Don’t Ask: Rick Sieman Answers Your Dirt Bike Questions
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, Attn: Don't Ask, or leave your questions in the comment section below.
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SUBJECT: TRICK FRAME FOR KAWASAKI BIGHORN
Just found a boyd engineering framed kawasaki bighorn powered motocrosser in a barn in Michigan perfect aluminum tank complete with a little carb cleaning and fresh fuel came to life again who has any information on these
To get a good idea of what you have right there, you need to get a copy of the July and August 1972 Dirt Bike magazine. In there, are the two stories on the project that your frame shown is very similar to what you're talking about. You can get copies of that issue by going to my website: superhunky.com and going to the store section.
SUBJECT: ROLF TIBLIN RACING
Good story regarding Mr Tibblin's ride with a cut-up thumb!!
I found this youtube with Tibblin talking about his intro to racing and racing fitness:
Still haven't found his training manual but I have found an incomplete Pop Cycle mag listing and the training articles seem to be from 72-74...I think. To bad his stuff wasn't in Dirt Bike!
Took my Honda Shadow 600 to the local dealer and I'm trading that pig in on a new enduro machine (well, that's the plan, anyway). Any machine suggestions? Never liked the Shadow as it has forward controls, etc.
There is only one bike that I recommend with no reservations, and that is the Kawasaki KDX 200. If you can find a good clean used one, grab it.
SUBJECT: DIRT BIKE BENCH
Do you remember a magazine like this that had plans in it to build a raised wooden "platform" / dirt bike work station thing, that had a built in ramp that folded up as you pushed the dirt bike onto the platform.
Tony M. Powers
You came to the right place. Here is an photo of the bench with the measurements and you can do a search in Off-road.com and find the complete article including some directions. This bench looks very simple, but works really good.
SUBJECT: READY FOR RACING
Check out my 70 wide frame, this bike is going racing!
SUBJECT: 700 CC TWO STROKES?
I am looking for one of the 700 two strokes. Do you know of any owners? Did they have any problems with the jug alignment or material?
ATK had plans to bring out some big inch Maico-based two strokes including a 760, but so far the deal has not panned out. You're going to have to wait a while.
SUBJECT: 85 XR200 INTAKE BOOTS?
We've had a 1985 XR200R in the family for 25 years. It has an oil leak I'm trying to fix but my mechanic says the 'intake boots' are rotten and need to be replaced.
The local Honda dealership tells me the parts have been discontinued for that year. Are you aware of any other fix or part that will work? I'd love to get the bike running, I'd be willing to bet it's one of the most lightly 1985 XR200s out there.
Your best bet is to take one of the air boots off and go to a used bike place and asked them to look around. Air boots are very much standard and I will not be surprised if one from a year or two difference in your motorcycle actually does the job.
SUBJECT: MISSING COLUMN. CAN YOU HELP?
I was in my late teens when you wrote the article with the guy who had a old husky and a old wore out truck that he put all the engine additives in. I laughed so hard I was crying! May I request a copy of that article please. I couldn't wait to get my Dirt Bike mag every month and read your page and all of the bike tests. The Harley tour glide tests with Jim Holley were also instant classics. Thanks for all of the awesome creative writing and a great magazine for so many years!
Salt Lake City, UT.
I've been searching high and low for that story and can't find it. I remember it well as it was indeed quite funny. I'm going to keep looking. Maybe one of the readers out there might have a copy. If so, fire it off and will share it with the readers.
SUBJECT: THE LAST RIDE FEEDBACK
I just finished reading the Last Ride and thoroughly enjoyed it.
In my time, the Yamaha AT-125 was white, the CT-175 was gold, the LT-100 was green, my DT-250 was red and the RT-360 was silver, that was 1971/72. I think they added the black stripe with white trim to the gas tanks in '72 or '73.
We had a small club and all rode together and those that didn't have Yamahas ended up getting them as they were readily available overseas. The cops all had Harley FLHPs so all we needed was bumps, dirt, sand or rocks, and we could easily lose them. Years later, back in the US, thanks to my step-brother, who was in 81/HA, I've been riding Harleys, starting with a basketcase XLCH 1000 that my brother and his club members put together and I have been riding Harleys ever since.
I actually started riding mini-bikes as a kid at La Costa in SoCal, I had various, a Taco, a Powell Challenger (Cycle Guide actually reviewed that mini-bike) and some no-name/home-built and rode them all around that area, mostly towards Carlsbad and the Raceway, where I got to see some of the stars riding motocross. What a great childhood.
In my younger years, Dirt Bike Magazine was our bible and we'd get 2-3 copies at a time shipped from the US, and the 10 guys in our local dirt bike club would pass them around until we'd each read each magazine twice. We had the yellow and white Dirt Bike Magazine decals on our gas tanks. I knew how to pronounce Pete's name. And when the Yamaha MX bikes came out, we were done with high school and joining the military.
None of us ride off-road anymore, but I'm telling them all about finding Super Hunky and his website with books.
