Rick Sieman's - Don't Ask!

Nov. 01, 2005 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!

1986 HONDA XR 600
A friend of mine is looking to buy a 1986 XR 600. I told him that it
probably weighs 100 lbs. more than a 90-95 2-stroke dirt bike. I think
that he would be happier with the newer 2-stroke. XR600 price = $750; newer 250 2-stroke = $1500. I would like to find out the weight of a 1986 XR 600.

Ready to ride, an XR600 weighs slightly over 300 pounds, depending on the model. A typical two-stroke hits the scales about 225 dry and 235-240 ready to ride.

However, don't write the XR off that quickly. Sure, it's heavy. But if you buy one in good shape, it'll be stone-axe reliable and fun to ride. Unless you're racing, I would consider the XR first.


1990 XT 350 YAMAHA
hi, please help me, i took my old i guest gas lines off the carburetor but forgot how they go back,there are some holes for the overflow i heard,i do see two places that you can tell a line goes there,but i want to be sure,thanks so much.

My suggestion is that you take those gas lines and tie knots in them and hook them up anywhere you feel like. This will absolutely guarantee that the bike will no longer run, which is a good thing. Because if you ride anything like you write, your life is in danger.


Dude! I mean Super.
Beau Dirt here! I'm really glad you liked my last Tip of the Month
enough to post it. I have a ton more to share.
Ya know, we met a long time ago at Blackwater. I was one of the fleas on the mud hill. You were on some Maico-breako with an engine big-enuf to plow fields. Hell, the damn cylinder on that sled was bigger than a jumbo box of welding rods. You know? Big!

You tried to get up that greasy old hill and the Breako wheelied
back on ya and pinned your ass to the ground. Hell, ya woulda died from drowin in the mud if me and my cousin didn't hoist that pig off your head.

The size of that Breako and the way it had you pinned kinda reminds me of that 4x4 quad that killed my neighbor. Of course, me and my cousin weren't around to lift it offa him. He's dead now. His wife gave the quad to his brother. I don't think she liked him much either.

There's a big white cross with some Budswizer cans stuck to it down in the hollar where he died. Darn 4 wheelers will freakin kill ya. I'm glad we agree on that.
Oh ya. You said you were gonna make an article about us. Well, ya never did but, that was a long time ago anywayz.

Anyway, here my next Hot Tip. This one's gooood!
Problem: It's riding time! Which, really isn't a problem, now is it? Unfortunately, your dog ate the foam element for you air filter whilst you left it out to dry after a trip through the washing machine. Ever see a dog poop air filter foam. Bad? real bad! Serves that a**hole right! Right?

Fix: Fortunately the dog didn't eat the screen in the center. Just mangled it a bit. Most dogs won't eat steel. Straighten this thing out and find yourself a good old, skimpy t-shirt that doesn't have to many holes. Don't use those heavy shirts like Fruit of The Loom and such. They just don't flow enough air, even for my old CT-1.
Nope, use one of the ones the missus got from Walmart. They're all made in China and are as skimpy as all get out. Anyway, wrap that t-shirt around the outside of the screen and tie it into place or tuck it under the filter edge (depends on the filter). Squirt a little WD-40 on it and ya got a homemade K&N air filter.

WARNING: This filter is good for a day's ride then ya gotta clean it or throw it away. Then again, you'll probably have time to go to the Honda Shop and get a real filter before you ride again.

See ya next month Dude!
Beau Dirt
Salvisa, KY

Our friend, Beau Dirt, is acquiring quite a following with his home-spun humor and real-world usable advice. But let me add my own personal air filter emergency deal to the mix. Just stop by any hardware store and you'll find a whole bunch of foam filters for shop vacuums and many of them are just the right size and shape for a dirt bike filter cage. I've found this trick to work especially well on vintage dirt bike filters.


how do u do clutch plates on dt 125 1983 model

I usually brown them lightly with some olive oil in a sauce pan, then season with salt and pepper. Then, using a non-stick pan, bake for 40 minutes at 325 degrees.


i was wondering what i should mix my gas to on a 1989 Kawasaki KDX - the ratio.
K. Taylor

Since I use 32:1 - the ratio - you should also use - the ratio. Good Lord, Taylor! Did someone steal your CAP key from your computer?


