Don’t Ask: Super Hunky Answers Your Dirt Bike Questions

Mar. 02, 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!

I recently purchased a parts washer but learned that in California one can’t get heavy duty solvents anymore. I never thought of combining diesel fuel and parts degreaser to use as a solvent. What ratio do you use?
Michael Behrens

We put the frame in our parts washer and tried to break down the crud with a liberal dousing of diesel fuel and parts degrease - about half-and-half ratio.
I am currently rebuilding a Husqvarna 430CR that I picked up for next to nothing (and it runs). I am enjoying your restoration articles. I also have a copy of the article you did back in 1981 on this bike – stellar review. While I’m at it, do you know of differences between the 1981 and 1982 models? They appear to be largely the same bike.
Mike Behrens

I like to refer to the 1982 Husky as a decal-only bike.  Not much more was changed in the bikes than the looks. Take it from there.
Loved your cz stuff ime now in my third childhood raced cz in the 70s-and 80s but now have a 380 and a 350 for endure stuff well I am 63 nice comentry have u tried writing a book


chris webster

Not only did I try writing a book, I’ve done three of them so far. The best known is Monkey Butt, a  640-page blockbuster. The latest one I’ve done is The Last Ride. You can find out all about these books by going to my website at


Hey Super, how's it going?

I've got an '81 YZ250H and I just put a DG pipe on it so I'm getting ready to re-jet, I read some posts on forums about Lectron carbs and how you don't have to re-jet for different altitudes and weather changes - is this true and if so is it worth the investment, if it is true how come Mikuni & Keihin are still around?  I would love to have a carb that adjusts itself to humidity, heat, cold and altitude - what is your  honored opinion?

Oh and at the risk of asking too much - I'm also running Blendzall Green label racing castor at 32:1, but have been considering a switch to BelRay MC-1 (supposedly a little cleaner at 50:1) what is your recommendation? I'm running VP C-12.   I kind of gave MC-1 a bad rap in my teens with my 1979 CR250R, I seized it several times, but come to find out the main bearings were bad from the factory, Once it was fixed I never did go back and try MC-1 again.

Thanks much.


I have a Lectron carb in my garage still in the original box. I played with these carburetors when they first came out and got a few bikes to run okay with them. Certainly not better than a Mikuni, but at least decent.  Eventually, I gave a few of the Lectrons away and kept one for old times sake.  As far as the oils go, I’ve been a big fan of Yamalube R at 32 to 1 and have never had a two-stroke die while running that.  




I have to take exception to your statement regarding the IRZ carb that was stock on OSSA Stiletto’s.  I have a 1970 Stiletto with one of these and it was simple to tune and 100% reliable.  I raced desert in the D37 region back in the day and never had a lick of trouble.  I had several friends with era Stiletto’s who had the same experience.  I don’t know where you got this info, but my collective experience back in the day was quite different.


Rob Kohler

I used to have the same opinion that you did on the IRC carb. Then one day, I rode a stiletto with a Mikuni  on it and it changed the way I thought about carbs.  The Mikuni equipped bike pulled harder and cleaner down low, a powerful midrange and revved out like crazy. In addition to those little perks, the bike started every time on the first kick, hot or cold. Yes the IRC is a far better carb than the Amals we were used to seeing on the Spanish bikes, but the bottom line is that the Mikuni is superior, make no doubt about that.



Yo Hunk!

Greetings sir! Hope all's well in the land of the dusty dirtbike. Hey, I saw an interesting video about a dude named James Loughead of "Hammarhead Industries." He was doing some fairly simple mods to the newer Triumph Scramblers (2006 to present models) and converting them to old school looking "Desert Sleds." These things look sweet and with a modern 900cc engine probably offer quite a bit more performance than the original with a hell of a lot more reliability to boot. They're styled after the McQueen type Triumph racers from the 60's. Here's a vid for your viewing enjoyment (filmed out by Lone Pine/Mt Whitney area):

View on   The Way of the Desert Sled

As cool as I think this idea is, turns out the guy that was selling these bikes started taking people's money and not delivering bikes in return. Apparently, he reeled a bunch of people in with a glossy website and a hipster marketing campaign (complete with Pabst Blue Ribbon) before defrauding those same people. He's since gone underground.

