Don't Ask: Rick "Super Hunky" Sieman's Dirt Bike Column

Our resident dirt bike legend answers reader questions in his monthly column

Sep. 04, 2014 By Rick Sieman
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.

Send your questions to [email protected], Attn: Don't Ask.

August 2014

July 2014

June 2014



Since I have time, I will jot down a couple of other indelible memories from Super Hunky
1.  Interviewer:  Super Hunky, are there any areas in which you can improve your riding?
Hunky:  yes, turns and straights.
2. XR 500 test, from the Hunk:  Never, never ride down a drop off. Always jump.  I was OK until the rear end came over center and drove me into the ground like a tent peg. 
3.  Bike loading stories:
Having your head pinned to the roof of a van by a broken tie down.
Getting punched in the forehead by the end of a handlebar, leaving a circular indentation
Slipping on a loose number plate in the bed of the truck.  Don't ask why it was there.
4.  After a desert race, being so thirsty that you drink the brackish water from the portable icebox.
5.  Removing a knobby tire with:
A.  2 frozen carp
B.  old McDonald's french fries from the bottom of the truck.
6.  Test of Yamaha SC500:  We expect the bike to go boom, boom, boom, digging trenches as the engine barely turns over.  The bike had poor low end grunt, worse than the 250 and 360 models. And when it came on the pipe, it would tear your arms out of their sockets . . .
Dirt Bike was a truly great magazine, by lifetime favorite.  Every issue was relished.

How could we miss? Back then, Dirt Bike magazine was written by a couple of old dirt bikers for a bunch of other dirt bikers out there.




Iím trying to decide between a Kawasaki KDX 200 or a Yamaha IT.  Both bikes are in excellent condition and the price is about the same on both of them.  I want a good all-around play bike that I might enter into some kind competition may be a few times a year. I had a chance to ride bikes up and down the street when I looked at them, but never got a chance to take them out in the dirt to find out what they really will do. So whatís one should I get?

Marty Wilson

Kawasaki KDX 200

Yamaha IT 200

Thereís really no problem in trying to decide between the two bikes. The KDX is definitely the superior machine. Donít get me wrong: the Yamaha IT is a very reliable bike that does a lot of things well. But the KDX is lighter, faster, has a better suspension and handles much better than the IT. In fact, the KDX is one of my favorite all around bikes. And if you look in my garage, youíll find one sitting there.


Thanks to you, Rick, we all know when we've been in the garage too long. How about when you've been subscribing to magazines too long?
You know when you've been subscribing to magazines too long when:
1) It takes 3 hours, 2 jugs of ice water and one 1 herniated disc just to remove the 23 boxes of them from the shed.
2) You root through them all, wanting to keep them all and have a panic attack every time you toss each one.
3) The ones you do decide to toss practically fill your pick up truck for the dump run.
5) The ones you did toss were at gunpoint. "Yes, dear..."
6) After filling the truck up with all the discarded magazines, you notice both rear tires could use some air.
7) You also notice that, for the first time in 55 years, your truck has overload springs.
8) You know you've been subscribing to magazines too long when you look at that truck load of magazines and think: "I actually read all these...three times?"
Enclosed are pictures of that "morning chore". Included are pictures of 2 of the boxes I managed to keep. There's some gold in there like "Four Wheeler Magazines" from the mid to late 1960's and all my "Hemming's Muscle Machines" that I'll never toss.
Now, time for a bottle of Doan's and a nap.
Dave Fruhling

I think you missed the boat, Dave. Rather than throwing those old magazines away, you should have put them on eBay and Iíll guarantee you there would have been buyers.



Hey Super H,

I just started riding dirt bikes and the guy who is teaching me told me never to touch that front brake. He said if I do, it will lock the wheel up and I will go down. So whatís the front brake for? Is it only for expert riders to use? Iíve only been running about three times but once I went riding and the other people with us were using their front brake. So whatís the deal?
Sam Chavez
The guy who is teaching you doesnít know a whole lot about dirt bikes. The front brake is one of the most valuable things you can learn how to use. When you start to use the front brake, use it gently. In other words, when you slow down, keep the front wheel straight and apply gentle pressure to that front brake. It will slow you down in much less than half the distance in using the rear brake only. As you get more hours on the bike, you can learn how to put more pressure on the brake lever. As long as that front wheel stays good and straight when youíre braking, you should have no trouble. One important point;  make sure that you use the rear brake combined with the front brake. Using the front brake alone can put you on your face.

