Ninja 250 Drivetrain issues?

Discussion in 'Road Warriors' started by TonyKZ1, Oct 21, 2011.

  1. TonyKZ1

    TonyKZ1 Been here awhile

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    Oddometer:
    750
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    Marble Hill, MO. U.S.A.
    Hello all, my '89 Ninja 250 has 70k+ miles on it and 31k+ miles on the current engine. I noticed a vibration and noise on my way into work thursday morning. It wasn't the engine as it only vibrated and made noise when moving. When I got to the parking lot, I could hear the noise and feel the vibration just turning the rear wheel by hand.

    I babied it home and started troubleshooting. I had installed new tires (Pirelli Sport Demons) last friday and had checked the bearings and their grease then when I had the rear wheel off. I removed the rear wheel/tire and checked them again anyhow. I put the rear axle bolt back in the wheel and set them on a pair of jack stands and spun the wheel, it spun fine, nor was there any noise or any vibration and the tire is pretty well balanced too. So that knocks out the rear wheel bearings. I had already replaced them anyhow back in Feb 2010, at 50k+ miles.

    So then I removed the chain from the front sprocket, turned the sprocket by hand and felt something while turning and the shaft would also move in and out, not much but some. I then started it up, keeping my hand away from the sprocket of course. I could hear the noise and feel vibration again, not very loud though. I then checked my original engine's countershaft, it turned freely without any noise or vibration and didn't move in or out.

    Also the last time I did an oil change, about 4k miles ago, I thought I'd check/clean the oil pump screen. It had a lot of debris/pieces in it. I cleaned it and re-installed it.

    So if you're still with me after this lengthly post, I'm guessing it's my transmission and it's time for engine/transmission #3? Or could it be the clutch assy, yet it still works normal as before..
    Thanks for any ideas/suggestions, Tony
    #1
  2. Skippii

    Skippii Milkshakes, my lad.

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    Are you able to just swap the countershaft from the original engine to the new one?
    #2
  3. qkenf4u

    qkenf4u Been here awhile

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    i can say ive never heard a OLD ex with a quiet clutch... always lots of noise with the baskets...does it get quieter pulling in the clutch ?

    could very well be countershaft bearing is going away but i would think you would feel some UP/DOWN play at the sprocket ?

    could be a bearing is on its way out insiide the trans ?

    if ya got a spare trans it would be a lot simpler sway since ya dont have to buy anything......
    #3
  4. TonyKZ1

    TonyKZ1 Been here awhile

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    Thanks for the reply, Yes according to the service manual the countershaft can replaced, however that involves removing the engine (not really a big deal as I've done it before), disassembling it and splitting the cases, sounds kinda scary to me? I'm not sure if I can do that or not. So now before I do that, I'm either looking for another engine or another bike.
    Tony
    #4
  5. TonyKZ1

    TonyKZ1 Been here awhile

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    Thanks for the reply. Yes there's a difference when I have the clutch engaged and disengaged, but that's always kinda been that way. I can take the countershaft and move it in and out, and sideways some.

    I've got a spare trans so to speak, as I've still got the original 1989 engine/transmission assembly and it's countershaft turns like it's supposed to. However the trans isn't easily removed as they're one assembly, so according to the service manual I've got to disassemble the engine and then split the engine cases to even get to the transmission. I'm not sure if I'm capable of that (and then getting it back together) or if it'd just be better to get another engine or another bike.
    Tony
    #5
  6. keiji

    keiji Long timer

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    I've never bothered to rebuild one of these engines because gaskets and any other parts I needed were usually 50-80% of just waiting it out for a cheap engine locally. If you are not sure you can do it, make sure you price out all the gaskets first, and compare it to how much you can get an engine for. I don't think I've ever paid more than $300 for one.
    #6
  7. TonyKZ1

    TonyKZ1 Been here awhile

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    Thanks for the reply. The current engine that I've got, that was working fine until now, was a '93 model with 5k and I got it for $250. I thought that was an excellent price, even though I had to go to the far corner of the state to pick it up - north of Kansas City, MO. I live in the SE part of Missouri, so I was driving diagonally across the whole state, but that wasn't really a problem as I brought along the whole family so we made kind of a day vacation out of it. I'll contact him again and see if he's still got parts bikes.

    I'm checking with some guys on the Ninja 250 site, I'll keep checking craigslist, and then go to a few local motorcycle dealers (new & used) to see what they'll charge to fix it or accept as a trade-in. Most likely, at least that's what I'm expecting anyhow, is that they'll want a lot more than a used engine and that's if they'll even work on it.
    Tony
    #7
  8. TonyKZ1

    TonyKZ1 Been here awhile

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    Update: I've found another engine.

    So I guess I'll replace it and keep putting more miles on the little Ninja, instead of buying another bike which was an option, but due to lack of major funds not really feasible.

    As it turns out, one of the vendors I occasionally buy stuff from on eBay has one, less than 5k miles and somewhat local, well local in this case being on the other side of the state. But I'll drive up there, pick it up, and be home in a day. Oh and the price for this engine is $200, not too bad I guess at least compared to the $500-600 dollar ones I was seeing on eBay and their $200 shipping fees.

