Rick “Super Hunky” Sieman Answers Your Dirt Bike Questions

Jan. 05, 2016 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 … I’ll leave your e-mail unedited, for what it’s worth.

Send your questions to [email protected], Attn: Don't Ask, or leave your questions in the comment section below.

Previous Don't Ask Columns
December 2015

November 2015

October 2015

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SUBJECT:  HOW ABOUT THE OLDER MAICOS?
Hi Rick,
Just saw your great article on The Ultimate Vintage Dirt Bike Guide and thought I’d drop you a line with the chance you’d have some knowledge about the 1969 Maico 360. One has come up for sale in my area.

I ride a 1979 Maico 250 in local classic races and would potentially like to race the 360 in the pre ’74 class as well. I’m a bit concerned that it doesn’t seem to have been made for long and hence parts may be scarce (will be asking a dealer here in the UK) but I was mainly wondering if anyone knows this model and how it rode. Maybe how it compared to the 400’s of the early 70’s? Any views?

By the way, my brother has just bought his old Greaves 380 he had back in the day. Looks identical to the picture you have in your article. It had been sold a few times and been around the block, including a local farmer using it to bring the cows in. But now after a few decades it’s miraculously back in his hands & I believe he plans to ride it next year in the pre 74 class. Hopefully he’ll be behind me on my Maico..!!
Thanks for your time
Kevin Foy
 

The 360 Maico was a good bike, but the 400 square barrel is worlds better. When I was in the Dirt Diggers motorcycle club, I used to race an open class Greeves and usually finished somewhere in the middle of the pack. A club member who I would normally beat, bought a 360 Maico and he almost lapped me. This was demoralizing to say the least, however, I got a 400 Maico square barrel not too long after that and promptly proceeded to leave him in the dust.

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SUBJECT: 96 YZ250 PLUG FOULING
Hi and thanks for taking my question. I have a 96 YZ250 that is really a nice bike, one of the most powerful 2-strokes Ive ever owned and I recently bought it in seriously mint condition. The issue I'm having is with plug fouling. Standard jetting for this bike is 42 - slow, 175 main.  It has a Boysen reed in it and they recommend 42 - slow and 168 main which I installed, clip is dropped one notch . Put in a new plug and it runs absolutely awesome but then begins to blubber down low after riding for an hour or so then will completely quit. The weird thing is that when it quits it's almost as if I hit the kill switch which I've never experienced before with all the other 2 strokes I've owned.

I've had fouling issues and have always been able to  solve them but when they have fouled it has never been in the manner this one does. It also will backfire at times while I hitting the kill switch. I makes me think there could be an electrical problem... a short or grounding somewhere. The plug is black and sometimes wet though normally not soaking wet. Would appreciate and welcome any and all advice. Thanks you.

Michael Brown
Newark, DE
 

My best bet is that you have a leaky crank seal. If this is the case, then transmission fluid is getting sucked directly into the barrel and this will give you a black plug that will just stop sparking. Check this out first.

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SUBJECT: PICK A BIKE... BUT CAREFULLY
Hi Rick,
I race a 74 CZ400 in the Sportsman INT class @ AHRMA NW events. Was thinking of getting a bike for the Classic 250 class. Bikes typically in that class are CZ twin pipe,Ossa Stilleto 4 spd, AJS 250 Stormer, Rickman/Montesa 4 spd and Greeves Griffon.
 
CZ twin pipes are way too much $, Ossa 4 spd is hard to find. I used to race a 370 Stormer in vintage racing and it was OK after I sorted it out except for the weird shifting pattern.
 
There is the 71’ Greeves w/ low hrs from new for sale in AZ (pics attached) and another 1973 in Calif. What do you know about them? Do they work OK? How is the power?
thanks,
Mark Roler
Victoria,BC
Canada
 

If you were going to race an open class Greeves, I'd say it would be a smart move.  But the 250 is not a fast bike.  I would definitely consider some sort of Yamaha 250 for that class. There are still hop-ups available for the Yamahas and they are definitely faster and more reliable than the Greeves.

