Donít Ask: Off-Road Dirt Bike Questions Answered

May. 02, 2011 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 Ö Iíll leave your e-mail unedited, for what itís worth.

Previous Don't Ask Columns:

April 2011

March 2011

February 2011

love the site .... i am looking for some restoration projects, and this is a big help. is there any way to find V I N prefixes for these bikes? it would be great to be able tell if that ts 400 is a ts 400 , or a tl !!! thanks

Roger Wood

I'm glad you love the site, but is there any way that you could make a little more sense out of your question? On just about every bike ever made, there's a metal plate or the numbers are stamped on the steering head to get the numbers for the bike. When you have these numbers, it will tell you if the bike is a TS or a TM.
I want to sell my 1975 yamaha mx250B. I am the original owner. The bike is in perfect condition. What should I ask for it?

Dan McVicker


If your bike is in the same condition as a photo I included, you could get some serious money for it. If it is truly in perfect condition, that is collectorís quality, and then you could be looking for 3000+. However, if it was just a nice clean Yamaha, then you're looking at something between $1500 and $2000.

hi i`m working on a yamaha 125 endro date 5-75 ser.560-000-525 i`m afraid thats all i know. the points and condensor are there but not the fly wheel i really do`nt know what all is missing any help would be great. thanks terry Flanagan

This missive can quite easily qualify for most miserable e-mail of the month. Not only do you show a complete aversion to capitalization, but there is no punctuation to speak of anywhere in the e-mail. You, sir, ought to be ashamed of yourself for putting such a morass of crap and calling it communications. Now, that aside, you seem to have a Yamaha with a goodly number of missing parts. Might I suggest that you acquire those missing parts? Or should we just lock up the door, run down to the local parts place, get those parts and hop on a plane and bring them to you? Now go away.


i need cost and if you have a stret legal light kit for 2005 KTM525sx it has no lights so i would need a complete kit please get back with me thank you Kent Phillips
ps you guys have great Pheasant and even better deer hunting out there i envey you
Kent Phillips

It might come as a shock to you, but the KTM 525SX is a pure competition model. If you had wanted a street legal KTM, they have several models that qualify. You could put the parts necessary to get lighting on the bike from another KTM model, but then again, that doesn't make it street legal. By the way, your writing skills are quite embarrassing.
Hi, I have just purchased my first bike a 1999 XR250 and it won't start.
The guy who sold it to me started it the first or second kick (it wasn't
warm). Also it appears the stock decompression lever is not there, is
that vital to starting? I was just wondering if there's some kind of
ritual for starting a 4 stroke? I have kicked and kicked, tried various
combinations of choke and no choke, and cleaned the spark plug and it
will only sputter and die.

Thanks, Scott

Starting most any four-stroke requires a ritual of sorts, and the Honda is no different. Do not use any throttle what so ever. Take the kickstarter and push it through gently until you find top dead center on the piston. Then ease it over a small bit, and give it a nice sharp kick. Again, take great care not to give it any throttle. The bike should then light right off. You most certainly should consider taking the carburetor apart and checking for crud in the float bowl and a blocked, or partially blocked, pilot jet. All it takes is a small bit of debris or water and a full bowl to make this happen.


1973 Yamaha CT1  175cc. The bike has 1100 miles on it and has been running really good. It began to lose a little power at higher rpm, so I am thinking to address the points. I ended up changing the points, condenser and coil lastly, because the spark was very weak -only spark with a copper wire stuck in the cap against the head. Even though I get an AC jump on the ohm meter when cranking, I am trying to track down why I am not getting a strong spark on plugs. So, Im thinking maybe a faulty ground somewhere.

I am looking at the blue wire off the top of the condenser going to the points. It is held in place on the points bracket by a screw where two insulator washers are on both sides. I dont think they should be... I  get  conductance from the top of the condenser (i.e. terminal clips)  to anywhere ground,  the points bracket and even the casing of the condenser.....doesnt sound right to me. My manual's wiring diagram does not show detail wiring regarding the points, condenser and coils.  Attached is a pic. 

Since the screw runs thru the points bracket, what really prevent the screw from conducting the condenser wires to ground ? Or are the wires from the top of the condenser suppose to conduct to ground? Thanks for your knowledge!



Basic magneto tech: Points open, field collapses, electricity built up in top coil throws a spark across the spark plug. The condenser stores the charge that the magneto makes until it is time for the spark plug to fire. The points control how long the magneto charges the coil and it also gives the signal to the fire the plug. Condenser is grounded on the hot side of the points.

Read more here

i recently came acquired a ossa motorcycle frame that i'am looking to sale, but I don't know enough about it to put a price on it, so i'am hoping you can help me out.  Unfortunately ossa didn't put the serial number on a stamped metal plate but used a sticker instead, so I can only give you whats still legible.  The numbers are as follows:  O-A-E-73, OOT?72, 38??71.  Hopefully thats enough information that you can tell me what I got.  Any information you could give me would be much appreciated.  -Jeremy Black

The frame that you have is from a 1973 OSSA Six Days. The A-E in the serial numbers designates that it is an American Enduro and that translates into a six days bike. As far as worth goes, if you had the entire bike you could be talking some pretty good money, but the frame alone is not a highly sought after piece. If you have the paperwork on the frame, you might get a hundred dollars for it. Without a title, look for more like $50 or $60.

