Donít Ask: Super Hunky Answers Your Dirt Bike Questions

Feb. 11, 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.

Have a question for Rick ďSuper HunkyĒ Sieman? E-mail questions to [email protected], Attn: Donít Ask.

Previous Donít Ask Columns:
January 2014

December 2013

November 2013



Hi there. I just bought a XR200, about 1985. Changed the kickstart and idler gear. Noticed that the piston is oversized, and runs like a dream. A week ago the clutch didnt release fully, so i stripped and cleaned everything up nicely. All the parts still looked really good. Plates are 3mm thick. Took it for a ride on Saturday and it started of perfectly. Riding back i noticed that it was starting the same releasing problem again. I will strip it again to check, but if you have anything in particular that i can look for, i would really appreciate it.


Two things you want to check before you go any further. See if the clutch springs are sacked or flat worn out, and then check the clutch basket for rough edges where the plates slide up and down. If these are not perfectly smooth, then the clutch plates will hang up as they try to move in and out. My guess is one of these two things or a combination of both.


Sir, I've been a long time fan and just wanted to thank you for the great tutorial. I've followed your breathing mod and it worked great. It was spot on right from the start! My wife's new (used 2006) is running perfect now. I did notice that you might have a typo. "We drilled the brass plug out carefully with a 1é2 inch drill bit"...I think you meant 1/4".

Julie Mumma

Well, your call was about right. I donít have many 1Z2 inch drill bits in my toolbox, do you?


Hi Rick:

My sisters and I inherited from my father a couple of motorcycles. We are having an extremely difficult time trying to place a value on them. I have attached a few pictures. What we know about the bikes is the following:

1.       Rickman - 1970? We think Ė we cannot find a title. I looked for any identifying marks or numbers on the bike. All I found was ď1504Ē and a sticker with a feather. I did find one area stamped with the word triumph several times.

2.      Métis Ė 1971. Again we are thinking that this is a Rickman metisse Triumph. I do not have current access to this bike so I have been unable to look for numbers, etc. Also I need to look at the VIN title.

Any suggestions you may have would be greatly appreciated to try and ascertain a fair value.

One last question: We are having a hard time finding a comparable 1974 Maico 440 for sale or that has sold to come up with a fair market value. I can find a few 400ís but not 440. Is there a big difference? Can you estimate the difference in value for the bigger engine?

Thank you for your time and consideration in answering this email. I really appreciated you article on the vintage Maricoís. It was very helpful.

The price you can get for any of these great bikes depends on the condition. From the photos you sent me, these appear to be in excellent shape. I checked at various sites on the Internet for prices and a frame alone for one of these bikes was almost $5000. Various bikes were for sale and the prices range from about $6500 to over $15,000. So you can see that you have some real valuable bikes on your hands.

Regarding your Maico question, thereís very little difference between the 400 and the 440. Iíve seen the average bike like that go for anywhere from $2500-$4000, and again, the price depending on the condition. If you want to make a 400 into a 440, all you have to do is pop in the bigger piston and re-jet as needed.



Congrats on the article a job well done                                 
Great article, Dallas!
Matt Holm

This Jawa Speedway Motocross Special is a unique bike indeed. Glad you liked the story. 
I have an old yamaha with a 351cc 2 stroke engine. I am trying to figure out the year,model and engine size etc. Any info would be great! I would like to restore it back to original. Serial # 365-020282 on frame and engine

Upon checking my unbelievably accurate Yamaha ID charts, I can see that you have a 1974 MX 360 A. The starting numbers on the engine are 365 Ė 020101, so you can see yours is right in line.

Hi Rick,
As I was looking through Craigslist for a used 250 2-stroke I found this ad - At least he got to ride it a little while before it blew!
Jeff Birdsong

2010 KX 250 F Parting Out - $1 (Anaheim Hill

I have some parts for a 2010 bike that blew up at 27 hours. Cases and crank are no good but everything else looks good. The head would need to valves and valve buckets to be complete. Make offer on all or single item. Thanks.



