Don't Ask: Rick "Super Hunky" Answers Your Dirt Bike Questions

Jun. 05, 2013 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.#

Previous Donít Ask Columns
May 2013

April 2013

March 2013

Re:  1986 KTM MX 250 Ė Miles Murphy. FYI. When somebody from the UK says they are ĒbreakingĒ their bike it does not mean they are ď breaking it in.Ē
It means that they are parting it out. You really should have known.
Still a fan,
Doug Martin
Doug is referring to an email sent to me by Miles Murphy in which he said he was breaking his KTM in.  Since I donít spend very much time in England, I assumed that he was going to put some time on his motor to seat things in properly. Little did I realize that breaking your bike in England means taking it down and selling it for parts. I stand corrected.

"Dumb" writers? You mean some of these guys are "dumb"? How can you tell? Miles Murphy (KTM Blank Stare) can't spell his last name right ("Murhpy"?). Would he qualify as "dumb"?#As Jay Leno says, "My school must have been gooder than his."
International Dave
Apparently Mr. Murphy got more than a few reads to his emails. This comment by International Dave sums things up quite nicely.
I have a Yamaha with serial number CT1-201837 the number on the motor matches and it has 750cc. Can u tell me what year and model it is and if there's anything special about it.#Thanks.

Your bike is a 1971 CT1 175. It started with the serial number 200101 and your numbers fall right in order. The bike was painfully ordinary, however it was easy to start, cheap to buy, unbelievably reliable and it seems like almost everyone had one of these little units in a garage somewhere. They weighed about 230 pounds, had reasonable horsepower, smoked like crazy when starting up cold, but just ran and ran and ran.
Is the 2000 model ttr250 street legal

No, the Yamaha TTR250 is not street legal in most areas. Sure, you can pop a little mirror on it and sneak it by the DMV in maybe Oregon, but in most states, itís strictly off-road. This is not to say that the TTR 250 is not a good bike. Quite the contrary.
Yamaha introduced the TT-R250 to the off-road community in 1999. The TT-R250 blends motocross sleekness with enduro features, highlighted by a 250cc four-stroke engine, electric start, front and rear disc brakes, tripmeter and handguards. The TT-R features a 249cc, four-valve, air-cooled, DOHC, four-stroke engine. Throw a leg over the TT-R250, slide your thumb over to the electric start, push the button and the 250cc-powerplant fires to life. The TT-R250 benefits from plush suspension, with 11.2"of front and rear wheel travel. Over 11" of ground clearance and a narrow overall width allows riders to climb over rocks. 245mm front and 220mm rear disc brakes are mated to Dunlop 739 rubber. Handguards provide protection not only during close dicing, but also while navigating narrow single tracks. An odometer, complete with resetable trip meter, allows one to follow those marked trail systems to the tenth of a mile. The 2000 Yamaha TTR250 sold new for a retail price of $4,699 in its day.
Y2K (blue) models. Since about 2000, all new TTRs have had blue "YZ" plastics and plastic tanks. They are based on the Open Enduro version rather than the Raid. The front forks have air valves for adjusting the spring rate and a damping adjusting screw for adjusting the damping force. The rear shock has the usual spring reload adjustment, rebound damping force adjusting dial and a compression damping force adjusting knob.

The models sold in Europe have electric and kick start as standard making them "dual start" as well as having revised (quicker) steering geometry and suspension. The TTRs that were supplied to the USA are ONLY electric start - the GYTR kick start kit is available as an extra. The TTR250 is still available new in Australia and the frame changed to black. It's also dual start!

Uncorking the TTR250#Two freebie mods to start with:#1. Look under the tank at your throttle linkage and you will notice that Mr. Yamaha installs a stop screw that limits you to less than full throttle. Adjust the screw to allow full travel of the throttle linkage, but stop it just before the throttle slide hits the top of the carb. Some riders take the screw completely out, but I wouldn't recommend that. 2. If you donít have a US model, remove the exhaust restrictor in the rear of the header pipe - details farther down. If you have a US model, remove the screw at the end of the exhaust and pull out the baffle, but don't do this if you ride where there are spark arrestor laws (such as California). Both of these will allow your bike to breathe a little better.#The next will cost you a small amount:#1. Replace the stock filter with an aftermarket filter like that from Twin Air.#2. Pull the rubber snorkel out of the top of the air box ONLY if you don't ride through deep water! Some owners recommend just trimming the snorkel by cutting it back one rung at the top and two rungs in the air box itself.#3. Rejet the bike to suit.#4. Replace the standard front sprocket with a 13-tooth one - this will improve the TTR's acceleration and off-road capabilities greatly without hampering top speed overmuch.#Performance gains will be obvious. The thing you will notice most is that the engine will accelerate quicker. If you ride at high altitude, and don't have water crossings to worry about, then, in addition to removing the snorkel, you may consider cutting holes in the top of the air box, but just make sure you rejet to suit.#The next will cost you a lot more:#Replace the standard silencer with an aftermarket one. This adds power and gives a significant weight saving.

