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Don't Ask

DON'T ASK

OCTOBER EDITION

By THE STAFF

 

 

DON’T ASK

 

GO AHEAD, BUT IF YOUR QUESTION IS STUPID, YOU’VE BEEN WARNED

 

BY RICK SIEMAN

 

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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.
                                              
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SUBJECT:  OLD COLUMNS

 

Dear Rick,

Is there an online archive of all the "Don't Ask" columns you've written? The repair and maintenance advice is top-notch, of course, but what really makes it a must-read for me is your satirical remarks that are inversely proportional in wit and acid-tinged humor to the banality and sheer Neanderthaloid simple-Simon way that some readers have of expressing themselves in their letters to you. Their unedited letters and your (unedited?) responses to them are a scream. Hope the column is archived somewhere!

Thanks

Francesco

 

Francesco

Your best bet is to go into the archives of  www.off-road.com. They have my DON'T ASK columns going back a number of years. I don't believe they go back more than three or four years, but it's a start. I've been doing the column since the 90s. Thanks for the input.

Rick

 

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SUBJECT:  2002 VOR 530 QUESTION

Hi Rick, I just traded for 2002 VOR 530 Cross and was wondering what you thought of these Italian made bikes.  I guess they don’t make them anymore and was also wondering if you know of any places where I can get parts.  (maybe I could use some of the left over parts from my YZ490)

Thanks, Rick

David

I hate to be one breaking the news to you, but as wonderful as Italian motorcycle are, the parts distribution is horrible. The Italian motorcycle industry ought to be ashamed of itself as far as following up on keeping their creations alive. I've had a number of Italian bikes in my life, and don't think I would ever want another one if someone gave it to me for free. I can recall back in the 60s and went to order a part for a Parilla, I believe a crank bearing, and they informed me that they could only order the bearing when they had a gross of orders. That's right, a gross of orders before they could place my order. And, according to the good people at Cosmopolitan motors, they had 14 orders so far.  It might take another year and a half or so before mine was ordered. So as far as I'm concerned, the entire Italian motorcycle industry can kiss my ass.  I hate to sugar coat it.

 

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SUBJECT:  SHIFTING WITHOUT THE CLUTCH

 

Mr Hunky
I have been reading to many forums about shifting MX bikes without using the clutch. I race a 79 and 88 YZ 250's. They seem to shift fine after getting the bike moving of course. What are your thoughts on this? I have seen it done two ways. 1) Backing off the throttle and shifting or 2) fan the clutch without backing off the throttle. Which is best? I do not want to replace the trannies. If damage does happen what kind of damage does occur? Thank you kind sir. I will ask more questions in the future
Thanks
Joe in GA

 

In the good old days, I used to shift my Maico without using the clutch. The transmissions seemed to think it was OK  and I really enjoyed snicking it from gear to gear. However, my 1983 Maico 490 is an old bike and I don't particularly feel like hunting parts down for it. The same would be true for you; use the clutch and the bike will last longer.

 

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SUBJECT:  WHERE TO RIDE IN THE DESERT

Rick,

This can go to Mr. K.I. All if you prefer.  Where would be the best place in the desert for a Midwest rider to get the full desert riding experience?  I would want to trailer my own bike, stay in a motel, and have decent food within driving distance.  In other words, nothing too structured.  Also,  how would my Midwest motocross  bike setup need to change to adapt to desert conditions?  The reason for my query is that I would like to experience a desert ride while I still can.  I do not mean sand dunes, I have already scratched that off my list.  Also, I am not interested in going to Mexico.

Thanks

Steve


If this was 20 years ago, I would suggest that you go to
California and ride. However, the land crush has become so obnoxious in that state that it's almost impossible to find a decent place to ride in the desert.  Your best bet, all things considered, is to head on out to Phoenix or Tucson, Arizona and there's more desert to ride in than you could shake a stick at. The only thing you have to be extremely careful of is not riding on Indian controlled and owned lands. They have been known to impound your bike.

 

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SUBJECT:  YEP, STILL RIDING

 

Good to see you’re still at it. I started riding in 1972. I read all your stuff.

