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

Apr. 08, 2015 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, or leave your questions in the comment section below.

Previous Donít Ask Columns:
March 2015

February 2015

January 2015


Dear Rondo,
Thank you so much for adding yet another classic to your long line of classic writings related to off road motorcycling.  "My CRF250 Done Blowed Up On Me" was off the charts hilarious. My 25 year-old son tipped me off to it and we both read it several times.  Your writing prowess is second to none.  It also helps that my son and I share a hatred for modern four stroke dirt bikes.

I recently picked up a '75 Yamaha MX250 roller that I plan to marry to a '76 DT400 engine I have stashed in my shed. I took one look at that gorgeous aluminum tank in the picture on Craigslist and grabbed 40.00 from the ATM scooped it up. It's going to be a rat bike of sorts given the unmatched components and budget nature of the build.  I am hoping to keep it classic vintage legal as opposed to evolution vintage where It would have to compete against RM400's and other longer travel bikes. I already have a MX400 pipe for it.

My question is: What other mods would you do to bring that enduro engine into the realm of being somewhat competitive?  I've researched horsepower ratings for the DT, but they are all over the board.  Perhaps Matt Cuddy would have some ideas given his affinity for the DT360.  Thanks for everything both of you contribute to off-road motorcycling.
Jeff Sharron
Milwaukie Or.

While I appreciate all the nice kudos on what you obviously thought was a funny reply, I was dead serious in my response to that young man, who purchased a ticking time bomb, and the type of off-road motorcycle that is ruining our sport. Now with regards to your "project bike" of mating a 1976 DT400 engine to a 1975 MX250 rolling frame, one can only hope you have excellent medical coverage and a nice place to recuperate.
A few words on the 1976 DT400: What is yellow, fat and holes pistons on a constant basis? Yes, the infamous 1976 DT400 Yamaha Enduro. 1976 was the last year Yamaha made a two-stroke, dual-purpose open class enduro. It was replaced with the four-stroke line of dual-purpose bikes that came out in 1977. The '76 DT400 had quite a few "bugs" from Yamaha. When trying to satisfy ever increasingly strict environmental laws that doomed the two-stroke on the street, and eventually the dirt as well. The 1976 Yamaha DT400 weighed 310 lbs. dry, and it put out an astounding 21 horsepower at 6500 rpm. This was the result of Yamaha trying in vain to make the last two-cycle enduro user and environmentally friendly. It did neither. In fact, it was a real pig of a motorcycle, with the main problem being the engine.
For some reason, ever since 1974 when the first of the "new" enduro lines came out that used MX type frames and styling, Yamaha saw fit to use a dinky 30mm carburetor on the engine, along with a horribly shaped squish band in the cylinder head. That caused the bike to detonate when warm and hole pistons like a target on a shooting range. The DT400 motor also weighed about 80 lbs., because of all the counterbalance crap, and heavy castings, along with the autolube pump. A good running Kawasaki F7 175 could kill one in a drag. Not a very good motor...
The motor I would choose for your '75 MX250 would be a '75 YZ250 motor. Stuffing an ancient RT2 or RT3 enduro motor in that Monoshock frame would be a nightmare. Better yet, rebuild the stock motor, and have someone who knows how to port a two-stroke clean and match the ports to YZ specs, get a YZ carb and reed cage, along with some new reed valves from Boyesen. Also a YZ expansion chamber. You won't spend hours in the garage welding new mounts on the frame, and since the countershaft sprocket on the pre-1974 enduros was about eight inches away from the swingarm pivot you will have to live with a sloppy chain and all sorts of chain tensioners. That '75 MX250 was a quantum leap over previous efforts Yamaha built because of the monoshock design.
My 1972 DT250 Yamaha Enduro was all tricked out with Noleen-modified forks, Works Performance rear shocks and a GYT kit chamber. I raced it in vintage MX and grand prix (Adelanto). I finished in the top four bikes every year on a street-legal 250 enduro.
Keep your engine, rebuild it and copy the carb and port configuration of the '75 YZ 250. You can't go wrong that way. It's also fun to blow by new four-stroke dirt bikes with an old ancient Yamaha. Believe me on this.
Oh, and you really should have known.


Rick, I've followed you for years in Dirt Bike Magazine (still have the full collection starting with the first issue). I modified my Maicos as per your articles & they always helped performance. My favorite is the late nite thrash & breaking the lower engine mounting bolt. Been there, done that.    Many Thanks for your help over the years.
Pics attached of three of my four Maicos.   Got any idea of what these bikes are worth now, especially the '78 440 Magnum?  I hear they are sought after for vintage races.

