Don't Ask - Dirtbike How-to

Questions answered, insults hurled, lessons learned

May. 05, 2008 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 email 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 email unedited, for what it's worth.


Hello Rick,

I fly with a 2 stroke Rotax engine. We decarbonize every 80-100 hours. The hardest part is the ring lands.  Last year I came across Piston Kleen.

It was 60 deg out. I took two coffee mugs put my pistons in, filled them up with Piston Kleen and wrapped them in black plastic and put them in the sun. 3 hours later my pistons were spotless. Piston Kleen is water based so no bad smell etc. I used 1 cup.   Just sharing a thought.

Tom Eichhorn

Heart of Illinois Ultralights

Thanks for the neat tip.  We'll not only pass it on to our readers, we'll get some of the Piston Kleen and give it a try.



how much oil I have put on front forks on suzuki rm 125 1993
No Name
Washington, PA

On the front forks?  Not in the front forks?   Hmmm.  Well, whenever I see a spot of rust, I spritz the area with a bit of WD40 and then buff it clean with a rag.  The quantity of oil will vary with the spot, but it usually is about the same as the perspiration output from a medium sized mosquito.



I have a 1974 Yamaha DT 125A. My father bought it new but never really rode it. Through the years, I would make sure it was running ok and now it is mine. Red metallic tank, only has 900 miles on it, excllent condition, never dropped, everything works, seat is not torn, rear tire and tube dry rotted but they have now been replaced. Owners manual inc. Any idea what the value of this bike this? By the way, I believe I saw one of the first Yamaha YZ Mono's (white w/red stripes at a 500 Nation Moto X at Hammersville, Ohio either in 1974 or 75. I don't think it was Weinert, I believe he was riding a Kaw. Did you
happen to be there?

Springboro, OH

This bike is not a highly sought after collector like a YZ 125 or 250, so in spite of the fact that it's in great shape, it won't bring the kind of money it's really worth.  My best estimate is right around $1000 to $1200.  If you can find a person who really wants one, then of course, the price would go up.


Hello Rick,

I have a 1998 Beta Techno 280 trials bike and I need to replace the Rectifier/ Regulator. This bike is made in Italy and it is expensive and difficult getting parts for. I was thinking of buying a Rectifier/ Regulator from a motorcycle salvage yard but I don't know what make and model would be a good choice to ask for. The Beta has a 12 volt system and it does not use a battery.

It would have to be from a bike that has lights but no battery. Most likely an Enduro. The smaller the part better, as there is very little space. The few that I have seen on-line have cooling fins, which the original didn?t have. Keeping it cooler will probably help it last longer than the original.

Can you suggest a make and model of motorcycle from which I can start searching for the Rectifier/ Regulator? Would you know which one might suit my needs and which ones were not prone to problems? Any information will be appreciated.


Lockport, NY

That's a real problem with off-brand bikes and when it comes to Trials bikes, my expertise ended about the same time as the demise of the Sherpa T.  If I was you, I'd contact Penton's  PVL Racing Products.  They make complete systems for almost any application.  The source:
44875 North Ridge Rd.
Amherst, OH 44001
FAX: 440-989-4476



I recently purchased a 1992 Honda cr250 and I was wondering if a rear wheel from a 1995 cr500 would fit on it. I am looking for a cheap alternative to respoking the paddle tire that came with my cr250 and I found a used cr500 wheel and was wondering if I should buy it or not.

Ceres, CA

While not having both wheels in front of me, as long as the axle size is the same and the rear brake set up  is the same, go for it.  You might have to make some simple spacers, as the width of the swingarms may vary.


1984 xr250 I have had this bike for a few months now and it runs really well. It has come to my attention just recently that the
bike is burning a bit of oil. I have to keep topping up approx 100ml of oil every 3-4 hours of riding. Oil is making its way up into the head and slowly seeping out from some of the screws there. Compression test measured 125psi which i know is not great because it should be up around the 190psi mark.

The previous owner told me that the bike had the 280cc pro-circuit big bore kit done many years ago. I think most signs point
toward worn piston rings but im not 100% sure. If i was to replace the rings then would they be original 1984 xr250 rings or would i have to find some counterfit. Also will i need to re-sleeve the cylinder or anything like that?? any help would be greatly appreciated..

Melbourne, AU

All indications are that you have a blown or leaking head gasket.  If the bike had big inch kit put in it, the stroke would stay stock and the piston replaced. There's no way you're going to use a stock XR250 piston.  125 psi sounds about right.