HI Rick,
I met you at the RacerX Boise Inter-Am earlier this year. I was there racing my 77 Maico 400 and you spent some time standing under an equipment shed, out of the rain, with me and my wife Merri (and my Golden Retriever, Nori) telling us the story about your BLM court case. I wanted to tell you this story then, but it always gets me emotional and I was afraid I couldn't get through it - anyway here goes;
I started riding about the time Dirt Bike magazine started, in 1972 on a Honda SL100. By Late 73 I had a TM125 and had started racing motocross. DB (and MXA) was our bible back then and every issue would be devoured immediately by my buddies and me. My Dad had never ridden or had been around motorcycles but was pretty handy with tools. We spent hours and hours together over the years working on my, and a few years later my little brothers bikes, while learning the sport.
Before I was old enough to drive he would help me load my bike onto the bumper racks (remember those?) hanging off the back of our 71 Impala and drive me to the local riding area and later to the races. After my brother started racing he invested in a 3-rail open trailer ($150!) and we traveled to the races in style. My Dad was in the Air Force stationed at Offutt AFB in Omaha. He worked a lot, and also some crazy shifts depending on when the planes were flying. Yet he never once complained about getting up before dawn on Sunday after Sunday to drive us out to some glorified cornfield track in the middle of nowhere to go racing.
The mid-70's were a wild time to be a teenager. The drug culture was everywhere and there was still a lot of 60's anti-establishment thought among kids. Many of my non racing friends were into drugs and most of them didn't have much of a relationship with their parents, especially their career military fathers. On the other hand my Dad and I had really bonded because of dirt bikes. We spent lots of hours in the shop and traveling to races together. I learned a lot about being a man from all that time together.  While my buddies couldn't wait to go get loaded at some weekend party, I was on my home from the part time job that helped support my racing and into the garage with my Dad to prep the bikes. When the latest issue of DB came out, Dad and I would both read it and we'd always talk about the articles and tests. Your column always cracked him up and he said he'd like to meet you some day.
As the years progressed so did my riding skills as I moved up to the expert class on 250's and Open class bikes. I bought my own van and started driving myself to the races, but dad still came to the local races 90% of the time. After I moved into my first apartment I still kept my bikes in Dad's garage, and I would usually be at the house on Saturday getting ready for the races.
Often Dad would already have my scoot washed and waiting for me. I can still see him now as I pull up the house, standing there in the garage with a rag in his pocket -  corny country music (or Huskers football game) playing from the AM radio on the work bench.  I raced until the early 80's when the typical real life stuff intruded. My career saw me move away from Nebraska and all over the US. Although I didn't ride for many years I still kept up with the sport, and still read DB/Modern Cycle/DB, depending on where you were at the time
The years went by. I forget when the original printing of Monkey Butt was, but I ordered a copy immediately. I enjoyed reading all of those old columns and learning about some of the behind the scenes stuff that went on. In 2001 I was living in Florida when Dad was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer and he was given less than a year to live. The cancer quickly metastasized into a brain tumor and he became paralyzed from the waist down. He didn't have any pain and had a good quality of life, such as it was, until the very end. Like so many of his generation, Dad was stoic and accepting of his fate. He couldn't do much so we kept him comfortable. He enjoyed watching funny movies (Stooges especially) and read a lot.
I was getting ready to get on a plane and fly up to see him for a few days and walked by my office and just happened to lock onto Monkey Butt. I felt he might enjoy it and threw it in my luggage. After I returned home, Mom called me and told me Dad had read the entire book in one day. She said he wouldn't put it down. I spoke to him that evening and we laughed and laughed about some of your old columns. One of his favorites was about the time your bike came off of the trailer and flew into an orange grove. We had experienced a similar towing adventure and could relate.
Your book truly bought happiness into both of our lives at a time we needed it- and after all of these years I thought I would let you know.
Sorry for the long email but I had to finally get the story out.  Eight years ago, due to a Christmas phone call from a dear old racing buddy, I started riding off-road again. Three years ago I started racing Vintage MX. When I am out my garage fiddling with my old Maico or new KTM I always wonder what Dad would think about my "new" hobby.
Merry Christmas and thanks again for the years of good times.
Thom Portz
Herriman, Utah                  

Your email put a lump in my throat, and I shared the letter with my wife.  Genuine thanks.