This guy's fraud aside, what do you think of the idea? I know the bikes are a lead sled in comparison to real desert bikes of today, but damn I think they're cool. Looking at that picture of you standing next to your old Triumph dirt bike made me think you might have a few thoughts to share on the matter. I'm thinking of buying one myself and then doing my own version of it. I think they're beautiful, lusty bikes with a lot more character than the "Transformer Toy" modern bikes of today. Love to hear what you think of the concept.

Till next time: Rock on Hunk!


While we’re not here to pass judgment on anyone, the video footage on YouTube is definitely worth watching.

Rick, your column about "The future of riding", published sometime in 75ish(??) was one that stuck with me forever. Do you recall the title? It was the one where you rode bikes on something similar to a bicycle stationary trainer, while watching video of the "ride", and on the way home the guy unloads his bike in a vacant dirt lot to actually ride. Which then ends in a tragic way, of course.....


(Notes:  Consider the fact that this story was written in 1973. It was so prophetic that it's frightening. Not only was it way ahead of its time back then, it rings hard and true today. Over the years, I've drawn literally thousands of letters regarding this chilling little piece. It's purpose was to scare the off-roading community to get off its dead ass. Clearly, even though the story had impact, it failed in that respect.)

We hear a lot of talk about what riding will be like in the future, you know, 20 years from now. This column tries to mirror the way it is today—but what would a story in From The Saddle be like in 1984? It might be more of a nightmare than a story...


A narrow slit of sunlight knifed through a gap in the curtains. It was this that caused Adam Spence to wake up. When he did awake, he snapped his eyes open in excitement. This was Sunday morning. And that meant one thing—today was riding day. Today that good old dirt bike gets fired up and it's ride, ride, ride. Hot damn!

Let's see … time for a quick breakfast? Nope. It's almost 7:15. Time's a-wastin'.

Adam descended the shaft leading to the communal garage—his ma­chine was stored in cubicle 14. There it was. Sleek, purposeful and mean looking. Jagged knobs bristled on the tires and the hydro-pneumatic suspension valves reflected light off their stainless chrome surfaces.

The machine was a 125cc Yamaha AT-27-MX and was the finest money could buy. It handled like a dream and put out the maximum horse­power allowable under current gov­ernment regulations—8½ at the rear wheel. And it was all paid for—that was the best part.

Loading up took little time—eagerness helped. Adam hadn't been rid­ing for over three months and was more eager than usual.

OK. Helmet, boots, gloves, goggles, protective clothing, mandatory wrist identification … hmmmmm. Forget anything? Oh Christ—almost forgot the permit!!! Let's see, where was it last? Near the dresser by the bed? Yeh, here it is. Man, you don't want to lose one of those permits— they're too hard to come by.

As Adam drove out to the main road, it was hard to restrain the excitement. Thoughts flickered through his mind, fun thoughts. “I wonder what I should ride first today? An enduro, or maybe a few hot laps around the motocross course? Or maybe I should spend most of the day in the desert. I've always loved to ride the desert. Oh well, I'll just make up my mind when I get there—that's what always happens anyway.”

An hour and a half later, he ar­rived at the Multi-Track. It was hard to miss that giant building, covering nearly three city blocks. And that sign—wow! Almost 80 feet high, showing a rider doing a wheelie. Sent shivers up your back and sure made you want to get in there and do some dirt riding.

Adam presented his identification and permit at the window and was given his Class 4 badge—something very difficult to earn these days. This meant he was allowed to ride all types of tracks, except the roundy-­round stuff, which he didn't care for anyway.

The lift/hoist removed his machine from the truck and the lady gave him an assigned number. Sec­tion 34B. Hot dog! The best section in the house! This was going to be a good day. Adam could just tell.