 

BIKES.jpg

 

As long as I can throw a leg across the bike, I figure I'll keep running in the dirt. Not fast mind you, but still riding. This photo of your bikes is pretty neat.

 

                                                ***

 

SUBJECT:  KDX GAS TANK PROBLEMS

 

Rick Sieman,
I had the same problem on my 92-kdx200 which I bought new and still
own.  I`m on my 3rd tank now.  Kawaski would never own up to having a
problem, so I would search ebay til I found one.  I really can`t
complain since otherwise the bike is solid and a good hare
scrambler/enduro bike.  Maybe not the best but you do finish.  I bought
your Monkey Butt book when it first came out and it really opened my
eyes to the land closure subject.  Being from Louisiana, I just always
assumed that land closures were a west coast thing where the tree
huggers were strong.  Now all these years past, it has made its` way to
our backyard.  I live within one mile from one of six sections of the
Kisatchie National Forest.  I`m here beside 8,000 acres of prime trail
country, complete with my own laid out 15 mile trail loop. I have
ridden here since 1991 and until 2007 I had only seen one other person
there when I was riding.  

 

Then in 2007 or close to it, Uncle Sam said it was closed to motorized vehicles until certain hunting seasons then it is only a one lane road for a mile or so.  

 

I know a fellow dirt rider who got caught in it when the closure began and was fined 300.00/ (175 trespassing and 125 destoring(?) protected turf).  I`m in north Louisiana and in a section of the forest in central LA they still do
have a National enduro at Breezy Hill.  The Arcadian dirt riders club
put it on but their trail system was cut from 150 miles to 74 miles and
they have to maintain it within the goverment guidelines. Before the
final closings, they did have three local meeting with riders, hunters
and the general public taking suggestions, but it was like one ranger
told me on the side that it was just a dog and pony show and the
closures were a done deal. You never know now days.  Thanks for all
your hard work against the land closures, I`m sure we`ll never know all
the hours you did put in.  I`ve been reading your stuff since the early
70`s at dirt bike and still enjoy it.  Don`t worry about a rep

 KDX 200 RICK.JPG

On the 1989 through 1994 Kawasaki KDX 200 gas tanks, they cracked easily and often and Kawasaki ignored all of the claims. Which is really sad, in that these bikes were among the best trail bikes ever made.

                                                ***

SUBJECT: WHAT’S IN THE FUTURE WITH VINTAGE BIKES

 

Hi Rick,

I have been having a discussion with few people on restoration bike type demand vs generation.

 

It appears that people, as they get on in years, tend to buy items they can relate to when growing up in maybe there teens and early 20's.

 

When it comes to motorcycles we have the collectors who like the 50's and 60's motorcycles and it seems to relates to their childhood age. I am among the baby boomers myself with desires for bikes I grew up with in my teens

So it is not a coincidence I am restoring late 60's and early 70's bikes. The people who desire these bikes, my customers, are in their 40's and 50's.

 

As we move through time, the demand for bikes for a certain age group starts to drop off as the people get older. I have noticed over the years since I have had my Steve McQueen bike that people in there 40's and older show fair amount of interest and small desire to have one like it.

 

Then we have the age group 35ish and younger that don't have any idea who Steve McQueen is. So for this age group it make sense that there is no desire or market for 70's and older motorcycles. For the most part.

 

So where is this going?

 

It appears my business is growing, but as time passes, my customers, certain age group, are literally dyeing off but at the same time the younger generation is now growing older, become successful and into recreating their childhood.

 

I started looking at motorcycle production numbers and it appears there is another boom in the 79-81 time frame.

 

So the question is, what is the next generation of motorcycle to focus on for the up coming demand?

 

If you have time your thoughts.

 

Rob Phillips
http://www.huskyrestoration.com

 

 

There's no question at all that the next generation of desirable vintage bikes will cover machines up until about 1985. Just take a look at the prices for restored 490 Maicos on eBay and such, and it makes your eyeballs roll. I know of one man who sold his 1981 490 Maico for $12,000 to someone in Taiwan. I don't see the Maicos of the late 70s and early 80s getting any cheaper. Same thing can be said of the 495 KTM and a few of the other rockets of that era. Take it from there.

