Don't Ask: Rick Sieman Answers Your Dirt Bike Questions

Jun. 10, 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 … I’ll leave your e-mail unedited, for what it’s worth.

Previous Don't Ask Columns
May 2016

April 2016

March 2016



Ran across your article on E C Birt while poking around on the web. 

I always enjoyed your articles in Cycle News and the mags and am glad to see you are still around.
Brought back memories. I lived about a mile from Precision Cycle on Artesia blvd in Lawndale and bought two Maicos from him before he moved. 1971 K400  and a 1973/4 501. I think Donnie Emler was working for him at that time and shortly later left and started his own shop. E C was pissed.
I hobby raced dist 37 desert and enjoyed the hell out of it. Managed to bag a few trophies in the open novice class, usually one of the last trophies given. Didn't start racing 'till I was 31 years old and at that age and 240 lbs wasn't much threat to the young, skinny, really fast guys. Since the Maicos were so easy to start and could start in gear I almost always got starts that were above my ability but being out of most of the dust was a big help.
My first Maico was a 1967 X4 (not X4A) round tank with the hated Bing sidedraft carb. Evil starter. Ran my first race with it in 1969 near Shadow mtns/ El Mirage  and got the last open novice trophy, 9th place. I owned around 8 Maicos over the years and still have a 440 Magnum Enduro in the garage but at 78 I don't ride it anymore even though I'm tempted.
The 501 was by far my favorite, wish I still had it. 1981 490 was the last new one I bought and though the motor was good, I never could turn it very well, always had trouble with the front end washing out.
Oh well, time to wrap it up, it's fun to remember those times.
Walt Lister
Wickenburg, AZ

I find it hard to believe that you could not get a 501 to turn properly. Two things come immediately to mind: the first is that you might have had fork springs that were too heavy in there; and secondly, you might have had way too much fork oil. This would prevent the forks from settling down properly and would definitely make the front end wash out.


My back tire is 90/100-16 and I was wondering what a good psi would be.
Also, how do I make my breaks work better because I try to tighten the back but it doesn't work. Honda crf100 2006

Cody Schleth

Try 12 to 15 pounds of air in that tire. Use the lower pressure in sand or soft dirt and a higher pressure on hard-packed ground. As far as the BRAKES go, the rear brakes on your bike are conventional shoes, rather than a disc brake. More than likely, the shoes are either glazed over or worn out. If they are just glazed, a little bit of sandpaper will get things working again. If the shoes are worn, simply replace them.


Stupid question and one I imagine could find a better forum, but did anyone ever succeed in modifying the chassis of a SL 175 twin to work somewhat effectively, and if so…how? My 1975 WEBCO catalog shows a dearth of aftermarket parts…but I had considered pulling the steering head in and mounting a leading axle XL 125 front end or even 74 CR125 front end,and perhaps a 1974-76 CR125 swing arm too.  I figured this would help me find out where else the chassis might be induced twist or even break….sort of a beta test as I see it

I know extortion is a crime,  if you can’t help my, I’m pretty sure I’m gona mount this motor in a pristine Maico 490 rolling frame I saw on Ebay…and I’m sure you don’t want that.

Thanks in advance,

You would be way better off getting a 125 Honda Elsinore with a blown-up motor for low bucks. That way, you could put the motor in the complete chassis and you would be ready to go. Please, I beg you, don't even think about doing that swap to a Maico 490.


Hello Rick,
I read "The Last Ride" awhile back and enjoyed it! Do you have plans for another book along those lines? I also was a fan of your stuff in DIRT BIKE and miss the days when we modified our bikes and then rode the sh.. out of them...I like your idea for one of the manufactures to offer a bike like the DT-1. I think it would sell like crazy especially if the price was low.....Kinda similar to what is currently offered by Royal Enfield.  Heck, a nice 250cc four stroke would be OK... :)
My reason for emailing is to ask if you know where I might find a copy of the Rolf Tiblin training program. I followed that program, religiously, for two years, back in the day. I cannot remember the Pop Cycle year where the article appeared and my internet searches have came up short. Many of the older mags are now online but I have not found Pop C.  Is Mr Rolf still alive?
The Tiblin program along with Jeff Smith's book influenced not only my fitness but my life's work: I am an exercise physiologist (retired). I would NEVER have studied exercise and physiology without the above articles and off road motorcycling. I did become a bicycle racer after my 'young' MX/ENDURO days but still ride the occasional event. Actually, I like to compete race anything on two wheels and if it gets me completely out of breath while I'm doing it all the better!!
Thanks for reading, Rick!
Yours in cycling,
Herb Case

Here are some interesting stats about Rolf Tibblin. Rolf Tibblin (born 7 May 1937) is a Swedish former world champion motocross racer. He was one of the top riders in the Motocross Grand Prix World Championships during the 1960s. Tibblin is remembered as one of the more physically fit motocross racers of his era.