Myself and my friend here, plan on getting the other book as soon as we remember to order it. I think I saw that autographed copies were available.
To end this I would like to thank you for the memories and the GREAT time read Last Ride as it really hit home, the details were given by someone that had done this and knew bikes, roads and life on the road, The story was very well written, no dragging parts, everything moved along nicely. The DT1 being stolen was a cool twist, and then Mitch getting it back the "old school way" was so cool. A wonderful story that anyone that ever rode a dirt bike would like.
Thanks Rick, ya dun good! And correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't you serve in the USN?
Yep, I spent four years in the U.S. Navy from 1958 through 1962. The highlight of my Navy career was in 1962 when I was on the shakedown cruise on the first nuclear carrier in the world, the Enterprise. Picture this, the ship was over a quarter of a mile long and would do over 50 miles an hour.
SUBJECT: UK FEEDBACK
Having been pestered by my wife for my ‘birthday list’ and having exhausted most late 70’s early 80’s motocross/off road literature on Bob Hannah, CCMs, along with back copies of VMX mags of which I discovered last year etc, I noticed your adverts in some old VMXs re: Dirt Bike tests and your book and thought I’d add those to the list. I just have to say, I really did not expect to get an email back from the ‘real’ Rick Siemen! I imagined you had a whole team of flunky’s sending out copious back copies of Dirt Bike etc to eager punters J.
I therefore feel I have to cut across your correspondence with my wife Gaynor and say thanks for the reply. I always remember as a snotty 16 year old with a RM125N in the late 1970’s waiting weekly for TM&X news then the monthly copy of Dirt Bike. The US supercross scene and the exotic new bikes always seemed a world away from my schoolboy scrambling days down here in Devon. It must have been imprinted deep in my brain though, as having let life get in the way, Uni, job, wife, kids, etc, in 2008 I got back into bikes via a mate’s stag do at an indoor motocross track here in Devon run by an old adversary of mine – well adversary I mean he used to lap me…. Repeatedly. Throwing my leg over a new 4 stroke RM250 had me hooked and within months I’d passed my test and got a Serow XT225 and joined the local Trail Riders Fellowship in the Thames Valley where we were living at the time. A Suzuki was soon added then a Honda CRM250. I’m now back in Devon and living the dream riding the ~ 1000 lanes without tarmac in the county, always with a stupid grin on my face.
About 18 months ago, I rediscovered a whole bunch of Dirt Bikes in my dad’s attic from late 70’s v. early 80’s along with a load of old Penthouses and Men Only. Having finished reading the porn mags I got stuck into the Dirt Bikes …..J J and re read them cover to cover. The quality of the writing reminded me of why I still remembered them, everything was so vivid and fresh. Interestingly, the issues regarding the Phantom Duck of the Desert, Barstow to Vegas trails chime true even today as we battle with Nimbys seeking to close ancient rights of way here in the UK, particularly in the Peak District. Thankfully here in Devon, there is a more live and let live attitude and walkers, farmers, bikers and horsey types rub along pretty well thankfully.
I’ve enjoyed reading your more recent columns in TMX (got rest its soul) and VMX which is a top quality mag and just have to say (in as least gushy way possible) that I’ve always admired your writing and used it as an inspiration for my ramblings for the TRF magazine Trail. Trying to go beyond recounting facts about riding the Devon trails, but endeavouring to get across the emotions you feel when sitting on a bike, throttle in hand and the open trail in front of you. For me being a scientist and being expected to write fact without emotion, the ability to let my mind flow is a great release.
Anyway, I must stop gushing, but I appreciate your offer to sign the book for me, it means a lot and if you are ever in the UK, there’s always a bike in the shed and a trail down the road with your name on it!
All the best,
(amongst other accolades…… Chair Devon TRF)
SUBJECT: THE LAST MEMORIES
I remember a story in a magazine when you wrote for them. It was about an old racer on the operating table, recounting all his great riding memories in his last moments. I think he flat lined and the last line was the doctor saying "well, wherever he's headed...I hope he has some good memories to take with him". I would LOVE to have a copy of that one sir.
By Rick Sieman
(If anyone asks you why you ride or race, show them this.)
He was vaguely aware of the sleeve being lifted on his right arm, then the sharp stab of a needle. Moments later some of the pain went away, and the memories came.
It was a glorious sun-filled day, and the 650 Triumph was running sweet and throaty as it snaked across the desert floor. He weighted the left peg, rolled on the throttle and let the rear end drift at just the right angle. A huge roost of fine, wet sand hung in the air for a moment or two. The sound of the twin open megaphones was the right kind of music. A sharp rise was ahead. He braced, stood on the pegs and gave it just the right amount of throttle. The big twin hit the takeoff, lifted, and soared through the air. Hooooeee!
“Can he hear me, nurse? Can he hear me?” The sound of a television; canned laughter, induced applause. He rolled his head to the left and remembered again.
Forty bikes went into the first turn, side by side. The turn was wide enough to accept perhaps four of them. No one wanted to shutoff. He stuffed his Bultaco Pursang underneath a bright orange Montesa and made the rider straighten up. This made the rider next to him shut off, and bango! there was a hole in the crowd.