 

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SUBJECT:  FEEDBACK FROM A VET RIDER

 

Rick,

Enjoyed reading the Monkey Butt tales.  Didn't realize what parallel times we've had.

 

In August of 1960 I also got my first bike--a new Tiger Cub-- in Orlando, FLA at Schmidt Motors-probably same place you got work done at. Mechanic there was Woody Somebody, a local flattrack star.  Also had a near miss with an H-D just before, one of those crappy Super 10 2-strokes.  Always been thankful I was spared the Milwaukee disease.

 

Spent late '60s & early 70s racing before opening a Penton/Husky/Maico/CanAm shop in Orlando. Got pretty good in eastern enduros & scrambles.  My AMA # is just a few numbers lower than yours

 

I had sold shop and gotten into car business by the time you were fighting the BLM, so didn't know about all that, but I sure appreciate all your trouble to fight for the land.  I drive to L.A. a couple times a year now and never knew the B-V race ran right along I-15--I recognize all those exit names and will enjoy thinking about your adventures the next time by.

 

Came back to the fold about fifteen years ago and got serious about Vintage MX, and now have a garage full of all the same old bikes: Maico 450, Husky 400 Cross, TR6-C desert sled, CZ sidepipe, Triumph & BSA Rickmans, Greeves Griffon, Husky 510 for PVMX and several more...including a Tiger Cub. 

 

Got to meet Clipper when riding all the ISDT Reunion Rides the past ten years--nice guy, and I've been subscribing to his magazine for quite a while, but will probably let it slip now that he's moved on.

 

I've got all the lumpy collarbones, wavy ribs, crooked fingers & toes and a big burn scar on my left calf from the Triumph Rickman's high pipe, but reading about your broken back gave me the shivers. Glad you recoved so well!

 

I, too, hate the crazy neon-colored carefully cordinated new riding gear. Tough to find plain colors!  And what's with these white boots?!

 

Thanks again for bringing back so many great old memories from another old dirt biker who enjoyed those golden off-road years. Love my VMX magazine, glad you're involved with those crazy 'roos.

 

Bill Orth

 

Wow, your e-mail brought back a lot of memories. While I have a few bikes in my garage, I'd sure like to have the collection that you have. As far as  VMX magazine goes, it is considered by many to be the most beautiful magazine made.

 

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SUBJECT:  YZ 490 PROBLEMS

 

I have recently purchased a 1984 model yz490 an I'm having problems with shearing woodruf keys and kick start return springs. The guy I bought it off said he put new rings and cluctch plates in it an adjusted the timing because it felt kind of down on power but after he did that, if it got going by push starting it it would only run for about 3 or so minutes then the motor just locks up an blow seals an brakes woodruf keys. We've tryed pushing strating it now but it just splutters then backfires an keeps braking woodruf keys or if u kick it over on about the 3rd or so kick you just brake kick start return springs. We've tryed seting the timing to standard an slightly retarding it numorus times but everytime it turns over it just splutters, backfires an shears off the key. Can you suggest anything or help me with this problem.

Thanks Jacob

 

I hate to be the bearer of bad news,  but the 490 YZ is one of the worst motorcycles ever built. Just about the time you get the timing fixed, and woodruff key problem fixed, you'll find that you have inherited a jetting nightmare. Get the jetting right in the morning, and a few hours later when the day warms up, the bike will blubber all over itself. Your best bet, and I'm not saying this to be funny, is to somehow get that piece of crap running and then sell it to some unsuspecting dumb bastard.

 

                                                 ***

 

SUBJECT:  SEARCHING FOR A PIECE OF THE PAST

 

Hello, back in the early 70's, I owned a Yamaha 125 Enduro. I cannot recall the model number etc. It had an electric start and was orange-ish. I want to say it was a 1973 model. I would like to find a picture, info or anything that would bring back some fond memories. Can you help?

 

Thanks,

Larry Schulin

Tomball Tx.