My XR650R is good,but the problem I have is when stopping now and then it cut' out, or bike is running and you ride forward and suddenly stop the bike sounds like dieing.When riding on the highway full throttle it go's and suddenly there's more power coming through. ##Can you help or what to you think can be the problem.I bought an new carburetor from Precision Concept in the State's, but the bike still cut's out now and then.
Two things come to mind. The first thing I would suspect would be the black box, a part of your ignition system. You can take that black box to a local dealer and have them check it out on the bench for you. But before I would go through that, you might check to see if the petcock on the gas tank is flowing properly. If you have some crud in there that would certainly cause your bike to die intermittently. So before you spend the money with the dealer, do that basic investigation first.
Hi, can you tell me if the main crankshaft bearings are the same on a Suzuki rm400 [late 70's] and Suzuki ts400 [mid 70's] The rm bearings seem easier to obtain.
All of the fundamental parts on the Suzuki TS 400 and TM 400 are the same. The later RM models are definitely different.

Howdy.#I recently came across three old mini's at a neighbor's farm. One is a Gemini Boss 80 and the other two are Chaparrals. I don't know anything about them. Is it possible to still get parts for these types of bikes? If so, where? #Thanks.

In the late '60s, the folks in the Orient saw that a whole bunch of American manufacturers were building mini bikes and making money, so they decided to jump into the business. After all, they were supplying engines and frames to the US, so why not a whole bike? However, to cover their butts, they also continued to sell the bikes without engines, frames alone, or just engines. Here's what they had to say about the Gemini:

San Tong has jumped into the two-wheeled field with a pair of Gemini mini-bikes (50cc and 80cc) and their larger Gemini Boss 80 mini-cycle (shown). This machine puts out 8.5 hp at 7000 rpm from its two-stroke, single-cylinder, rotary valve engine, has oil injection and four-speed transmission. It utilizes magneto ignition and telescopic front forks. Tuned exhaust system, lights and speedo are standard. Wheelbase is 46 inches, ground clearance 7 inches, seat height 30.2 inches. Tires front and rear are 2.50 x 15-inch, with optional 2.25 x 17 front. In addition to their Gemini bike line, the firm also supplies frames, sans engines, for mini-bikes.

What happens when a '70s snowmobile company wants to get in on the dirt bike boom? Well, they build a carbon copy of just about every other below-average mini-cycle ever made in that time frame. But they seemed proud of their effort, as the copy below illustrates:

Chaparral Industries, fastest growing major snowmobile company in the country, has recently added mini-cycles to its product line. The bikes will be available in three models: the Bullet ST80 (shown), the Bullet T80, and the Bullet T172. Built primarily for trail riding, the ST80 and T80 are four-speed bikes powered by a two-stroke, 80cc Fuji engine that pumps out 7.5 hp at 6800 rpm. The T172 has a 172cc Tecumseh four-stroke powerplant and torque-converter for shift-free riding. Top-of-the-line ST80 weighs 125 pounds, has hydraulic front suspension with rear coil springs. On this model, lights, horn and speedo package are standard. Trail-ready T80 version is stripped for action, has torque-tuned exhaust with spark arrester.

Well Rick,

I have to ask. If the frame on that beautiful triumph you're posing with above your April column were nickel-plated I'd think it was a rare and very expensive Rickman Triumph. If not, it appears to be a very close variant. Is it yours? Did you build it? The effortless power of a twin in a competent off-road chassis is an absolute joy as you apparently know. After all these years of offering information on other peopleís motorcycles, surely you're entitled to brag just a little bit. Tell us about that fine machine!
[email protected]

The Triumph that you see in that photo has a stock 650 frame, modified YZ 250 forks, Works Performance shocks, a TT seat and a lot of attention to details. I rode the bike while I lived in Baja for 15 years, and truly enjoyed it. Iím sorry I sold it and still wish I had that beast.
Hi Rick,
I am in the process of resealing the forks on a 1980 175 KDX and I am not sure how much fork oil to use, Is there any way you can help me out with this. Also I am dealing with a small leak in the gas tank, would you know where I might be able to locate a working one.#any help would be appreciated.##Thank You,
Tim Beach
Getting the fork oil level is not difficult at all. Take the fork caps off, remove both springs from the fork tubes and compress the forks all the way. Then pour 10-weight fork oil in each leg until itís about 6 inches from the top of the tubes. Right there, that should be enough to give you a decent set of operating forks. You can always take a little bit of oil out, or add a little bit more oil, but 6 inches should be the starting measurement. Regarding the gas tank leakage, clean the tank out properly and put in a decent gas tank sealer.
awsome tips own a tri z that lost the air adj screw in carb when i was riding and that cause it to seized hope fully i could reuse my piston again thanks again
Miguel Lua
Chances of you being able to reuse a piston that has been seized are pretty darn slim. More than likely, youíll have aluminum stuck to the side of the piston and the rings frozen in their grooves. The only way you can tell how bad the damage is will be to take the top end off and see how bad the seizure was. There is an outside chance that the seizure was very light. Good luck on that one.


