Donít Ask: Rick Sieman Answers Reader Dirt Bike Questions

Aug. 01, 2012 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
[email protected], Attn: Donít Ask.

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Re: Which Dirt Bike is For You?
Thanks. That sort of helped.
I'm a girl and just want to ride around the farm. Please help. Here is some information.

Q. What is your riding skill level?
A. Out of 5, 2 or 3.

Q. What kind of riding will you mostly be doing?
A. Dirt.

Q. Are you good at maintenance?
A. A bit. My dad is pretty good.

Q. What shops (by brand) are relatively close to where you live?
A. Honda, Suzuki.

Q. What kinds of shops are they?
A. I'm not sure. Think it's a mixture?

Q. Are you growing? Or are you pretty much stabilized?
A. I'm still growing.

Q. What do you weigh and how tall are you?
A. 159cm tall & about 50kg.

Rarely do I receive an e-mail with such detailed volume of information in a question and answer format. I'll do my best to try to answer each one.  You are almost 5 foot 3 inches tall, which is on the short side, therefore I would not think about a tall bike.  Your riding skill level is a bit less than average, which means you should not get a bike with a freaky power band. Something mellow would be ideal.  

If youíre considering a new bike, youíll find a good selection at either the Honda or the Suzuki dealership. Iím partial to the Honda CRF230F. They make a street-legal version called the ĎLí model and a pure dirt model. It has an electric start and a low saddle height. The only things that bug me about the bikes are the below-average suspension and the rock-hard saddle.

We did a complete step-by-step
project bike on CRF230F and made the suspension close to pure magic. Still haven't tackled the hard saddle yet. Maybe my butt is getting used to it. The electric start is a pure joy and the bike is a whole bunch lighter than the 250 version that is a real pig. 

If you're thinking about a used bike, don't hesitate to think about a four- or five-year-old CRF230F. They are close to being bulletproof and it's very cheap and easy to just about double the horsepower. Go to under our Project Bike section and you'll see the whole step-by-step procedure to make the bike a pure joy. If you're still thinking about a street-legal bike, here are the specs on the L model.

Engine Type 223cc air-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke
Bore And Stroke 65.5 x 66.2 mm
Compression Ratio 9.0:1
Valve Train SOHC; two valve
Induction 30mm CV carb
Ignition CD

Transmission Six-speed
Final Drive #520 O-ring-sealed chain

Front Suspension 37mm leading-axle Showa® fork; 9.0 inches of travel
Rear Suspension Pro-link Showa® single shock with adjustable spring preload adjustability; 6.3 inches of travel
Front Brake Single 240mm disc
Rear Brake 220mm disc
Front Tire 2.75-21
Rear Tire 120/80-18

Wheelbase 52.75 inches
Rake (Caster Angle): 26.83 degrees
Trail 103mm (4.0 inches)
Seat Height 31.9 inches
Ground Clearance 9.5 inches
Curb Weight 267 lbs (Includes all standard equipment, required fluids and full tank of fuel-ready to ride)
Fuel Capacity 2.3 gallons, including 0.7 gallon reserve
Miles Per Gallon 84 MPG - Honda's fuel economy estimates are based on EPA exhaust emission measurement test procedures and are intended for comparison purposes only. Your actual mileage will vary depending on how you ride, how you maintain your vehicle, weather, road conditions, tire pressure, installation of accessories, cargo, rider and passenger weight, and other factors.

I dont see any ratings for a Suzuki TS-90.Were they not realy popular? My dads old bike has surface rust everywhere.If its worth anything I would sell it,if not then I may attempt to work on it for myself.Any suggestions?
Tyran Tesmer
The TS-90 and TS-100 were reliable, unexciting, heavy and ill-handling bikes. You can do a whole lot better than one of these.
Have a 1984 YZ125,,,looking for a good aftermarket pipe,,can't find anything that goes back to 84 for this bike,,any ideas? Thanks.

