Don’t Ask: Rick “Super Hunky” Sieman Answers Dirt Bike Questions
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 email@example.com, Attn: Don't Ask, or leave your questions in the comment section below.
Previous Don't Ask Columns
SUBJECT: THE YEARS HAVE A WAY OF PASSING QUICKLY
I talked to you only once and that was 20 years ago, plus or minus, on the phone and you were in Mexico.
You sold me a copy of "Monkey Butt" and it has passed around to several of my pals. What a great read.
Glad to see you're alive and kickin' and I wish you nothing but the best.
God, but I wish it was 1971 again. Give me my old 250 Ossa, my 125 Penton and the latest copy of "Dirt Bike" and leave me be.
Thanks for sticking up for the little guy.
I'm living in Arizona right now and definitely wish it was 1971 all over again. Years have a way of disappearing. At least we have the memories to sustain us.
SUBJECT: ARMY GUY IN NEED OF HELP
so I've been wanting a vintage bike 2 go with my 73 chevy pick up daily driver so I found this one and got it 4 $80. I know it's a honda. but what kind is it. or a guess of what it could be
No Name Given
The photo you sent was not very good, but as close as I can guess you have a Honda XR500. If it's running, you got a good deal. If it's not running, you got a parts bike. Next time you email me, send some information. On the steering head of the bike, you'll find most of the information that you need.
SUBJECT: THERMAL FLOW SHOCK REBUILD
It doesn’t look like the web site has been updated in a while…I hope all is well
In 1977, at the ripe old age of 16, I bought (with my own money!) a 1975 Yamaha DT400B. Stripped it down, Preston Pettys, I think a Bassani pipe, Curnutt shocks, Terry fork kit Vesco tank etc., and rode the piss out of it in the desert. Sold it in ’79 and bought an RM250, then a 465, and now ride a plated (yes, plated in Cali) 1997 WR250z pinger (The vanity plate even says “PINGER”).
After seeing some pictures of the DT400 in it’s full “Enduro” glory and reading “The Last Ride”, my son went out and found a suitable specimen in reasonably good shape and bought it as a gift for dear old dad. After a bit of cleaning, massaging and adjusting, it’s all working like new…with the exception of the thermo-flow shocks. It appears that the fluid has escaped, as there is no damping what so ever. I think I remember an article in Dirt Bike Magazine about rebuilding the Thermo-Flow shocks, running different fluid and throwing in some sealed Nitrogen bags to help reduce fade. Am I remembering correctly? If I am, in the article in any of the CDs you offer?
Thanks for any info you can provide. I’m a big fan of yours, and proudly wear my Super Hunky sweatshirt to watch my 8 year old nephew compete in the local races here in So Cal.
Wishing you the best,
The Thermal flow is a "not bad" shock, but not exactly an Ohlins either. They are easy to clean and change out the oil. Use 10 wt shock oil. Leaking shocks will often seal up with cleaning and a oil change. Replacement parts are tougher to come by, but some are available. You can modify the seal heads to take a standard oil seal and o-ring similar to what is used on the Works Performance shocks. I recall they came in two different lengths. The reservoirs have to be mounted at the bottom.
SUBJECT: MAICO 501 TECH QUESTIONS
Hi Rick, I had more 501 questions and who better than you to ask.l have frame 501464 eng. K 501475. My question is about wide frame or narrow and how to determine which one I have and also production numbers? Total production, imported, and where would mine fall in line,l believe mine is a 1973 with a wide box any help is much appreciated .thank you very much, always a fan of yours !
There was no such thing is a wide frame or a narrow frame 501. In fact, I put a 501 motor in a 250 frame once as an experiment. Total production of the 501's was about 500 for the West Coast and I'll guess a bit less for the East Coast distributor.
SUBJECT: WHAT GIVES WITH THE NEW TRUCKS?
You probably know I've worked hard as a mechanic since 1973. I said: "Screw it!" and quit two years ago this March. I thought, "I've never owned a new vehicle and I'm due one!" and that vehicle being a pick up truck (what else is there?) It's time to give myself a long due treat.
I've narrowed my search down to either a Ford, Chevy, Dodge or GMC.
Yesterday, it was Leslie and mine's 19th anniversary, so on the way to the Outback for dinner, we stopped at the local Dodge dealership. Man, Rick, they must have had about 50 or 60 new trucks along the highway alone, much less beyond in the lot! Easy pickings!
