Don’t Ask: Your Dirt Bike Questions Answered

Aug. 04, 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 … I’ll leave your e-mail unedited, for what it’s worth.

Send your questions to [email protected], Attn: Don't Ask, or leave your questions in the comment section below.


Previous Don’t Ask Columns
July 2015

June 2015

May 2015


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SUBJECT:  KAWASAKI F7 RESTO
Rick,
Thanks for the super hunky f7 review and wright up. I recently bought a '71 red one with 8k miles, and after reading your review I bought a Honda dream 150 sprocket 38 tooth, and a dt125a rear wheel so I hope it fits like the at1. Then I got a hooker competition exhaust for $70. Paid $360 for the bike and its rusty but I'm gonna clear over it. Can't wait to ride it after its semi restored. Gas tank is in original paint and has one small hole I hope I can solder and lots of Internal rust I hope i can fix. Here's what it looked like when I bought it
Drummer Boy

If nothing else, the Kawasaki F7 was a rocket ship. Matt Cuddy had one and geared it to well over 100 miles an hour, and it still pulled down low enough to ride in the dirt.

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SUBJECT: ON-ROAD VS OFF-ROAD
Rick, I have to ask a question....

Did you ever think we'd live long enough to see people needing to go back and re prove what was already proven?

This is in regards to taking a perfectly good streetbike and trying to ride it offroad. I know you remember how bad the Honda scramblers were, at anything, and I dont understand....

roland cannon
slc,, ut

Back then, we rode what was available, and that explained why we rode all kinds of Hondas and tried to make them real dirt bikes. Today, people are still trying to do the same thing. Perhaps it's just the challenge of it, but in many cases, it's all they have to ride.
 

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SUBJECT: CUTTING SPRINGS VS TORCHING SPRINGS
Real quick question that I cannot find a definitive answer: Your DIY spring-stiffening trick of cold-cutting fork springs works like a charm, and has sure saved me a ton of dough over the years, esp since I now have several little bikes to keep in the dirt too!

Question: On the last set, I did not cut them at all, but rather listened to some 4x4 buddies and just heated the desired coils carefully with a regular propane torch, and mashed the 3 coils flat, then immediately submerged the spring in a 5gal bucket of used oil to quench it.

But my welding buddy claims that this heating ruined the temper, no matter the quenching process, and that cold-cutting is the only way to go.

Who is correct?

Take care, Hunk.

Jonathan Stone in E-TX (only one hour from Diamond Don's, I have discovered...LoL)

We placed your question in the more than capable hands of Keith Lynas. Here's his response:

Jonathon,
OMG ... you are killing me right now!!!
 
Cold cutting is the only way; using heat destroys the spring ... and bunching the coils together can cause other issues. I am assuming that someone has done the math to determine coil bind before any mods are done?
 
Don't skip steps ... measuring the coils is mucho importante.
 
First tip ... never listen to any "car/truck" guy on how to work with a motorcycle ... they are more like an aircraft than a truck. The only similarity is air in the tires.
 
 
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SUBJECT:  WHY DON'T YOU GO F*** YOURSELF!
Just where do u get off telling pepple that there new 4 strokes are junk huh? You probbly couldn't even ride a newHonda.  So why dont u go f*** yourself...

Billy G.
Gardena Ca

Ahh, yet another semi-literate email from a California resident.  The drought must have severely affected your communication skills. Oh yes, the next time you need a rebuild on your 450 Honda after 30 hours of riding time, tell me how nice it is to pay around three thousand to the mechanic for the work.

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SUBJECT: FAIRING ON AN OFF-ROAD BIKE?
I have a 2005 XR650R that I can't ride in the woods in New England (too heavy for me & I'm getting too old to try anymore), so I mostly commute to ride back roads with it (and stick with a KTM 200 for the woods).  Do you have any advise on how to possibly add a KLR650 style (frame mounted) fairing to it? Or is that just an insanely stupid idea?
Thanks for the time.

Chas.

That does rank right up there with one of the dumbest things I've ever heard. If you want to ride exclusively on the street, a fairing makes some sort of sense, but to have one on a dirt bike borders on lunacy.  To correct your strange thinking, find a corner of your room and go bang your head on the walls repeatedly. Thank you for your question.
 

