Don't Ask: Rick "Super Hunky" Sieman Answers Dirt Bike Questions

Mar. 12, 2013 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.

Have a question for Rick ďSuper HunkyĒ Sieman? E-mail questions to editor@off-road.com, Attn: Donít Ask.

Previous Donít Ask Columns
February 2013

January 2013

December 2012

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SUBJECT: JETTING CHANGES IN HONDA XR70?
I bought my son a 2003 XR70 & someone had taken out the baffle. I was wondering if the motor would be ok on it or if I should change the jets. The bike is running good as is.
Chad

On a small bike, itís hard to determine if the jetting is off. The only proper way to do this is to put a fresh spark plug in, run the bike hard for a minute or so, chop the throttle and take a plug reading. If the spark plug is gray or white, then youíre too lean and at the very minimum the main jet should be raised one number. If the reading of the plug tip is tan or chocolate brown, leave the bike alone, as youíre in the proverbial ballpark. Let me know how it works out.
 
 
 
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SUBJECT:  NAME THAT YAMAHA
bought a yamaha pw80 only has 9 digits stamped in steering head and on left side beside shift lever, could anyone help me find out its year?? Numbers 21w-135007
Leslie

What youíve got is a 1985 Yamaha PW 80.
 

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SUBJECT:  HARD TO UNDERSTAND YZ QUESTION
hi,i have a 1998 yz 250. the bike is spitten and sputtering and is hard to start.when you kick start it is many many kicks carb is clean new plug and all that stuff.been told maybe stator but can,t locate one. thanks johnny
Johnny Mac


When I get an email like this, I tend to sit here for a while, crack a cold beer, and then quietly pound my head against the wall. I can usually help most anyone with a problem on a bike if they will simply give me some facts and figures, but when someone gives me babbling trash, I could give them nothing but trash in return. You say you canít locate your stator? Thatís odd. Have you ever considered looking up in your manual just where and what it is? I think not. Now go away and only write me another email when itís rational.
 
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SUBJECT: 1999 YZ400F PROBLEM
I have a 1999 YZ400F. My problem Im having is i went to go take it a couple laps around the block and it took many many kicks to start (usaully starts 3-4 kicks cold) once i got it started i let it warm up for some time seemed to idle just fine so i took off first gear was fine went to accelerate and it hesitated then jumped into acceleration went to shift into second it accelerated for a momment then lost power even with me at half throttle and died.. Really puzzled started it up after a ton of kicks and it did the same thing as soon as I shifted into second. took it to a machanic he was pretty sure the jettings were clogged or something he said checked that and the carb everything seemed to be fine. Im lost and i really need some help otherwise this turd will be on craigslist lol
Miles

The mechanic was absolutely right. Chances are the carburetor has more than one jet or passageway clogged up. Itís time for you to take that carb completely apart and clean it from top to bottom. While youíre at it, make sure that the petcock is flowing enough fuel and that the float needle of the carburetor is allowing fuel into the float bowl. If all these things are working, then chances are your bike will work too.
 
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SUBJECT: IS IT SIMILAR TO A FRONT BRAKE?
How to release a dirt bike front break position after changing a tire
Orion Grezeszak

This has to rank right up there with one of the dumbest emails Iíve ever received. Not only is there a critical typo in the middle of the sentence, I have no idea what this man is talking about. After reading this three or four times, I suspect that he doesnít have any idea either.
 
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SUBJECT: MAKE A TRAIL BIKE A RACE BIKE?
i have a honda 100 trail rider and i was wanting to know if there was any way i could make it a racing bike and if there was what would i have to do?
Lainey

You can take a piece of dried dog dung and carve it into the shape of a rose, but even if you painted it the right color, it will still be a piece of dung. This is much of the same problem that you face when you try to make a trail bike into a race bike. A trail bike is made to kick back and enjoy yourself at a leisurely pace through the woods and the trails. A race bike takes all the flexibility and ease of riding out of the bike and turns it into a single-purpose vehicle. You could turn almost any trail bike into a race bike by spending a huge amount of time and money on it. However, youíll be way ahead of the game by starting out with a ready-to-race, genuine race bike. 
 