 

General information

Model:

Yamaha DT 125

Year:

1973

Category:

Enduro / offroad

Rating:

57.2 out of 100. Show full rating and compare with other bikes

Engine and transmission

Displacement:

123.00 ccm (7.51 cubic inches)

Engine type:

Single cylinder, two-stroke

Power:

13.00 HP (9.5 kW)) @ 7000 RPM

Top speed:

105.0 km/h (65.2 mph)

Compression:

7.0:1

Bore x stroke:

56.0 x 50.0 mm (2.2 x 2.0 inches)

Fuel control:

Membrane

Cooling system:

Air

Gearbox:

5-speed

Transmission type,
final drive:

Chain

Chassis, suspension, brakes and wheels

Front tyre dimensions:

2.75-21

Rear tyre dimensions:

3.25-18

Front brakes:

Expanding brake

Rear brakes:

Expanding brake

Physical measures and capacities

Weight incl. oil, gas, etc:

103.0 kg (227.1 pounds)

Fuel capacity:

7.00 litres (1.85 gallons)

 

1973_yamaha_at3.jpg

Here you go, specs and all.

                                                ***

SUBJECT:  THAT GREAT 1982 RM250

Hey Superhunk!
You were one of my heroes growing up-- some of the very best memories
I`ll ever have of my youth were waiting at the news stand for the
latest DB to come out. Why couldn`t you do a new issue every two
weeks?!?!

I remember quite vividly your decriptions of awe and thrill at the
introduction of the 82 RM250. So much so, I have two of them.
Hold onto your medfly, Willard-- one, I`ve even done in a direct
copy/ripoff of the DB test bike -- I mounted a set of UDX-60s on that
sucker. (Even got the adjustable control arms.) Running a JEMCO pipe on it in fact, Jon works not far from where I
live, here in Houston.

Any memories of the project `82 RM250 and especially, of the Simons?
Were you happy with them?
Thanks for all the great memories Hunk-- James Strawn

 

The 1982 Suzuki RM 250 was so good that I parked my Maicos for most of the year and raced the RM 250 instead. It was quick enough that I holeshot with the 250 against open class bikes. I eventually put Simons upside down forks on the bike and after a sorting out process, got them to work real good. All things considered, I'd have to rate that bike as one of the best ever made. Thanks for the kind words.

 

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SUBJECT:  SPRING TECH ARTICLE

Hey Rick,

I was looking for the article you wrote on spring rates and cutting springs and using spacers to change spring rates.  I believe this pertained mostly to forks, but also applied to rear shocks.

 

I also heard that you might be attending ENDUROFEST 2010 at Hungry Valley in Gorman, CA this Oct?  It would be great to see you again.  I'm not sure if you remember me from Hodaka days in 2009 but here's a refresher:

Take care,

James

 

 

The article that you're mentioning was a great piece done in collaboration with Works Performance. I'm going to find that article and reproduce it in the coming months. Meanwhile here are some pointers on spring rates.

Imagine a 10 coil spring sitting upright on a table. You place 200 lbs on the spring. The weight moves the top of the spring down 1 inch. So your spring rate is 200 lbs per inch. Each one of the ten coils has shrunk 1/10 of an inch.

Now cut the spring in half. You have 5 coils now. When you place the 200 lbs on it, each coil still shrinks 1/10 of an inch. (same diameter coil, same amount of deflection.) Because there's only 5 coils, the spring will only move down 5/10 of an inch.

This gives you a new spring rate of 400 lbs per inch. Twice as short = twice as stiff.

Say there's 6 coils on your springs. You can stiffen them up by 1/6, if you cut off one coil. Clamping two coils together is very similar to cutting off a coil. Cheap and effective; you get the same two-fold benefits.

Yes, that trip to Hodaka Days was a great time. It's the first time I had ever been to Athena, and I truly enjoyed it. Thanks for the photo.

 athena001_530.jpg

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SUBJECT:  GETTING BACK IN SHAPE

Rick,

I plan on racing again in Sept after a 2 yr absence after breaking my femur, wrist & shoulder. I'm 43 & with my job & kids taking up most of my time I'm having a hard time getting into shape. I've started walking 3 miles a day with my wife and I think this might build up my cardio. I would jog but my knee still isn't 100% (it was dismantled by the surgeon so he could drive the titanium rod into my femur). Should I concentrate spending as much time on the bike as possible or do you have any other ideas?

