Post Posted: Sun Jul 12, 2009 1:30 am
 Subject: 1987 Ninja 250 Project Thread

In this thread, I'm going to post pictures and progress on my Ninja 250 project. I'll try to mirror it from Boiseriders.net where I'll be primarily posting.

In late August 2008, I sold my 2007 Kawasaki Ninja 250 just before moving from Coos Bay, OR to Boise. I was tired of not being able to run modern tires, and I wanted a more capable bike that I could lean over more.

Nearly a year later, after a series of financial setbacks, I still couldn't see myself affording what I really wanted, when suddenly a friend from Oregon spotted this 1987 Ninja 250 on Craigslist for $750. It was "cold blooded" and had 10,044 miles on it.

I sent him an email with a lowball offer of $500, and he came back with $600 the next evening. I replied saying I'd take it if he would give me a phone call.

He didn't call until almost 8 PM. A friend of mine agreed to drive me up to LaGrande, OR to get it, so we took off. On the way out the door, the seller told me that he was missing the title, so he agreed to take $300 now, and get the rest when I received the title.

We finally got to LaGrande at dusk. Long story short, I bought a 21 year old completely unknown bike at 10:00 PM, and rode it all the way back to Boise on the freeway at night, with a broken hand in a cast. We got back at 2 AM Friday morning. Later that morning when I woke up to go to work, it dawned on me how risky the whole thing was, but I made it.

Friday evening after work, I finally got to see the bike daylight.

Mechanical problems:

  • Rear brake tightened up during the night and day
  • Isn't only cold blooded, but won't idle
  • Both handlebars are bent
  • Brake handle is broken
  • Brake pedal is broken
  • Right blinker doesn't work

Today I remedied the rear brake problem by pulling the caliper off, opening the bleed valve, putting the caliper back on, and replacing the fluid with fresh DOT4. The front brake fluid was also changed, and both brakes work remarkably better now.

After that, I cleaned the bike and buffing all the plastic out. I was really surprised at the result. Next I pulled the rear starship enterprise fender off.

The paint looks far better under normal lighting, I promise. The two brackets you see are part of the frame, and I don't have a way to cut off the forward part of the brackets off.

I'd like to utilize the back hole for blinkers and "L" brackets to mount the plate. Where can I find appropriate L brackets, and can you guys suggest some blinkers? I'd like to stay away from the tiny LED ones, I plan to commute on this bike so I want them to be visible.
Post Posted: Sun Jul 12, 2009 5:40 pm
 Subject: Re: 1987 Ninja 250 Project Thread

Nice bike, I'm glad to see someone else working on a first gen. I have a purple 86 that i got back in April for around 350 that i'm trying to get running. Does anyone know if the sec gen gas tank will mount up to an 86-87.
Post Posted: Sun Jul 12, 2009 6:59 pm
 Subject: Title and model year

The seller contacted me and asked for the license plate and VIN number off the bike today, which to me is confirmation that I'll be getting it. I never did worry much, he seemed like a real honest guy.

While finding the VIN number, I discovered on the registration that the bike is actually a 1986, not a 1987. No matter, the two years were totally identical as far as I know.
Post Posted: Sun Jul 12, 2009 7:01 pm
 Subject: Re: 1987 Ninja 250 Project Thread

The two tanks seem to be completely different. On a second-gen Ninja 250, the tank is painted and visible. On a first-gen Ninja 250, the tank is concealed beneath plastic on the top and the front fairing plastics on the sides.
Post Posted: Sun Jul 12, 2009 7:34 pm
 Subject: I Idolize You!

I want a 1st gen so bad! I've been searching for one for a long time and can't find one I wont have to ship! Good luck can't wait to see the finished bike! BTW what all do you have in mind for it?
Post Posted: Sun Jul 12, 2009 7:45 pm
 Subject: Re: 1987 Ninja 250 Project Thread

yeah i know that the plastic covers our tanks. My plastic is messed up so i was thinking about not using them, and use a sec gen tank if it works with out the plastic
Post Posted: Sun Jul 12, 2009 7:45 pm
 Subject: Re: I Idolize You!

chocalotstarfish wrote:
What all do you have in mind for it?