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SUBJECT: 1979 YZ250 JUST BACKFIRES
I have a 79 yz250 went riding it last weekend and the bike cut off now when i go out to kick start it it just backfires it getting fuel spark pulled the flywheel cover off and the flywheel key seems to still be there doesnt look shear off but wont know until i pull it off if thats not what could it be its driving me nuts
Dave
 
It sounds much like your timing has slipped. I suggest you take it into a mechanic and have the timing checked, because based on what you have told me so far, you donít seem to be a genius mechanically. This is not an insult, just genuine advice.
 
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SUBJECT: MYSTERIOUS 175 HODAKA
Wow I saw this artcle on the back of A Dirt Rider. I am very interested in finding out what I could do to find more about these bikes.
Richard


 
If you want to find out anything and everything about Hodakas, then contact Paul Stannard at Strictly Hodaka. Their website is http://www.strictlyhodaka.com/ and they not only have parts and information, but they have complete bikes as well. Tell him that Rick sent you.
 
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SUBJECT: SUZUKI 400 CYCLONE FEEDBACK
Had a 72 TM400 up in Michigan back then. All the stories were true concerning explosive powerband which caused the rear wheel to swap sides of the track through deep whoopdies. Most wild uncontrolled stallion I ever rode-almost impossible to rack on rough tracks. Most unforgettable bike in my dirt career. Thing of it is, Suzuki did such a good job promoting my hero Decoster, that we thought we were getting his works bike. We were not.
Mike Brandt


 
When the Suzuki Cyclone first came out in 1971, there was a whole lot of media coverage over the bike and a bunch of advertising featuring Roger DeCoster and John De Soto. When I first tested the bike in the fall of Ď71, I thought this something was dreadfully wrong with the bike. It was. The bottom line was this: the bike was a real piece of crap. When my test came out on this bike, I was called all sorts of names and people said I had no clue on what I was doing. Well, time has proven me correct and all those people who gave me static way back then can simply bite my shorts. The Cyclone has earned reputation as being one of the worst bikes of all time. 
 
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SUBJECT: JETTING FOR THE YAMAHA TTR0230
Re: Honda CRF230 vs Yamaha TTR230R
The part number you list for the pilot jet for the TTR-230 is not complete. I have read were people are having issues finding the pilot jet. The correct number is 43f-14342-19-00.
brian sinclair

We never had any problems getting the correct jet with numbers we had, but certainly thank you very much for filling in the details.
 
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SUBJECT: FORK SWAP ON ANY BIKE
Re: Extreme Restoration on 1991 Honda CR500
Ok how the heck did you get that kawasaki front end on your 500?!?!?!? That is just too awesome, Did you have to modify the steering stem or bearings to fit that kawasaki front end? Please let me know
THANKS!
Herm Nugget


Itís no big deal putting another set of forks on just about any bike. As long as the steering head is about the right length, you simply can cut a piece of tubular metal that will accept the tapered bearings that the forks ride on and weld it to the existing steering head. Go to the project bike department in Off-road.com and in the various departments youíll find us doing this same thing step at a time.

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SUBJECT: TIRE FOOTPRINT IN THE DIRT
Dear Super Hunky,
My name is Tom Harwood and I live in Fairbanks, Alaska.  I am writing you from the North Slope of Alaska where I am employed for the season building ice roads. It wasn't until 7 years ago that I purchased my first dirt bike. Here I am 7 years later, 31 years old, and I eat, sleep and breath dirt bikes!

Here in Alaska the Department of Natural Recourse's and Parks and Recreation build OHV trails, but dirt bikes are not allowed! This is there criteria:

Motorized off-road vehicles must have more than one drive wheel or track, and be less than 64" wide. The vehicle must weigh less than 1500 pounds or exert less than eight pounds per square inch ground pressure.

I was shocked when a park worker stopped me on a trail to tell me I was not allowed to be riding my dirt bike on there trails, 4 wheelers only.

It sure doesn't seem right. The trails are paid for with state funding while DNR alienates dirt bikes. They say dirt bikes being rear wheel drive only tear up the trails. Well, a 4 wheeler may have two drive wheels, but weighs twice as much! I tried looking up the argument on the Internet, that dirt bikes have a greater impact than 4 wheelers, and it doesn't even exist!