Jeff Birdsong

 

 

I know where you're coming from, because I had a total knee replacement and it put me on my ass. To get in any kind of riding shape at all, I had to do some kind of exercise and running was out of the question. Even when I had good knees, running, especially on the pavement, was very hard on the joints and pain was associated with the exercise.

The answer to my problem was a stationary bicycle with adjustable resistance. I got a used one for under 50 bucks and I use it to this day. I do about 20 minutes three times a week. I start out with no resistance for about five minutes just to get the legs warmed up, then increase resistance for five more minutes, increasing again for five more, and put it on really, really tough resistance for the last five minutes. Once a week, usually on a Friday, after I do the bicycle, I do free squats to parallel until the thighs start to burn. Now I can go riding or racing just fine. Hang in there and good luck.

 

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SUBJECT:  KUDOS TO RONDO TALBOT

Just a word of thanks to you and the  Great Rondo Talbot, wherever he is.

 

Rondo was unique. I was proud that our sport had a haughty contemptuous intellectual columnist that  could express himself like William F. Buckley.

In every letter I addressed Rondo as "Your  Eminence". Sometimes I would lob his own parlance back at him. I once referred to Editor  Lawson as Young Master Ronnie Lawson.

My point is, I knew Rondo Talbot and you're not him. You just can't be.

I sat there and read while you and Rondo drank beers together. Rondo would talk about his first motorbike, the one from the old country, the Zundap remember?  Cleaning tools, sweeping the shop, helping in whatever way he could in turn for the privilege  of learning from the old mechanics.

 

"If you assembled it right, the only surprise would be if it doesn't start." They would tell him. Rondo said the education he received was "ne plus ultra".

Ne plus ultra Hunky
! In case you're wondering that's Latin it's not a tooth paste. You would never talk like that. In fact as I recall you were tearing

up at the end of his story. So don't tell me you were The Great Rondo Talbot all those years. I'm 48 and I'm not willing to start rearranging the furniture in my head now.

 

I believe it was 1988 or 89 when the BLM shut down the B to V race. There was one crazy former Dirt Bike Magazine editor that refused to take it

lying down. Joining his Sahara club organization seemed like the least I could do. I never could have imagined you were as right as you were about the direction this country was heading. You were way ahead of the curve in your assesment of social and political trends. I wish you were wrong.

 

Perhaps it's cop out but I don't share your confidence that the individual can make a difference. To what extent has the Sahara Club been able to thwart the closing of public lands? I hope it was been effectual but I really don't know. I don't see much evidence that this is a representative government anymore.

I'm sorry I never got the chance to meet you, Super Hunky, or your intellectual superior.


Best wishes

Mitch Mabee
aka
Mr. Perhaps - with the YZ 490 and it's $5000 worth of failed modifications.

 

The original Mr. Know It All was Vic Krause. We came up with the concept while driving in his motor home in a blinding snowstorm back from the Cincinnati trade show, while eating a bucket of chicken and drinking a whole lot of beer. It seems like a good idea at the time. When I went back to Dirt Bike Magazine for the second time, I took Krause with me and the column was a raging success. Near the end of my second run at Dirt Bike, the powers that be let go of Vic and for a short while, I was indeed writing the Mr. Know It All for the magazine.

As far as the Sahara Club goes, we were very successful for a number of years in spite of no help  at all from the motorcycle manufacturers.  We got help from guys like Works Performance, JT Racing, O'Neal  and the Desert Vipers motorcycle club. Louis McKey and I were able to get the Barstow to Vegas race restarted. During that time, the Sahara Club was in business, we had six federal court battles and won five of them. After that last battle, Louis and I tried to keep the Sierra Club alive, but he moved to Colorado and I moved to Mexico and after a few years of beating our brains against the wall, we called it quits.

 

                                                ***

 

SUBJECT:  79 SUZUKI DR 370 PROBLEMS

 

I have a very nice old 1978 suzuki dr370.  When you ride it for 30 -40 minutes it runs fine then out if the blue it backfires out the exhaust and into the airbox.  it bucks and stumbles, it will idle but that is about it,  let it cool down and the same thing happens, fire it back up, ride it for 30 mins and starts running bad again,  is this my coil or point breaking up under heat or is it time for rings, Any insight on this would be great, tips or checks i can run. thanks you very much.