Well, Rick,

I did it. It only took 8 mornings but I got the garage cleaned. Pictures show boxes and arrays of long lost tools I found under the work bench, under the tool boxes and under junk on top of the work bench. I'm surprised I even found the work bench! There's even a picture of the truck loaded with junk from the garage ready for a dump run. I'd send you a picture of the now cleaned off and cleared garage and work bench but I lost my the garage.




Iíve got a Yamaha 2000 YZ 250 and Iíve only been riding a few months. The bike is plenty fast and I have no complaints with it.  The only thing is the rear end is all over the place anytime I try to accelerate out of a turn or a corner.  The guy I ride with to increase the preload on the spring on the back of the shock.  I did that and the rear and works okay now but the forks for some stupid reason are bottoming out real easy. Is it possible that the same that preload screwed up the way the forks work?

Freddy in LA

You have just discovered a fact about dirt bikes; what you do on one end affects the other end.  You can make the forks work properly by adding a little bit of oil to them. Start out with 1 ounce of additional fork oil in each leg and see if that does the job.  Use more if necessary.



Hey Rick,

Iím out there on the east coast trying to restore a 1973 Kawasaki 175 (F7)
I seem to have excessive oil leaking into the crankcase thru the auto oiler lineÖwhen it sits oil leaks out the overflow unit on the front of the crankcaseÖwhen I crank it up it smokes like a Mexican bus in rush hour! Do you know if there is supposed to be a check ball n spring or check valve in the crankcase or oil line?
I have searched but am stumped right nowÖ
If you can shed any light on the subject, it will be appreciated!
Barry Stone in NC

1973 Kawasaki 175 F7

Barry, first, are you sure it is oiler line that is causing the excess oil? It sounds like it is most likely gear oil finding its way into the crankcase chamber; rotary valve cover has several o-rings and a seal that will cause these symptoms if they are damaged or missing.  The valve on the front of the case is to help relieve any excess fuel that may have leaked inside during a period of non-use. It is pushing oil out now; the pump should not allow oil to flow when not turning.

To test, drain the gearbox oil completely, refill with a castor oil (Blendzall, Castrol R, Klotz or Maxima 927) and run the engine again.  It is possible there is already a lot of oil in the exhaust, so it will smoke, but pay attention to the smell. If you smell a sweetness to the oily smoke, then it is gear oil leaking inside.  This can be caused from improperly sealed crank cases (there is no gasket on this model, requiring disassembly to repair), or it could be one of several o-rings or seals missing or failed.



Mr. Sieman,

If parts 1 through 4 of your four-stroke fiasco series are available, will you please direct me to them? I ran several Google searches and did my best to thoroughly navigate your website to find the entire series. I found parts 5 and 6 but that's all.

I very much enjoyed "Dirt Bike" magazine during your years there.  Still a good magazine but it hasn't been as forthright and on-the-mark without you.

Thank you for many insights about our beloved sport and for your time and consideration of my request.

See you down the trail,
Fred Wernett
Own & ride: KTM 300-XCW

Fred, the stories you mentioned are on my website, and not on To find what you need, simply go to the OLDER STORIES and click on that.  Itíll be way down there, so have some patience.



To whom it may concern,

I just bought a bike RM 125 and itís only five years old and in real good shape. But the guy told me that I would have to re-jet the bike since I live in Colorado at about 5000 feet in altitude. I havenít been riding very long but why would I have to rejet a bike thatís in good shape?  Donít they do that stuff at the factory where they build the bike?

Allen in Denver

2009 Suzuki RM 125

Most bikes that are sold are jetted for around sea level in altitude. With current carburetion, it would be virtually impossible to sell a bike jetted properly for 1000 feet to 5000 feet. The sad fact of life is that you have to jet your bike for the place you live.



Hi Rick,
Great book. My wife purchased me a copy, autographed to my surprise, for my birthday earlier this month. On Saturday she had a minor (if there is such a  thing) stroke from which she is about 90% recovered.

Happened to grab Monkey Butt on my way out to the emergency room. It was a hell of a weekend; however, when there was some quiet time, or in-laws visiting time, I would pick up Monkey Butt and proceed to laugh my ass off. That is some seriously funny stuff. Just before we checked out I finished reading about the truck for Suzuki 400 trade, classic, more laughs. Have been a fan since I was 14. Thank you for all of the laughs over the years and an extra special thanks for the little bit of sunshine during a tough couple of days.

Glad you're enjoying the book. It was written for guys like you. Go to my site for more stuff: Thanks.