What do you think Super Hunky? Is there anything I can do about it and where would I start? Thank you for your time. Sincerely,
Tom Harwood
 
Dirt bike tires vary so much that itís impossible to get one-size-fits-all into seeing what kind of impact the tire would have on the dirt. Letís take an average tire, front and rear, on a dirt bike. The rear would be a 4.50 x 18 and the front would be a 300 x 21. Now, assuming that itís a full knobby, you can measure the footprint, or the contact patch, of each tire and calculate just how much pressure is being put on the on the ground. Figure the bike will weigh 250 and the rider with all his gear on is another 200 pounds. Find a patch of ordinary dirt and set the bike on the dirt with the rider on the bike. Then lift the bike off of the patch and measured the footprint both front and rear. Then divide that reading into the weight of the bike and you have the actual weight for that particular dirt bike on an ordinary piece of soil. Of course, this will all vary greatly depending upon the kind of tire you have, the pattern of the knobs, or possibly no knobs with trials tires, the weight the bike and the rider.  You would have to measure hundreds of different combinations to come up with any sort of rational rules. Take it from there and let me know what happens.
 
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SUBJECT: THE END MUST BE NEAR
Hola Rick,
It appears the end is finally hereÖ.
Thx,
Jeff Chase
 

Yep, when someone takes a perfect good KDX 200 and does that to it, the end canít be far away. It sort of takes your breath away.
 
 
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SUBJECT: THE BEST TRAIL BIKE EVER
The KDX200 really is the best trail bike ever made.
 
I just spent the last six years riding tight, Arizona, desert singletrack on a Yamaha WR426 4-stroke, until now.
 
A few weeks ago, after keeping a pretty close eye on the craigslist ads for about a year, I came across a bone stock 2000 KDX200 with the original bars and tires and bought it for $1500.  I jetted it and threw an FMF silencer on it which shaved 3 lbs of up-high weight off the bike immediately. 
 
This week I had it out in the same loops I've been riding for years and the only thing missing is about 30 lbs of unnecessary weight!!  The KDX lugs the same as the 426, the suspension isn't beating me up, and I can ride both Saturday and Sunday where the 426 had me in traction every Sunday after a Saturday ride.  This bike has literally renewed my passion for riding! 
 
I was worried that I would have to change my riding style if I switched to a 2-stroke; but I can ride the KDX very similarly to how I rode the 426.
 
We truly have been swindled by this four-stroke fad.  I will now chuckle every time I see a big 4-stroke coming down the trail because they just don't know what they're missing.
 
On another note. I got to talking with the guy I bought the KDX from and I mentioned that you were a big fan of the bike.  He races the vintage class out at Speedway here in Phoenix and said you were out there a lot.  So I'm going to try to get out there this month and hopefully meet you.
 
Sincerely,
Steve Bojarski
 

When all things are considered, the Kawasaki KDX 200 will go down as the best trial bike ever made and possibly the best all-around motorcycle ever produced. I had a 1990 that I raced and trail rode for 15 years before I finally sold it. The bike was amazingly reliable, plenty strong, had a six speed gearbox and handled like a dream.  I now have a 220 thatís a whole lot newer and shares much of the traits that old original 200.
 
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SUBJECT: SIZE IS, AFTER ALL, A MATTER OF SIZE
Hi this is kyle from Regina Sk

I have a question is a 110cc 4 stroke dirt bike bigger than a 85cc 2 stroke dirt bike. Or is the 85cc 2 stroke bigger than the 110cc ?
Kyle
 
Iím going to try to make this as simple as possible Ė 110cc is bigger than 85cc. The fact that one is a two-stroke and one is a four-stroke makes absolutely no difference.
 
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SUBJECT: 2010 YAMAHA YZ450F LEAKER
i have a 2010 yamaha yz450f after rideing i had oil come out of the right side of the jug ahole right beside the raidor hose now its stoped could you tell me whats wronge with it that has never happen be for
Carmen Davis
 
Whatís wrong Carmen, is that you are allowed within touching distance of a computer. Not only do you spell like a kindergarten kid, your question doesnít give me enough information to even begin to answer your question. 
 
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SUBJECT: ARE YOU STILL WITH US?
Dear Mr. Super Hunky,
Hello Mr Sieman. We've never met, but I'm an old fan of your literary musings from way back when. By "old" and "way back when", I mean I'm currently 47 years old. I was 11 years old in 1977 and it was around then I remember first encountering your articles in Dirt Bike magazine. At the time, my normally cheap assed dad had bought me a used 1971 Yamaha JT1 60 Mini-Enduro. It was the greatest thing he ever did for me. I read your fairly recent article about the JT1 60 on your website. As always, it was a masterful literary work. Thanks for the memories (and great pics, too).

