Donít Ask: Rick Sieman Answers Your Dirt Bike Questions

Jul. 02, 2014 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.

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

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June 2014

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April 2014


I sent this forwarded email to your Don't Ask column. I really am interested in your opinion on the Maico/Bultaco issue I discuss below.  The only reason I send it to your personal email is in case they don't forward it to you. Not tryin' to jump in line or anything. Always look forward to reading your column!
Thanks, Sean
PS>> I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Last Ride and Monkey Butt. Although I haven't finished with everything in Monkey Butt yet. I like the twist ending at the conclusion of Last Ride, too.

I'm currently pushing 50. In my mid-life crises, I find my mind wandering back to the 70's when I was just a prepubescent kid lusting over all the latest and "bestest" motocross/enduro bikes of that time (reading about them in your magazine). Of all the Japanese, Swedish, German and Spanish bikes available, I always had a soft spot for Maicos. I knew they were top quality and I just liked the way they looked.
Reading your numerous articles on Maicos was also instrumental in the development of that opinion. I also liked Bultacos, although I suspected their reliability and workmanship wasn't quite up to Maico standards. But the visceral appearance of a shiny blue Bultaco was also something to behold, in my opinion.
Anyway, today I have decided to secure myself a classic, 1970's street legal enduro ride. I want at a very bare minimum a 250cc machine, but am strongly inclined towards a big bore machine of 350cc displacement or greater (I used to ride a CR250 and an RM500, so neophyte safety is not a concern here). I prefer a classic 2 stroke, preferably with a down pipe expansion chamber. Mid-1970's is the sweet spot. I'm thinking '75-'77 zone is where I want to be. I like the look of the bikes around the time they started to develop serious suspension travel, but yet still appeared somewhat primitive with down-pipes and polished metal tanks (like on the Maicos).
I only want to zip around town, limiting my speeds to around 50-55 mph max, and usually under that. Commuting to work and milk runs to the grocery store, rarely being more than 30 minutes from my house (and yes, I know subjecting a majestic Maico to a lowly milk run is sacrilegious, but entertain me here). Maybe some mild off-roading once in a while, although realistically not sure if that's even an option where I live.
I need a little guidance on this now arcane subject. I know you have the equivalent of at least three PhD's on classic dirt bikes, the peculiarities of Maicos and perhaps Bultacos too, although I don't clearly recall you heralding the Spanish line back in the day. Maybe you liken Bultacos to desiccated bull dung? Dunno. I seem to recall you saying back in the day there were certain Maicos to be avoided as well. I'm looking for a good one that is as well adapted to quasi-reliable street riding as practical, powerband/gearing etc (understanding this was not what Maicos were ever intended for originally).
I realize Maico enduros - much less street legal ones - are exceptionally rare. Streetable Bultaco enduros seem a bit more accessible. But I'm sure my quest is probably filled with more than a few pitfalls. I'd LOVE to get my hands on a mid-70's Maico 400cc on up with headlight, taillight and an MVA-able title. Is that even possible? Or maybe through some hook and crook, start with a Maico enduro and find a way to get it street legal. Below are my current prospective selections in ranking. Your advisements are greatly appreciated sir!
1. 1975-1977 Maico 400cc or larger enduro.
2. 1972-1978 350cc Bultaco Alpina or Frontera. I know these bikes had fiberglass tanks. We have ethanol laced gasoline in my state. I know ethanol reacts with and melts fiberglass. Is there a way around this?
3. 77-79 Yamaha DT400. This seems the most practical venue, but not nearly as emotionally gratifying as the Maico or Bultaco.
4. Kawasaki 350cc Big Horn in the various years available.
5. Maybe some other suitable choice that escapes me? I like Hodakas, but they're smaller bikes. Ossa's look pretty cool. Rickmans, Pentons etc???
Waddya think Hunk? I know the Kaw and the Yammie are the easiest choices, but I don't want to give up on the dream of the Maico/Bultaco without a fight. Lemme know what you think!
Very Respectfully,

All things considered, a 400 or 450 Maico GS model will fill the bill nicely. You shouldnít have any trouble getting a license plate for it, as the bike has a headlight and tail light, although theyíre not much to talk about. While I like the looks of the Bultaco, as you so aptly put it, the quality control is indeed suspect. Out of all the years I tested bikes, I had more Bultacos fail on me than any other model I can think of. Iíd hate to be in the middle of Main Street and Nowhere and have the ignition go south on me on a Bultaco.  Youíre definitely correct on your opinion with the Japanese bikes. They tend to be somewhat boring. No one will ever say that about the Maico. Period.