Thanks for posting the info and pics of the vintage bikes- very entertaining.
I'm writing to ask about good Scrambler candidates for my son who is about to turn 16.
I had CB/CL bikes back in the day, but they were heavy and underpowered, although reliable...
I'm thinking about something that we can licence for the street, but are fun and light.

This probably points toward two strokes like the Suzuki TS 250. Looking for good common parts availability, and reliability.

Any thoughts?
Brad Feick

All things considered, your mention of the Suzuki TS 250 points to a pretty darned good all-around bike. Many of the parts in the TM are interchangeable with TS. The bike is fairly quick, reliable and easy to work on. You could do a whole lot worse.

Hola Rick,
Get ready! Iím sure some kid will buy this and send you an email asking:
What model is it? How do I adjust the power band? What is the gas to oil mix ratio?  Looks like something Mad Max rode as a kidÖ
Jeff Chase


Truly amazing! Yes, Iím sure that Iíll get a letter or two asking how to hop something like this up. Iíll keep you posted.
Hello Rick, Sultan of the Sujuaro, Deity of the Desert!!! 
I am writing with a couple questions, the first is to find out what has happened to all the dirtbike content at over the past few years.  I love all the articles, obviously Checkpoint and Don't Ask are great, but what happened to Woman Overbored? 

When I finished all the Wanderer's articles, I felt like I had lost two friends.  We need more!!!

Finally, how is riding after the knee replacement?  I am only 46, but the doctor says I will need one in the next five years or so.  Is there any hope to continue riding after a TKR?

#Thanks,#Russ Lord
Berwick, ME--#

Actually, the amount of dirt bike content in has not decreased that much in recent years. Itís just that a whole bunch of regular off-road stuff has been added. Agreed, the Woman Overboard column was great, but she felt it was time to move on to other stuff and is truly missed. As far as The Wandererís articles go, you can get the entire collection by going to my website at

Regarding a total replacement knee surgery, Iím sorry that I got mine done 7 years ago. I still ride, but the pain level is not that much different than before the surgery and I have lost a lot of flexibility. However, Iím told that huge strides were made the last three or four years in total knee replacement surgery. Thatís something youíre going to have to talk over with a doctor, or maybe some people who have had knee surgery done recently.


Dear Rick,
Just a note to say how much I enjoyed your book, "The Last Ride." The story intrigued me because I had the same dream at about that same age and used to worry the hell out of the Honda Dealer in Victorville.  Although I did actually own a DT-1 (white tank) at one time, it had been trashed and sold; the bike for my cross-country trip was going to be the new Honda MT 250.  My dreams were just that, but your book brought it all back and I just wonder what would have happened if I'd actually done it.  Having ridden cross country (USA) more than a few times since then, I do appreciate your dining habits as detailed in the book.  That' how I've always done it too.
I also ordered the first issues of Dirt Bike and have been amazed.  You guys really were different - then and now.  It's like standing in a garage with fiends who really know what they are talking about and are even ... dare I say it ... are judgemental.  You guys made honest calls.  I felt like I actually learned something about bikes when I read those tests and reviews.  And, by the way, I loved the humility too.  I get so tired of the kid testers today who try to blow us away with how good they are, "Yeah, good bike up to about 180, has a slight headshake at anything over 190mph on gravel and requires a tap of the rear brake to square things up,"  OK, at 56 I can really use that information.
Third thing I'd like to mention is how much you guys improved my reading ability.  I left High School not caring much for reading, but Bike Mags got me into it.  In a convoluted way, I credit my return to college and successful graduation with the stories in DB.  I'm an engineer for a helicopter company now and just bought a 1979 IT 175 and remember all over again just how totally cool two-stroke dirt bikes were and still are.
Again, Thank You.
Byron Woodruff
It seems like most of the new bike competition out there doesnít even relate to the real world that we grew up in.  I truly miss the simpler days of just taking your old two-stroke out the garage and going riding with friends. In fact, Dirt Bike magazine was started as a publication that was meant to be like friends talking to other friends. I donít think that in this day and age something like that could happen again. Meanwhile, enjoy the memories and enjoy those good old bikes for the second time around. 
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].  Paypal address:  [email protected] Newsletter
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