A clean restored 440 will go for around 4000, depending on how perfect the restoration really is. One nice thing about buying a bike like this is that itís never going to go down in value; 10 years from now who knows what it will bring.

SUBJECT:  AH YES, A CHINESE PIT BIKE                                         
Ok, so I got a Chinese 110cc 4 stroke Xtreme pit bike. Recently white smoke started coming from where the exhaust meets the engine.  So I figured it needed new piston rings or I over filled it with oil. So.... I took it upon myself to tear down and put back together the carb and top end having NO prior experience... gotta love YouTube =/... now it makes a loud high pitch popping noise and wont start since i took the top end apart... what the hell did I do?? Please help, much appreciated

Yes, another victim to the Chinese motorcycle syndrome. When are you going to learn that the bulk of the Chinese motorcycles are pure junk? Even worse, when you go to work on them, real manuals are next to impossible to find, and getting the parts you need rank right up there with raising unicorns. Who knows what you did to that poor bike when you took it all apart and put back together. A rough guess would be that your timing is horribly off. If the motorcycle doesnít make a mechanical noise, then probably thatís not the problem. But at this point, the only thing that would help you would be to have a thief break into your garage and steal your 110 mL piece of trash.


Hi,  Im a young fella getting into vintage mx (when I look at the jumps they have now all I can think of is a hospital bed) And came upon your site in regards to the info you have on the 1973 mx 250. I was wondering if you had any other opinions on that particular bike, handling, power, how forgiving is it ect. I weigh 240 pounds and am 6'4, I think ive found a good deal on a 73 CZ 250 but I wanted some feedback on the model, as there isnít much on the Web. 
I hope this isnt a "dont ask" question, if it is I apologize...
Great website by the way
Ken Voita

While the CZ 250 is an excellent vintage bike, you might consider an open class bike instead of a 250 because of your body weight. Letís face it, in a drag race the first turn someone who weighs 175 and is on the same 250 that you are is going to get there first.

Rick - still enjoying your stories after all these years, even more so as I grow older (now 57, still ride, own 8 dirtbikes, recent addition was a motorless í74 Pursang for $200- planning on putting a CT3 motor in itÖ, you know- a bullet-proof handler).
Just wanted to let you know adding Matt Cuddy to the mix is a welcome addition - heís quite the story teller as well!
Keep up the great work boys,Öold dirtbikers never die, they just lose their grip on everything but whatís really important in life (beer, dirtbikes, bench racing and the prized memories and stories)!
Bill Griese
PS: Matt - Heaven and Hell is a Ronnie James Dio song and a fav of mine tooÖ.
ďSing me a song, youíre a singer, do me a wrong, youíre a bringer of evilÖÖĒ That last part must be about the YZ.
Yeah, Heaven and Hell. Oh well.


Thanks for the compliments. I too have reached the age of 57, don't know how or why. They say God looks after fools and drunks, so that must include dirt bikers too. I had an Xray of my left shoulder that also included my collar bone, and the doctor recoiled in horror at a collar bone that looked like a melted Pay Day candy bar. No spare parts in this body.
That Dio song when he was lead with Black Sabbath is one of my favorites. We had a tape of that album stuck in my buddy's El Camino that would auto-start whenever we went racing, it was our theme song (especially when racing a Checkers event).
Putting that 175 motor in a Bultaco frame is a great idea - too bad we don't have EC around anymore to port it. My '69 ATIMX got a 200cc cylinder built by EC when his shop was in Lawndale, CA, along with a trick, through-the-frame pipe, the bike moved out like a road racer. Of course that wimpy 428 chain got wadded up in the case every few rides and bent many clutch rods. In fact my toolbox is still full of bent AT1 clutch rods. Along with Jawa 90 points, Go Devil suspension pieces, Whitworth sockets squashed down to Metric sizes in a vice, etc. I'd like to have a contest on what can be found in the average 50-something-year-old dirt bikerís tool box. Once I even found a part from an old Vincent Comet (!?) in my roll-a-way. I have never owned a Vincent, or even ridden one. But that didn't stop a clutch plate from finding its way into the junk drawer. Strange indeed.
Anyway, when you're done with the Bullaha, shoot us a picture and we'll post it.
Thanks again,


Hi! i am a 55-year-old dirt bike rider. i started riding in 1969 on a yamaha mini-enduro and eventually rode most of the old desirable bikes thru the 1980s. i never owned a maico, and now want one. i read dirt bike mag thru my youth and remember all the stories of the maicos you have ridden. (i have the first edition of the magazine as well as the calendar that was sold with your picture. i know you are proud of that photo!)  my question is, which engine is the best performer? i know about  the porting you did to the 501 to restore it to the factory rating. please compare that engine to the 83 490. i came across an article about the 10 greatest air-cooled two-stroke engines and noted the 490s were listed but not the 501. i wonder why the 501 was not in the running?  i thank you for the many years of entertainment and valuable information you have provided the off road community.  also, what year is the most desirable 501? any information you can provide would be great!