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SUBJECT: PENTON MINT 400
Rick: I have raced and restored my most prized possession, a 430 Husqvarna Automatic.  Since 1988 I have won trophies on this machine in four decades.  A couple years ago my wife gave me the John Penton book, later that year I met him at the ISDT Reunion Ride in Oklahoma.  Later that same year saw the movie, and I am hooked.  Joined the POG to get more details and become a part of “something bigger” and have been unable to locate the appropriate machine for myself.  I’m 6’6” tall and think that I want a 400 mint.  It seems everywhere I go is a dead end.  Can you send me down a road where a Mint 400 could be found?

Many thanks,

Wm. David Rozell



I went to Google and typed in Penton Mint 400 motorcycle and found five different bikes for sale. The one in Virginia sounded like the best as he had a clear title and a manual. Give it a try.

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SUBJECT: WHO WAS THE REAL MR. KNOW IT ALL
who was mr.know it all? he was awesome as you r too. my question where can i find the tips from trail rider magazine i was all over there and cant find anything. thanks.
Kevin Stearns
 
The first Mr. Know It All was Vic Krause. We came up with the idea while riding in his motorhome on the way to the Cincinnati motorcycle trade show. The column was used in Modern Cycle magazine and was incredibly popular. In 1979, when I went back to Dirt Bike magazine, we carried the column with us and Krause continued doing it until the mid-1980s. Then, he had a run-in with the publisher and quit doing the column. At that point, I took it over and did it myself. Now you know.
 
 
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SUBJECT: STRANGE PARTS ON A HONDA CRF230
Hi Rick,

We've met but I won't bore you with that story. I took some plastic and the pipe off of my crf230 to access the carb and put all the bolts etc in a plastic bag. Months and months and more months later now I'm putting it back together and there is a rubber o-ring about exhaust diameter in size left over. After looking at an online stock exhaust diagram it shows a washer or spacer of some unknown material between the head pipe and exhaust port. Is it rubber? It can't be rubber! Right? Please help! "I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN!" ;-)
Thank you
Jim McCleary


There is no way that a rubber O-ring would be used in the exhaust. Some sort of metal ring could be used, but that's it. The BBR exhaust system doesn't use any sort of washer or spacer and we were satisfied with the performance.
 

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SUBJECT: FAMOUS HODAKA?
The little Hodaka in my garage photo is sort of famous. I bought it from Rick Sieman, Mr. Super Hunky of Dirt Bike Magazine fame maybe 13 years ago. The bike was featured in 4 issues of Dirt Bike in the fall of 1989 and spring of 1990. The infamous Mr. Hunky restored it and even raced it. The multiple issue story is funny as hell as you would expect from "Super Hunky". I have never even tried to start it, preferring to think my hero of that day was the very last one to ride it. Maybe Rick will chime in on this post. When I get time I will cut and paste the entire story out of the magazines he gave me and post them, it is hilarious.

It is that same bike from the article. I did realize I stole the brand new Works shocks off it right after I bought it for my Bul. Other than that it is the same. I have the Works Shocks so if I hang them back on the bike will you believe me? I copied Rick Sieman into the thread hoping he would confirm the whole deal. Hardly think I would be doing that if I was trying to pull someone’s leg. The basis of the article was that he shook down all the Dirt Bike Mag advertisers for all the new parts including Creet who furnished a new seat cover for a little advertising. He got a box of Arturo Fuentes cigars and some cash from me in the deal. I have all the mags that Rick sent including a handwritten note from him apologizing for not having the last issue but I found one on ebay so I have all of them. The photos out of the mag I took the other night. I will scan everything and post it but leaving for a two-week vacation so it will have to wait. I am guessing it was more like 15 years ago that I bought it and it has rolled since.. If Rick stole some of the parts before he sent it to me, I don't know. nor care.

Mike Linbeck


That little bike was fun to restore and even more fun to race. I'm glad someone owns it now who really appreciates what it was.


