Rick “Super Hunky” Sieman Answers Your Dirt Bike Questions

May. 06, 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:
April 2015

March 2015

February 2015

SUBJECT:  RIDING AFTER ALL THESE YEARS
Just needed to say thank you for all the years and all the times I've had riding my bike and living the life. As a child, your articles set me on a good path to becoming a dirt biker. We fought some battles together in the Los padres!! I still ride my ‘87 CR500 w/a wide ratio trans. It was plated many years ago. In fact just melted a piston in it last week.  Had a built 4door dually w/a large camper and a rack on the back. It was yellow!! I'm writing you this from my 74 champion motorhome. Yes, a 440.

We are out in the northern Mojave and have been since October. Have lost most of my buddies to that great riding place in the sky. Being here has given me a great pause. I'm so thankful for the dirt biker life I chose so many years ago. A lot of that I have you to thank. I've lead a marvelous life, ridden lots of trails, climbed a lot of hills. Sat by many a campfire. Have had good friends and a great wife. Have a million stories. Thanks Rick for putting me on that path.

Your buddy,
Ken Davis


People who never get a chance to ride simply don’t know what they’re missing. There is almost nothing quite like getting your dirt bikes loaded with a few friends and going riding all day in the desert. And at the end of that day, enjoy a few beers and a burger. It’s hard to beat that.

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SUBJECT:  HONDA CR 125 MODS
Dear esteemed Rick,

Greetings from Finland, where theres still ice to ride on, if I had a running bike.

Bought (fail) a complete - non-running-condition Cr 125r - 1987 frame/bike with a postfitted 86 engine replacing the original one. The causes for not starting were many, busted piston and corroded waterpump, to mention the topmost.

Now, you can't really get reasonable downstairs etc. for the 1986 cr125r. Do you have any links or knowledge of alternative engines having been fitted instead, with reasonable work and costs, obviously?

Aluminum as material could probably be less corrosion risky choice. I am not after top performance, since I'm only beginning to learn this lifestyle that is dirt..

Big hand for all your good work and top health,

Henrik
Eastern Finland

This might sound a bit strange to you, but I have seen a few CR 125s with Honda XR 200 engines transplanted in there. Quite possibly might be little easier to find a 200 4-stroke in your area.

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SUBJECT:  MORE ON MATT’S ’73 F7
Super Hunky, in response to Matt's story on his F7, I too owned a 1973 Orange tank model.

I got it used in May of 74 and let it go in 78, just prior to leaving for Korea. 

It was reliable and easy to work on. Being much smaller then, I could always win against my friends in short distance races.

Thanks for letting me share.

Ricky Hofer

 

Matt responds:

Thanks. My F7 with the 38-tooth rear sprocket could do an honest 100 miles an hour. Amazing bike. Some idiot on a CB350 hit me on the carb side and tore the whole carb and rotary valve housing off. That was it for the mighty F7.
 
When I got up off the asphalt, I proceeded to kick his ass, but good. That was some motorcycle. I could still trail ride it, even with the high gearing. Once I beat a three-cylinder 400 Kawasaki, a 400 Yamaha Enduro and a 550 four Honda, all at the same time, on the Harbor Freeway. They were pissed to say the least.
 
Thanks again. Glad you liked the story.
 
Matt Cuddy
Somewhere in Burbank
Drinking moonshine out of a Mason jar
 
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SUBJECT: STILL RIDING AND PASSING IT ON
Hey Rick,

I'm the Maico nerd from NH that has swapped emails with you over the years, beginning with some back and forth in "Don't ask".   Anyway, it's old news now, but I just heard you were down, but not out, with some cancer bullshit and  wanted to wish you well and hope you're going to be back on a bike soon, if you ain't already! 

When I was in high school, my riding buddy and I couldn't wait for the next issue of Dirt Bike to hit the stands. And it wasn't because of all the pics and the how-to stuff.  It was about your writing, and your unique infusion of humor that really made that rag worth reading.  I'm 60 now, and just ordered my second copy of Monkey Butt from your website to pass along to a kid who rides on my track and will appreciate it.

Cheers,
Tim  
 

I’m doing good now and beat the cancer. I just had a knee replacement surgery done, and as soon as I heal up and will start riding again. Why not? At 75 years of age, it makes sense to me.
 

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SUBJECT: HEY RICK, ANOTHER RICK HERE
i`ve got a question that will go deep into the cobwebs of your mind. i`ve been reading Dirt Bike October, 1972, test on the TM 250. Why did you guys take off the front number plate for all the pictures? still the bad taste with everybody from the 400 ?
Rick Gould

Nothing so devious.  The number plate fell off while test rider Larry Watkins was riding and we didn't replace it. Remember, this was 1972.

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SUBJECT:  YEP, IT’S ME … FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH
Thanks. I had a feeling it was you selling this, since you’re the only Super Hunky I’ve ever known. I only attended on B to V race, working crew end for a friend in ’87 right after returning from an assignment in Korea. Lost track of you and the Phantom Duck of the Desert while I was in the Army. Actually thought about those days as I was driving my big rig past a sign today for a turn off to a BLM office in Idaho. Hope you are well.
 
