Kawi 650 on a budget: roadie-adventurer

Discussion in 'Some Assembly Required' started by jake28, Oct 25, 2011.

  1. jake28

    jake28 Riding to the horizon.

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    The adventure begins,


    [​IMG]


    The short version:
    I bought a crashed 2007 Ninja 650 for an absurdly low price, with the intention of building a well-sprung, reliable, and cheap road-touring bike and commuter.

    The longer version:
    Inspired primarily by Jdrocks's thread on his several Ninja 650 builds and a few other folks telling their build stories, I started casually looking for a cheap bike. I was in the market anyway for a new street ride but at 23, I am seriously hampered by sky-high insurance prices for the run-of-the-mill 600 sport rides (example: a 2004 GSXR600 would cost me $1800/year to insure.) I came across a very well-crashed Ninja 650 that the previous owner rode for 11,000 miles before attempting to park the bike under the hood of a Chrysler station wagon.

    A brief email exchange, a morning off from work, and a very crashed motorcycle came home with me, a disabled orphan about to be given new life and a new look.


    [​IMG]
    I spy: a fork spring. That shouldn't happen.

    [​IMG]
    Crashed tank capacity: about a thimble.

    [​IMG]
    Except for the tail section, that is all that is left of the fairings. Seriously. Also, note the four sheered bolts in the bar clamp.



    Damage report:
    Front end totaled: the force of the impact sheered the left fork tube at the bottom triple and bent the right fork tube.
    The clip-on bolts were sheered at the top triple clamp, all four of them.
    Front rim dented
    2/4 footpegs thrashed
    3/4 blinkers missing
    99.8 percent of plastic pieces on the bike are missing, broken, cracked, or bruised
    Dent in the front header
    Front headlight gone
    Dash cracked and fairing stay twisted

    Frame: to be determined.
    #1
  2. jake28

    jake28 Riding to the horizon.

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
    391
    Location:
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    Parts list: the parts used in the build, for sale, and needed.

    2007 Ninja 650 motorcycle
    San Jose, CA

    Puig Rear stand (I can't believe I have never owned one of these before)
    Came with bike

    2003-2004 Ninja 636 front forks, clip-ons, controls
    Ebay

    Acerbis front headlight
    Local bike shop

    2003 ZX6 front wheel, rotors, tire
    Craigslist

    200? R1 shock
    Local bike shop

    Generic blinkers
    Local bike shop


    Parts needed:
    Ninja 600/636/650 front fender
    Ninja 650 coolant overflow bottle
    Ninja 650 stock tank. (a bit of a luxury but if you are throwing one out, let me know.)


    Parts for sale:
    2007 Ninja 650 front rotors
    2007 Ninja 650 front wheel, dented
    2003-2004 Ninja 636 rear wheel with Battleaxe tires, rotor, and cush drive (no sprocket)


    Resources: as I find them.

    Advrider ninja builds


    Anything you ever wanted to know about the Ninja 650
    http://www.ninja650r.co.cc/

    Front end swap info:





    Edit by pilot: Removed bad code.
    #2
  3. jake28

    jake28 Riding to the horizon.

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    To really be continued.
    #3
  4. jake28

    jake28 Riding to the horizon.

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    [​IMG]

    After I got the bike home, I took a cursory look at my new ninja. It's a wreck, but not a loss and fairly easily remedied. The pretzel that was once a front end precluded moving the bike on my own. In fact the fron end was suspended by one very bent fork tube. And the lack of handlebars made moving it with three people a pain and alone utterly impossible. So it slept in my truck.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    The lack of bubbling, chipped, or missing paint around the headstock was a deciding factor in purchasing the bike. I demanded that the P.O. send me detailed photos of the headstock or I wouldn't have even considered going to see the bike, let alone purchasing it.

    Cosmetic dents in the side frame tubes caused by, of all things, the frame sliders. A matching dent on each side, for stability and performance. The hole is factory, I don't know what for.
    [​IMG]
    #4
  5. jake28

    jake28 Riding to the horizon.

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    If you have twisted marital problems, you go see a shrink. Or you drink.
    If you have twisted sexual problems, you go see a doctor. Or you drink.
    If you have twisted frame problems, you go see Gerry. And then you have a beer.

    http://www.gpframeandwheel.com/

    Gerry is the kind of mechanic that we all wish we were: In a modest two car garage in the suburbs of wine country, Gerry runs a frame straightening, measuring, and inspection business. He has a lathe, a welder, a CNC, a press, and a helpful son. And he can and does use all of the above to fix bikes.