I just bought an white brothers mini r4 exhaust and was wondering if you could give me the step by step on how to re-jet the

Carbonear, CANADA

If you just bought a new exhaust system, White Brothers most certainly should have included jetting specs with the pipe.


I recently purchased a 2002 Kawasaki Bayou KLF-300 2x4. I replaced the oil and filters and air filter immediately. The problem is it keeps oil fouling the plug and stalling out. It runs well (full tilt & idle)when hot, however, after idling for 10-20 minutes it will stall out and be impossible to start again unless the plug is cleaned or changed. I'm going to be checking the valve adjustment next and hopefully that will help. The previous owner explained that it wasn't run much for the last 2-3 years and was in storage. Any other ideas?

Andreas, PA

Your clue should be the fact that the machine was stored for a long time.  The carb should be taken apart and all the jets cleaned properly.  Also,  there's a very real possibility that the rings are stuck  in the lands, rather than the piston being worn out.


I have a 360 1974 Yamaha MX I've owned since 1975 and think it's time to part with it. It's been an ornament in our basement and needs to be appreciated!!! Any idea what it might be worth in $$ or nostalgia to someone??!

Rogers, MN

If the bike is a beater, figure on about $500 to $700.  In good shape, look for $1500 or so.  If it's primo, the sky is the limit ... and $2500 plus is very real.



I bought a Suzuki TS200, but the previous owner inserted a RM250 piston in it, which is the same bore, but now I notice that the piston hits the top on the lip of the combustion chamber. What would you prefer? Taking away the part of the combustion chamber it hits and at the same time lowering compression, or inserting a spacer between the top and barrel to lift the top from the barrel? Do you have any other solutions for my problem? Thank you


I never heard of this piston swap before, but if  I needed to put a spacer in the top end, I'd make one to fit between the barrel and the cases.


I just put v force 3 reeds on my 07 yz125 and it seems like the idle doesnt drop as well as it used to what is the problem? please tell me.

Thank you
Las Vegas, NV

It's a good bet that your throttle cable is in bind somewhere in the routing.


Mr. Super Hunky,

When we were both young, you were one of my favorite motorgeek writers. Still are, even when I madly disagree with you. You got balls, for sure. After the last 7 years, I'm amazed that you have left that goofy "Death Vote 2000" article on your site. I'd probably cut off the hand that wrote that one, but you deserve credit for not rewriting it. Probably. Maybe. Oh well, when we are both greeting at Walmart because Little George blew 50 years of SS funds in Iraq, we can imagine that he did something silly for off road riders. As if.

You once wrote a DB column about a really funny crash on a desert bike (probably several, I know) where you ended up flying along side the bike taking a couple of 50' steps before tumbling along side the bike into a heap. I will always remember reading that column as I recovered from a rack of busted ribs from almost exactly the same experience in the Nebraska Cross Country 150. And I can still tell when the temperature is about to change anywhere on the planet.

take care,

Thomas Day
Minnesota Motorcycle Monthly Magazine

No question that Bush is a stumbling twit in many ways, but when I wrote Death Vote 2000, it was to prevent Al Gore from becoming president.  Take a look at what a loon he's become, and I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

That column you mentioned is, sadly, a true story.  Politics aside, when we're both Walmart greeters, we can at least look back on our racing days with fondness.



My Father purchased me a MT125 new in 1974 I have had it all my life it's now behind my bar on display all original 2K miles what is it worth. Any ideas  I'm also looking for decals on the side kind of worn,

Jake Krippelz

If the bike is in mint condition, maybe $1000 to a collector.  In good shape, perhaps $750 to $850.  The MT is not a highly sought after bike.


I just got back into dirt riding. I purchased an 88 YZ250. Which two stroke oil would be the best to use? Yamalube or Maxima synthetic blend? Any help would be appreciated.

Bristol, CT

I've used Yamalube for many years and can give it a thumbs up.  I've heard good things about Maxima, but  have not used it long range.


Hello…just a few comments on a machine in the strange bikes article.  The Cheetah by Recreational Technology was not a 3-wheeler.  It is a two-wheel ATV bike that deserved better than your review in the article.  I have owned one since I purchased it used in the mid 1980's.  The frame on the Cheetah is actually quite strong.  The 7hp Tecumseh in mine did need new rings a while back and the carburetor does need an overhaul once in a while.  The Kelsey-Hayes brake is a self-contained hydraulic system and is top-of-the-line…never a problem. 