You're not trying hard enough, Art.  I went on eBay motors and found four pipes for the YZ 125. Give it a shot.
I've got a 1993 cr250r and was wondering if anyone knew what the gas and oil ratio should be? thank you.

This is only about the 400th time that I have been asked this question about ratios for two-strokes. No matter what your manual says, you can safely run a 32:1 ratio with no problem whatsoever.  I have been doing it for years with hundreds of bikes.

Could anybody help me with the year model on a Yamaha GT50 FT1-450165.
Ryan Miles

After all whole lot of searching, it appears that your GT 50 is a 1974 model. But since the Ď72, Ď73 and Ď74 models are virtually identical, you're still in the ballpark.

I have a 2000 65 sx KTM dirtbike. My issue that I have been running into it is that when I put it into 1st gear, it dies. It starts up great and idles with the choke out but when I put the choke in and put it in 1st gear to start riding it dies. It's like it's not getting enough gas or something?

Please help.
Juliane Long

It's a safe bet that you have water or dirt in your float bowl.  The clue to this is that the bike will run sort of okay with the choke on, but when you put the choke off and try to ride off into the distance the bike dies. The carb is trying to suck up mix through the main jet, and you can't do this when the small hole is obstructed by some sort of debris. Clean out the carb completely and properly, taking care to blow out the jets and your problem should go away.
I have a 2003 Honda XR250R runs good except it has started stalling out when the throttle is wide open. Doesn't seem to matter what gear I'm in. It will kick starter immediately after. Any ideas where I should begin?
Dennis Bush

You should begin by looking at the response directly above yours. Yes, you probably have something in the float bowl that is trying to get sucked up through the main jet. This only happens when you have the throttle open and there's a lot of pressure in there. At partial throttle and a low-pressure drop, the crud probably stays in the bottom of the float bowl. I can't tell you how many times I've been trail riding with some new people and their bike starts running crappy. Most of the times, I've cured this problem by cleaning out the carb.
Ever rode a Norton P-11 scrambler? Not the street version but the one of about 100 that was dirt ready, no lights? I've got a 1967 P-11 and I can get it over 110mph easy. i doubt 123.75 would be out of reach. Of course in 1981 it was no longer considered a real dirt bike so it was not considered for the test.
Kent Vanderheiden

The Norton P-11 was a truly great motorcycle. I wish I had one today. I can recall in 1968 when a guy named Andy the Brown Devil used to take his 750cc Norton and do full-lock, high-speed power slides around El Mirage dry lake. The magnificent sounds of two open pipes bellowing against the desert floor were outrageous!
May have sent this on to you before, but I wasn't impressed with the chain guide on the TTR230 either, and found one at, well made albeit a bit pricey, but didn't want to throw the chain and put my wife on her head. She does all the cooking, cleaning.
Ron Boals

You seem to be the only rider out there that had problems with the chain guide on that bike. Well, you seem to have found the cure, and weíll pass the info on to any other riders who experienced that sort of problem.
i have a 2003 ktm 125 what would be the ratio
Jo Ann

This makes approximately the 402nd question I have received on the proper ratio. Once more for those who have not read it: 32:1 will work in just about any two-stroke motorcycle ever made, no matter what your manual says.
I have a Ď75 or ;76 ossa super pioneer 350 parts bike, make offer
Leroy Wolfe

Try putting your OSSA Pioneer up for sale on Marks Vintage Swap Meet site. They specialize in nothing but vintage bikes, and the best part is that it is free.  Let us know how it works out.
need info on vin number at1161357

According to my charts, the 1972 AT2 125 had a frame number starting with AT1-165101.  That should cover it.
i hqve a cr 80 the bike starts but on pull off it splutters and dies on me i cleaned the carb checked the air filtter but still does it can u help me please
Paul John

