Project Full Circle:Ninja 650 gets a makeover

Discussion in 'Some Assembly Required' started by sailah, Nov 9, 2012.

  1. sailah

    sailah Lampin' it

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    So this might be a tad premature as I have not yet secured a bike as of today, but I have a line on a 07 Ninja that was crashed hard and I'm hoping for a steal on it.

    Many guys have pioneered the Ninja/Versys dual sport conversion so I don't want to pretend that I'm covering new ground. I do plan on some key differences which I will outline below.

    First off I think the 650 Ninja motor is the perfect candidate for a lightweight ADV bike and JDrocks has been riding his around North America so it obviously works. I called this project Full Circle because I had bought a 07 Ninja a few years ago to do a similar conversion and it turned out the bike was stolen and I lost the bike and the money. Lesson learned. I then bought a FZ1 and turned that into a monster. Have 20k miles on that conversion and it runs great (rode it last night brrrr). But it was too big and heavy to be a lightweight. I adapted it more to be a tourer/weekend terrorizing machine for spirited runs.

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    I always wanted another lightweight bike to correct my heavy hand with the FZ1 build so I started looking around for a 600 class bike. Lo and behold I had a CBR600 in my garage collecting dust so I built that up too. Yes, I am technically still building it, but I do have a few hundred miles on it and all indications are go that it's a keeper. Needs some jetting fine tuning.

    In assembling the parts build for the CBR, I bought a full sumo setup including forks, shock, radial brake and wheels. I also have it currently wearing dirt gear.

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    The plan for the Ninja is to have it be the primary dirt ADV bike, install the radial forks and shock on the CBR along with the sumo wheels and have a dedicated bike for each.

    It'll save a substantial sum as many of you know the high end suspension and wheels acounts for a majority of the cost in these builds.

    So what's going to be different in this build? A lot.

    Here's my recipe for the build.

    2007 Ninja 650
    KTM WP 48 forks and triple
    KTM RFS swingarm
    KTM PDS shock
    KTM wheels
    Custom aluminum gas tank up front (the bike is damaged and tank no salvageable really) I plan to lose a little volume to move the seat up.
    Custom subframe with a couple gallons under the seat. Integrated pannier mounts. Most likely the subframe will be aluminum like the CBR.
    Rally fairing with twin HIDs and twin LED for high. Carbon dash, stock gauges
    Plus other stuff I haven't thought of.

    The ninja motor and frame is a great chassis to start with but so far no one has adapted a dual sport swingarm and rear wheel. The front suspension is relatively easy to adapt but the rear involves removal of the stock subframe and some heavy fab work to mount the KTM shock. I've done this twice now on both my bikes and feel it gives a much more balanced ride. You get full dirt bike travel to match the front, the aluminum swingarm is much lighter, the KTM shock is excellent to start with and so far has performed excellent in both my bikes (no linkage to engineer). Plus all the braking components and wheels are easy to buy no need to adapt.

    the key to making this an easy conversion is the fact that the swingarm does not bolt through the motor. When I originally was going to do this build I had purchased a KTM 950 swingarm and measured and it would have fit with 1/4" to spare. I don't believe I'll need a swingarm that heavy to cope with the weight.

    I'm shooting for 360 lbs for this build. There's a lot to be gained by lower weight, bike handles much better, easier to muscle around, components can be lighter etc. My CBR weighs 364# and that's full of fuel ready to ride. Hopefully the Ninja motor is lighter by 10 lbs or so than the 4 cyl CBR motor because the builds will be almost identical in terms of build components the main difference is that I plan on running a traditional tank in addition to the subframe tank, plus the fairing and lights will add back on. So I think it's doable, takes hard work to lose weight as you build but I think I can do it. Either way it will be a fun project.

    Now if I don't get the bike, someone else needs to run with this:lol3
    #1
  2. pjm204

    pjm204 Long timer

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    I should snake that Ninja from you.....you know since you snaked the FZ1 from me :D.

    Good luck with the build. I have an oil pan already modded if you want it, an stock exhaust to build headers, and some other odds n ends.

    Shoot me a PM.
    #2
  3. sailah

    sailah Lampin' it

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    All is fair in love and bike snatching:deal

    The header on the bike is crushed I plan on building a new one. Whats the reason for modifying the oil pan again, I read it once but forgot.
    #3
  4. LukasM

    LukasM Long timer

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    I've been waiting for somebody to finally do this Peter, and you are the right man for the job. Unlike me you've got the skills and balls to make up parts as needed, so this should be good!

    How about a KTM 690 subframe tank? You are never going to be able to build anything as light, with the same capacity and as crash proof with steel and aluminum. :deal

    If you build the attachments to the main frame strong enough and replace the tank bolts, it will have plenty of luggage carrying capacity as well. Just don't go nuts with heavy hard panniers, but you probably wouldn't do that on a more dirt oriented bike anyway. :wink:
    #4
  5. pjm204

    pjm204 Long timer

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    You modify the oil pan to relocate the drain spout that hangs down about 2 inches. Worthwhile mod. I sold my dirt ninja so I don't need it.
    #5
  6. kajj

    kajj Been here awhile

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    I`m in:clap

    This will be interesting.
    #6
  7. nuggets

    nuggets Fries with that?