I cannot understate the impact your writings had on my young mind (along with Kevin Cameron over at Cycle News). You introduced me to the whole notion of tongue and cheek humor, self deprecating wit and the most delectable sarcasm I've ever read or experienced anywhere. Man, that was some funny shit. Some of it was a little over my head being just a kid, but I learned to read between the lines, understand and savor every word. It was a critical element of my middle school education (the only one I actually enjoyed). It helped make me into the Superhunky Jr I consider myself today (I went on to become an Aerospace Engineer, by the way).

And I really mean that. Your writing had a profound effect on my intellectual development and appreciation for not only good writing - but good thinking. That's not to suggest any of it rubbed off on me to any appreciable degree. But it showed me how such seemingly disparate things like technical acumen, common sense and a fantastic sense of humor can go hand-in-hand so very well. And I know I'm not alone. Through your writings, in a similar manner, I'm sure you've imparted the same good things to many thousands of Dirt Bike riders of my generation - perhaps even millions collectively. That's an accomplishment sir! Maybe you didn't realize you were "teaching" at the time? I can assure you - you were.

I'm a middle-aged man now with a few aches and pains starting to set in. Me being middle-aged by default means you're an old fart now. My dad was born in 1938 and I lost him last year from Alzheimers.  Seems nowadays every time I pick up the phone (or press the "answer" button on my cell, to be more precise), I learn of yet another dearly coveted person from your generation that has passed on. I've read various internet missives about your more recent struggles with heart attacks, strokes and prostate cancer. I was just on your website and I notice the last activity appears to have been 6 months or more ago. To be honest, I don't even know if you're still alive. Although I couldn't find an online obit, so I take that as a good sign.

My point in writing to you, is simply to say - THANK YOU. Thank you for the memories and above all, thanks for the freakin' laughs! My god that was some funny shit! Those pictures? The cheesy 'stache? The Mr Knowitall bits? Gronks? Monkeybutts? F***ing brilliant. It will never, EVER be replicated - and that's f***ing sad. I can't stand where our country's headed and it really sucks that your generation is being slowly siphoned off. I really wish you could and would stick around to help keep us straight. We need people like you here more than ever. Hopefully you've beaten back your maladies and you plan on sticking around? If so, please update your website because we're all hungry for some fresh Superhunky bits. You being an old Gronk, I'm sure you can knock it out in less time than curling four sets of ten. 

In the meantime, I hope you're doing well. I sincerely hope this email has not been written in vain and I was too late in properly thanking you. You were always my silent friend, my silent reading pleasure that no one knew about when I was cracking a smile or laughing at loud seemingly over nothing. I owe you one Mr Sieman - we all do.
 
Very Respectfully,
Sean W.
 

Genuine thanks for the uplifting email. We were lucky enough to live through a simpler time in life that unfortunately probably will never happen again. All those things that I wrote about were things that I shared with friends. And that, I think, was a secret to the journalism working. It was nothing more and nothing less than friends talking to friends. Again, thank you, and pass on the stories of those great days to the new generation of people. Maybe they'll believe it, or maybe they won't.
 
 
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SUBJECT: A CLOSE CALL!
Dear Rick:
 
Had not talked to you since I sent you those MX photos from my college stay in Sweden from 68 to 70. Hope you are well.  I have undergone a miracle that has confounded my doctors.  I was dying on January 9th, and since then have undergone what they canít understand in the way of recovery.  Thank god.  I walked two miles today with the dog and rode my DR 650 on the dirt roads out here where I am house sitting a ranch on 542 acres next to 18,000 acres of BLM land that is ridable and only 15 minutes from a benign MX track the city built. Since in April I had to take an elec. cart to get around Target, and never really got any better all year, this is an amazing recovery in just the last four weeks to be able to walk two miles.
 
I sold my home about two months ago since I was sure I was dying and did not want my family to have to worry about cleaning up after me  Then I got this house sitting job for a ranch where the owner died and I lucked out when they asked me to stay here.  I have it for sale as a broker, but could be here for a while since it is 6.75 million. I have great views and riding all around.  I took some of the money from the house and bought a í13 KTM 200 and am awaiting it to be shipped from Chaparral since no dealers here had one.  I laugh at how cramped I was in my little shop at the house I sold; now, since this is a ranch, I have a choice of a 75 x 75 foot building, or a little 40x40.  I sit on top of a hill and meditate on the mountains with their snow capped peaks which are only about 9 miles away.  This is heaven and not the real heaven or hell toward where I thought I was headed.
 