    Gerry can fix nearly anything. When I pulled up with my bike, he was standing over a very broken ZX10 frame. The owner, the racer, and the owner's wife were also all looking at it, in a shared reflective silence.

    I glanced at it as I walked up. There was a dent in one of the hollow frame tubes the size of a football and a crack in the opposing frame tube, right by the headstock. It was the sort of thing that wouldn't qualify as a possible ingredient in an art project, let alone a motorcycle.

    In an upbeat and totally serious manner, Gerry broke the hushed apprehension with: "Yeah, I can fix that. I'm going to rip out a section, weld a section, pocket the metal, pump it out, put it the frame press, hit with about 6 tons, throw the motor in it, check the mounts, laser align it, and then you can race it in about three weeks. Pricing will be fair but not bad."

    The man sounded like he was ordering a burger. Needless to say, I had total faith in him based on reputaion with the local racers and having met him, I readily support the guy who can build anything.

    /End anecdote.

    In short, I didn't even take the bike out of my truck. Gerry looked the bike over and told me that unless I had more money than time (I have lots of time and no money), I should continue taking the bike apart and bring it to him with forks, a motor, wheels, and little else. With the airbox and radiator and electronics, Gerry couldn't fit his tools in the frame to measure it and fix it if needed.

    So I drove home.

    But not before I made Gerry go over the headstock area with me. He told me emphatically that he saw no evidence of damage (though it was not certain), that he had worked on these bikes before, and that steel tube framing is easy to fix if it is in fact damaged.

    That was enough of a vote of confidence for me to invest in the bike. for a few hundred bucks, I can get the frame as straight as it was from the factory, and a general check up once apart is less than the price of a really nice bottle of wine.

    To the build.
    #5
  6. jake28

    jake28 Riding to the horizon.

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    I now completely understand why sport bikes get totaled so easily: the plastic on them disintegrates if you say the word "impact" around them.

    Minus the tail section, this is the sum total of the remaining fairings:
    [​IMG]

    That is crap.

    Going over the bike, removing major pieces to be reincorporated like the tank, seat, and exhaust led to increasingly ridiculous discoveries. Plastic parts far enough away from the impact point that they could have watched the crash form a corner Starbucks were blasted to smithereens or, more frequently, just broken enough to be rendered unusable or a major pain to fix.

    Examples:
    Missing plastic chips in both switch pods.
    Cracks in the radiator overflow tank.
    Cracked ignition cover.

    [​IMG]

    Thus, I'm going back to dirt bikes and dual sports, but not before I build this little bastard. I almost wanted to call the P.O. and ask if he deliberately had a mental parts fiche in his head as he was flying through the air that identified anything with plastic as worth breaking.

    But I digress. I continued to tear down the bike. Getting the front end off with the help of a mallet felt good. It was like amputating a gangrenous limb. I don't think I have ever used a claw hammer in the vicinity of a motorcycle so much. Now rebuilding can occur.
    #6
  7. mightymanx

    mightymanx Cheap-ass KLR rider.

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    I'm in

    You know, you could always build a dualsport dirt ninja out of it. You would save a bunch of cash on plastic.

    Lots of good dirt ninjas around here from what I have seen. I am co conspirtor on a 750 dirthawk that project should start around spring.
    #7
  8. jake28

    jake28 Riding to the horizon.

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    A synopsis of what I have gleaned about swapping front ends on a Ninja 650.

    The stock front end is crap but can be improved with emulators. But there are a lot of crashed Ninja 636s. And they frequently have nice gold fork parts that can be had for a fair sum if you want adjustability and quality Showa forks.

    2003-2004 Ninja 636 forks are a direct bolt on. Same bearings, same stem size. Plug an play.
    2003-2004 Ninja 636 front wheel is an old-style, three spoke design.
    2003-2004 Ninja 636 front rotors are 300 mm diameter, same as the stock ninja 630 size.

    2005-2006 Ninja 636 triple clamps will not fit because the steering stem is not long enough. You could swap stems with the stock 650 stem, but why bother when the 03-04 triples work so well?
    2005-2006 Ninja 636 front wheel is a nice, 5-spoke design.
    2005-2006 ninja 636 front rotors are 320 mm, so you need a 10mm spacer on the 03-04 brake calipers to adapt it.