Install Pirelli MT75's
Perform Fender Elimination (In progress)
Clean and polish everything over time (In progress)
Install New Grips
Reupholster black seats and knee panels
Replace bent bars, broken brake lever, and bent brake pedal
Decide what's up with the windscreen and replace it with OEM
Powdercoat wheels to original white color
Install heated handgrips

Graft on Emgo mirrors
Repair fairing scratches and breaks around windscreen with fiberglass or plastic welds
Install adhesive magnets under plastic tank covers for my magnetic tank bag
Graft on a single sided exhaust, perhaps from an 08-09

Is your screen name a Limp Bizkit reference? Smile
Post Posted: Sun Jul 12, 2009 7:50 pm
 Subject: Re: 1987 Ninja 250 Project Thread

I suppose it is possible that you could use a second gen tank AND fairing, but I know you'll have problems with the seat and instrument cluster, and you will have to find a second generation fairing bracket, they are not the same. I'd say that finding first generation parts would be far less time consuming and a lot more economical.

As far as using a second gen tank alone... I seriously doubt it would work.
Post Posted: Sun Jul 12, 2009 7:56 pm
 Subject: Re: Big fan!

FuelCell wrote:
Is your screen name a Limp Bizkit reference? Smile

of course only till Wes Borland's departure
Post Posted: Sun Jul 12, 2009 8:11 pm
 Subject: Re: Big fan!

Wes is back, and they are just finishing up a tour in Europe. We may see a full album soon. Smile
Post Posted: Sun Jul 12, 2009 10:45 pm
 Subject: Re: 1987 Ninja 250 Project Thread

I am also fond of the E series. Could be because it's the only one I've owned and the time I've put into rebuilding it. Looks like yours is in good shape.
So far I have performed all maintenance (including valves, brakes, and swingarm), replaced the rear bearings, replaced the chain, replaced the air filter, replaced the spedo cable, removed rust from the tank, replaced the bars, replaced the left foot peg mount, repaired/painted all plastics, replaced front turn signals, had the knee grips recovered, and added LED license plate lights. I'm still working on cleaning bits and pieces.

As for the fender...one of the many previous owners used the stock fender mount for a simple plate/turn signal mount.

Have fun!

Post Posted: Tue Jul 14, 2009 12:53 am
 Subject: Re: 1987 Ninja 250 Project Thread

One of the Boiseriders.net members graciously offered to help me work on the bike at his garage, he even brought his truck over and hauled it there for me!

Once at his garage, we rolled it up onto his table. We had to take the exhaust cans off to get the race stand to work, which means if I want to use a stand I'll probably have to weld on spools. Can anyone give me some advice as to how to install swingarm spools?

After that, he scratched lines onto those license plate brackets in preparation of cutting them, and he came up with the idea to cut around the larger hole for more strength.

We had the subframe completely stripped in about 5 minutes.

By then it was time to head down to a local fast food place, where I finally got to meet a few more Boise riders. It feels great to finally be back in the sportbike community. I'm stoked!
Post Posted: Sun Jul 19, 2009 4:01 pm
 Subject: Re: 1987 Ninja 250 Project Thread

I like those LED lights. Can you post a picture of what they look like at night? How much did they cost you?
Post Posted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 7:14 pm
 Subject: A little inspiration for you. Check out FJYANG's 1987

250: http://www.ninja250.org/FJYANG. You may have seen it in an earlier thread but it is a beautiful bike and worth a second look.
Post Posted: Tue Jul 21, 2009 2:14 pm
 Subject: Re: 1987 Ninja 250 Project Thread

How hard is it to find parts for these older ones? I occasionally see a few parts on eBay but not as many for the 88-07 models of course. I've also read the FAQ on what's different, and that answers quite a few questions. Thanks to the guys that put that information together.

The reason I'm asking is that I've found and thinking about buying a low mileage '87 semi-locally in good condition - at least according to the seller as I've not seen it yet.
I was thinking it might make a good stablemate to my '89 Ninja 250.
Any other hints/suggestions to offer to someone else considering one of these?
Thanks, Tony
Post Posted: Tue Jul 21, 2009 2:29 pm
 Subject: That is a beautiful bike. I'd like to see his fender elim up close.

