Rick Siemanís Donít Ask Dirt Bike Tech Tips

May. 05, 2016 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 Don't Ask Columns
April 2016

March 2016

February 2016


Hey Rick -

I recently finished reading Monkey Butt and as you've already been told thousands of times, thank you so much for com piling your experiences, insights and humor for all of us.

I especially liked the recounting of your meeting with Ed Youngblood regarding the MIC. I always speculated it was the MIC and Joan Claybrook who effectively killed off the right side shifting euro models as well as impacting Harley Davidson's bottom line by being forced to retool and engineer the Sportster to left side shifting.

What role do you believe the MIC had in persuading the A.M.A. to ban works bikes in Pro Motocross?

Best Regards,
Mike Baldwin

The AMA didn't have a whole a lot to do about where the bikes shifted, but they did have a tremendous amount of pressure on making four-strokes the only kind of bike you could race in Pro racing. Think about this for a second: in the Ď80s and the Ď90s you could get a decent bike for a few thousand dollars. Nowadays, it's going to cost you close to $10,000, if not more. And when it comes time to rebuild it, which is about every 30 hours of operation, it's going to cost you around three grand. Now does that make sense? I think not.


I have a 1987 YZ-you guessed it-490. The bike has more power than anything I've ridden and handles quite well. (completely rebuilt motor) I noticed that you said "most years", and is 1987 one of the good years? I'm just wondering why its such a bad bike in your opinion.

When I first tested the Yamaha YZ 490, I was initially impressed with the power. Then after I got on the track and put some serious laps in, it started to rear its ugly head. The vibration was terrible and I got tired very quickly on the bike. That weekend, I took the bike and entered in a race at Saddleback Park. At the end of two 45-minute motos, both of my hands had calluses pulled off.  I was more beat up than any bike I had ever ridden to that point. Yes, if you just want to play around a little bit, the 490 is probably okay, but if you want to go out and do some serious racing on it, forget it.



Dear Rick:
First, a question on the name:  am I right in assuming itís a bike term I never heard of here in Appalachia? The reason Iím asking is that, being of 100+% East European descent, ďHunkyĒ is an old pejorative term for us former Austro-Hungarian subject peoples, now having passed into obscurity.
The second question is this: I have a Ď67 Jawa 250 Trials. A slug but loveable. Iíve never seen another one; are there any left out there?
John C. Kovalo

Yes indeed, the word hunky is a term that supposed to cover people from Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, Ukrainia and anyone else from that region. I got the nickname because I used to be an Olympic weightlifter and the guys in my club gave me a jersey with SUPER HUNKY on it. The label sort of stuck over the years. Now you know.

Hi Rick,

I was searching for information on a 1977 Maico aw 400 when I came across your article about your garage queen. Super nice restoration! I recently purchased a 1977 Aw 400 off of Eric Eaton who now owns a KTM dealership in Tacoma Wa. I'm waiting on the shipper for delivery. Anyway, I picked up a lot of good info from your garage queen story. There's not much technical information out there so thanks for sharing.
Best Regards,
Billy Russell

I've been a Maico fanatic since 1971.  The 1977 400 is an excellent bike and probably the best 400 ever made.

I traded for a old Yamaha yesterday and wondered if you could identify year and model. I was told it's a mid 90's 500cc. Pretty sure it's way older than that.

The photo you sent us was almost unusable, but we were able to compare it to other photos and chances are your bike is a 1980 TT 500. Photo courtesy of us.



I see these anti-depressant drugs advertised on television. Depressing as Hell. The side effects include suicide. So, what good does it do to blow all that money on the drugs when a bullet only costs a quarter? Think of the money saved, Rick!
David (as usual) Fruhling

We're not quite sure how to take this email Dave, but weíll pass it on to our readers.

Rick, as a young man I raced 250cc & 400cc CZís and just loved them over any other machine at the time ( heavy or not ) and now have both in my shop for riding in West Texas now and gain. In the 70ís there was  company that advertised for sale a 195 pound CZ with a center port engine, have you ever run across one of these, if so do you think one could be purchased. I have looked at  lot of sites for one of these but never seem to even get a hint of one. 
Thank you,
John Hesser

You can contact FlashBackRacing @Yahoo.com and they'll build one for you, no kidding. There are several companies in the Ď70s that made the center port unit, but they all are out of business at this time.


I received the following photo from Vic Krause and proceeded to laugh my ass off.  As you might now, Krause was the original Mister Know It All and did that column for years. Well, Krause was walking down the street, saw this and did a double take.


My new book, THE LAST RIDE, is 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], and Paypal address is [email protected].

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