My 1990 YZ250 stumbles at low mid range, then takes off. It idles fine with 1 size lower pilot and the mix screw out 1/2 turn. The main is stock. The top end is fine.
I tried replacing the main with 1 size bigger. The stumble got smaller but still present.
* The needle is in the middle setting.
* The reeds look fine.
* Oil drips from the exhaust pipe after running.
* Carb is clean.
* Choke works.
* Top end reworked has about 10-15 hours on it with good compression.
* Could this be the exhaust valve?
* How do I test?

Before you start swapping jets, you have to understand the basic concept of jetting. Without going into a complete treatise here, consider the following:

The pilot jet controls starting and low air speed mixing. It also contributes about 5% of the total flow of most carbs. So if you have a hesitation right off the bottom, you should consider jetting changes here.

The needle jet ( and needle) control mid-range flow and response.

The main jet controls flow above mid-range and at peak rpm.

You should never try to correct a low-speed or mid-range fault by changing the main jet. In fact, the main jet is the LAST JET you should change when dialing in a carb.

If you can get the carb to respond cleanly off idle and work well in the mid-range, then dialing in the main jet is an absurdly easy task.


Hey Rick,
I just found your site doing a search for info on my Yamaha IT465
I have just purchased this bike ($250). It seemed to run well but it
started very hard and leaked gas from the carb.
It needs some other help...There is a crack in the plastic tank on the side. It is missing the baffle insert, etc., also many bolts appear to have rattled off of this 2-stroke demon... mostly things I think I can fix or replace.
It had been sitting for the last 8+years and they wanted to get rid of it.
Lucky me! I use to ride a YZ125 and a PE 175 growing up.
It's been a few years since I have had a bike. I was interested in this
because I thought it was an enduro...

But after checking into it, I may not be able to license this for road...?

Here are a few questions I have for you:

* Can you tell me anything about this bike - I have been able to find very little.

* When I first got this bike running it needed some carb work. It was leaking gas and started very hard. I had to use starting fluid to get it to kick over. ( I got in there and cleaned the float and carb and replaced the
jets.) My problem is now that I have monkey-ed around with the screw for the fuel I don't know where it was suppose to be set.
I have a Clymer manual for it and the book refers to number of turns for each of the different sizes but doesn't list anything for the 465.

When I first got it running it had arm jerking power - I would hardly turn the gas 1/4 turn and it would lift the front and take off like lightning.
Now I have to really gas it and it just doesn't seem to have the power since I messed around with the carb.
Can you give me some suggestions?

One more question: the bike will kill on me and almost act like it isn't getting any power or gas. I can't seem to find anything wrong in the fuel system. Any suggestions?

I am sure you have much better things to do than answer my questions, but I would appreciate any help you can give since it will be spring soon. I would like to get this bad boy running again.
Nathin D.

The IT 465 is a pure enduro bike, and will not be street legal in most states. I believe Oregon is one of the states that will license PEs and ITs.

As far as the air screw goes, 1 ? to 1 ? turns out should do it.

Regarding jetting: Chances are if you "replaced" the jets that were in the carb, you screwed up the jetting. If the engine is mechanically OK, then putting the stock jetting back in should get you in the ballpark. The Clymer manual should give you that jetting.

Your last statement gives me a clue that you are having a gas starvation problem with the bike. I would check the following:
Fuel petcock.
Gas cap vent
Float needle seat
Float height
Clogged pilot jet or clogged pilot jet passage hole


Hi Rick, great web site.
I'm rebuilding a 1980 Suzuki TS 100. The gas tank has light rust all over the inside and a very minor dent in the side. Otherwise, the bike is extremely clean. What is the best and cheapest way to treat the rust? What do I need to do to get rid of the existing rust and prevent future rust? I'd hate to junk a decent tank when I don't have to. Looking forward to hearing from you.
Pasadena, CA

If the rust is light, here's a trick that works nicely. Remove the tank from the bike, take the petcock off, and run a bolt or piece of soft wood into the petcock opening to keep anything from leaking out.