The clutch/belt set-up is one of the weak points.  And the tires that came with the Cheetah made it hard to steer because they were square ATV style, which made riding across an incline a real challenge, if not impossible.  And true, there is no real suspension, but the low pressure tires soften the ride a little just like the early shock-less 3-wheelers.  A more rounded ATV tire solved that problem.  This bike, although certainly not a front wheel lifter, can go fast enough to make you wonder why you are going fast!  But anyway, thanks for the small mention about the Cheetah, as I have never seen an owner's manual or even an old ad about it. 

Ted in Wisconsin    

There's a huge resurgence of interest in strange bikes from way back when.



Just wanted to check up on  you.  We only met a few times in the days of the Duck himself.  I think you came with us on one of the Duck rides down Baja way.  Donna Carnegy was the instigator as I recall and Louis was riding some used up YZ I think.  Good times and great people………..

I see you're in Arizona now;  I grew up in Tucson and won the first desert race I entered on my first bike, a Honda pressed frame 50; CL 50 or some such.  1962 and we went to some area up north east of town and ran what we'd call a GP today, Hare and Hound then.  Filled with Bultacos, Triumphs, Beezers and some guy from the Phoenix area who saw the light wayyyy before anyone and had stuck a TT650 motor in a Greeves leading link frame and walked everyone without breaking a sweat.  The killer uphill got steeper and rockier the higher it went and everyone was holing cases or throwing chains left and right.

I rode the Honda as high up the trail as I could then got off and walked alongside and let it carry itself up to the top.  Three laps later I was first 50cc novice at the finish.  Got an actual wooden trophy about 6 inches tall.

Still riding, Guzzi Griso, XR 250,  Dual Sportster and a 1972 MC 400 with the original fiberglass!

Was sorry to see the Ducks disband but things change.  Hope you're still having fun and keeping the desert open for the set of riders.


Keith Shoemaker, Duck 128

The Phantom Duck of the Desert merged with the Sahara Club and we fought to keep land open for many years.  Louis is now retired in Colorado and I'm semi-retired in beautiful downtown middle of  the desert.


Hello Rick,
I met you at Broadford last march for the VMX weekend and bought your book.  It was fantastic! I am 42 and feel like I missed your "real" Dirt Bike editorial time (I started reading DB in '79) but your book seemed to provide a "closure" on too many questions....and it really was very very funny. Thank you.  

Roland Hinz must hate you. Why does Jody still work for him?  Anyway, I'm writing for two reasons. I want an early 70's open class Maico mxer and would like your opinion on which year and model is the best. I would also like you to write a book on the great days of Californian desert racing! I have just emailed Dave Ekins for any info on the era (50's,60's,70's).I hope something is available.

I've read both of Ed Youngbloods books on Dick Mann and John Penton which were fascinating but sober accounts(he gave me Dave Ekins address) and I read his Craig Vetter-Don Brown dialogue (where I learnt Don started the Checkers club!) I have also read Joe Scalzos 'Grand National',which is brilliant! All of these books have given me a wonderful history lesson on
Californian motorcycle racing that never fails to amaze me but I dont really know much about Don Brown,Bud Ekins,Whitey Martino,J.N.Roberts,the events,the culture, the machines,etc,etc.  Can you help?

Robert Baxa,

Albury, NSW, Australia.

Glad you're enjoying the book.  Roland Hinz went ballistic when Monkey Butt came out, and from all reports, stays that way.  Jody has been with MXA for about 30 years and isn't about to change.  I'm working on my next book right now and that should cover the folks you mentioned nicely. 



I have a 1999 kawasaki kx250.I was riding it in 4th gear and it was doimg great. Then i started going down a big paved hill so i pulled in the clutch for about 4 seconds and then let it out and then it sounded like metal to metal clanging and the bike stalled so i bump started it back and it stikk sounded the same but when the bike started to slow down it stalled again.

Now the kickstarter is locked up and won't move but about 3 inches back and forth. So i pushed it home and immediately started breaking it down and the piston looke like it had gotten a little hot because the bottom of the piston rod was an orange color.There was chuncks and pieces of metal in the cylinder with the piston and also in the motor oil.

Once i got the cylinder/jug off were i was able to see and touch the piston i tried to move the kickstarter and it still wouldnt move but the piston flipped up to the top and then would not move anymore. Please give me your best advice
Thanks alot,

Church Hill, TN

It's fairly simple, Cruz. Your KX wasted at least your top end and probably your crank, as well.   Motor oil?  Your bike is a two stroke and does not have any.  Time to break your wallet open and melt the credit cards.