SSG (Ret) Gregory Todd
 
It was me selling the vintage posters and such. Those days when we fought the Bureau Of Land Management were scary, but satisfying. Doing well.
 
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SUBJECT: HANG ON TO THAT KAWASAKI KDX 200
 
Rick,

I just bought a 1990 KDX 200, love it. I saw your article about "KDX 200 Questions" where Mr. Know it all answers the questions (and a clue about paragraphs), loved it also.

Here is what I am asking: I live in San Jose Ca. so the recommended places offered in the article are 400 miles from me. Is there a place near me you could recommend for the same type of suspension work (and perhaps motor work)?

Hope all is well...
Dave Barnes 

I had a 1990 KDX 200 Kawasaki and rode and raced it until 2008. It was as close to foolproof as any motorcycle I ever had. As far suspension work all you need is a Works Performance rear shock and getting the right kind of oil in the forks. This will demand a bit of work on your part and will be based on your body weight and your riding ability. The forks are basically very good in stock condition. As far as working on the motor, most any decent Kawasaki shop should be able to make it mechanically solid. I would add at least one tooth on the counter shaft sprocket and keep a clean filter on the bike. Other than that, have fun.

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SUBJECT: CRASHED MY BRAINS OUT
Hi Rick,
 
Received all my goodies last week. I enjoyed your book and took me back to the days of riding dirt bikes in the early ‘70s. Back in those days I loved reading your columns in DB magazine. Didn’t you have a real bad wreck at the LA coliseum back then?
 
Thanks for the entertainment…
 
Aloha,
Victor Weeks
 

In 1979, I crashed at the LA Coliseum during press day. On my first full lap, I went down the Peristyle ramp and tried to take the 93-foot jump at the bottom. When I left the ramp, I didn’t have enough speed and made it exactly 92 feet. I hit the wall on the other side and stopped dead. It knocked me out and when I came to, I started to get up and felt bones crunch in my back. That was the only time I ever asked for an ambulance. After healing up, I raced seven months later.

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SUBJECT: OLD SAHARA CLUB MEMBER
Just saw you come up on facebook. I use to get a newsletter from you years ago. do you still send out anything like that? I always enjoyed it.
 
SAHARA CLUB
Wes Wyman

I did the newsletter for a few years after I moved to Mexico, but quit doing it when the readership fell. It was a lot of fun to read and had some good information in it.

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SUBJECT:  CHOPPER IN THE 1970 MINT 400

No way! On the flat out smooth sections it probably kicked ass!

Stephen Thomas


This took place BEFORE I started Dirt Bike magazine. At the time, I was selling ads for Big Bike and Choppers mag. The state of California was trying to pass a law that would have prohibited modified front ends, so I decided to race a chopper in the Mint 400 to show that modified front ends were safe. We finished the race 14th overall and the law was killed.

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SUBJECT: FUNNIEST MOTO YOU CAN REMEMBER
I would like to hear funniest Moto stories that you can remember. Mine is from 1979 ish, Effingham Illinois. It was a Loretta Lynn Qualifier. We are in Doug Fairtrace van trying to sleep the night before, It's so hot Doug is sleeping on the roof. It starts raining hard, Doug wakes up forgets he is in a sleeping bag, can't extend his arms and falls off the roof, knocking the wind out of him! I STILL laugh thinking about it!!! The sound he made hitting the ground is unforgettable!! The next day Doug hole shots 250A class on a 1979 Maico(!!!) and hits a dog!! Dog was ok but they restarted the Moto and Doug holeshot again!! It's been a little while but I'm pretty sure those 2 events happened on the same weekend!

Ed O'Brien

Anybody got story out there to match this one? If so, send that in and we’ll run it.

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SUBJECT:  YAMAHA DT 400
I met this dude who traded a $200 Ninja-something for a #6 condition 1975 Yamaha DT400. He has questions such as value, collectability, is it worth dumping money into, etc.

Did you guys ever test one? If so, what did you think?
 
I did some online research and from what I gathered, all magazine testers loved it except it's tendency to blubber along unless held WFO & rotten mileage (40mpg or less).
 
Also, I learned that due to the hippie terrorist, dirt-munchin', acid-taking, scroungy tree huggers (I'll try not to say anything I'll regret) this was the last year for a large-bore two-stroke on/off road motorcycle and the XT/TT500 was it's replacement (Praise the Lord!)
 
Any takes on the 1975 DT400?
1) value
2) collectability
3) worth putting money into?
4) easy performance enhancements (pipe/jetting, suspension upgrades, etc.)
 
Thanks for your time, Rick.
David Fruhling

 

Matthew Cuddy responded to this:

Dear David,
He sent me the email because I have over 40 years experience with about every Yamaha Enduro ever produced. Unfortunately, after the 1973 model, Yamaha did some real strange things with the engine (a 30mm carb on a 400?) and the CDI Ignition. They also screwed up the squish band in the head, which caused them to detonate and eventually put a nice big hole in the piston.
 