David S. Johnson



You might be right on the money with the electrical problem. Have a good shop do a bench check on the coil for openers, but before you do that, you should take the carb  completely apart and inspect the float bowl for a little dirt, or possibly some water in there. Something like that could get sucked up into the main jet, but when you release the pressure on the engine, it will idle. Definitely check that first before you spend any serious money.

 

 

                                                ***

 

SUBJECT:  MY BIO

 

Have seen your ad on Mark's Swapmeet for Monkey Butt! a couple of times, now.  Don't wanna presume to tell you your biz but the one thing your ad doesn't mention (and it should) is a little bio to establish credentials.   Some of us, even us old guys, are new to the game. :)   So I googled you and found your site.  I then proceeded to read your 's and Matt's series on what you rightly call the 2 vs. 4 stroke "debacle" because I've been wrestling with the question of whether to get a "thumper" for all purpose practice and riding.  You've confirmed my doubts and convinced me not to.  Heck, I was suspicious and am not even close to being an expert like you.  Allow me to give a little of my dirtbike background as an illustration of how outrageous this issue really is.

 

I am 49 years old and until 2008 hadn't sat on a dirtbike since 1978 when I sold a '73 TS185 I owned from '75-'78 that I rode around in the hills and dells of NW PA as a kid.  Twenty-nine years, 23 and counting of it in a good marriage, an insurance career and six children later I decided to get into VMX at the urging of my neighbor and buddy Ron Kahan who you'll also see posting occasionally on Mark's.  He joined up with FLVMX in '06 and started pestering me to but I thought he was crazy, especially when he broke his collarbone in his first season.  In July of '08 we stayed a couple of weeks in his cabin in the mountains of GA where he kept some old bikes, a '76 DT250 in particular, that I rode around the surrounding trails. Very tellingly about my future VMX life, I discovered a great, private MX track not 15 miles from his place he didn't know about. Even if I didn't know the difference from a DT or YZ or anything, it didn't stop me from getting out on that track!   My first day out I damned near broke my shoulder climbing a hill incorrectly but when I got home to FL I asked, "where do I sign up."  I was bit by the bug and wanted to go riding again in the worst way.

 

A few weeks later I purchased a '78 RM400 from another member of the FLVMX club that had been fully restored, not even broken in yet, for only $1600.  Still not really knowing much about different bikes, I got it because it was there and priced right.   Having never ridden anything that big in the dirt, or MX before, or even really been on a bike in 30 years, I was a bit worried.  But it's broad, even powerband (a Suzuki revolution at the time whose history I'm sure you know and won't bore you with here) helped me to learn what I was doing by allowing me to tootle around in 2-3 all the time.  She has the low-end pull to come out of any turn or after a jump just by cracking the throttle.  I began practicing almost every weekend and wound up finishing third overall in the two classes I raced- Evo2-B and 40+ Evo in the '08-'09 season, my first.  About mid-season the 'skeer was off and I was able to really start learning.  Last season, after recovering from a 4rth of July heart attack,  I was gonna be a real contender in my classes but had to lay off for economic reasons.  I love that bike and plan to be back on the lines in the upcoming season.

 

I also outfitted four of my six kids with bikes, two strokes all, and gear and two of them race with me.   Because I only knew two strokes that's what I went after, buying used bikes from Craigslist.   And I bought an '03 RM250 for myself to have a more modern suspension for all purpose practice.  As you may surmise, I'm no hardcore mechanic, either.  I'm an insurance guy.  Sure, I can do maintenance and minor fixes but opening any kind of motor was beyond me.  So, I'm a newbie in every way.  But in my short time in the sport I concur with all of your conclusions on my own experience.