Here's an interesting website I thought I'd share. It is primarily about motorcycle and old pics of old motorcycles. But it also covers a lot of vintage pop culture as related to cars & bikes, Steve McQueen, James Dean, and so on.
The site has lots of great old pics.
The latest item at the top of the website is about stunt rider Kenny Brown who traveled the country in the 50s and 60s performing stunts on his Triumph.
This is a genuinely interesting vintage website. I heartily recommend that everyone go there and peek around. Youíll be happy you did. Many thanks for the tip.



I found an old box full of Maico parts a couple years ago. The frame, wheels, engine and etc. was all there. I spent 1 1/2 years getting it back into running condition and now I am a proud owner of a 1974 MC440. My question for you is the engine and frame numbers. I do have a history of the bike. I bought it from the original owner, so it is not put together from alot of spare parts. The frame number is 392736 and the motor number is U441506.

The motor number is traceable, but I cannot find the frame number in any charts or tables. Can you shine some light on this for me?

Thanks in advance,

Tom from Kansas


Your frame and motor are 1974 1/2.




Hola Rick,

Finally, a simple explanationÖ

Safety First!

Before we get started on Powerbands, pay heed to the following safety facts;

Powerbands can often, double, triple or even quadruple or..more, the power output of a 2 stroke engine. Extreme care is required when riding a bike after installing a new Powerband. Care must be taken for AT least the first 100 miles, which is about the same as the distance from here to Chadwick on a horse.

And more if you're from abroad, obviously. Use the throttle wisely, always do this. Failure to do that can result in a flipping of the bike, and/or wheelspinning. Especially on new, unscrubbed tyres, or tyres covered in butter.

Never touch a hot Powerband. The specialised casings on Powerbands do help to reduce the extremely high temperatures, but still can badly burn unprotected skin,

Never touch a cold Powerband. The regular casings on Powerbands do help to reduce the potentially very cold temperatures when not in use, but still can badly burn skin with no form of protection.

Always make sure the Powerband is fitted properly. A Powerband mistakenly fitted in reverse can in large situations cause an engine to fold in upon itself. As if taking a bow.

Check the integrity of the main Powerband ring. Any sign of cracking means the Powerband could, at any point, without any warning, spectacularly disintegrate and will often result in losing a knee. Or even wrist.

Powerband Colour Coding
Here is a brief breakdown of the colours of Powerbands. Fortunately, most, if not all, Powerband manufacturers follow the same colour-coding guidelines, making it easy to distinguish the different Powerbands and their different characteristics.

RED Red Powerbands are generally considered to be the Daddy. Maximum power. Full forward thrust. Warp speed. Expect respect, for Red is the William Shatner of the Powerband world.

BLUE Blue Powerbands are a compromise between power and reliability. Not quite as powerful as Reds, but more stable and longer lasting, with only minimal long term damage to the host engine. Favoured by ex-military motorcyclists around the world.

YELLOW Yellow Powerbands have been succeeded by the newer Red and Blues. Yellow Powerband technology is fairly primitive, and should only be used with classic bikes from 1902 and up, and, the Honda Four-Hundred Four (the only production bike that featured factory-fitted brackets to bolt on a Powerband. Sort of like a dog being neutered, but in reverse.)