Having owned it a number of 501 Maicos, I feel I can comment on them quite comfortably. In stock trim, the Maico  put out decent horsepower and that was it. In Dirt Bike magazine, I explained how to get maximum horsepower out of that particular bike. Stock, it was only 37 or 38 hp. When we got done with it, it was in the high 50 range. As far as effective bikes go, I felt that the 1983 490 was the best of the group. I had one with a 44 mm Mikuni on it, and it was fast as any other dirt bike Iíve ever ridden against.


Read the article Davey Coombs did in the recent RacerX. Loved it, it really took me down memory lane! Every time I drop a nut, bolt, or other fastener in the garage, I think of your articles! I still laugh my ass off revisiting all of those great pieces you wrote. Thank you!!
Seriously, I have a question that I need to seek your assistance on, no other has been able to help! Iím trying to find a photo in which the rider was well past the point of saving it, yet the caption said, ďI think the old Bulí is gonna pull through!Ē I thought it was in Dirt Bike, however I canít seem to find it anywhere. Your assistance would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for all the laughs, and insights over the years.
Doug & Kim Crawford
I looked through all my old magazines and couldnít locate what youíre looking for. I certainly appreciate all the kind words and if it wasnít for for folks like you, I probably would have to have a real job to make a living.


Like multitudes of other dirt-bike riders of the last five decades or so, I have long admired & respected what your involvement has meant to the sport. I am aware that the menial experiences of a small-time racer & race coordinator from east of the Mississippi River is less than trivial, compared to what you have experienced. However, much of what I have lived through during my relatively short yet illustrious "career" has far exceeded anything I could have imagined when I was "just another kid reading early-70's issues of DIRTBIKE MAGAZINE."

During the 80's & 90's, the lessons learned from SAHARA CLUB membership gave me the intestinal fortitude to stand up to numerous USFS staffers with whom I would later become acquainted while attempting to salvage what was left of our access to "our" National Forests in Mississippi. I will be forever grateful for the guidance gleaned from the information that you made available. I would wager that very few (if any) of the 45 organized races held under my "administration" would have happened without the influence that you have had on me & my approach to dealing with Public Land "Managers." For this I offer my sincere & humble appreciation.

It occurred to me recently that, at my own minor level, I have reached a pinnacle in which I find myself taking a new degree of pride. I recall your accounts of having offered the AMA the vast collection of damaging documents & evidence that you & my other hero Louis McKey had amassed through SAHARA CLUB investigations, etc. As I recall, they declined your offer & told you that the AMA was opposed (scared?) to being "associated" with such a "radical" organization as the SAHARA CLUB.

Over the last year or so, I have been sort of "pulled into" a somewhat organized (with AMA & NOHVCC "assistance"/resulting from the efforts of a relatively new acquaintance) effort to regain access to a National Forest Trail System that I originally helped establish in the early Ď90s and which my club used for our enduro events up until 2012. The typical change of District Ranger has wreaked havoc on what had been a relatively pleasant "working relationship" for several years. The details would be quite boring, but suffice it to say that the AMA/NOHVCC approach to dealing with an uncooperative Forest Service is quite nearly 180 degrees opposite what I have found to be fairly effective (and which bears a striking resemblance to much of what I have read of your proven approach). Not surprisingly, I have found myself almost as often at odds with the "professionals" from AMA & NOHVCC, over "strategery" as I have with members of the current mostly uncooperative Forest Service Staff.

Even with a relatively impressive track-record for getting a lot of what we wanted from several previously uncooperative USFS Officials, it has been brought to my attention that my "radical methods" are simply not the best way to deal with Public Land Managers. There have instances in which our AMA Guy has attempted to distance himself from me as a part of our little grassroots organization. After all these years of admiring your lofty position in the world of off-road riding/racing & public land access efforts, I find myself taking great pride in the fact that I have apparently "arrived" & now occupy a position in my own little corner of the universe which, although to a much lesser degree, places me in good company.

I take it as a great compliment to be ranked alongside two of my all-time true heroes, Rick Sieman & Louis McKey. It's not everyone whom the internationally-recognized American Motorcyclist Association considers 'too radical to be associated with.'