Please excuse my rather childlike response, I just had a super glue disaster, and my right fingers were glued together.
 
Nice 500, by the way. I had the original SR when they came out in 1978. Kind of impossible to hop up, but strong as an anvil.
 
Thanks,
Matt Cuddy
Associate Editor
                                             

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SUBJECT: 1981 YZ BAJA CLASS WINNER
I still have mine, I bought it from Ron Bishop right after he won the Baja 1000 class 38.

It is almost finished with the restoration. Do you think it is worth any money? Or should I keep it?
Pat Miller


While the 465 was a decent bike, it is not one of the most sought-after collectors. The fact that it won a class in the Baja 1000 adds a bit to the value, but not a great deal. I figure the bike is worth between two and three grand, depending on condition. I would keep it because it will go up in value, not down.
 

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SUBJECT:  THE MOST RELIABLE NEW FOUR-STROKE

Rick,

I noticed that you really rag on the new bikes as being hand grenades and not very reliable.  You mentioned that the new 450 racers turn over 13,000 RPM to make their horsepower. That sounds like a recipe for melting the motor. All things considered, which one of the new 450s would you think is the most reliable?

In my less than semi-humble opinion, I think the KTM 450 is the best of lot. I base this on a few good shops I know of that work on the new four-strokes and they tell me that without a doubt, KTM is the most reliable.                    

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SUBJECT: WIND POWER? DAVE DOESN’T THINK SO
Hello, Rick & Matt!

Just got back from a week in the Great Mojave Desert. Of course Leslie and I camped at my usual site by the tracks. Had 4 friends show up.

Anyway, I just read Aprils "Don't Ask!" and Fred Pittman's letter: "Fighting For Land Use" coaxed me to bring some recent light on the general subject.
 
You know those hippie wind generators that are growing all over the Mojave? What a mess! About 30 or so years ago, "they" (whoever "they" are) erected a bunch on the hill right next to the campsite. No biggie. Went out there one weekend and they were gone! Okay...no problem.
 
In recent years they've erected these huge ones with blades like 100 feet long (each) all over the hills further away. Still no problem...yet.

In order to have a construction "base" area, they bulldozed hundreds of innocent Joshua trees into one huge pile. Sickening! Where's the hippies when you need them, huh? All for a staging area for construction. It's like they used that particular area intentionally because that's the area all the dirt bikers (used to) park and camp in their motorhomes and toy trailers. Completely wiped out.
 
How many bent-nosed lizards and desert turtles died in that Hiroshima?
 
Anyway, back to camping: Saturday, across the railroad tracks sat a Union Pacific Railroad maintenance worker in his 1 ton truck. I wandered over and met "Hernando", a fellow dirt bike/desert rider! He had spotted a cracked rail and was waiting for the work crew to show and replace that section. Anyway, the wind generator subject came up. Man, did his attitude change! He said something to the effect of "F***ing wind generator people..!" I asked why. "They think they own the desert, running dirt bikers off at gunpoint telling them they're trespassing on private property. It's BLM land, not theirs!" Cool! I like this Bro already!
 
At any rate, I had to shove off before his boss from Tehachapi showed up and I invited him to drop in anytime at my camp if he sees my truck. I'm 75 feet from the double tracks so I'm easy to spot.
 
The subject Fred (and you) brought up about the AMA being too "scared" to ally themselves with the Sahara Club reminded me of Ward & June Cleaver's thoughts on Eddie Haskell: "We'll put up with him but we won't ever invite him to dinner!" You know, a little fear that "What will the neighbors think!?"
 
The AMA must have thought along the lines of: "These Sahara Club Members sleep in the dirt and shake sand out of their sleeping bags. Not the kind of guys we'd invite to dinner, much less be seen associating with" while completely overlooking what the Club stood for: The right to ride motorcycles which IS what the G.D. AMA is (supposed to be) about!
 
I realize it may be too late for them to jump in and support off road riding but...it's a sad situation.
 
They (the AMA) have never seen what you all & I've have seen: People having a blast riding in The Great Mojave Desert! While out there a few days ago, on Saturday and Sunday, there were gobs of people of all ages riding! One group who chose to challenge the smaller hills next to camp were obviously a mother, father, two girls and two boys. They were taking turns trying the hills. Just heart warming! What lucky kids they are. What fine people they most likely will grow up to be. Man, how I would have loved my parents to say, "Okay, who wants to go camping and riding this weekend?"
                  
Thanks Rick & Matt for helping keep those Desert Campfires in our hearts burning.
 
PS: Hernando is looking for an old Honda CB750 to make a "bobber" out of, so if anybody wants to help a fellow dirt biker...
International Dave


You may not realize this Dave, but a substantial number of those windmills were owned by Al Gore. After they were built he sold them to the nearby cities. To this point, not one of the windmills ever produced a profit. All the cities have lost money in the stupid attempt to get free power.

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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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