Post Posted: Tue Jul 21, 2009 11:19 pm
 Subject: Re: 1987 Ninja 250 Project Thread

It turns out that it is difficult to take a picture of the back of the bike at night to show plate lights. With the plate placed so close to the tail/brake light the plate LED's get washed out by the tail light and the effect just gets exaggerated by the camera.

I believe, when seen in person, the combination of brake light and LED's illuminate the plate well enough while technically providing while light plate lights.

If I was more adventurous, I would rebuild the plate mount to move the plate down and forward a bit to bring it more under the brake light and then carve/drill out the bottom of the tail light lens and simply use it to light the plate.

As for cost, I really can't remember other than they were under $20 with shipping on e-bay.
Post Posted: Wed Jul 22, 2009 12:26 am
 Subject: Re: 1987 Ninja 250 Project Thread

The biggest problem I have had with finding parts is miss-advertisement. Many of the scrap yards group the E series with the F series. As you mentioned, you do have to be patient and wait for someone to part one out for the E series only parts. I think it took me 2 months of checking e-bay on a nearly daily basis to finally get a rear seat lock assembly. The only other year specific part I replaced was the left peg/muffler stay though I did pick up an extra CDI, regulator, and pair of coils for the having and not needing type thing.

As for purchasing one...it depends on the price, how good you feel about figuring out what "good condition" means, and how patient you are if you need to replace parts. There are still a few out there.

I picked mine up before knowing that the 88+ have significantly more parts available due to the long run of the design. I did, however, realize I was purchasing an "old" bike that had been treated poorly by a number of people. So many people, in fact, that it took a notarized letter to the DMV to get the name of the person who actually owned it and I still don't have the title but that's a whole different story.
Post Posted: Sun Jul 26, 2009 5:24 am
 Subject: Re: 1987 Ninja 250 Project Thread

We made a lot of progress today.

The first thing we did was install the wheels. I then proceeded to start ripping the tank and plastics off to do valves, change the coolant, and change the oil.

When I started taking the upper apart, I got a good look at some previous crash damage.

That's going to be very tough to fix. We might be able to plastic weld it if we can find a donor fairing.

All along the way, I kept discovering bolts and screws that we missing, worn, or incorrect. I'm building a lengthy but not overly expensive list of OEM parts to order. I'm going to replace the clutch cable. It's new, but incorrect, and it just irritates me.

As we tore down to the valves, my friend thought it would be a good idea to get the radiator out of the way, since I was planning on replacing the coolant anyway.

In this picture, it looks okay, but it's pretty milky and gross looking.

The coolant had some greasy sludgy stuff in the bottom. I'm going to ride it a few miles with distilled water to flush the entire system before dumping it and replacing it with premixed coolant.

Valves exposed and ready for tomorrow.

A little clean up.

If I can work quickly enough, we should find out if overtightened valves is causing the idle problems by tomorrow night. Before we do that, my friend and I are going to Cyclegear. I need a new set of grips and a cable lube tool.
Post Posted: Sun Jul 26, 2009 5:52 am
 Subject: Good progress. Nice to see it's coming along.

Post Posted: Mon Jul 27, 2009 1:28 am
 Subject: Good to see progress!

As for me, I am getting a lot done, but work on bike related stuff in general is being very very slow.

I am really going to watch your progress. Its good to see work happening on some bike somewhere! Applaud
Post Posted: Mon Jul 27, 2009 8:22 am
 Subject: Re: 1987 Ninja 250 Project Thread

The first thing we did today was to hunt for spark plugs. We tried a couple of auto parts stores, but they couldn't order the plugs I needed. The second store suggested CycleGear, which was funny since we were planning on going there next.

In front of CycleGear, we saw this:

Notice the plate bracket.

It's perfect! We discovered that the bike is owned by a CycleGear employee, and he told us where to get the plate bracket. We can buy it locally for around 8 bucks. Problem solved?

I picked up a few goodies at CycleGear.

As soon as we got back to the garage, I started right back in on the valves! Not. It took me a few minutes, but finally I got going on them.

They took me about 3 hours. This was the fourth time I've done them, I'm getting a bit faster. It used to take me a whole day. The clearances were horribly tight, I got my 0.05mm feeler in ONE valve.

While I was there, I replaced the plugs. The old ones looked fine, but hey, why not?