We got the inside information on this from Keith Lynas at There you can find just about all the information you need to know on any Ossa or Yankee and can find parts for any and all models. It is the place for parts and goodies.
I recently came across a couple of Maico bikes. My question is on both of the bikes the id tag states the engine size along with the vin number, but they don't add up. One of the bikes says its a mc440 but the vin id on various sites says its a mc400. The numbers on that bike escape my memory. But today I bought another Maico and it says mc400 but the vin says 336XXXX, and on the vin id site says its a mc250? The engine in the bike is a rt337XXXX witch is a 400. Can you shed some light on this? Why would both bikes two years apart say on the factory tag that its one size but the vin says different?  Thanks
Below is a chart from AMS racing that tells you just about everything you need to know about Maico model numbers for the vintage years. A couple of things to bear in mind. The 440 is really a 336, and there is no difference between a 250 frame and a 400 or 440 frame of most years. So take it from there.

Year   Model    Frame    Engine
1973    250     393000   U277000
        501     5012     U5016
Year   Model    Frame    Engine
1974   250/4GP  394 000  U278 000
       400/4GP  394 000  U406 000
       440/4GP  394 000  U441 000
Year   Model    Frame    Engine
1974   250/4GS  340 000  K278 000
       400/4GS  340 000  K406 000
       440/4 GS 340 000  K441 000
Year   Model    Frame    Engine
1975   250/5NG  321 000  M321 0000
       400/4NG  321 000  U322 0000
       440/4NG  321 000  U320 0000
       250/4GS  340 000  K278 000
       400/4GS  340 000  K407 000
       440/4GS  340 000  K441 000
Year   Model    Frame    Engine
1975.5 250/5NG  321 000  M321 0000
       400/5NG  323 000  G323 0000
       440/5NG  324 000  G324 0000
       250/5WR  321 000  G321 0000
       400/5WR  321 000  G323 0000
       440/5WR  321 000  G324 0000
Year   Model    Frame    Engine
1976   250/5AW  326 000  M321 0000
       400/5AW  327 000  R323 0000
       440/5AW  328 000 R324 0000
       250/5WR  321 000  G321 0000
       400/5WR  321 000  G323 0000
       440/5WR  321 000  G324 0000
Year    Model   Frame    Engine
1977    250/5AW 330 000  M321 0000
        400/5AW 331 000  R323 0000
        440/5AW 332 000  R324 0000
        250/5WR 230 000  G321 0000
        400/5WR 230 000  G323 0000
        440/5WR 230 000  G324 0000
Year    Model        Frame    Engine
1978    250/T MAGNUM 336 0000 MT336 0000
        400/T MAGNUM 337 0000 RT337 0000
        440/T MAGNUM 338 0000 RT338 0000
        250/5 WR     230 000  G321 0000
        400/5 WR     230 000  G323 0000
        440/5 WR     230 000  G324 0000
Year    Model           Frame    Engine
1979    250/T MAGNUM II 341 0000 MT336 0000
        400/T MAGNUM II 342 0000 RT337 0000
        440/T MAGNUM II 343 0000 RT338 0000
        250/T MAGNUM E  241 0000 GT236 0000
        400/T MAGNUM E  241 0000 GT237 0000
        440/T MAGNUM E  241 0000 GT238 0000
Year    Model  Frame    Engine
1980    250/M1 346 0000 MT346 0000
        400/M1 347 0000 RT347 0000
        440/M1 346 0000 RT348 0000
        250/T MAGNUM E 241 0000 GT236 0000
        400/T MAGNUM E 241 0000 GT237 0000
        440/T MAGNUM E 241 0000 GT238 0000
Year    Model   Frame     Engine
1981    250/T   350 0000  350 0000
           400/T   351 0000  351 0000
           490/T   352 0000  352 0000
Year    Model   Frame     Engine
1982    250 MC  353 0000  353 0000
        490 MC  354 0000  354 0000
        250 GS Alpha E 353 0000 253 0000
        490 GS Alpha E 354 0000 254 0000
Year    Model         Frame    Engine
1983    250/5         361 0000 362 0000
            490 Sandpiper 362 0000 362 0000
Year Model  Frame Engine
1984 SC500        364 0000
Year Model  Frame       Engine
1985 500      366 0000 266 0000
                     366 0000

Year  Model  Frame        Engine
1986  250     H3670144  HMX3670130

GP    Grand Prix
NG    New Generation
WR    Wide Ratio
AW    Adolf Weil
Magnum    :  Magnum Moto Cross
Magnum E :  Enduro
MagnuM II :  Moto Cross
M1            :  New Megaform frame

U         U Transmission Close Ratio
K         Wide Ratio Transmission
M        250 Close Ratio Transmission
G         400-440 Wide Ratio Transmission
R         400-440 Close Ratio Transmission
MT      CountershafT Moved back
MT1     250 Close Ratio Transmission
RT       CountershafT Moved back
RT1      400-440 Close Ratio Transmission
GT       CountershafT Moved back
GT1      250-400-440 Wide Ratio Transmission


Get the first four years of DIRT BIKE Magazine on discs. Those early copies are getting hard to find and the ones in the first year (1971) are going for big bucks. Hereís what you get:

*   Every issue from June of 1971 through all of 1974. That June í71 issue was the very first issue. I worked on all of these magazines until that last issue in 1974. Youíll 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.

Hereís how to work the discs: Pop a disc in your computer and open it. An icon saying PICTURES will appear. Left click it.

Another icon will appear naming the disc (ex: DIRT BIKE 2nd HALF 1974). Left click it. This will bring up a bunch of dates/icons. Left click on the first one.

This will open up Picasa 3 and the first page of the magazine. Go to the bottom of the photo with your cursor and this will reveal the tool bar for Picasa 3. Itís self explanatory. You can make the page bigger or smaller, rotate the page, edit the page in Picasa, advance to the next page, make a slideshow out of the magazine by clicking the arrow in the middle, or simply print the page out by going to the down arrow (far right), click it and follow the directions.

The seven disc set costs $70 plus $5 for priority mail.  So get your very own piece of history.   go the STORE for  details. Newsletter
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