Get a quart jar full of clean pea-gravel and dump it inside your gas tank, then tape the gas cap opening shut.

Now, start shaking the gas tank like a wild man. It helps best if you have a friend to help you do this. It's worlds easier with two people; preferably two dumb and strong ones.

After you've shaken the tank for ten minutes or so, dump everything out on some newspaper and you'll see a whole bunch of rust chips and particles evident.

Hand pick the pea gravel out of the mess (leaving the rust on the paper) and throw it back into the tank. Now pour some basic kerosene or paint thinner into the tank and seal everything up again.

Repeat the shaking process until all the rust has been removed from the tank, or until you pass out from exhaustion. Dump all the gravel and kerosene out, and then wash the tank out completely with soap and water.

When done, blow the moisture out with air.

Then spray a little WD-40 or other light lubricant in the tank to prevent any rust from forming.

When you're actually using the bike, run a small bit of oil in the gas tank with the oil ( a teaspoon per tank will do) as premix. We're assuming your bike uses straight gas and uses oil injection. That should do it.


i love in staten island and we need some places where i can ride my bike

Most Staten Island lovers usually ride through nudist colonies wearing only helmets and a large smile.


When I start off of the gate in a race I always start in first gear. When I do so, it seems hard to shift up into second after about twenty yards or so. People try to tell me to start in second gear, but it seems once you dump the clutch, you will lose all of your RPM.

They tell me, "Well, if you start in second gear it will be easier to switch up to third."

This is true, but you will get burned off of the gate because you lose all of your RPM when you dump the clutch.

So would there be something we can do to our bike, motor, or transmission to make it easier to shift? Just use our clutch? Or just start in second gear?

I wasn't sure how to word this question, but I hope you understood what I was trying to say. I just thought I would ask you because people ALWAYS ask me and I don't know what to say so, "I thought I would ask the KING."
Robbie Adams

I was a painfully average starter until I attended one of Gary Bailey's motocross schools. After that school, I started getting an amazing percentage of hole-shots.
The key to the start was, indeed, using second gear. But the "secret" to getting the start was slipping the clutch brutally, not dumping it.

My starting technique was simple:

Line up in a clean area behind the gate.

Raise the rpm on the bike to an rpm range that will allow second gear to pull. Do not blip the throttle in and out.

When the gate drops, release the clutch - but not all the way. Keep the clutch lever very close to the release point. Slip it just enough to keep the rpm in the fat part of the power curve.

This will let the bike charge straight and true out of the gate, while others are popping unwanted wheelies, or slithering all over the place.
If your front end tries to come up, slip the clutch just enough to keep the wheel down.

If the engine starts to bog a bit, slip it harder.

The idea is to keep the engine singing and the bike pulling straight.

Shift into third when you hear or feel the engine vibration telling you it's time.
You should now have achieved a good, solid start.


RMX 250
I find it hard to find parts and graphics for my 1997 RMX 250 and I want to know if the RM 250 and RMX 250 are the same except for the gearing. Can you interchange parts on the two?
Thank you
Jim from North Jersey

Jim, the RMX is the enduro version of the RM, and all of the engine parts are interchangeable. The RMX is a strangled-down bike, and should have the air intake and exhaust baffles removed for maximum performance. This will also require a jetting change. Your local Suzie dealer will have the correct jetting advice for your area.

As to graphics? Well, I think the 97 RM line had ugly graphics. Personally, I would strip the bike down to bare yellow plastic and apply a few tasteful stickers.


Hey I was reading your help column and noticed a question from a kid named Harley. He seemed really excited to be able to ride his YZ-80, excited enough to write to you with an interesting story along with a question.