    In a way, I didn't really want to buy another bike, even though I'm kinda wanting a 500-600cc bike. Since I just put new tires, Pirelli Sport Demons, on a few weeks ago. And I've already got the upgraded front forks, rear shock, and stator installed on this one.
    Tony
    #8
  9. pjm204

    pjm204 Long timer

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    I would think one of these little motors would last longer than 31k...you should combine your two dead motors into one running motor as a backup
    #9
  10. qkenf4u

    qkenf4u Been here awhile

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    cool glad ya got another cheap motor.... if you want to sell off the other motors and make some money then hit up the
    WERA board
    CCS board
    both race/trackday organizations .. i sold a better 500 bout 10yrs ago for parts and made 3x the money i paid for the bike.. sold the frame and all.... :clap
    #10
  11. LuciferMutt

    LuciferMutt Rides slow bike slow

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    No shit...and this has happened multiple times? I hate to ask, but what oil have you been running? Most people get well over 50K with no problems on the wee Ninjas. Are you using champion spark plugs? They destroy these little engines by melting apart and putting holes in the pistons...
    #11
  12. TonyKZ1

    TonyKZ1 Been here awhile

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    I've also read reports of these engines lasting 80k-100k miles, so yea I'm more than a little disappointed/frustrated too with this happening. It's not like I can easily afford it either. Like a lot of people, I guess, funds are a little tight. The first time I lost the engine, I was kinda expecting in a way as the motor had been badly abused by the p.o.'s and by the mechanics that couldn't get it to run right. However after the proper maintenance and cleaning it ran fine until about 2 1/2 yrs and 38k miles later.

    This time it was the tranny, and it was not expected at all. Although, after cleaning the oil pump filter screen and seeing the debris in it I started getting a little nervous and wondering about it's life expectancy.

    I check the oil often and would top it off if needed, and change it about every 4k miles. I guess I can start changing it a little sooner. I keep the chain oiled and run it on the loose side of the adjustment range. I check the tires' pressure and adjust if needed. I replace tires usually annually at 10-12k miles, sometimes more often depending on the tires.

    I'm using NGK spark plugs, NGK part #CR8HSA. I also keep the valves adjusted. So I'm usually pretty much on top of the maintenance requirements. I ride it to work every day, 30 miles each way, about 300 miles a week, so it's not like it's sitting around.

    The tranny in the first one is fine and the second engine is running fine too. I too had thought about just swapping the good parts between the two. I'm going to try to stay with the Rotella 5w40 synthetic oil this time, maybe it'll help with the engine/tranny wear and tear. I had used it before and eventually went back to the dino oil 15w40 & 10w40 as finances got a little tighter..
    Anyhow, thanks for your advice/suggestions and following along
    Tony
    #12
  13. LuciferMutt

    LuciferMutt Rides slow bike slow

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    Bizarre. Sounds like you are just cursed with bad luck for the little engines. :dunno
    #13
  14. SamRus

    SamRus Been here awhile

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    My timing chain broke after about 29K miles on my 2007 ninja 250, and I like to think I'm on top of maintenance as well. Oil changes every 3K miles religiously, always using Shell Rotella T6 5W-40. Have done my valve adjustments about every 10K, and the engine still only lasted 29K miles :ddog I think my timing chain tensioner wasn't doing it's job, which lead to the chain slapping things around, destroying itself. Which I could have prevented from happening - if I knew better that this noise wasn't healthy.

    Maybe the 80K miles was more of an exception than a rule?..
    #14
  15. AlexL

    AlexL Newbie Adventurer

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    JEEEZ, back from the dead with this thread sorry. Although the info here is relevant.

    I actually think if the 250 engines are abused they won't last long at all. The previous owner of my bike was oblivious but I believe the owner before him was not kind. My motor spun a bearing within 200 miles of my purchase at what I believe was just over 21K miles according to the title. I swapped in a low mileage eBay motor for $550 and if I get 30K miles out of it I'll just swap in another one.

    Cleaning debris out of the screen is not encouraging. Here is what mine looked like after I lost a bearing. My motor still ran by the way but would overheat and seize up after a couple minutes of riding.

    [​IMG]
    #15
  16. JerryH

    JerryH Banned

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    Some Ninja 250 engines have lasted past 100,000 miles with excessive maintenance, but the cam chain usually breaks or jumps teeth and takes them out before that. I would not attempt to rebuild an EX250 or EX500 engine, they are basically throwaways. A really good mechanic can do it, but it requires more than normal engine rebuilding procedures. No matter how careful about removing them, both the head and cylinder block will warp when you remove them. It won't be very much, but enough to keep the new gaskets from sealing when you put it back together. They can be resurfaced, but it is a guessing game as to whether you got it just right or not. Check EX-500.com, and look for a guy named FOG. He can explain the whole process. He is a race mechanic, and has rebuilt these engines. But many have tried and failed, and that can be an expensive proposition considering what parts cost.
    #16
  17. TonyKZ1

    TonyKZ1 Been here awhile

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    I agree, and I've had some crap like that come out of my oil screens as well. Problem is that it seems there's fewer 88-07 engines on eBay lately and they're asking a lot of money for them. I'm already looking to get my original engine rebuilt that I pulled out as that used engine that I installed isn't going to last as long as I had hoped. I've now got over 86k miles on my little Ninja 250.
    Tony
    #17
  18. AlexL

    AlexL Newbie Adventurer

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    Yep as they are a disposable item the supply seems to be getting more scarce, and therefore pricey. A shame they aren't more easily rebuilt.
    #18