    You can adapt the stock 650 wheel to the 03-06 636 front end/axle with some spacers and bearing sleeves. At the end of the day, a 636 wheel is pretty cheap (~100 bucks) and hassle free.

    I sources a 2003-2004 Ninja 636 front end on Ebay from a friendly guy named Pierre near Montreal. He accepted my offer and boxed up the front end. 10 days later (ie. two days ago), I received a big brown box which contained a very well-packaged set of forks, triples, the axle, clip-ons, control pods, levers, brake system, and throttle cables (not sure why these were included but fine).

    [​IMG]
    Shiny gold.

    [​IMG]
    Parts to make go and parts to make stop.


    A craigslist posting conveniently located 10 minutes from me yielded a set of 2003-2004 wheels, with rotors and tires for less than a new front tire. Fine, I'll sell the rear and recoup some costs to fund the project. (Incidentally, it is for sale, someone need a 03-04 ZX636 rear wheel with a Battleaxe with one trackday on it?)

    So, with forks, clip-ons, and a front wheel. I could finally get the bike sitting on cement instead of the insteady perch of a beat floor jack to which it had been relegated.

    [​IMG]Grease.

    [​IMG]
    Grease and happy bearings.

    [​IMG]
    Grease. (As I posted this I realized I forgot to grease the bottom cup, to be remedied soon.)

    [​IMG]
    Snap, crackle, pop. Seriously the easiest front end swap in history. Direct bolt on, no mods. Boom. Done. By myself, in about 6 minutes once the old front end was off.
    #8
  9. jake28

    jake28 Riding to the horizon.

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    [​IMG]

    Temp mock up. The painter's tape let go and the light crashed to the floor seconds after this photo was taken.

    [​IMG]

    Normally I despise Acerbis headlights, because the same ones are featured on every crashed, stunted, piece of crap sport bike on the planet. Perfect. And it was cheap and lying in the back of a local bike shop's storage closet. And the bulbs work.

    The fine print:

    With the front end swap, no one told me what I am announcing here. There are a few inconsistencies and issues to sort out.

    1. Cables.
    Ninja 650 has a high bar position that necessitates long clutch and throttle cables. The ZX6 front end does not. Now I have very long cables that bend and loop in odd places. The ZX6 throttle cables, though very nice, bend in odd places that do not work on the little ninja that could. I don't want to buy custom cables, I'm not sure how to remedy this. To be discussed (and your ideas readily appreciated.)

    2. Control Pods
    The 636 control pods are nearly identical to the 650 pods. The clutch side has a lap button feature missing on the 650 and not wanting to deal with going through the wiring diagrams of two bikes, I opted to put the stock 650 pod on the 636 clip on. It wasn't fitting quite right and the pod wouldn't close well around the bar because of a small plastic nubbin (tech term). I inferred that the 636 clip on has a larger diameter than the 650 one. So I took a hammer and chisel to the nubbin (no dremel at home at the moment).
    Said nubbin is designed to provide friction on the bar to prevent the pod from spinning. You can guess how I figured this out.
    Conclusion: If you need a chisel, you are doing it wrong. (The loose pod was easily fixed with a few loops of electrical tape, but I still felt like an idiot.

    3. Ignitions.
    You may have notices that there are no top clamps featured in the photos. That is because both the 636 and the 650 top clamps have ignitoins, well, clamped, to them. I need to swap ignitions. These ignitions have absurd headless security bolts that I believe have heads that sheer off at a specific torque holding them in. And I'm not sure how to get them out. Thoughts?
    #9
  10. jake28

    jake28 Riding to the horizon.

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    ADV Rider has a lot of dirt ninjas at the moment, which is awesome.

    This is not going to be one of them.

    Reasons:
    1. I have dirt bikes for dirt.
    2. I need a city bike for the city.
    3. I have no job and this isn't the wisest unemployed investment around.
    4. I rode a Honda VFR 5500 miles across the US of A. It was the best gravel road bike ever. On street tires. Because it was big and heavy. If I come across a dirt road (and I will, promise) I will ride this bike as is tires and clip-ons and all.

    Here is a guarantee, because this is ADVrider: when complete, I will dirt ride this bike as built with photographic evidence. If nothing else, because it goes to show that you can ride most bikes, most places. And have a hell of a lot of fun doing it.

