype is owned by a guy called Dave Harper, a former Greeves staffer. I took these photos at a classic bike show in Essex, England, last Sunday July 6th 2014 , only a few miles from where the Greeves factory once stood. The Greeves Riders Association had a stand at the show and were displaying many examples of different Greeves bikes. Dave Harper took the 500 out for a demo ride, showing that it still runs and can be ridden.
 Sadly, during the show the news came through that Dave Bickers, Greeves best ever rider, had passed away that morning following a stroke.
I’m sure all this is far too esoteric for publication in your column, but I hope you found it interesting.
Yours in Sport
David Mace

No doubt that the Greeves QUB was a great bike. It’s just too bad that the powers that be couldn’t keep the ball rolling.


I know for a fact that I have been there! Only, it was spelled differently.
Dave Fruhling 

I think we’ve all been there at one time or another, wholly without a paddle.



This includes every issue from June of 1971 through all of 1974. That June ’71 issue was the very first issue. I worked on all of these magazines until that last issue in 1974. You’ll see a big difference in content in that last issue and the ones that preceded it.

Every issue has every page included. All the color pages are reproduced in color. You can print out every page if you want to, since the issues were produced in Picasa 3 format. Or you can put it in your computer (or CD/DVD player) and simply enjoy a slideshow of each and every year. There are seven discs included in the package. Each disc contains one-half of a year (six issues) in order. This comes to about 4400 pages total.

The CD set is $75 for mail anywhere in the US and that  includes Priority Rush mail.  For more information, the email is:

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Website address: Newsletter
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