Born in Stockholm, Sweden, Tibblin won the 1959 250cc European Motocross Championship while racing for the Husqvarna factory racing team. In 1961 and 1962, he was a member of the victorious Swedish teams at the Motocross des Nations. He went on to capture the F.I.M. 500cc Motocross World Champion in 1962 and 1963. He finished second to Jeff Smith in the 1964 world championship, before switching to the CZ team for the 1965 season. He finished third in the 1965 championship behind Jeff Smith and Paul Friedrichs. In the 1966 season, he came in second behind Friedrichs.

Tibblin also represented Sweden in the International Six Days Trial and raced in the 1972 Baja 1000 off road race with Gunnar Nilsson, in which they won the motorcycle division. After retiring from professional competition, Tibblin ran the "Husqvarna International Training Center"; a motocross school in Carlsbad, California during the mid-1970s as the sport enjoyed a boom in popularity. In 2008, he was inducted into the A.M.A. Motorcycle Hall of Fame.

Here's something interesting about him that you might want to pass on. He was cutting his grass in his backyard with an electric lawnmower and a rag got stuck in the blades. He pulled the rag out of the blades, but never disconnected the electric cord. In the process, he had his thumb almost completely cut off. He went to the doctor and had the thumb sewed back on and two weeks later won the Mint 400 desert race, stitches and all.



Hello Rick, Mr. KnowItAll,Superhunky etc.

thought it would be interesting for you to see what two German students did to a 2 Stroke Maico 490.

Maico Students

More at:

Dietmar Thora


I saw your blog post about your 1972 K7. I recently picked up a nearly complete 1974 k7 with a Clymer's but no owner's manual. Do you know off-hand what type of transmission oil goes in it? That little fact seems to have been overlooked by the Clymer's manual and there is not much info on this bike in the blogosphere. Any info would be greatly appreciated
Pete Lodico

We turned to Keith Lynas for an answer to this one:
My guess is he likely means Kawasaki F7 ... the Clymer manual for this machine does not indicate trans oil type, only quantity.
Using today's oils Maxima MTL "80" is a good choice for this trans.... Kawi would have recommended a 10/40 motor oil back when these were released.



Mind if I call you Mr. Seiman? I’m a long time reader of your articles, picked up my first Dirt Bike magazine in the fall of ’76 and never looked back (I still subscribe to the day).  For years my friends and I would read each magazine so many times that we could actually remember little details like a ’78 KX125 had a gas tank that was .2 gallons smaller than a ’78 RM125.  Or that a Can-Am MX-4 125 was the most powerful eighth liter bike but it also weigh the most too.  Hey, you fed that stuff to us and we gladly ate it up!
Since then time has passed and gray cells have been overwritten, which is why I’m writing to you.  I’m wondering if you can remember an article that you penned, it was a spoof on an archaeological dig.  Basically it was about some stuff shirts that stumbled onto some old motorcycle parts and clearly claimed to know way more than what they actually did.
Hopefully that’s enough for you.  Wish I could remember more, but then again I’m getting old too.
Thank you,
Rich Klein  
By Rick Sieman/March 1980/Dirt Bike
(Notes: This article really pissed off a bunch of Sierra club people. I got the nastiest mail imaginable! Oh well. Screw ‘em if they can't take a joke. And a damn good one at that, if I have to say so myself.)
“This is the 6 o'clock news and my name is Walter Statler. Top news story of the day is the remarkable find by archaeologists of an actual early man site in the remote Mojave desert in the vicinity of the Barstow International Airport. Apparently, while worker were clearing land for a new east/west runway, they uncovered evidence of the presence of man dating back to the late 20th century. For more on this, we take you now to Ludmilla Stevitz, on the scene. Ludmilla?”

“Thank you, Walter. As you can see from the scene behind us, the workers are trying to extract all of the valuable artifacts from the area before the new plastic-resin runway is poured. They've already recovered a large number of items and work is expected to progress well into the early part of next year. At first, the archaeologists feared that the runway would be poured before the artifacts could be recovered, and only quick action from the Sierra Club with a last-minute court injunction has given the workers a chance to explore the find in a reason­able fashion.

“With me, is Mr. Hamilton Whisp of the Sierra Club. Mr. Whisp, your thoughts on the find?”

“Well, Ludmilla, we at the Club feel this is the most important find since the Amarilllo digs of 4782. There have been precious few finds of significance since the Continental War of the early 40th century. So much has been destroyed that … well … it's just difficult to find the traces of early man.

“However, this site is yielding quite a few interesting objects that should have museums from all over the world clamoring to bid top dollar.”

“Like what? Can you show our Channel 17 viewers an actual object from more than two thousand years ago?”

“Of course. Here's one of the most exciting artifacts we've run across in the last two weeks of digging. This is a piece of metal about 12 inches long and about seven inches high and on the side, you can see the word “Yamaha” engraved in the metal. Engraved or embossed, we're not sure.”

“But what exactly is this object, Mr. Whisp?”