You however were an ***hole. Criticizing this kid for his spelling? You couldn't even answer his question regarding cleaning his bike after a days ride. If his spelling was too much for you to handle then why did you even bother publishing his question on your website with the thousands of other e-mails you receive. EET S**T F********
Russ Downing

You misspelled a word, Russ. It's not EET; it's EAT. Now, let's address the kid named Harley. His letter was so poorly written and so filled with wretched slovenly errors, that it displayed his lazy nature. I simply will not tolerate that. If the kid had put at least a half-hearted effort in his missive, I would have chided him gently and, indeed, even answered his question.
Sloth begets sloth.


Dear Rick,
My 5 year old has a PW 50 which, in general, seems to be an OK
bike for him. The problem is when he jumps the bike, even over small
bumps, the rear springing/damping is totally inadequate. The fork seems
OK, but the rear is truly pathetic.

Since he's already adequately spoiled, I do not intend on buying him better equipment (at least for awhile). I was considering drilling a hole in the shock body and filling it with 90 weight then putting a plug back in, but I wonder if there's even any valving in the shocks. Any ideas?

Bob Milder

Before you whip out the drill, consider measuring the eye-to-eye length of the shock, then hunting in the bike junkyards for a shock of the same length, but with a heavier spring. If you see that the shock came from a heavier bike, then chances are the damping is also heavier to match the spring.

Failing that, you can do the hole-drilling oil swap, but you'll find that 20 weight will probably be enough. One last tip: cut one coil off the spring on the PW and it'll increase the spring rate.


In your rules, you say:

"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."

Ian Briddell

Briddell, I just returned from the bathroom, and was forced to wash my hands with lacquer thinner after doing something truly terrible to your email. Since this is a family site, protocol forbids me from going in to detail as to what I did. Let's just say that the dog saw what I did and is still laughing.


RT 180
One of the piston rings flew off inside and scratched the walls so if i bore it i will probably need a new cylender do you think so. and the bike is a 1993 rt 180 yamaha dirt bike
No Name Given

And people wonder why I drink! Listen up, No Name. If your tolerances were loose enough to let a ring fly off, chances are the cylinder is so worn it will only work as a pencil holder. One last thing: when you do go out and buy your new "cylender" at the local shop, stop at the local elementary school first and have a third-grader teach you how to spell "cylinder."


Hi Rick,
I just bought a Suzuki RMX250 (93') and for a while it ran fine.

But I don't know much about bikes, and one morning when it wouldn't start, I turned a screw on the carburetor thinking it was the tickover screw.

When I eventually got it started, it wasn't running right at all. It splutters and cuts out and when I turn the accelerator, it doesn't pick up speed; it just carries on spluttering. It was smoking a lot and my first thought was that I had put too much 2 stroke in with the petrol, therefore I added some more petrol to the tank and this made no difference.

I have been told by a friend that I accidentally changed the fuel mixture on the carburetor and this is what is making it not run right. I don't know if this is the correct reason?

But if so, can you tell me how I can sort the problem out because I haven't got a clue.

If you don't know what to do could you please forward this e-mail to
somebody who could give me some advice and I would be most grateful.
Hope to hear from you soon.
Leon Bray

While you could/can change the air screw mixture a bit, you cannot make dramatic changes in jetting by doing this. What more than likely happened was this:
You had a plug foul and/or you had fuel leak into the bottom end.

Your bike has worn parts; could be rings, or even something as simple as worn reeds.

You might even have a clogged filter.

Then there's also the possibility of crud or water in your float bowl, which would clog jets and making starting hard.

Fist things first, Leon. Get a manual and read it. Your ham-fisted approach to correcting things is wrong, wrong, wrong! If you were sitting in a rocket getting ready to launch off to Mars, would you start beating on the dashboard with your shoe if the engine didn't ignite? I rest my case.