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SUBJECT: 1988 K80 STATOR SWAP
My question is will a newer stator coil plate work on my 1988 kx80 motorcycle?  The stator coil is bad and having a difficult time finding a replacement one. Wondering if a newer one would work, say a 1990-1997 kx80 stator plate?  Thank you for your time.

Brian Eicher


Seeing as I don't have a workshop manual for your particular bike in hand, your best bet is to take your stator coil into a dealership and give it to the man behind the counter and have him compare it to a newer stator plate. Most any dealer will do that if you're polite.

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SUBJECT: SUPER HUNKY RICK SIEMAN

Hi Guys
I saw your ad in arhma vintage views and saw that super hunkey writes for your magazine..   He must be 100years old or at least older than dirt.   Please tell him I have the rubber duckey and the bike that won 5 Desert Racing championships.  Greeves Friggon ridden by Paul redwood back  in the old days..  Back then bikes came with no suspension and yet went through the California/nevada desert like the hounds of hell were chasing them.   FUN DOESNT CHANGE
Tom Kelly #49

I'm not quite as old as dirt, but rest assured it's very close in years. Right now, I'm at the ripe old age of 75 and still riding dirt bikes. Oh, REAL SLOW, but still riding.  Treasure those old mementos from the great years of desert racing.
 

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SUBJECT: AKE JONSSON FEEDBACK

Thanks posting this interview Rick.

Kinda funny he now has a Yamaha dealership…

Ake was the reason I started riding and racing MX. There was a photo of him dragging bars in the mud at one of the Inter-Am races (I think) and my 12-year old self was so impressed I just had to do that too. I believe it was a California race in 1970 though it could have been 1969. It was a very muddy track with photos of the Americans mostly floundering. Anyway I have looked for the photo but have been unable to find it; it wasn’t Dirt Bike.  Would you have or know where I could find this?

I started a subscription to Dirt Bike shortly after this revelation in 1971 and I will always remember your articles for their sage advice and humor in those times. And yes I still race MX, the last few years on modern KTM two-strokes (150sx & 250sx). The new 2strokes are fast, impossibly reliable and they handle.

Eddie


 
Ake was a very cool guy. He spent a lot of time in our office and hung around with the editors most of the day. I had the chance taking him riding in the desert for a day, and he went absolutely nuts out there. They just don't have this kind of open land anywhere in Europe. He made the switch to Yamaha strictly for the dollars. Let's face it, Maico didn't exactly pay monster bucks to ride their bikes and Yamaha coughed up a big bunch of money.

Couldn't locate your picture anywhere. Yes, the new two-strokes are very reliable. The fact that we got pressured into riding and racing four-strokes is very sad indeed. It used to be that our sport  had a lot of entry-level riders, but those days are gone. If you don't have the money to put into a $10,000 bike, the chances of you turning pro are very slim.
 

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SUBJECT: KAWASAKI VERSUS BULTACO
Hi
I have a 74 Kawasaki KX450 and a 74 Pursang 360. I only want to know in performance, which bike is better and why. I want to do classic flat track racing.
Thank you.
Nat Skrypka
 

All things considered the Bultaco definitely handles better, while the Kawasaki is much more reliable. Then again, in flat track racing you don't put that many hours or laps in, so reliability is not that big of a problem. That is, until the damn bike stops while you're running good.


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SUBJECT: RIDING PATCHES YOU NEED
Hello again, Rick.
I'm having a custom patch made for my street riding vest. I took my design over to a shop that embroiders patches.

While talking to the owner, I noticed two boxes of patches on the floor. I asked about them and he said: "Help yourself." Great! I scored some cop patches, fire department, etc. One major find was a small "Sierra Club" patch! Man, I scored!

Well, in my leg-wetting excitement, I sewed it on my vest upside-down! What shouId I do, Rick? Leave it and earn possible disrespect from the Sierra Club? I mean, it's right next to my American Flag and all!
 
You probably know more about them there Sierra Club members. Are they going to get all wadded up if they see it? If they tell me: "You have it upside-down!" should I look down at it and say: "Not to me it is!"?
Your opinion is very important in this matter.
 
David Fruhling
 
Whoops!  Just solved  my little patch problem.  Take a look.