He entered the transporter tube and punched 34B on the console panel. Moments later, the doors whispered open and there he was. Section 34B, a favorite among riders all over the nation. Some people even drove hundreds of miles just to ride this beauty.

And there his machine was, sitting patiently with the energy cord plugged in to the powerplant. Was it fully charged yet? Nope. The red light on the tank was still blinking. Adam buckled on all of his gear, the sound of the Velcro strips music in his ears. Just as the last glove was locked into the sleeve, the red light on the tank went out. Ready—the machine was fully charged and set for a full ride.

Adam disconnected the power cord and pushed the machine over to the Section Entrance. Unsmiling, the attendant demanded to see his permit. A mild moment of panic hit Adam, but the permit was right there in his pocket where it was supposed to be. A selector was clipped to his handlebar and the attendant opened the door and let man and machine into the riding area.

It was beautiful! The large turn­table-like platform measured nearly 100 yards around at the outer cir­cumference, possibly the biggest and most demanding course in the country. Oh sure, there was one bigger in Belgium, but that one had been built years ago and was nowhere near as elaborate as this beauty.

The texture of the dirt was per­fect—as always. Loamy and soft, with no rocks. Bumps, 10-foot slopes and several heart-stopping jumps made this a rider's track. Not one of those nothing tracks in the smaller towns. This one was a test—a real test—of the suspension.

Adam checked everything over carefully. Sixty pounds of pressure in the suspension, power unit fully charged, all ready. Now, what kind of riding?

How's about a little desert—start the day off right. He flipped the se­lector to Desert and almost immedi­ately the platform started moving, like a giant record.

The walls and the ceiling came alive as cameras projected the proper image. Joshua trees flashed by, the sky was an incredibly eye-hurting blue and the mountains in the distance loomed up high and proud.

Adam was so caught up with the beauty that he almost fell. Whuuup! Better pay attention to the business at hand. Those bumps will getcha if you're not watching.

A series of whoopdies rippled ahead, but the suspension did most of the work of soaking up the harsher jolts. Standing on the pegs did the rest.

Deep sand loomed up, the rutted wheel-grabbing kind. Adam got his weight back and rolled on the throt­tle. The bars waggled. some—not bad—but enough to demand no errors on the part of the rider.

Perspiration broke out on his brow and breathing became deeper. Dirt riding was hard work, indeed.

A smooth section came up and Adam reached down to the Selector and deftly flicked the sound switch to 112 decibels on the “A” scale. Almost immediately, the sound of a crackling expansion chamber saturated the platform, raping his eardrums in the process.

But the assault on his ears was music. Good music. It was amazing how the sound of the chamber synched perfectly with every nuance of his throttle hand. Tweak the throttle, and the crescendo blitzed upward—back off and the sound muted and popped. Bitchen'.

Time was fleeting, so Adam once again reached for the selector and this time hit the Enduro button. The desert background vanished and was instantaneously replaced with deep, black-soiled woods. Flickers of sunlight filtered through the overhead branches. Adam drew a deep breath. Mygawd, that's beautiful, he thought.

Obstacles flashed up in front of him and he got up on the pegs to work the bike around them. Going was gnarly and all of his skill was required to keep from making contact with the 3-D images of trees, rocks and the like.

A buzzer snarled at Adam, warn­ing him that the last tree hazard had not been missed. More concentration was required and he settled down to the business at hand. This slow riding was even tougher than the fast stuff—really took a lot out of a rider. Whew.

Adam glanced at his watch. Not much time left—better get in some motocross before his riding period expired.


Bodies hurtled by and slammed the gate right in front of him. Even though he knew they were just images, it was still frightening. Adam scrambled for the first turn, passing several of the images and making contact with several more. Angrily, the buzzer warned him of his clumsiness. He made a mental note to be more careful—too many buzzer viola­tions and that old riding permit would get yanked for six months or so.

The platform speeded up, as it always did for the motocross action. Bumps that had previously been av­erage suddenly took on a new, more vicious character.

He had to ride wider and wider to make the turns, using all of the available platform and coming perilously close to leaving the platform at times.