I have 2002 XR80R and I can't get a spark. Got new plug and I've taken the ignition box and coil and put them on my XR200R and it fired rgith up so I know they're good. I've test the citcuit coming from the Alt and on the 80 it only lights up the tester very dim whereas on the 200 it lights it up very bright. Does this sound like an Alt problem on the 80?

Poulsbo, WA

It sounds more like you have a dead short in the wiring of the XR80.


hey does crf450 decal kits fit crf450x 2005 bikes? liek are they the same would crf450r fit on crf450x bike?

Terrace, CANADA

Sigh.  You strike me as the kind of person who is more concerned with decals than the actual condition of your bike. 


I have a 1983 Honda XR200R w/XR600r phorks, and a 1982 XR200R engine w/10.25 CR Wiseco, all new valve gear, K & N filter, Supertrapp exhaust. Yes it weighs 847.5 #. Any suggestions on jetting to go from 2000' to 6000'? Would like to change to a slightly warmer cam and am considering the mildest WEeb cam. Also are u aware of a bolt on or semi bolt on carb about 2 mm larger than stock. Last question...need a 44 0r 46 t real sprocket. Any sources?

Your humble servant Don.
Henderson, NV

You have so many modifications done to your bike that it's impossible to give jetting specs, but you'll have to go about 5 to 7 percent leaner on the jetting across the board if you go to 6000 feet.  Going to a larger carb would create a real jetting nightmare.  To get a rear sprocket for your bike, contact Sidewinder Sprockets:  Krause Racing & Sidewinder Products <>


Dear Rick,

I am beginning to think that there are some devious people out there who are writing prank letters to you, just to see you
tear them up. But either way, I wish I had the opportunity to bash the heads of the fine products of the American educational system the way you do. I don't get to ride much anymore, being based here on the banks of the Potomac.

But on vacation I can usually borrow from my good friend Robert Borg, who seems to always have an extra couple of working CZs at his Northwest Maico &amp; CZ Shop in Richmond, Utah. Frankly I?m more fond of the Maicos (I think the 74 and a half 250 is just a beautiful machine). That of course drives Robert nuts?. he has a couple of CZ twin pipes just like the one in your picture and he's traveled all the way to the former factory in the old country in search of parts and accessories.

I remember it was a very cold and snowy winter in Utah, when we saw the pictures of those first modified factory Maicos, and
immediately began chopping up the swingarm and frame of my Hodaka 100b, to move up the shocks. Reading your column reminds me of those days when we had more wants and desires than money. When I get a break at my desk here in the CNN bureau in Washington, I sometimes hit your website? it always clears my head of politics and bureaucracy.

One of these days I'll get another old Maico (and a stock of extra primary chains) from Robert)  he says he makes more money selling Maico parts than CZ since they break so much!!

Happy Trails

Scott Spoerry

Arlington, Virginia

Honestly, the emails are not pranks.  You ought to see the ones we don't run.    I don't  know how you retain  your sanity  surrounded by all the politicos.  At least your background in dirt bikes keeps you sort of normal.  Keep the shiny side up.


WE have an extreme 90, had nothing but trouble with it since new in 2002. The last time it ran, it just quit. Wouldn't fire at all.
We tried new spark plug,checked the wiring. Please,Please, help!!! When it qiut,the boy, our son, said itmjust made a ping sound. it has set forthe last 2 years. we do not know what to check or do. PLEASE,PLEASE

Jacob Name
Stanberry, MO

You're paying the price for buying cheap Chinese rip off.  If you had bought a decent Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki or Suzuki, you would have no trouble getting parts or service. Sorry to be the one to tell you this, but getting  the truth from  the retailers of these things is almost impossible.


Does any of your articles, cd and or photos include history on Steve Mcqueen and his racing Husqvarnas. 


There are a few photos of  Steve McQueen in the CDs, but no history or bio.


I need a diagram for the coils, all my wires have been removed by previous owner.
South, AL

Then why don't you off your dead butt and acquire an owners manual?


Hi Rick,

I just bought a 1994 honda xr600r. The bike runs great but it has a terrible knocking sound when its cold that happens at idle
and on deceleration. The noise goes away completely after a couple miles of riding but when I kill the bike and restart a few minuates later, its back for a minute or so. Its from the top end and I know for a fact its not detonation. I am puzzled and would greatly appreciate any help!Thanks Rick.