GREEN Working in a similar way to a stolen catalytic converter, the Green Powerband does deliver power, though not as much as Red or Blue. Greens work best the more carbon dioxide, the smell of grim oppression and corruption on an industrial scale, and hydrotetrocholride in the air. Fitting a green Powerband in a relatively unpolluted area will generally only deliver a small percentage of its total output, but will adequately provide inquisitive neighbours with a talking point. Green Powerbands used in China for example, will output over 124.9% of their potential power. Because of the smog.

PURPLE Purple Powerbands are a relatively new phenonmenom. They employ the latest cutting edge powerband technology. For instance, Ballistical Ultra Leverage Latency (which facilitates levering the latency in the ballistical environment, or in layman's terms can be more simply described as "You can't afford it."). Purple powerbands use the latest in material engineering developments, such as Compound X for the construction of the Main Ring, which is so secret a material, that no-one, including those who mine it in special quarries, actually knows where it comes from.

PINK Pink Powerbands are exclusively for the gays. Having a Pink Powerband fitted and not being gay could leave you wide open to a very civil but somewhat overdramatic prosecution brought by the Gay Standards Committee. Fines can range from a sensual whipping, to being forced to grow a bushy moustache and wear a leather cap. Power delivery with Pink Powerbands is usually smooth, but mincey.


Jeff Chase

At last, a proper explanation to the mysterious powerband. This is so simple, that even a dolt could understand it. My thanks for enlightening all those out there who are having trouble identifying their powerband.



Hi Rick hows it going?
I hope good.
I have this really clean  88 quadracer 250
casual riding not racing or on the throttle all the time.
guy I got it from was running 50-1.
is that ok or is that too lean?
said he ran synthetic,.
so im not sure?
Thanks for your help on this.
Kirk from Kansas

Just about any two stroke that you can think of will run happily on a 32-to-1 mixture.  I would consider running at 50:1 in a rather mild bike or quad, but when I see racer in the name, 32 parts gas to one part oil has been working for me for about a half a century. Take it from there.


Rick - Happy New Year.

When I started my vintage 125 collection, I also started collecting the early Dirt Bike Buyers Guide issues to use as a reference. However, I`ve never come across the 1976 or 1979 issues, is it possible DB didn`t publish the Buyers Guide in those years?

Bill Jones

From 1976 through 1979, I didnít work at DB magazine. At that time, I was in charge of MODERN CYCLE and didnít pay much attention to the activities over at Hi Torque publishing. Like you, after investigating, I couldnít find much in the way of those guides.


Hey ****head.  Just where do you get off ragging on people all the time. Who made you the great expert anyhow huh? Iíve only been riding for five years but I probably know more than you do about dirt bikes. So take that and put it in your *** and smoke it.


LA, California

All things considered, I suspect that over 40 years in the motorcycle magazine industry didnít teach me much. I started out as editor of Dirt Bike magazine in 1970 and still to this day write for several magazines. Iíve had over 1500 races in my career, and at age 74, still ride and race.  So I guess that doesnít count for much, eh.  Now go away.



Iím restoring two bikes from the early 70s, both of them Yamaha enduros. I see where theyíre selling a whole set of the magazines on CD, but I donít want all of those mags. Iím just interested in the ones that cover my particular bikes. A luck on that?

Michael Anton

Pittsburgh, PA

Dirt Bike mag by month & year from 1971 to 1974 are now available on disc by the actual month and year. Thatís right, you can get a perfect disc copy of DB from June 1971 to December 1974. The following months/years are available:                 

June 1971
Aug 1971
Sept 1971
Oct 1971
Nov 1971
Dec 1971

Jan 1972 through Dec 1972
Jan 1973 through Dec 1973
Jan 1974 through Dec 1974  

The price is low, with each issue costing just 10, postage included anywhere in the US.


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].

Have a question for Rick ďSuper HunkyĒ Sieman? E-mail questions to [email protected], Attn: Donít Ask.

Previous Donít Ask Columns:
January 2014

December 2013

November 2013 Newsletter
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