Adam got caught up in the frenzy of competition and worked the ma­chine for all it was worth—thrust, slide, jump, pass, weave in and Out of traffic until his forearms were burning.

But he still pushed harder and harder. And the harder he pushed, the better he rode. No buz­zers snarled at him, even though he was riding right in the thick of all the action. Adam was completely caught up in the heat of competition ...then...

…then, everything stopped. All of the images disappeared. Motion ceased. The platform no longer moved. And the little red light on his tank flashed accusingly that his time was, indeed, up.

Reality was brought back with sudden harshness. Being yanked back to earth this quickly was always depressing. It always seemed to happen during motocross. Adam made a mental note to try and ride enduros towards the last on his next ride.

As he was pushing his machine out of 34B, another eager rider was waiting at the entrance. Adam en­vied him—but, three months from now, he'd be back. Just show some patience.

When he got to his vehicle, his machine was already loaded on the carriers for him, just one of the many niceties of this Multi-Track. An undefinable feeling of depression settled over Adam as he headed for his apartment. It sure would have been nice to ride a bit longer. Oh well.

Then he saw it. Among all the buildings by the Main Way, there was a section of open ground. Obvi­ously, several older buildings had been torn down and the land was awaiting construction of the new buildings. But there it was—several acres of dirt. Real dirt. And it wasn't fenced in.

Adam pulled off at the next Loop and worked his way back to the construction site. No one was around. He was tempted … hell, why not? What could they do to him, anyway?

He was sure that at least 20 minutes of power was left on the reserve units in his machine.

A few moments later, the bike was unloaded and he flipped the lever to reserve. Sure enough. Nearly a half hour left. He fired the powerplant up and checked everything over—mostly out of force of habit.

A dab on the left side engaged the converter and the bike moved off. Hey, this is really neat, thought Adam. He pitched the machine down and threw a rooster tail high into the air.

Grinning like a man pos­sessed, he slithered and slid all over the cobby construction site. At the end of a very few minutes, Adam had a homemade track laid out. He was panting so hard that he was forced to take a short breather. Wow, this was real work! Sweat coursed down his brow and the salt stung his eyes. But he was happy.

Leaning forward on the bars, he surveyed the area about him. All these buildings and, right in the middle, my own personal dirt riding area, thought Adam.

These were his last thoughts.

A milli-second later, the sharp sound of a firearm cracked and echoed. The bullet entered Adam's forehead and passed through his brain. He was dead before his head slammed against the crossbar.

The little red light on his tank blinked. The Sunday morning ride was over.


Dear Rick,

I was a teenager in the 1970's.  I always wanted a dirt bike, had the posters on my wall, but never was able to get into it. Guess I've lived too strait-laced a life.  I discovered you online about, what, 15 years ago?  The stories of that retired couple traveling the west are hilarious.

Anyway, now that I'm semi-retired, it took me about a month to figure out that I have inherited a 1976 Yamaha YZ400c. It hasn't run in 30 years. The kickstart still turns over, though, but no go. I'm working with the local UTV shop to try to get it running.  I know it is way too much bike for a beginner, but it has sentimental value and I would like to learn to ride it, if I can get it running.  I'm 6'5" and weigh about 250 lbs. and have a farm to ride on.

My questions are: what are good parts sources? The silencer is missing, and if I can't find an OEM replacement, can I use an aftermarket one? Which one would you recommend?  Could my son, who is 6'2" and about 180 lbs., ride this?

Thanks for your help,

If you find that the 400 is a bit much for you with a power output, simply add one or two teeth to the counter shaft sprocket. This will make each gear wider and also more mellow on the power delivery. Getting it running should be simple, as it’s a good strong motor with no real flaws. Clean the carburetor and all the jets up properly, put a fresh plug in it and check all the nuts and bolts. Put a fresh tank full  of 32 to one mix in it, and it should be an easy starting good running bike. Just about any silencer of the same length and same bore will work okay on your bike.



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 … 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] Newsletter
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