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SUBJECT:  STEVE McQUEEN REMEMBERED
Rick Sieman,

I remember hearing about how you used to ride dirt bikes with Steve McQueen at Indian Dunes. You might get a kick out of this shot.

You may be cool but you will seldom be "James Coburn riding in a sidecar of a vintage motorcycle being operated by Steve McQueen with James Garner riding on the back" cool.

John Ker shared Dennis Bridwell's post.
 


Steve McQueen did a lot of testing bikes with me when I was in charge of Dirt Bike magazine. The only thing was that we were not allowed to use his name in any of the photo captions, or any face shots that would identify him. Why? He had a multimillion dollar deal going with studios and they didn't want him getting hurt doing stupid stuff like riding dirt bikes. But that didn't stop Steve from racing motocross under the name of Harvey Mushman, or stop him from testing with us for years. Cool guy? You bet.
 

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SUBJECT: DIRT BIKE RACING
Hi!! My son wants to a professional dirt biker. He is 10 years old. We just moved to Oceanside, CA. I have no idea how to get him involved with groups, classes, racing teams, ect. Could you give me some direction? He has a bike. We off road and he is really good. FYI

Thanks in advance.
Crystal Starks
 

Your best bet is to go to a good dirt bike shop and find out what racing clubs are active in your area. For example, District 37 runs races. Take the recommendation of the man at the shop and sign up your kid with one of these organizations. You'll have to sign for it, as he is obviously under age.  At his age, you'll probably start out racing mini bikes. As he gets bigger, better and faster, you'll move up into the larger bikes. By the time of 16 or so you should know whether the kid is really fast enough to become a pro or just another fun racer.


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SUBJECT:  WHAT WAS THE SUZUKI TM 400 REALLY LIKE?
Hunk,
Gotta question for you. I've seen you comment many times on the widowmaker-like tendencies of the infamous Suzuki TM400. The flexy frame and the erratic/unpredictable ignition advance combined to the make the bike virtually unrideable (safely) at any meaningful speed. Got it.
 
But recently I was talking to this dude who claimed he had ridden all years the TM400's were made (in stock trim). He said the 1972 to 1974 models were just as you said. But he said in its last year of production, Suzuki finally addressed the technical issues and released what was essentially an entirely new bike in 1975. He claimed the '75 was a much more rideable bike, with the frame and ignition problems resolved - a very good bike by the standards of the day. But by this time, no one trusted Suzuki any longer, at least on their big bores. Consequently, hardly anyone bought the '75 model, even though apparently it was actually a decent bike. I'm guessing that may have been one of the reasons they dropped the TM designator in '76 and started the RM line with a clean slate the following year.
 
I actually rode a TM400 once about 30 years ago, although I don't remember what year it was.  A friend had one, which was pretty beat up, but it still ran well. I just opened it up in a grassy field. All I really recall about it is that it would shred the knobby at will, otherwise was a pretty typical early-mid-70's dirt bike with bone jarring suspension and marginal brakes.
 
Anyway, do you know if the story about the '75 TM400 being a different animal is true? That was at the height of the Dirt Bike mag years, so I'm sure you must have ridden one and been all over the yearly changes at that time.
 
Thanks,
Sean

 

The 1975 version of the bike was indeed a little bit better than the others, but still not something you would want to race on a regular basis. The original TM 400 was a real pile of crap and hurt a whole lot of people. You could take the swing arm with both hands and the bike on a stand and make it flex. Can you imagine what it would do under power, or if you hit a bump at speed?

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SUBJECT: INCREDIBLE MODEL OF THE GYDBT
I received this absolutely incredible model of the Great Yellow Dirt Bike Truck from the Amazing Dave. If you are an old timer, you might recall that this was an El Camino that was used by us to haul  dirt bikes around from 1971 thru 1974. We put over 300,000 miles on the motor and I don't believe we ever changed the oll.

Dave went into an astonishing amount of detail on this model, including dried up old french fries on the dashboard. This model will find a place of honor in my office. Thanks again, Dave.


SHAMELESS PLUG
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 PennsAAAAylvania 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 protected]; paypal address: [email protected].


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