We entered and were immediately stopped by what appeared to be a B to V Checkpoint! Men surrounded our little Sonoma pleading to help us. I reckon they was salesmen! Like a feeding frenzy, which is good! "Let's make a deal!"
Anyway, I got one alone and when he asked me what I needed, I told him: A two wheel drive, extra or crew cab pick up truck." Salesman blinked and said: "All we have are four wheel drives." Huh? "Yeah, all people want nowadays are 4X4's but I could special order you a 2 wheel drive." I'm thinking: "What's this shit?!" Whatever happen to the days when a 4X4 was the 'special order' and the lots were swamped with 2 wheel drives?
He did tell me he had some used 2 wheel drive pick ups but I told him: "I'll check around elsewhere" and split. Sigh.
All I want and need is a light 2 wheel drive truck with posi-track, air, cruise and power windows (I've never had power windows!) to haul my TT and/or SR500's around along with the occasional hay run and vacations. Bikes won't fit in my GMC Sonoma without a big hassle. Besides, the 1998 Jimmy, though still in mint shape, is about to turn over 200,000 miles.
What gives, Hunk? Why the hassle just trying to find a pretty basic 2 wheel drive new truck?
I guess it's about the same as finding a new, bare-bones big bore 4 stroke thumper that'll run for a few decades or so without having to dump 3 grand in it every 25 hours, eh?
"Amazing Dave" Fruhling
It's absolutely astonishing the way trucks are being sold today. I see 4 x 4 trucks all over the place with not a speck of dirt or mud on them. It's a fact that most trucks may never see the off-road. It just seems to be a point of pride to have your trucks say 4x4 on the side.
SUBJECT: THE MYSTERY BIKE WIRING
I got this old bike and the wires are completely gone..i dont know where nor can i find where to hook the stator/generator up to the voltage regulator then back to the ignition coil if you have any clue how this is possible please get back with me, no im not putting a battery back in it or the start switch/ lights. I'm a bit puzzled on this bike its different from any i have ever seen please help if at all possible. I will try to get some pics to you but i dont have a cell phone.
Every once in a while I get an email so bad that I am tempted to send a trophy to the writer. This is one of those. Without a photo of the bike or any information whatsoever, I find it virtually impossible to give you any advice other than the following: Check on the steering head of the bike and you'll find the information as to the make and model. When you get this information, get your lazy butt down to the dealer and buy a manual.
SUBJECT: WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE GYDBT
I just finished reading the "Best of Dirt Bike Tests." Thanks for the memories.
I will now begin reading it again. And again. And again. Those were truly wonderful times. BTW, your honest articles saved me a ton of money over the years. Thanks.
Gary Sullivan, Payson, Arizona
PS: What ever happened to the GYDBT? I know, I'm the 10 millionth guy to ask.
The last I saw of the great yellow dirt bike truck was heart rendering indeed. It was on a huge flat bed truck with about a dozen other crushed vehicles, no doubt on its way to Japan to be made into cigarette lighters, or something like that. It's really sad that the El Camino, with those 400,000 miles on the motor, had to end like that.
SUBJECT: YEP, STILL HERE
I hope this email finds you well and still in remission. I by chance checked some web site and it appeared as if you were no longer with us. If this is so there is no need to get back to me...LOL If you are well, we still have one of the all time great writing personalities in dirtbiking its been my privilege to correspond with. I hope to hear from you!...Ray Borkowski
Believe it or not, I'm still alive. And still riding at age 76, even though I'm slower than ever. Apparently, I beat the prostate cancer, and after five years of tests, it looks good.
SUBJECT: DT-1 REACTION
rick i just wanted you to know i love the last ride so much so i went and picked a a 1969 dt 1 to restore thanks
My latest book, The Last Ride (see below), must of hit a lot of old memories because I've received a bunch of mail on it. And you're not the first guy to find and restore an old DT1. Congratulations.
SUBJECT: FIGHTING THE BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT(BLM)
Kellon Walch; love you, brother! You are from Utah and you and your family are perhaps as knowledgable as what the BLM has been doing for decades... Dirt Bike Magazine Editor Rick Sieman aka "Super Hunky" took on the Federal Goverment three decades ago and never published one of the most compellijg and damaging FACTS he produced to the Presiding Federal Magistrate when he and Louis McKey went to Trial; it was Photo #134 of high quality satiellite images (BLM) capturing the entire Barstow to Vegas race course!
