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Mr. Know It All



By Rondo Talbot


Dear Mister Know It All, I have never really cared for you as I disliked the way you treated people's questions as a way to make them a laughing stock. Now, at the risk of becoming one myself, I need your advice. I am 55 years old and I wanted to get back into riding dirt bikes after 25 years of street riding. I just purchased a 1990 KDX 200 and I have some questions. The bike has not been run for more than a year. I plan to change the tranny fluid, coolant, clean the carb and the air filter. I've tightened spokes and adjusted the chain. What more should I do to try to be sure it doesn't strand me in the middle of the woods? I've read on KDX websites that using type F tranny fluid is OK. How much should I put in? I've also read that stock the bike came with fork springs for a 135 lb. rider and the rear is sprung for a 200 lb. rider. I weigh about 200 lbs. How can I determine if the front springs were ever upgraded as I did not get much history with the bike? If I pull the springs out is there a number or something I can reference? I plan to keep the bike a long time and want to make sure it is reliable. Last question: I have a couple used "DirtBike" magazine stickers (took 'em off an 84 Interceptor 750 as the guy I bought it from had a curious idea of custom graphics) and I'd like to know the best place on the bike to place them so as not to affect my aerodynamics or stability. Thanks in advance and yes, I should have known. Please say Hi to Rondo.


Dear Jim,

After riding on the street for twenty five years, you need a support group, or advanced therapy to keep you from mistaking a pucker bush for a ‘53 DeSoto. Also, we have these things called “paragraphs” that allow the reader to make some sense out of the written word. I was going to send your missive to the great electronic boneyard in my C drive, but since you are asking about one of my favorite dirt bikes of all time, I’ll let it slide THIS TIME.

Since your new toy hasn’t been ridden for over a year, you have to ask yourself “why?” The first thing you should do, after tightening the spokes, and adjusting the chain (haha), is yank the cylinder off that motor, and take a peek at the piston and rings, see if they are within specifications. A KDX will run long after the piston and ring have gone south, and will reward you by eventually dropping a piston skirt into the crankshaft assembly, ruining all sorts of expensive machinery. So No.1 is to take the cylinder off, and inspect that piston.

No.2 is buy yourself a good manual. Any good high-class manual will do, Clymer being the benchmark for the do-it-yourself type, so go out and get one today. It has all the information you need to see what kind and how much transmission oil it needs, how to read spring rates, clutch plate specs, piston ring clearances, etc. It will keep your KDX running in fine shape if you read and understand what is written therein. It might be confusing at first, because the manual is arranged in “paragraphs”, but don’t let that scare you. Also pop for a new good quality air filter, and keep it clean. Change the tranny oil after every ride, and the fork oil every fourth ride or so.

Might I suggest if you plan on riding this bike for a long time, can that rear shock, and go to Gil at Works Performance and have one built to your specs. You will be amazed at how well your KDX will handle, and tell Gill I sent you. WP advertises on this site, so just click on the link and go to their site for more info, you won’t be sorry.

Also, the forks can be confusing, and prone to un-damped issues, along with saggy springs. If you’re a mechanical wizard you can take those forks apart, move washers and springs, plug up holes, drill other ones, but you’ll most likely just end up ruining the forks, so might I make a suggestion? Call Clark Jones at Noleen Racing. Clark is one of the last true craftsmen in this bolt-on world who understands how a dirt bike fork should work, and the transformation is astounding, between a Noleen modified front fork, and a saggy 20 plus year old unit. And as by chance Nollen also advertises on this fine website, so give him a call, tell him Rondo sent you.

Now about those Dirt Bike Magazine stickers. Throw them in the fire pit at your next BBQ. See, Dirt Bike Magazine is the equal of Esquire now days. If you want to know what color helmet goes with your white boots, pink riding pants and purple Monster Energy Drink jersey, Dirt Bike is the place to go. But if you want the real deal on how to make your bike work better, and give you years of service, this is de place.

Now I could say something like “You really should have known” but I’m not. You asked for help with your KDX, and I tried to impart some wisdom to help you out. Stay off the street and have a good time with your new KDX200, one of the best bikes going, for my money.