Thank you for all that you have meant to me & the sport that I have loved for over 43 years.

Fred Pittman, President
Mississippi Hi-Point Enduro Riders

When Louis McKey and I started fighting for land use way back then, we were considered far too radical for the American Motorcycle Association. In fact, we offered to give them all the information we had regarding land-use, including aerial photos of the various courses and actual correspondence from the BLM people, and they refused to accept our offer even though it was always free. It drove us more than a little nuts to not only fight against the environmental radicals, but to have to fight our own industry as well was real tough. Good luck with everything youíre doing.


Note what ever happen to the great yellow dirt bike truck ? Is it in a museum? Or was it donated to the metal scrap Gods ?
Skeeter Holland

The last I saw of the great yellow Dirt Bike truck, it was on a large flatbed with about 20 other crushed vehicles on its way to somewhere in Japan to be made into cigarette lighters or beer cans. It was tragic ending for an El Camino with over 300,000 miles on it and most of them with bikes in the back. Strangely enough, it did all these miles without a rebuild. Of course, it was smoking quite badly when it was finally retired.

(Over the years, I had a  number of El Caminos. One in particular stood out.  It had an engine in it that powered a lakester to over 200 miles per hour at El Mirage. Brian Fabre stuffed that engine in an El Camino and sold it to me.  I got more tickets with that rocket than I cared to think about. The only other problem was that I could not keep a clutch alive in that vehicle. I still vividly recall heading out to the desert in the wee hours of the morning with two bikes in the back, and comfortably cruising at about 130 miles per hour on the empty back roads.)

In the mid-'70s, a noble vehicle captured the hearts of the dirt biking public. It was called the Great Yellow Dirt Bike Truck and served to shuttle all manner of machines, as well as the somewhat ill-mannered staff of Dirt Bike Magazine.

An unpretentious unit, the G.Y.D.B.T. was, in fact, a ratty 1964 El Camino painted school-bus yellow. Some wits of the day likened its progress down the road to "a 200-year-old sea turtle emerging from a stupor.''

Others, less kind in their comments, noted that "It's the closest thing imaginable to a rolling ghetto." One especially vicious detractor commented: "General Motors must hang its corporate head in shame when that thing wallows down the road."

True, the G.Y.D.B.T. was a less-than-perfect machine in its later years, but it served the DB editors without a whimper for almost 300,000 miles. Without one single oil change, it might be noted. Try that with your new Citation, buster!

The function of The Truck was to transport bikes and people from point A to point B. Nothing more. And certainly nothing less.

Because the G.Y.D.B.T. was taken for granted, it received little or nothing in the way of service. It burned oil at copious rates. Any kind of oil, we might add. It thrived on a diet of Bel-Ray, Spectro, Yamalube, Torco or Pep Boys reprocessed oil. Two-stroke or four-stroke? Ö it apparently made no difference.

We also used The Truck as a receptacle for gas we wouldn't dare run in any bike. When a bike had been sitting for the bet?ter part of a year, the gasoline would be ceremoniously drained out and poured in?to the gas tank of The Truck. It apparently ignored the varnish, dirt, water, mung balls and dog hair that might be contaminating the fuel.

Pre-mix also got dumped into the G.Y.D.B.T. on a regular basis. This sort of controlled neglect led to more or less steady plug fouling. Cylinders 1, 3, 5 and 7 were more prone to placing syrupy deposits on the plug tips than the others were, so they received hot plugs from two-stroke bikes.

Still, the vehicle never failed to start and get the bikes to and from their intended goals.

Visually, it left a bit to be desired. Inside, there was usually a collection of hamburger boxes, dried-up French fries, pop cans, cigar butts, napkins, straws, paper cups, empty bags, crunched-up beer cans and taco wrappers.

The exterior didn't have a hint of rust, but it did proudly sport a multitude of scratches from innumerable bikes leaning and falling against it. The grille looked a lot like an Oldsmobile sucking a lemon, from when it had made contact with a Nevada coyote somewhere north of Winnemucca at slightly over 90 miles per hour. The Truck, not the coyote, by the way.

A giant CZ sticker was on the roof of the car and it must have driven old World War II fighter pilots to near frenzy when they flew over the red and white bull's-eye CZ logo. Two glass-pack mufflers, long past their prime, let out a steady stream of bluish-white smoke, along with a mellow roar somewhat reminiscent of a P-5 1 Mustang with blooie pipes.