Rick reported that when given the package of images, the donor strongly recommended the Judge turn over "Photo 134" and read what it said on the back! Photo 134 showed the race course as it came in to State Line from the north; crossing over some shale and water source.... The handwritten note on the back? Let me paraphrase: "Road grading proposed for (XYZ Mining ???)..." For years we were duped into the false narrative that the coveted California Desert Tortoise - a so-called "Endangered Species" - was the singular reason the B2V was canceled and/or not permitted!!!
Let me pull in my long time friend Eric Hallgath; Ron Hall, a wise and intelligent source of savy information, Andy Kirker and Sgt. Jeff Lambson here. Dan Ashcraft had a stake in winning a "Barstow to Vegas" no doubt when the Desert Tortoise was used as a "tool" - sorry Ashcraft, but at least now you know now. Derrick Paiement? Yup! You coulda if they woulda not lied to all of "U.S."...
Bill Fuentes Christensen
My fight with the Bureau of Land Management consumed almost 7 years of my life. Somehow, we escaped going to jail and ended up winning all but one of the court battles. It's never easy fighting the BLM.
SUBJECT: BUILDING A KILLER HONDA
Took 3 years to build… I raced motocross from 1979 – 1985 on Honda 125cc bikes of course Marty Smith was my hero! Being born and raised in Milwaukee I own a Harley Davidson Road King Classic and Honda Shadow ACE Deluxe and my XR 75, thought you might enjoy these pictures.
One of the most satisfying things a rider can do, is build a project like yours and have it come to life.
SUBJECT: A YZ490 TRYING TO BE A MAICO
Ahh, the Yamaha YZ490, your favorite test bike.
Leslie and I stopped by a yard sale today. Leaning up against a post sat an '87 YX490. I was stunned! You mean, they're still out there?
The owner, John Merideth, was quite the character with a mouth that ran like a Mini Enduro with a stuck throttle! Cool dude though. He can't wait to see my SR500/650 in person. (I always carry 8 by 10's of it in my truck)
He gave me the "stats" on his fine unit. He calls it his "YaMaico". He races it in AHRMA's "Evo Class". Anyway, he said he modified with a vintage Maico tank & seat. Also mentioned something about "Simon Anti-Cavitation Forks and a "Tony D" front fender. He told me it's a "modern day Ake Johnson replica". Huh?
He fired it up and it started easy and sounded strong.
I didn't have the heart to tell him about your "10 Worst" list but your name came up and he's heard of you, like, who hasn't?!
Since it's equipped with some fine German Engineering, my question is: "Might it be now found on the '10 Wurst' list"?
David "Amazing Dave" Fruhling
Just because he added a few Maico parts to this bike, does not make it a Maico. It's still a YZ 490 at heart, and that means it's was designed to hurt you.
SUBJECT: TACO WELL DONE
I know, it's me again.
Ever have one of those motorcycle projects that never seems to end?
Well, how about this one?:
I scored my 1970 Steen's Taco 99 from the original owner back in 1986. It belonged to the late Dave "Digger" Rigby, my best friend and fellow TT500 enthusiast. I did things like, new chains and sprockets, the sprockets reduced to have higher torque but slower top speed to account for the 110 pound increase I've gained since 1970.
Also, chopped off the bent forks and welded on a Chinese crotch rocket front end with mechanical disc brake.
I made some brackets from strap steel to get the rear brake functioning again.
I just today installed the brand spankin' new custom made seat done by Gabriel Segura's Upholstery, the same Mexican who recovered the SR500/650 seat. Gabe does excellent work and only charged me $40 which considering I handed him a piece of plywood and told him to make a seat out of it. Very good deal I thought.
I mentioned earlier about John Merideth's 1987 "YaMaico" YZ490. Gabriel did the seat on his bike also.
Anyway, here's some pictures of the Taco sitting on my work bench.
Next comes the test ride. First I'll make sure my life insurance policy is paid up! The thing's a death trap! Being it's a "rat bike", should I call it "RaTaco"?
David "Amazing Dave" Fruhling
I never cease to be amazed at the things that you come up with. I know that you're not a small guy, so what do you intend to do with this bizarre mini bike?
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.