Here's a "Don't Ask!" for you but it's about a lawn mower. I get a kick out of these "Youtube Experts" who post these "How-to" repair videos. Most do NOT have a clue WTF they're talking about and I'll post such to them.

I'll tell viewers that "This guy couldn't find his way out of a 4-door shithouse, much less his way home at night!" and fun stuff like that.

The "viewers" can be as dumb, or dumber.

Here's what one "Mow-ron" (thanks, Reba) asked", word for word, exactly as posted:
"I have a lawn mower and it is doing the same.I looked at it the carb  and the plastic peace that goes in side the engage is broke can they be replaced and what is it called.
OUCH! Poor Alex! My school must have been "gooder" than his!
He posted more later that didn't rape the English language quite as bad (must have been consensual) and I determined WTF he was talking about. He's meaning the plastic tube from the carb to the cylinder that is the intake manifold "peace". Anyway, I thought you'd get a kick out of this "mow-ron" (thanks again, Reba)
Dave Fruhling


i have a 1975 yamaha mx 100 5 speed dirt bike i cant seem to find some parts i need an i also would like to no if u have any idea as to how much this dirt bike would sell for it needs a carberator and clutch cable an a kick start if you could answer any of my questions it would be greatly appreciated thank you

You really didnít look real hard to find parts for your Yamaha. I went on eBay and in five minutes found everything you had mentioned. If you want to find out what OEM parts go for, go to Speed &  Sport.  They have complete parts blowups on every section of every Yamaha that I can think of. This way, you can look at your kickstarter assembly and see what parts are suspect. As far as what the bike is worth, in running condition and looking fair, plan on about $500 to $700.  More if the bike looks extra clean.


I see you havenít been ragging on the Yamaha 490 lately. Whatís a matter, did you get enough hate mail to straighten your brains out? Or did you just finally realized that the YZ 490 is really a good bike unlike what you have been spooing out the last couple of years?  Either way I take it as a good sign.
Mike from LA
I hate to break it to you Mike, but it seems that most people out there tend to agree with me. The hate mail has dropped off to nothing and most people have a lot better things on their mind than the YZ 490. And to drive the final nail in the coffin, I must reiterate that the 490 is one of the worst bikes ever made Ė certainly in the top 10.
ive been searching for some info just wondering if you could help.I picked up a jt1 barnfind.I a currently restoring it.1 issue I have is it has springs on the forks not sure if they ever made it with them or what.the springs are a perfect fit and honestly look like they were manufactured for the bike.please inform me if you have ever heard of this.I can send you a picture if needed. Thanks
Daniel Tallarita

The Yamaha JT1 had springs inside the forks, not on the outer part of the forks.  Itís entirely possible that someone found a pair of springs that went over the telescopic tubes properly, but in rather short order, it would peel the chrome off the tubes.


I'm looking to sell my model 121 pursang it's there any good websites that you know of out their to put it on?

Troy Golden

The single best place to put an ad for a vintage bike is at Marks vintage bike. The ad doesnít cost anything and they have a big readership. You might also try placing an ad in Craigslist, which also doesnít cost  anything, but doesnít have the exact kind of readership that youíre looking for.                                           