Hi Rick,

My name's John, and I've been reading your writing for 33 years, now.
Dirt Bike was good stuff, and I was a Sahara Club member, too.
In fact, I still have the Sahara Club bumper sticker on my refrigerator.
Rick, I'd love to bounce a bunch of questions off you, but I'll narrow it down to one:
In your opinion, when was/is your personal "Golden Age" of riding dirt bikes in the USA, and for what reason(s)?
Thanks for reading this, Rick.
John A. Kuzmenko
Hanover, CT.
All things considered, I personally would have to rate the years of 1968 through 1978 as the golden years of dirt bikes. Even though there was a tremendous amount of interest in dirt biking in the mid-60s, things never really started happening until the Japanese flooded the market with low-cost and reliable dirt bikes. At the same time, the Europeans came out with some fantastic machinery, like the CZ the Husqvarna and the Maicos. During this time, there were motocross tracks just about everywhere, desert racing was in full bloom, woods riding took off and plain old trail riding was still possible without a bunch of helicopters coming out of the sky to arrest you.



A warm Hello. Hot enough for you? It's 100 in the shade in So. Oregon. I have a friend who lives in Cal City. Works at Edwards. He bought a used 2005 KLR250 to explore The Dez. I'm disposing of 100's of Cycle Wipe Magazine and he asked me to see if I had one with a KLR250 test in it. I told him I'd try to look.
I just wanted to know your opinion on them. Are they too wimpy? Girls bike? Any easy hop-up hints? Like a pipe/rejetting?
How about tires that work good in the Mojave & the street? Sprocket swap?
The friend really wanted a KLR650 but was afraid of the weight. He's us. He's 58. He got his 250 stuck in the sand near my famous camp site and liked the lighter 250 when extraditing it from the sand. How do you get a bike stuck in sand? I could see if it was a 1967 Harley FLH with a hard tail frame and a 30" over fork (Mint 400?) but a little KLR? Hell, I took my '72 Harley XLH to my campsite but then again, I have a clue...
Every time I fire up the "BSR 650" in the garage for visitors, they plug their ears! Why is that? Open megaphone? 12:5-1 compression? Both?
Huh? What? Speak up!
David "Deaf Dave" Fruhling
I donít like any of the Kawasaki KLR models, from the little ones to the big ones. To me, they are boring likes with boring power bands and even more boring handling. I hope Iím not being too vague about how I really feel about them.
We donít have any shade here in Arizona, and if we did, I wouldnít tell anyone else because weíd have to share it.



Hello, I have an old 50cc Yamaha Passol 2 scooter a friend gave me, it will start & run but when given throttle it doesn't rev up, runs a little rough & kinda bogs down. I've taken the carb apart & cleaned it thoroughly & still no difference. I've included pics with the only #'s on it in red, the only other markings is Mikuni Corp & Japan.
I'd like to know how to tune it & any info about it I can.   

Thanks, Kyle

Old Mikuni Carb

Sorry Kyle, but our knowledge about scooters is nonexistent.  If your scooter is in solid mechanical condition, chances are you probably havenít cleaned the carburetor properly. Take it apart one more time and clean all the Jets and the passageways leading to the Jets completely. While youíre at it, check the float level.  If thatís off, it will affect the way the bike runs. Also check for any air leaks anywhere in the system. Even the smallest air leak will cause your scooter to run weird.



I'm new to the web page but I have a question I just can't find someone to help me. I have a 72 yamaha dt-100 and just wondering which cross bike parts would work as its harder now to find exact parts. And if you have we pages to order from that would be a big help as I am just getting into the motorcycle world.
Andrew gray

1972 Yamaha DT-100

Back in the late 60s and the early 70s, most of the Japanese manufacturers used a lot of parts from bikes of the same size for different models. For example, forks from a 100cc motocross bike would probably fit on the DT 100. There is no book out there to show you what parts interchange with what other parts, but what you can do is pick up a few manuals to shed some light on this subject. If you get a manual for your DT 100 and pick up a few other manuals on MX 100s, you should be able to determine what parts will  change with what parts. Failing all this, if you could find a very good dealer who is willing to take the time to look up to find out what you need, your question should be answered.



Harley-Davidson has messed up in the past. Super Hunky's favorite MX bike, the Harley-Davidson "Baja" being a good example from the past. The "..rehashed Italian street bike with no redeeming values".
Anyone make it to the biggest party in history? Harley-Davidsons 100th Anniversary party in Milwaukee back in 2003? Oh, the big wigs at Harley went all out when they presented the "Secret Special Guest Musician" (or however they put it).
Poor bikers stayed for some great rock performances when the last performer, the "Special Guest" appeared, no other than Elton John.


The Last Ride

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 Ö 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 protected]

Paypal address:  [email protected] Newsletter
Join our Weekly Newsletter to get the latest off-road news, reviews, events, and alerts!