MORE 490'S
Dear Super Hunky,
This is great. I finally get to tap that large brain of yours. I have a project bike a (1985) YZ490 and I know you don't like them; thats fine. My question is will the newer 5 speed model engine fit in the 4 speeders' frame or is there an exhaust location problem? Thanx for your time and help....keep twisting the loud handle.
Mike Elijah

All of the 490 cases will swap into any frame that carried a 490 engine. Still, there's a better way to get five gears. Simply put an IT 490 (enduro) gearbox in the YZ 490 cases.


Dear Mr. Sieman
I have a 1976 Honda MR 250 which I recently restored to riding condition. It's a great old bike, and I was wondering if you knew where to find some of its missing parts. The rubber intake boot has a crack in it and I can't find one anywhere. Also I was wondering about where to find the enduro lights which was originally on it.
You wrote that desert pilots used to modify theirs with CR parts. What parts are you talking about, and what year CR is this compatible with. also I was wondering if the vintage white fenders in the White Brothers catalog would fit properly. Is there a less restrictive spark arrestor muffler I can use? Sorry for all the questions, but I've looked all over and have received little help.
Thank you for your time,
John Jimkoski.

Since the rubber boots are so hard to come by, you will have to repair it. Remove and thoroughly clean the boot in hot soapy water, then let it air dry. Repair the crack with a black rubber bonding cement available at any auto parts store. It's sold by the tube and works well, but keep an eye on it.

Regarding the MR/CR swaps: most of the guys who ran the CRs in the desert used the wide ratio gearbox from the MR. They also ran the ignition, lighting coils and heavier flywheels.

Not too sure about the fenders. Give the WB boys a call. You can check with DG for a better muffler/spark arrestor.


Dear Mr. Sir,
I am looking for an old 80cc bike that needs work. I prefer an old Yamaha from 1975 - 1990. What would the price be on a bike like this?
Hunting Hunter

For something like that, free would be about right. Seriously, Hunter, bikes like that are everywhere for next to nothing. However, I would recommend that you spend a few extra bucks and get one in decent running condition. Look for bikes in the $100 to $200 range.


hi there i just picked up an rt 180 from a guy for a hundred bucks. the only problem i found with it is that the piston is busted and the chain is shot. i'v searched the bike over for some sign of how to tell the year. is there any way to tell from the frame number? i appreciate your time in reading and answering this question.

Hi there yourself. You can find the information on the model and year by checking on the steering head. Now do me a favor, and the next time you write, at least make a half-hearted attempt at using The Cap Keys where appropriate.


Hello Rick,
What is your best recommendation to cure the "leaky" condition between a pipe and spark arrestor. I have a 1998 CR250R that exhibits this problem.
Much Thanks,

My approach to this problem is simple: clean the pipe tip and the inside of the spark arrestor tube properly. Make sure the pipe tip is down to bare metal with no paint. Your last cleaning should be done with contact cleaner spray.

Then simply apply high temperature silicone and let it dry. Most auto shops carry a good selection of this stuff. Permatex makes a good one. Use the red version.


Hi Rick.
I need information manual on Honda XR75 Honda 1984. I need to know about timing chain, diagrams, prints on rebuilding...etc...Please help.

Oh really? Well, why don't I just spend the next half day copying all of that information from my manuals, and mail it to you. Or maybe I could just ask you to go buy a damn manual? No ? that would be rude of me. Last thought: would you like me to send you all the gaskets you might need with the information packet? Please let me know, as I don't want to disappoint you.


Friend of mine just got this crapy 1979 yz 125 for like 60 bucks he got it running.I have a 1990 rm 80.I didnt not get to see my 80 run yet because im getting a rim fixed for it.But which one of the 2 would win in a race.Info about the bikes both stocked but the kid who had the bike before me said the 80 is bored to 100 and it has power bands.Well i would really like to know what you think about the whole thing ??who would win?
No Name Given

Just when I think the emails cannot possibly get any dumber, here comes one for the ages! My vote goes for the guy with the "crapy" YZ 125. At least his pile of junk is running.