 How come you donít have more stuff on minibikes in your column HUH?  I could care less about all those big bikes and stuff.  So why donít we have more minibikes huh?
Marty Allen
The reason we donít have more minibike stuff, as you say, is because most of the minibike riders are younger and donít read a whole lot.  Also, you might notice that once a rider gets off of the minibikes and onto a normal full-size bike, his interest in minibikes vanishes. Call it a diminutive audience.
Hi Rick,
Hope you are keeping well.
Just read and enjoyed the May "Don't Ask" column.
However as a bit of a Greeves fan I felt I had to respond to the picture posted with Baz Patterson's letter. 
He mentioned that he had a 1972 QUB 380.  This was the last of the Greeves bikes and for its day it was very fast. They took their standard 380 Griffon and got Dr Gordon Blair, a noted two-stoke expert based at Queen's University Belfast (hence "QUB") to improve it. He and his team duly did, and it put out a genuine 44bhp, a lot at the time.
The picture printed with Baz's letter is not a QUB, nor even a Griffon, but the earlier Greeves Challenger. The big give-away is that the bike in the picture has a cast-alloy beam at the front of the frame rather than a regular downtube. This was a Greeves trade-make right up to the introduction of the Griffon. The big round gearbox is also a feature of a Challenger.
A standard QUB looked like this:

As ever, thanks for your entertaining writing
Yours in Sport,
David Mace

Thanks for pointing that out, David.  The QUB Greeves was one of the most underrated bikes ever built. Itís too bad they didnít have a better dealer network or factory support behind it. I rode one for a while and was very impressed by it.


Hey Rick,

I bought a 1985 honda Xr 200 in great condition but cant seem to figure out the locked up kickstart. Any advicemwill be greatly appreciated- syldd _Eric

Eric Nunez

Take the case cover off after removing the kickstarter. Chances are youíll find the kickstarter pawl  and /or the spring is broken or worn. Take it from there.



Re: Project Lowbucks, Part 2

Are you selling it?


If you are talking about our past project PE 175, that bike has been sold. We are currently working on a 1978 YZ 250, but it will be quite a few months before that one is done. Keep posted.



hi I have Yamaha 125enduro serial number 44401 9368 looking rot a year and or manual if anyone can help


What you have is a 1974 DT 125A. In 1974, Yamaha stopped calling all the models AT1 and such and thereafter referred to them as DTs.  The bike is almost identical to the 1975,  which is considered to be the B version.


who died and made you the authority on motorcycles. I mean what you use the right to say some of the things that you do about some of of the bikes.  I donít see where you rank  National champion or Supercross Primo or something like that. So where you get off saying what you say?

Lou Victor

Good question, even though rather sloppily written.  I started Dirt Bike magazine back in 1970 and Iíve had the chance to ride literally thousands of different motorcycles, from the vintage bikes to the modern units that are being sold right now. Itís true that I never was a national motocross champion, but I won more than my share of races throughout the years.  There such a thing called experience, and I think I have that.


Hello Mr BIRT, in november 2010, we wrote on our blog an article regarding your very old works on the 125cc Zundapp.

Link to this old article

Now our 1st KS125 including your modification is runing....may I tell you that is now a fantastic bike with the 175cc Puch piston!!

On this old car show we showing thismotor before to install it on my bike.

And now this 175 engine is on my bike instead the 125cc Watercooled, and it's the top to ride this one!

Again all our thanks for your wonderful information (the picture of this bike is attached to this email)


I hate to be the one to tell you, but EC Birt has passed on.  He was a great man and did a number of innovative things in his career. We were lucky enough to have him with us for a short while at least.


I know this is old, but I'm having the same issue with a 3R9 portion of a 9digit VIN. All I can seem to find here(and here:http://www.merrittmotorcyclesa/... is the 1980 YZ-G as well but I'm not sure how accurate it is. Did you ever find your answer? It would be much appreciated if you could respond with any more info you may have found.

Aubrey McCarty

The active number I have for the Yamaha YZ 250 G is 3R4 Ė 000101.  This is a reliable number and should be of some help to you.                                          




This includes every issue from June of 1971 through all of 1974. That June í71 issue was the very first issue. I worked on all of these magazines until that last issue in 1974. Youíll see a big difference in content in that last issue and the ones that preceded it.

Every issue has every page included. All the color pages are reproduced in color. You can print out every page if you want to, since the issues were produced in Picasa 3 format. Or you can put it in your computer (or CD/DVD player) and simply enjoy a slideshow of each and every year. There are seven discs included in the package. Each disc contains one-half of a year (six issues) in order. This comes to about 4400 pages total.

The CD set is $75 for mail anywhere in the US and that includes Priority Rush mail.  For more information, the email is:  [email protected]

Paypal address:  [email protected]
Website address:

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

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