Almost back together and ready to fire up! My friend ran to the store for some distilled water to fill the coolant system. Notice the exhausts pointing down to avoid the stand.

Andrew arrived to check out the bike just as my friend got back with the water. I filled the system and started cranking the bike. It took a bit to fire, but when It did, it ran okay. I slowly pulled the choke off and let go of the throttle after 30 seconds of running and...

IT IDLES! Perfectly! I was so relieved!

I drained the oil, and it looked absolutely horrible. Dark black and thin. My friend ran a cow magnet around in it just for fun and picked up a few shavings, but honestly I think that's just normal stuff from the transmission or whatever.

My friend's wife lent us her hairspray. I sprayed some on the bars and slid the grips on. The hairspray dries out in just a few minutes, lightly gluing the grips on.

Finally, my friend thought I should pull the exhaust cans off and start the bike up. I did, and it was loud, especially when I took it up to 11k.

We are closing in on finishing the project. We still need to lube the cables, replace missing/incorrect nuts and bolts, and fix a hokey wiring job on the front blinkers.

Almost done!
Post Posted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 2:15 am
 Subject: Re: 1987 Ninja 250 Project Thread

The project has been stalled for a couple of weeks now.

The horn was in a terrible, ugly place, I just unbolted it and zip tied the wires up out of the way. I'll deal with them later.

All of the cables have been lubricated, but the choke cable, while smoother, still does not hold the choke open on it's own. I've been told by another forum member that a plastic friction peice is worn out, and I have yet to investigate.

The clutch cable turned out to be correct after all. I ordered a new one, and it is identical to the one I've got already. A friend of mine recalls magazines talking about how all of Kawasaki's bikes had that annoying cable in the way of the speedo. I'm going to try to reroute it to the other side of the steering head, as recommended by another board member.

I replaced a bunch of wrong or missing nuts and bolts, but there are still more. Every time I grab a wrench I find them.

I have an Uncle that works for an industrial plastics company, and he is helping me plastic weld a bunch of the cracks for structural integrity. We are waiting for some ABS rod to come in and we'll get to work on that. He was able to do a little bit, and it looks beautiful.

I'm also still waiting on that title. The previous owner is going through all kinds of trouble, and he's spent about $150 on the dumb thing at this point. I feel bad for him. I'm still confident that he's working on it.
Post Posted: Sat Sep 12, 2009 11:44 pm
 Subject: Re: 1987 Ninja 250 Project Thread

I haven't posted up in a while, so I hope I haven't skipped much. Trying to maintain a build thread on two different forums is far from easy. Ctrl + C, Ctrl + V!

I received the paperwork from the seller. The previous owner didn't know that before him, the bike had been co-owned by his friend and his friend's dad. I have the registration card, and I assumed that he knew he'd need two signatures, but he didn't. Not his fault. He is reprinting the paperwork and re-mailing it all to me.

While talking to DMV about the issue, they informed me that if I insure the bike, it's legal to ride until the registration expires next week. I should have asked earlier.

My Uncle works at an industrial plastics company, and he managed to find some time in his busy schedule to help me with the bodywork. In one evening, we fixed the worst of the cracks on the right side. After welding the back, he welded the front and peeled away the excess with a small chisel while the plastic was still warm. The cracks are totally solid now, the plastic has all of the structural integrity that it did as new.

He repaired a heavily damaged mounting tab. This is a great example of his excess plastic removal with the chisel. The tab is now very, very strong.

Finally, he wiped all the scratches down with acetone. It smoothed out all the burrs and scrapes to prepare for filler later. It made it look better instantly.

Next, we will dissolve some ABS rod in Acetone to form a paste or body filler. I'll scrape the filler over the cracks and scrapes, block sand, fill, block sand...
Post Posted: Mon Sep 14, 2009 10:42 am
 Subject: Wow, great job on the plastic repair.

Makes me want to get a plastic welding tool, instead of using the plastex glue and powder mixture that I've been using.
Post Posted: Mon Sep 14, 2009 11:50 am
 Subject: Plastex

I've never used Plastex, but I'll bet it doesn't restore the structural integrity like plastic welding does because it fuses the two pieces together. It looks like it takes some practice though. My Uncle has been plastic welding for a while now so he does do a very nice job.

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