Anyway, this fine auto finally gave up the ghost. One morning it gave a death rattle that was too crude and loud to ignore. No mechanic would even give us an estimate. "There ain't enough money in L.A. to get this heap healthy!" was the disheartening verdict.

The last we saw of the G.Y.D.B.T., it was on a flatbed truck, squashed flatter than a pizza, no doubt heading off to Japan to be made into fake Zippo lighters or Yamaha kickstands. We shed a quiet tear and entered the age of Datsun pickups. Efficient? Yes. Soul? Hardly.

The years went by.

Please try to visualize pages of a calendar turning rapidly here. Our special effects are limited to words and pictures.

Then, lo and behold, another candidate appeared on the horizon. Another El Camino. A newer one, to be sure, but one that genuinely fit the mold of the original.

It was a 1972 El Camino on which a tree had fallen. The body was tweaked out, but still solid. The grille had more than a few encounters with lesser vehicles, but the hood still could be opened and closed with the aid of any reasonable sized screwdriver.

The engine was a mighty 350 V-8 that ran like a striped ape. Gas mileage was pitiful. The staff of Dirt Bike was ecstatic! Best of all, the El Camino was cheap. A veritable song and a dance.

Only a few things were lacking. First off, it was a putrid brown color, much like rubber donkey lungs. A trip to Earl Scheib would fix that in a hurry. A tasteful coat of eye-hurting yellow would add some character to the new G.Y.D.B.T.

A good radio was added and the tank was topped off with leftover pre-mix. But it still lacked something. The staff pondered for what seemed like minutes, then came up with an idea!

The P-S 1 Mustang jaws-and-teeth symbol was borrowed and a skilled sign painter applied the finishing touches. The Dirt Bike legend was applied to the doors and we were in business.

Son of the Great Yellow Dirt Bike Truck! Rocky IV. Jaws IV. All rolled into one!

Well, there you have it. A bit of history revived. Days of wine and roses once again. Now, if we can just find a cherry DT-1 to slip into the back.


Hey Rick,
I just finished The Last Ride and enjoyed it a lot, I'll never look at an old Yamaha the same way again! Here's a shot of my old DT-1 250, I sold it last October.
Thanks again!
Bob Gearhart

That book has caught on really well, mostly because there were so many DT ones sold way back then. Itís a good book with a radical ending.


Hey Rick.. I have a CZ of unknown year. Unknown because on the frame where the year goes on the tag it's stamped 197-.  The frame # is9808.001319.. On the motor the # is 9809.002518. On the frame tag the# is 9804.001408. It's a twin plug motor..any ideas on what the deal is with no fourth digit in the year..? It looks like a straight up and down shock Falta with the coffin tank and retainer strap. I'm stumped dude..thanks for your help..if you can offer any...Dave...

This is a Bitsa. CZ rarely/hardly ever stamped the fourth number in the year, for internal reasons.
The frame number beginning 980.8 is a early 1974 red frame 250 five-speed motocross. The frame tag beginning 980.4 is from the frame of a 1972 250 4 speed motocross, single down pipe version and the engine number is from a late 1974 red frame radial head 250 5 speed motocross.
Looks like someone mixed some pieces up....and it sounds like he may have a nice machine.

(NOTE: We got this info from Keith Lynus, who knows more about old bikes than anyone else.)


Rick, quick question. I have found a 74-76?? Triumph 500MX here in town. I thought I remember you writing about one yrs ago. Been sitting covered in a
garage for 20+ yrs, complete but motor stuck. I race AHRMA and run SL100,Sl125 and I like the 4 stroke singles. Is this bike worth fooling with and do you know about what it might be worth. Did they make a lot of them? I remember a lot of old 441`s back in the day around here.

Also I have an old N-Duro book on How to Ride Enduros....I am going to try and scan it. Would you like a copy???

Actually, a 500 Triumph would make an excellent vintage racer; you can get it way under 300 pounds without too much trouble and it is fairly reliable. Itís almost as fast as a 650 and it sure makes a sweet sound with those dual open exhaust pipes. Yes, I sure would like to have a copy of that old book.


Hope this letter finds you feeling well. I would like to know what was the difference between the 1974 Husqvarna 450 wr and the 74 400 wr. Enjoyed the articles on building a low buck dirtbike on offroad .com. Brought me back to a simpler time when common sense was the rule. A hard find these days. Info on Huskys would be greatly appr.  Damon in Louisiana.

Actually, as far as performance goes, both bikes are fairly equal. The 450 has a more lowend torque and will pull at lower revs than the 400, but both bikes are fun to ride and fairly reliable.


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]
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