You could have anything going wrong with that bike from a dying ignition system to a dirty spark plug to an air leak. First things first: I would put a brand new spark plug in the bike and take it from there. If it runs okay, there's your problem. Next I would take a soapy solution of water and spray it all around the carb and intake manifold. If you find any bubbles or spray, then you have an air leak. Anything more than that, and you're going to have to take it to a good mechanic.
Can you tell me what year model my pw80 is the vin is 21w-001280 thanks

All of the Yamahas back into the Ď80s had a 17-digit VIN number. You're only giving me the first part of the numbers, which would mean that I'd have to look through the Yamaha manual each year at a time until I located the number. I'm not going to do that if you're too damn lazy to give me the correct number. Also, what's to prevent you from getting down on your knees and looking at the steering head of your bike. There, in all its glory, should be the make, year and model of the bike.

Would the Yoshimura RS-2 improve the performance of my KLR 650 (talking top-end speed)
Johann Engelbrecht

A gearing change will affect the actual top speed of your bike. Go up one tooth on the countershaft sprocket and youíll gain 7 to 9 mph. If you hop up the engine with more horsepower, then you could run a much bigger c/s sprocket for more top end.
I have a 1982 Honda XL500R with 3,100 miles. It was my dads. The bike sat for 10 years. I have recently got it going. New Rings(cylinder still had crosshatching), battery, gaskets, dipped the carb in the ultrasonic whatever it's called, new rubber daiphrams in the carb as well. Changed oil twice, new air filter, plug and may more bolts and parts ect. Valve clearances are spec.

The problem I'm having is that it sputters and spits at about half to 3/4 throttle. I cannot figure it out. My friend who is an outboard mechanic helped me out a bunch. We just can't figure the dang thing out. It fires right up first kick, runs like a champ other than the sputtering. Carb was set to spec. Seems to be a tiny bit worse when hot but, I don't think that has anything to do with it. Stock exhaust and head pipe. Although I added exhaust wrap. Help me out brother. I rebuilt this thing as a tribute to my fallen father. I plan on giving it to my kids someday...with it running smooth. thanks buddy,
Chinook, WA

Hold on to your hat, Mike. The Honda 500 of that year (and the 600s later on) all had a severe problem with their valves. Because of the emission requirements of the federal government, the intakes were set at two thousandths and the exhaust at four. This made the bikes run very lean and very hot. Also, this pretty much warped the valves within a few hours of riding.

The only way to get the bike to run better is to have a shop do a full leak down test on the engine. If your leak down comes in at 6% or less, chances are it's okay. If you're looking at around 10%, forget it. You're going to need new valves and they must be set at least 2 thousandths more than the Honda specs call for. This alone should really help.

Also, the gas of that era was far superior to the gas that we have today. In fact, most bikes should be running richer than the jetting that was called for back then. I would go up at least one or two on the pilot jet and one position richer on the needle jet. You might also have to go up one on the main jet, but that depends on the area that you're in. It might seem like a lot of work to go through all this hassle, but the warranty work done on the 500s and 600s of that era was staggering. 
I have a 74 Honda Elsinore. I have rebuilt the engine. Replaced all seals, bearing etc. Bored .30 over with new weisco piston and rings. The trouble I am having is this. I installed a new Mikuni 34mm carb, 240 main jet, 35 pilot. Bike starts and runs perfect when it is cold as the bike warms up it starts to ping and the motor will beging racing and it is like the throttle sticks at about 6000 rpms. I have spent many hours trying to solve this on my own but have not been successful. Short of taking it to our local honda shop, which has very little experience in 2 strokes you are my last resort. Can you give me any advise on what may be wrong?

First things first: check for an air leak. You can do this by spraying soapy water all around the carb, the intake manifold and the base of the barrel. Any bubbling should be very visible with this technique. Then once you have eliminated the air leak problem, go up at least two or three sizes on the main jet and see if the problem persists. If it goes away, then you simply have to take your time and find out the correct size main jet. Give it a try.
SUBJECT:  í87 KDX 200
hi ive just been given a 1987 kdx 200, the only problem with it is the clutch wont disengage, i havent had the opportunity to start it cause it dont have a kick start, and i cant roll start it cause of the clutch, the problem is when i pull the clutch in and put it into gear it wont roll like it is in neutral any help would be appreicated.