    Also, this bike is a project. It is going to provide me with the opportunity to play with metal and composites. I might build a rack, I might build side boxes. Regardless, I'm going to be designing and building with your input and the best of my abilities to suit my needs. And those needs may change, we shall see.
    #10
  11. jake28

    jake28 Riding to the horizon.

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    A key component of any motorcycle is a running motor.
    A key component of any motorcycle project is a motor that should run, but doesn't.

    This is still a project.

    When I bought the bike, it had been sitting under a tarp in an alley next the P.O.'s house for about a year. The battery was very dead and turning the key in the ignition yielded the expected result. Nada.

    No big deal I thought, I have finesse and dexterity but all it needs is a new battery.

    Nope.
    I plugged a very fresh battery from a very running bike into the ninjette, expecting a chorus and angels and the heavens to open up. Nope, same result. No flicker of life from the hooked up headlight, no crackling of the starter motor, not even a feeble yelp from the horn. Non. No power.

    Being a clever and resourceful chap, I thought that perhaps a new fuse was in order. I tracked down the main fuse, an emerald green 30amp jewel nestled in between the frame rails. I pulled it, and it was fine, but I replaced it with a new one, thinking it couldn't hurt. Nichts. Still no love, same results as before.

    I checked the main ground (by the starter) and it was snug as a bug in a hug on a rug.

    I hooked up a battery tender direct, thus taking the battery out of the list of possible issues. Niente.


    Troubleshooting:
    1. This bike does have a couple things my previous rides have not had, least of all a bashed in gas tank. These items include, a clutch switch, tip over switches, an ignition interlock, and a side-stand switch. I understand that these items are necessary to get and keep the bike running, but they shouldn't interfere with getting a little power to the dash, headlight, or horn, right?
    2. My next steps are going to be unplugging the ECU and then plugging it back in (if it is anything like a microwave or televesion, than this should yield either a warm burrito or a Viagra commercial.)
    3. Another possibility is that the ignition switch is broken. The plastic cover on it was cracked but there were no other signs of any damage and it switches between on/off/park cleanly and easily.

    Done for the night.

    PS. Extra life points go to those who caught the Molotov reference in the title and the diversity of languages expressing how utterly not running my bike is.
    #11
  12. hoffa509

    hoffa509 Adventurer

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    Elkton, Md
    After my wife's Buell Blast went down it lost all power. I surfed the Buell forums and got the technical solution of tapping the lean angle sensor. It seems it gets stuck once it is tripped. Worked fine afterward.
    #12
  13. dentvet

    dentvet Long timer

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    #13
  14. ben2go

    ben2go Moto Flunky

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    Nice start to good build.

    The ignition security screws heads have to the drilled off.I think I used a 1/8th inch drill bit.Once those little bastards are drilled off,a pair of needle nose vise grips will twist them out since there's no torque on them.Keep the threaded end and replace the security screws with button head allen bolts or allen cap bolts.Try to keep the boltheads up in the mounting holes.On some bikes,they can cause steering issues if they stick out and drag against something.
    #14
  15. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

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    the small plastic nubs on the inside of the controls fit an index hole in the bar so they don't rotate. if there's no hole, you drill your own in the correct location.


    if you wanted to really trick that bike, you would buy my aluminum Versys swingarm, another direct swap. be the envy of every Ninja builder in your neighborhood.

    remember, the R1 shock is longer overall than the OEM 650R shock, perfect for a dirt Ninja looking for ground clearance as well as performance, but might not be the best in your application.
    #15
  16. pjm204

    pjm204 Long timer

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    I'd be happy to sell you the fairings from my ninja, PM me if you're interested.
    #16
  17. jake28

    jake28 Riding to the horizon.

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    But a stuck lean angle/tip over sensor wouldn't kill power to everything, correct?
    #17
  18. jake28

    jake28 Riding to the horizon.

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    No fairings are going back on this bike. Nature decided to remove them by force and who am I to argue with nature?
    #18
  19. jake28

    jake28 Riding to the horizon.

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    Say more about this main switch.
    And many thanks on the 650 site, that is most excellent and I added it to the list of resources.
    #19
  20. jake28

    jake28 Riding to the horizon.

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    I've gone through the wiring harness, everything seems to be intact and plugged in.

    ECU fuse is good.
    Starter fuse is good.
    I tapped on the tip over sensor thinking it might reset.
    I tried pulling on the clutch and starting to over ride the starter interlock.

    Ideas?
    #20