Then, two days ago Ė and you are one of the few people who would get this, which is why I am writing to you Ė a local Craigís list ad was headlined 4CZís FOR SALE.  I just bought all four and are they ever in superb shape. I will send photos.  They are all just about museum quality with all the mods.  3 are AHRMA legal single pipers and one is a fresh out of the crate 250 enduro that is literally show room.
 
I may run out of money too soon, but what a way to go.  Motorcycles still make me extremely happy and I thought I would ride since god gave me a new life.  I am weak as a kitten, but the elec. start should help.  I have a hard time starting my kick-start XR 400 and KTM 200 (an 03), but at least can put around when the elec start gets here.  I am sure I will soon be stuck on an AA trail with C skills, but will try to start out slowly. Elec. start is a boon to those of us with old, hurt and knee braced short knee/legs and, in my case, all the strength of a five day old duck fart.
 
I feel blessed to get back to my favorite sport even if I go at Trail 90 speed.
 
As I said, I hope you are well. When I moved I found a box with an Amal carb that I bought because you recommended it in the magazine.  It was for a TT 500.  I never put it on - it is squarish and brand new if you know of anyone who would want that kind of antique.  I called you about jetting it and you had the politeness to answer my call. That was probably around í77 since I bought a white tanker in 76 and started to race it a year later. I could not believe a big time magazine writer would talk to someone like me Ė and you took a good deal of time.  When I sent you the money when I heard you were sick it was an honor.
 
My best to you, and hope you are still riding.
 
Mike Baker
 
 
Wow, this is the most amazing email I think Iíve ever received. Glad to hear that a major miracle happened and that youíre okay. I had a friend named Hydraulic Jack many years ago who was told he had only about a half a year to live. He said the hell with it and went out and bought a Hodaka and started riding in the desert on it. In a few months, he still wasnít dead, so he started entering a few desert races to see if he could finish. Another half year went by and he was still alive, so heís convinced that riding a dirt bike saved his life. He went on to live another 30 years. Enjoy riding your dirt bikes and understand that the pleasure they bring you somehow, someway, has the ability to extend your life. Good luck and keep the shiny side up.
 
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SUBJECT: THE RIGHT BIKE        
Mr. Sieman,

I am new to the vintage racing idea (mid life crisis) and I have started out with a 1974 Honda Elsinore 125. I wanted to race cross country, but I am not sure if I have selected the right bike for the woods.

I am 51 years old and I find trying to stay in the power band is a hand full in the woods. What would be your recommendation for a vintage or post vintage 4-stroke bike in the 125-250cc range?

I need to stay 1984 and back. I am running a Mikuni 30mm carb., 53 tooth and 14 tooth sprockets. Or is there anything I can do to the Honda for better low end manageability?

I have read many of your articles and respect your opinion.

Thank you,
Pete in Maryland
 
 
I donít mean to sound like an advertisement for the Kawasaki KDX 200, but if youíll go up a few screen pages, youíll find out why I think itís the best trail bike ever made.
 
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SHAMELESS PLUG

SUZUKI GRAND PRIX FROM 1970 THRU 1973
This DVD covers the glory years of Suzuki, when Joel Robert and Roger DeCoster ruled the motocross world. It covers lots of events in Europe and gives you some inside looks at how dedicated the entire team was, from the racers themselves, to the mechanics. Those early RH and TM racing bikes were worlds ahead of everyone else back then and the result was a whole slew of world championships. Excellent racing footage throughout. The DVD runs over two hours. Cost is a mere $10, which includes postage in the US.
 
 

YAMAHA GRAND PRIX FROM 1979 THRU 1983
These were the years when Heikki Mikkola was the top racer on the factory Yamaha open class machines. Yamaha fielded a huge number of motocrossers in Europe and the USA. Even though Mikkola is the star of this DVD, Danny LaPorte is covered nicely. The emphasis is on racing in Europe and thereís even a good segment on sidecar racing. The DVD is 1½ hours long and well worth having. Cost is $10, which includes postage in the US.
 
 

For ordering info, go to: http://www.superhunky.com/ and click on STORE.

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