Last little point for you to mull over: a "power band" is nothing more than a description of how the power is delivered. In other words, does it have a lot of low-end torque, or is it a high-revving engine, or perhaps a mid-range motor.


dear rick,
i really want a dirt bike but i am only 12 years old and i always wanted a dirtbike but i dont got a lot of money.i alwayed loved birtbikes from day one,i was wondering if mybe you could tell me where or how i could get one really cheap like in between 100.00 , 120.00 dollars pleas help i really want on dirt bike it is my dream the kick start a dirtbike and just race it around my yard and get a breeze. pleas help!!
your friend
michael. :)

Sigh. Look, kid. If you want a dirt bike, you must understand a few things: First, learn how to spell what you're riding. It is not birtbike - it is dirt bike!

Next, understand that even if you buy a "birtbike" for a cheap price, it's still going to cost money to run and maintain it. Earn some money washing cars, cutting lawns ? things like that ? and save that money for a decent dirt bike. If you're not willing to do that, then you don't deserve one.

Lastly, if you do get that "birtbike," please don't ride it around your yard and irritate the neighbors.


Great article Rick. I feel old! I can remember all these bikes new, and have ridden my share from the Z-50, XR-75, TL-125, TL-250, CR's, etc., right up to my new 650R. Being familiar with some British and Spanish iron too, you hit the nail right on the head. There were and are a lot of great bikes out there, but the best are the ones you just kick over and ride, time after time!

Yes, it's too bad about the so called trials "boom" of the mid 70's! I love the sport. Except now I could sell my (relatively) rare TL-250 many times over in my travels to different vintage trials events. Where exactly are these warehouses of unsold TL's again?!!

Thanks and keep up the great work!
Regards, Doug Hunter

Thanks for the kind words. That article drew a large volume of mail from many folks who grew up with the reliable Hondas.


Dear Mr Sieman:
When I am not thinking of new and indifferent ways to hurt myself on my
2002 project KdX500, I get to play the role of Computer Network
Engineer at a ten thousand student public school.

Early in my career, when I was just a "Windows" wiper I was installing a word processing program in a student computer laboratory. As I was installing this program I was presented a list of options querying me about installing spell check, thesaurus or a grammar checking sub-programs.

So, realizing that I was not a one hundred thousand dollar a year
educator I decided that any decision I made would effect the processes
of young minds and that really wasn't my place; I ripped off an e-mail
to the aforementioned educator. Should I install these applets?

Answer: (to my amazement) Yes

Justification? The students will learn how to spell properly and use
correct grammar as a result of these programs.

Ya thinc this wurks? 2 bad my e-mail cli'ant duznt have a spell
czecking sub-rutine so I am not responcible I cant wright-clik on the
underlined werd and choose the wrong option. What du U mean when u say
the word was wrong becuz it's a homonid%

'nuff sed?
Mark Simpkins

Well done, Mark!


Greeting Mr. Super Hunky.
You wrote to a reader about charging his shocks and stated the following:

"Air will work, but it will tend to degrade the shock fluid, unlike nitrogen, which is an inert gas of the noble gas family. You could take the shock..."

Actually, Nitrogen gas (N2) is a diatomic molecule (the stable elemental form of nitrogen consisting of two atoms) in group 5A of the periodic table. By definition, all noble gases are elements in group 8A of the periodic table that include gases such as Helium, Neon, Argon, Krypton, Xenon and Radon.

An honest mistake I'm sure. You're still the bomb with respect to motos.

John de la Cuesta
CSU Long Beach
Dept. of Biological Sciences (I've taken a lot of Chemistry too)

Wow! When I get correct, I GET CORRECTED! Thanks, John.


Sitting right here in my well-lit offices is a small number of the very first issue of Dirt Bike Magazine. They're in mint condition and ready for the collectors out there. Cost is $150, including shipping, and each issue of Volume 1, Number 1 comes autographed by the editor - me. This makes the ideal Christmas gift for someone who enjoys living in the past.

Here's the source:

Rick Sieman Racing
4492 Camino de la Plaza #1251
San Ysidro, CA 92173

Check or Money Order OK - No plastic
Order one today and keep me from a life of crime

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