Evansville, IN

There's a check ball in the dry sump oiling system that's probably dirty, or gunked up. When the engine gets hot and the oil pressure builds up, oil starts going upstairs to the top end. When the bike is shut off for a while, the oiling problem starts all over again.


Hi there Rick,

i came acorss the maico 760 areticle some time ago and it stirred my imagination.  I am doing some new projects (not bike for the time being but that may come later if a deal comes together). I am interested in the 760 and have mailed Koestler in Germany for pistion and cylinder parts.

I wanted to know (if you remember), what con rod / chrankshaft set up was (from what engine), I think you said a 250. Is that fundamentaly the same as a 440 / 490 with 83mm stroke crankshaft?. Is the bolt spacing for the cilinder / head be different? Can I use the conrod from the 490 (Euro rods kit on ebay for 165 USD or so- would that be OK)

I guess I would look at some std crankcases and re draw them (I don't need the gearbox in this application) if neccesary.

Thanks for any info you an give me.
Mike Ambler

Wow, I don't have any of the information at hand. The only 760 Maico that I know of is owned by Barry Higgins of H & H Cycles.  I believe the bottom end is based on a 440 Maico.


i was wonder what exactly you have to do to fix water, or moister in the lower end. i am in the middle of rebuilding my top end
figuring the rings were fried since there was mioster on my plug but its all over down on the piston and the rod everything you can see below, its a 97 rm125
Fayetteville, NC

Chances are that you have a blown head gasket.  Also, the chances are that your spelling, capitalisation and punctuation are on about the same level as a one-eyed parakeet.


i brought my sons suzuki ds 80 to the shop to have the rear tire replaced and when i got it home it would not start, it has never
had a problem starting until then, could the plug have gone badd in ransport? i took it out, cleaed it and the bbike fired right up but thats all it did it wouldnt stay runnng and now it wont do anything at all. please help.


Smithville, MO

It appears that the DS80 fouled a plug.  Just cleaning it and putting it back in was not enough.  Buy a new plug and see if the bike then starts and runs OK and get back to me.


i have a 2000 yz 250 2 stroke great carb response , but iseem to idle down like i has a monster camshaft. other than that no problem starting no oil leaks from motor and has new wiseco piston ,what could be the cause?
No Name

In neutral, two strokes come back to idle slowly as a rule, but if the response is poor across the board, then check for a throttle cable in bind, or an air leak.  Side note:  I noticed that you left your name off.  Is it because you forgot how to use the  CAPS key and couldn't do your name correctly?


i was wondering how u take the front fork bolt out of a 1997 rm 80 if u could help that would be great
No Name

Gee, which bolt?  Your email goes up for nomination as dumbest of the month.  Enjoy the fleeting fame.


I have an 84 xr250R that has been sitting for a number of years. I've been cleaning it up and doing all the normal stuff trying to
get it going. I took the carbs off and cleaned the bowls, jets and orifices. and checked the float levels. there was a fair amount of sticky brown gas sludge in everything.

I'm fairly certain I got all the passages clean. the bowls fill up with gas and don't overflow. that said I'm not getting any gas to the cylinder. I can put this thing on choke and kick it till I can't feel my right testicle and the plug stays dry. the choke circuit on this thing is simply a passage from the fuel supply directly into the throttle body right? what the hell is going on?


Since the bike has been sitting, chances are that the float needle is stuck in the seat, preventing gas flow.  Take the carb apart and clean it properly.  While you're at it, check the petcock for proper fuel flow.


One of the Maico's 760. enjoy.
Otto Gonzalez

dirtbike maico

Thanks for the photo.  We'll share it with our readers.


Just read your articael on the top ten worst dirt bikes, and I have to agree on almost all of them. Except the ATV's. All 4 of my boys raced 3 wheelers then 4 wheelers. They were a blast, and they were also only as dangerous and the person riding them! But I throughly enjoied your articael.

Thank You

Ken Beck

Ken, sorry to disagree with you, but time has proven that the 3 wheelers were, indeed, piles of crap.  Consider yourself lucky that your boys escaped  unhurt.


Man, I've got books,  posters and all kinds of CDs.  This makes the ideal  gift for someone who enjoys living in the past.  Website:

Here's the source:

Rick Sieman

56129 W. Papago Rd.

Maricopa, AZ


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