 

My '78 RM400 is 32 years old and is rated to make 46hp at 6,000 rpms and a paltry 6.7:1 factory compression ratio.  Most major engine/tranny parts are only available from '78s as Suzuki immediately changed the bottom-end in '79, Only pistons/rings and a few other items are available from just two other years- '78-'80.  Still, I can buy NOS pistons all day long for under $70 and good used jugs for not much more.  Ditto for all other parts on the bike.  Last summer I redid the top end using a setup I had bought as a spare (.50) from an old Zook master in MI that included a new piston/bearing/pin and freshly bored jug for only $120.  Like you I really only did it out of guilt. She was still reading about 125lbs compression, within acceptable range for that bike.   I added Boyesens and new gaskets for a few bucks more so the whole top-end ran me less than $200 because here's the thing, Rick- I did all the work myself.  During my first season I ventured one project at a time, including a piston replacement on my kids' DS80, until by summer my confidence reached the point I was able to tackle the 400's top end. I was never so proud of my handiwork as when she started the first time after the work.   I also restored all non-motor bearings and even converted the stem to All Balls tapered.  My original jug was still on STD so I have two bores left on it and next time we're gonna do some porting and head milling to increase performance (as my skill increases, I'll be able to make use of it. :)  ).  And I'm confident I can tackle the bottom end when she needs it.  But here's another thing- she doesn't and there's no reason to expect she will any time soon.  It's all so simple even an old insurance guy can do it and so cheap I can afford to keep a half-dozen such bikes running.. :) 

 

Now, contrast that to my shopping intelligence over the last couple of years.  I thought I might want a thumper because the talk on the ground among everyday riders is that four strokes are even more reliable and have even more low-end torque (which I love) all of which may be true in other four cycle applications but I now believe is nothing more than a shibboleth and a testament to the power of advertising as regards dirtbikes.  But I held off because of growing suspicions based on nothing more than...Craigslist.  For over two years I've been checking ads almost daily (six growing kids, lots of bike changeover).  And it is amazing how almost every single ad for a used four stroke bike, even very late models, all have what the clueless seller thinks is a bragging point: "New top end" or "Low hours on the top end" or something to that effect.  Meantime, I'd already done a little homework to find out what four stroke top end work runs and I had pretty much concluded there was a real underlying problem here.  Now, your articles gives us the rest of the story. 

 

I think you can chalk up contemporary rider's ignorance to the fact it is a young man's sport and now that a decade has passed since the primacy of two-strokes, the riders simply do not know any better.  They have no point of reference or memory of an alternative.  I went for vintage two-strokes because that's what I knew and am the opposite of today's riders.  I only knew the old, reliable, "can't-kill-'em-with-a-stick" bikes like my TS185.  Us older riders are able to see the new breed with an objective eye.  I like to joke I was like a dirtbiking Rip Van Winkle who had just awakened and naturally went looking for what bikes were like the last time he looked.  Indeed, while still at Ron's cabin in 7/08 I went to a local Yamaha dealer (Blue Ridge, GA) to check out bikes and the owner had a beautiful, fully restored '81 YZ250 for sale and that's the one I immediately went to.  All the rest looked like sci-fi rocketships.  I almost bought that bike but when prepping it the stator or coil crapped out  and she wouldn't start.  Good thing, he wanted two times more than she was worth and I didn't know any better and I've since learned she's the kind of pipey beast I don't enjoy.   I didn't come out of that trance until the first time I showed up at our local track and suddenly felt like the old guy in the homecoming parade in his '49 Buick. :)  But I've since earned some respect around there as I've gotten better and they see what that RM400 can do.

 

I, and I gotta believe thousands of riders, just want to zoom around, maybe race in local clubs or ride the trails and know full well we're never gonna be pros or make money at it or anything like that.  We want good, responsive and most importantly, reliable bikes. My general maintenance philosophy is that if it's loose I tighten it, squeaks I lube it but so long as it starts I ride it.  I simply flat out refuse to buy a machine requiring the kind of expensive maintenance required by the new breed of motorcycles.  Aside from the prohibitive costs it is an affront.  So, anyway, I think my experiences flow exactly in line with the course of this whole controversy and I'm glad I rediscovered two strokes.   We'll stick to them and let the other guys at our local track laugh right up until they're hauling off to the dealership for expensive repairs again while we go riding. 