“We feel it had something to do with a religious ceremony, perhaps a cult of some sort from that period. You see, we found an actual scrap of parchment taped to the metal and it had writing on it. Here, let me read some of this to you. Hhmmmph. Let's see … yes.

“God, this … a word appears to be missing here … Yamaha let me down again, if you find this note, I'm heading back to the van. Don't bother towing the bike in.”

“Amazing! But what does all that mean?”

“It's obvious that this Yamaha was a deity of that period of time and this was a note of thanks to that deity for lowering the person from a great height. The word ‘van' must refer to some sort of a temple, or gathering center … and that word ‘towing' must be a reference to cleansing, or a purifi­cation rite of some sort.”

“My goodness, it's amazing that you people are able to interpret the writings from so long ago. And you can actually tell what the lifestyle of that era was like from scraps of metal and writings.”

“Yes, well, we try. Actually, our library is quite extensive. In fact, a government grant enabled us to restore some copies of a magazine of that period. It's called Dirt Bike and we have pieced together almost three complete copies from the late 20th century. We have it placed in an honored spot in the Sierra Club Museum.”

“What exactly do those words ‘Dirt Bike' mean?”

“We're not exactly sure, but we think it had something to do with an early environmentalist effort in the late 20th century. Apparently, this group—or organization—was trying to keep roads and trails open in spite of elitist pressure groups. After all, when we can preserve the past, it has to be a good thing. And, as you know, there are almost no more of the so-called roads and trails left for the public to see. We have one in the Tacoma Pre­serve and another in Colorado, and that's it. It's a sad state of affairs.”

“What exactly does the Sierra Club hope to find in the Barstow digs? I mean, what value is it to root around in this wasteland?”

“Ludmilla, what we're after is a feeling for the early activities of man in the late 20th century. The Glory Years, if you will. Those marvelous times when man was free to roam the land on motorized vehicles. As you know, in this day and age, almost nothing can move anywhere without elaborate licensing and permit procedures. We live in a world of checks and balances. A world of tranquility and control. A good world, to be sure. But we still yearn to learn more from history.”

“Mr. Whisp, just what does the Sierra Club hope to glean from the past?”

“We're trying to do what we've al­ways done. We are trying to preserve the glorious past and protect what we have for future generations. It's more than obvious that this generation does not deserve all that it has. We must preserve and save what we have for future generations to come.”

“It's too bad the short-sighted people of the 20th century didn't have that sort of attitude, Mr. Whisp. Then we could have preserved that important Yamaha culture that we're just finding evidence of now.”

“Yes. It's sad. But, I'm sure that the Sierra Club did everything they could in their power even way back then to save that sort of thing.”

“Well, Mr. Whisp. At least you folks do try your best.”

“Thank you, Ludmilla. I guess it all stems from our motto, dating well back into the late 1970s: ‘DO IT IN THE DIRT'.”

“Thank you, Mr. Whisp, and now, back to Walter Statler at Channel 17 central. Walter?”

“Thank you, Ludmilla. In further late-breaking developments, the Energy Department has developed a new concept in transportation vehicles. Their new vehicle, called duo-wheel, is a two-wheeled, oddly shaped contraption that actually rolls on the ground, rather than using a conventional force field. Chief of the design department, Mr. G.L. Honda, feels that this just might be the answer to …”

I owned one, bought new in about ‘74.I absolutely loved it, and with its Earls type front end, the damned thing would just about climb a wall. It was a joy to ride in the mountains. I am curious as to where I would go to buy one today, preferably in good shape, and how much it would cost? I rode endures in the south east with mine, especially in South Carolina, and it was wonderful in the mud and water. What do you mean…..ugly?
John Swanger

Yes indeed, the DK W was a truly ugly motorcycle, but it sure worked good, especially in enduros. I got on eBay and spent about a half-hour looking around for prices and got everything from $900 to several thousand dollars, depending on condition.


Hi, My name is Stephen and I recently Traded an old console radio for my first bike. a 1983 Yamaha IT175K. When I got the bike it was set up to be a dirt bike but the top half of the motor was laying in a box on the ground and the bottom half of the motor was full of water. Since I have gotten it I have taken the motor off and emptied the water from it (The crank still works and the clutch system seems to work. It shifted through all of its gears), I have dropped the motor off the be serviced, and I have cleaned the frame. I am trying to turn it back into the enduro that it once was and that I know it can be again. My problem is that the exhaust silencer is completely rusted and I don't know if I can fix it without replacing it. But being new to bikes I don't know where to start. Do you know of a good 2 stroke exhaust silencer that will fit this bike. Also Will an FMF fatty Pipe for a 1984 YZ250 fit right to this chassis without modding the exhaust or bike. Any help will be appreciated.



Chances are you can find the silencer you need on eBay, especially for popular bikes like the Yamaha. Failing that, all you have to do is get a silencer with the same bore and approximately the same length as the original and you should be okay.



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:

Paypal address: Newsletter
Join our Weekly Newsletter to get the latest off-road news, reviews, events, and alerts!