He slipped the clutch and let the revs rise, then he dropped the hammer and the bright red ‘Sang leapt forward and into the lead. Got the holeshot and goin' away! Won't Francine be proud of me when I win this moto? Yeah!
“Turn him over. I want to check this tube. Good. Now make sure that no one bothers him for the next few hours at least. That means no visitors. Is that clear?”
The trees whistled by, sunlight streaking through the heavy growth, making vision difficult. He kept the Penton moving from side to side and tried not to think about the two broken fingers on his right hand.
Only one more loop to go, and he was only down three points, just about locking up a class win. All he had to do was stay on time ... maybe even drop a few more points, and he still had it wired.
The Penton slithered around a slimy two-track turn, and he got his first look at the hill. It was littered with riders, many of them with early numbers. This was it—make it or break it time.
He dropped down to second, wound it out hard, then caught third again at the base of the bill. He snaked between the trees, hit the right ruts, picked the good lines, and rode smartly, until he made a bobble and was forced to go for second gear to keep the little engine from bogging.
The Penton reared up, caught, and almost stalled. He slipped the clutch brutally and kept momentum. Sullen-faced stuck riders looked on with envy as the small bike churned up the nasty hill, using sharp-edged rocks as mini jumps, and never losing control. Near the top he had to go to low, and he knew that was dangerous and could cause the rear wheel to dig a trench. He kept moving his weight back and forth and somehow, some way, the little Penton clawed over the top.
He looked back down that foreboding bill and did a quick mental calculation: almost 60 riders still stuck. A smile, then forward again. ‘Twenty-seven miles to go and he knew that most of it just had to be fire road. All right!
“He's fading badly. Pulse rate is down; weak. I don't know what to do! Give me 43cc of …”
And the winner of the 250 class for this year's series is … you guessed it … old Number 21! How about a hand for the Grand Old Man who can still beat the kids. In addition to this six-foot trophy, a new riding outfit and helmet go to the high-point rider. How about a big hand for …”
“He's gone. We tried everything, but he was just too old and too worn out. Tough bird, though. He hung on for a long time. Well, I hope he at least has some good memories to accompany him, wherever he's headed.”
SUBJECT: MONKEY BUTT FEEDBACK
Back in junior high in the early 80's I used to buy Dirtbike magazine all the time. Whole thing was great cover to cover I thought. Happen to see you had written some books so had a friend with paypal order them. Just started reading Monkey Butt and can not put it down. Glad you are still with us Sir!
SUBJECT: WEIRD CLUTCH ACTION
Got one for you: I went to start and ride the 1979 Yamaha SR500/650. Started after only 6 kicks.I let it warm up a bit and after disengaging the clutch, I dropped it into first gear and it stalled like the clutch isn't disengaging.
It had sat about 2 months since I last rode it. I tried freeing them up by kicking it through with the clutch disengaged (engine off) and a number of other modes. I started it back up and let it get warmer. Same thing.
I recall how you "freed the clutch plates" in your book Monkey Butt and tried to no avail.
I'm running 20/50W oil.
Also, my Father's grandparents came to America from Poland via Baltimore Harbor.
Would that make me a "Hunky"? I'm hoping so!
David "Semi Hunky" Fruhling
We asked Keith Lynas to answer your cry for help. Here's his reply:
OK... the method David used for freeing the clutch would not and can not work in this application, this machine has primary kick, so clutch in or out the starter will not have any effect on the clutch.
The clutch plates are sticking together, very normal on many machines....first put the machine in first gear, disengage clutch and rock it back and forth (not gently)....it may take a while....
If this has no success, start the engine, roll the machine slowly to get it moving at first gear speed and snick it into first gear, ride it slowly with clutch disengaged and "blip" the throttle on and off...the clutch should break free and begin working as normal.
At the very worst if these methods fail (they sometimes take several minutes to work) then take the primary cover off and remove pressure plate and free plates by hand, lube, and re assemble.
This should not be a big issue to correct.
SUBJECT: STRANGER THAN STRANGE MAICO
We thought photos of a triple-engined (3 490s in one frame) Maico was enough to blow your mind, but here's another "SPECIAL" that will roll your shorts up and down. We received this photo with no information, but decided to pass it on anyway. Yep, that is a Maico fitted with 3-cylinder Kawasaki engine.
My new book, THE LAST RIDE, is at now out. It's fiction and starts in 1969, when an 18-year-old kid just out of high school gets a chance to ride his Yamaha 250 DT1 from Pennsylvania to Los Angeles … all off-road.
His adventures are truly amazing. The book then jumps 40+ years where the same person, now in his 60s, wants to get that old Yamaha back in his possession and return it home by riding it all off-road across the country again. The book is $15 plus $2.75 for mail anywhere in the US and for more information, the email is: email@example.com. Paypal address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Send your questions to email@example.com, Attn: Don't Ask, or leave your questions in the comment section below.
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