 

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SUBJECT: NO SUCH THING AS A GOOD RATTLE
Dear Mr. Know It All, I'm hearing a little rattling from my KDX, it sounds like it's coming from the top end. It just started last time out, what could it be? Should I be concerned?

RICK SALAZAR

 
If the rattle is coming from the top end of the motorcycle, it could just mean you need a new set of rings. However, if the noise is emanating from the lower end, you got serious problems at this point.


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SUBJECT: MIXED UP MAICOS?
rick need to pick your brain.  I remember back in the day the rumor
that in the maico factory the assemblers would sometimes just grab
whatever was at hand when assembling the bikes.  as such you got 400
motors in bikes labled 440 and vice versa.  I also heard the 250 frame
was uses on bike including the 78 79 400 and 440.  the reason i`m
emailing you is we recently came across 2 bike, 1 was a 79 440 which
ultimately had a 79 250 frame as well as a 79 400 that actually had a
78 250 frame.  both owners swear there was no known frame/motor swap in
bike`s past.  I fact, one actually was original owner and came with a
CA title.

just wondered what your recollection was about the maico factory
building these mismatched bikes.  I know either read it in MXA or Dirt
Bike because back then there was no internet.  the article said this
occurred when supplies were low and they`s just grab whatever frame or
motor was available and ship the bike like that.  please advise.
thanks,

craig eldridge

Maico was a strange factory. They had coin-operated beer machines inside the building and you could see people sipping on a beer while working on a motorcycle.  One of the legends from the factory was don't ever buy a Friday motorcycle. Get a bike made on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and so forth and you are okay. But on Friday afternoon, a lot of the workers started drinking beer heavily and those Friday bikes could have had damn near anything on them. It was not uncommon to take a part from another bike and put it on the one was being worked on at the time. Most people don't know most of the Maico frames were interchangeable, as were many of the parts ... Sort of.

 

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SUBJECT: SHOULD I GET A MAICO?

HI SUPER HUNKY,

DAVE HERE

HOW ARE YOU? BEEN WANTING T BUY NEW MACIO FOR A LONG TIME. JUST WHEN I WOULD LIKE TO GET ONE I AM NOT SURE IF MACIO IS OUT OF BUSINESS OR NOT. AND IF I GET ONE CAN I STILL GET THE PARTS TO MAKE THEM CONTINUE TO WORK? WOULD YOU PLEASE GET BACK TO ME ON WHATS UP WITH THE MACIO IN GENERAL, THANKS. ANY INFORMATION YOU HAVE WOULD BE MOST APPRECIATED. ALSO DO YOU KNOW IF THEIR GOING TO COME OUT WITH ANY NEW MODELS SAY MAYBE A FOUR STROKE MODEL, SO IT CAN BE USED IN CALIFORNIA? AND THEY CAN KEEP UP WITH THE JAPANESE MOTORCYCLES; WOULD BE AWESOME… THANKS FOR YOUR TIME AND GOD BLESS. WHAT IS YOUR NUMBER PLEASE. FEEL FREE TO CALL ME ANY TIME THANKS AGAIN

SINCERELY
DAVE BOSELLI

The last real Maico made was in 1983 and that particular 490 was the best Maico ever built. After that, they built the M-Star for a while, but that only lasted a year and a half. After that the company was sold to various people nobody ever really did anything substantial. Your best bet at this point is to get a good ‘81 or ‘83 and enjoy it. They certainly will run circles around any other vintage bike that you could buy.
 

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SUBJECT: HOW GOOD OR BAD WAS THAT TM 400?
I just bought Suzuki TM 400 Cyclone.  A friend of mine showed me an old dirt bike magazine that had the test on that bike and said it was terrible.  Well, I've only written by Suzuki 400 a few short times and I can tell you that it is unbelievably powerful. Why is it that you ragged all over the bike when it was this strong?

Spencer

LA CA

There's more to a real dirt bike than just the amount of power that it puts out. No question the TM 400 was very fast, but it also handled like a bucket of crap. People who did not race the bike liked them because it was fast enough to scare the hell out of them. People who actually raced the bike learned rather quickly that the flimsy frame and terrible suspension made for a very quick path to the hospital. I did a story on the 10 worst dirt bikes ever made, and the TM 400 has place in that order.

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SHAMELESS PLUG
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].


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