 

Regards,

Mark Shepler

Jupiter, FL


I started in the magazine business in 1969 and the first issue of Dirt Bike Magazine appeared on the newsstands in June of 1971. It had a modest start 33,000, but reached 275,000 circulation inside of four years. Spooky, when you think about it. Anyway, in the last 45 years or so, I've been lucky enough to work for various magazines, ride and race all around the world, and am still lucky enough to be able to race past the age of 70

I tend to agree with you about the new four stroke bikes and the crazed approach the industry took careening into them. A two stroke makes sense. You can rebuild one on a Saturday afternoon and go riding on Sunday.  On a modern four stroke, you're lucky to get the plug out in a half-hour.

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SUBJECT:  CH WHEAT’S MAICO SPECIAL

Rick,

How goes it? After seeing our long travel Maico’s article (Harry Klemm forwarded it to me and I sent it to pops) my dad (Harold Holladay) was wondering if the article you did on CH Wheat’s Honda 350 in the Maico frame is available online or in print.  I didn’t even remember that bike until he brought it up and the thing I remember the most is the pegs digging into the ground knocking my feet off through the whoops.

If there’s a link or something I would appreciate it if you could shoot it to me I’ll make sure he gets it (he’s PC challenged and has no plans to rectify the situation). 

Rory Holladay

We never had a chance to do a story on that particular bike, but I did race it once at Sunrise Cycle Park in a four stroke only event. The bike was an unbelievable handler and had real good power. At that time, if I recall, I just got bumped up to intermediate and ended up getting a second in class and damn near won. Yep,  the bike was that good.

 

 

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SUBJECT:  JUST WHO WAS TOLEDO HANSEN?

 

Dear Sir,

Your writing style is fantastic. I'm glad you write about motorcycles.

 

Really, though, way back in the April of 1975 episode of Dirt Rider there nicely. I very much appreciated the writing of Mr Hansen too. I would have,was an article from one Mr Toledo Hansen titled Dumb Journey written very though, appreciated the full article, as the April issue only contained the first half. If you had, or knew where one could be had, I'd gladly trade you my April 1975 Dirt Rider for the May issue which had the text.

 

Me and some crazy friends ride motorcycles a lot, and we even posted some of our trips:

We're leaving this weekend for another big dumb journey. We'd really appreciate the rest of the story.

 

Thanks, and good health to 'ya.

Ken Shinn

 


The writer of that particular story was David Swift.  He was the editor of Dirt Rider for a few years and worked for me as an assistant editor for about two years also. He never did the second part to that story, even though the first part was quite fantastic.

 

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 db cd set ph.jpg

 

SHAMELESS PLUG

DIRT BIKE MAGAZINE CD SET

Get the first four years of DIRT BIKE Magazine on discs. Those early copies are getting hard to find and the ones in the first year (1971) are going for big bucks. Here’s what you get:

*   Every issue from June of 1971 through all of 1974. That June ’71 issue was the very first issue. I worked on all of these magazines until that last issue in 1974. You’ll see a big difference in content in that last issue and the ones that preceded it.

*  Every issue has every page included. All the color pages are reproduced in color. You can print out every page if you want to, since the issues were produced in Picasa 3 format.

*  Or you can put it in your computer (or CD/DVD player) and simply enjoy a slideshow of each and every year. There are seven discs included in the package. Each disc contains one-half of a year (six issues) in order. This comes to about 4400 pages total.

Here’s how to work the discs: Pop a disc in your computer and open it. An icon saying PICTURES will appear. Left click it.

Another icon will appear naming the disc (ex: DIRT BIKE 2nd HALF 1974). Left click it. This will bring up a bunch of dates/icons. Left click on the first one.

This will open up Picasa 3 and the first page of the magazine. Go to the bottom of the photo with your cursor and this will reveal the tool bar for Picasa 3. It’s self explanatory. You can make the page bigger or smaller, rotate the page, edit the page in Picasa, advance to the next page, make a slideshow out of the magazine by clicking the arrow in the middle, or simply print the page out by going to the down arrow (far right), click it and follow the directions.

The seven disc set costs $70 plus $5 for priority mail.  So get your very own piece of history.   Go to our STORE for details on ordering.