If there was one weak spot on the KDX series of bikes, it was in the actuation and reliability of the clutch and the notchy shifting of the transmission. Chances are very real that the clutch plates are worn badly and the springs and the clutch itself are shot. Take it from there.


Hey just traded for awhat I believe is a 1973 Chaparral 80cc. would like to find out where to get parts. And what you thought of this cycle?
Thank You
Mike McCarthy

I went and did a Google search on parts and came up no less than eight sources on parts for the Chaparral. I had a chance to ride one of these bikes way back in the old days, and thought it was a poorly made piece of crap. You would be way more better off with most any Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha or Suzuki minibike.
Re: Strange Bikes You Probably Never Saw Before
I just bought a chaparral ST 100...itís kinda fun to play around with

So is a frog, but it's still a frog.
How much fork do you use for a 71 JT1 mini enduro.
Mike Brown

This just might qualify as the dumbest e-mail of the month. In most JT1 Enduros, the riders use a pair of forks, not just a single fork leg. I hope this helps aid your current state of confusion.
I have a 96 cr 250 have a hard time starting when cold, and bogs down and is smoking more than before from exhaust when hits top end problem just started at the race yesterday we just changed the case oil top and bottem have been replaced recently I need your help
Dan Fleury

Sounds like you're sucking gearbox oil due to a bad seal. Have a shop check that out before you waste the engine.
i have purchased used dt 100 having engine no 23f-003609. after surching on net at too many sites i dnt know the exact year of manufacturing or model. plz can you help to tell exact model of my trail.

Sorry friend, but I just spent about two hours going through my books and have been unable to locate a DT 100 with that engine number. Perhaps you got it wrong. If so, contact me back with the correct numbers.
Rick: "no name given" claims his "250 wheeler" will "...just eat those new dirt bikes a live[sic]" "new dirt bikes" eh? question: When did Honda start making the QA50 again?

Under "What Kind of ATC" Chase "...redone the topend [sic] becuase [sic] it wwas [sic] smoking..." This guy never ran over his leg. Judging by his grammar, spelling and punctuation he ran over his head.
David Fruhling

We just tried to have a little bit of fun with some people. Clearly, this guy takes his three-wheeler a bit too seriously.

This is an old review but I just today bought a new wr250r for all the same reasons as covered here. I also got the bark busters and geared it down. I am 55 years old and while I keep thinking my skills will drop in fact they are getting better and I'm outriding my old and trusty TT350, so time to upgrade but not be silly with power. I'm looking forward to riding this weekend just to test the theories.
Peter Jones
You'll like the new Yamaha, as it is fun to ride. However, when it comes time for a rebuild you're going to have to invent some new curse words. I said it before and I'll say it again: the new generation of four-stroke dirt bikes are hand grenades. Expensive hand grenades.
24x-004870. thats the number on the neck. customer says its its a '87. i thinks its an '83. could you help me out on this? thanks.

Couldn't even tell me the size of the bike or whether it's an IT or a YZ? I don't mind looking through my voluminous stack of papers to find out what model your bike is, but you people have to help a little bit. Now go away.
I had one of these, in 1974. Bought from Al Snoop's in Monroe, NY. A very good, comfortable trail bike. I miss it.
Robert Thomas
The OSSA Pioneer was one of the most underrated bikes ever made. I rode one in a national enduro and fell in love with it.
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 (or $5 for Priority Rush mail) and for more information, the email is: 
[email protected].  
Have a question for Rick ďSuper HunkyĒ Sieman? E-mail questions to [email protected], Attn: Donít Ask.

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