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    #7
  8. sanjoh

    sanjoh Purveyor of Light

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    Looking forward to this one:evil

    Have a few spares laying around, post up what you might need.
    #8
  9. sailah

    sailah Lampin' it

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    I knew this would catch your eye Lukas!!:wink:

    I am all for exploring subframe options. On the last two bike I built I made my own subframes. The CBR was planned as a fuel tank. It works fine, but as with all projects, there are things you would do differently. The problem with the CBR tank is two fold. First, since it's the sole tank, 2.25 gals ain't cutting it. It's fine for a play bike but obviously not enough for what I want. the other problem is that the seat sucks and it's designed for a YZF450 seat. I should have made the tank bigger to accomodate a larger seat.

    The other issue, and this is more general, is the time it takes to fabricate an entire tail section and engineer lights, blinkers etc is VERY time consuming and it will never look as good as factory. I pledge this bike will look much more factory and I plan to do that using as many factory components as I can.

    the 690 subframe is a great idea, have any pictures of one I've never seen one? My Husqvarna TXC 511 also runs a subframe plastic tank and holds 2.5 gals. The chances of me scoring a used one are slim, but I would be able to use mine to mock up the project. I think the KTM would be better as it is most likely accommodating the shock clearance as well. If I could score a cool subframe I would jump on it just so that I can at least attempt to utilize the factory lighting etc. I can't tell you how much time I spend on fabricating some stupid little doodad that still looks like crap because I hacked it together with a jigsaw. My time is much better spent working on the front end, swingarm etc. I also might decide it's simply not work it and use a side tank like CJ racer has for the 950. That would be fairly easy to make, could get another couple gals and it would offset with the exhaust which I will probably have similar to the CBR. The FZ1 exhaust is fine because of the hardbags but you lose a lot of valuable real estate going under the seat.

    So anyone else with great ideas, throw them out there. If you have pics of something cool, throw them out there too. I will try and keep the build as documented as possible with as much input as possible from forum members.
    #9
  10. DRjoe

    DRjoe Long timer

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    This is going to be good.

    The 690 tank might not have enough clearance for the pds shock.
    I've looked at using it on a upcoming project and l decided to make an ally one instead.

    Look forward to seeing what you come up with.
    #10
  11. sailah

    sailah Lampin' it

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    Joe,

    I had lots of thinking about this today. I also don't think the 690 will fit for a variety of reasons but like you said the shock isn't the same at the regular PDS and it has a linkage. I much prefer the PDS shock because it's so easy to package and install especially in a custom application.

    I am planning on building a slightly smaller main tank to replace the stock tank, maybe 3 gals. I want to be able to move the seat forward so I can sit more upright. I find the sport bike tanks force you to lean forward more. My FZ1 does this. My CBR is much more comfortable seating position because I eliminated the stock tank altogether.

    I plan to couple this 3 gal aluminum tank to a 3 gal subframe tank which will house the stock Kawasaki fuel pump and sender unit. I will connect them by a simple petcock. The fill will be in the top aluminum tank and flow down to the subtank.

    Building the subframe tank on the CBR was a first. There were many lessons learned. I should have never made the tank fit that YZ seat. I will most likely use a aluminum seat pan that I make like the FZ1 and have it much flatter. this should increase tank volume, seat will be way more comfy. I had a lot of problems sealing that tank because of the complexity in welding into blind corners etc, and I won't repeat that mistake. I do like framing out the subframe using the aluminum tube and will most likely do the same. By making the seat wider and more comfortable it should allow easier and simpler tank construction. Folding the tank around the PDS reservoir was a fun challenge

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    That big dip in the subframe top rail served no purpose other than following the line of the seat. Stupid. If I had straightened it out and made my own seat pan I could have easily gotten 3 gals out of that tank probably more.

    So I think it makes sense to build my own subframe but try not to repeat the same mistake. I would like to somehow use a factory tail unit from some bike. making one was very tedious cutting and welding all those tiny pieces of aluminum and looks butch. If I had the factory mounts ahead of time and the tail light I could integrate it.

    I found a swingarm for a 04 KTM. I'm going to rob the shock and forks off the CBR and replace them with the SMR units and just keep the CBR as a play bike for sunny days. I have a really nice set of dirt excels which I just installed a Heidenau K60 on. I have many triples to chose from, question remains how easy it will be to adapt the stem to the Kawasaki. On the CBR I machined bearing cups to fit the KTM bearings which worked well.

    I really hope I get the bike or this will be a lot of typing for naught:lol3
    #11
  12. LukasM

    LukasM Long timer

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    Unfortunately a 690 tank is the one thing I don't have so I can't confirm the dimensions either.... :cry

    What I do have is an F800GS underseat tank, also plastic, and it's light, around 3.8 kgs I think?

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The tank shape looks a bit weird but the subframe would be very simple to copy if you look at it. You can also get those really cheap if the side rail is bent like the one on the left. This happens all the time due to the stupid placement of the passenger pegs, but would be fairly easy to straighten and fix yourself. :wink:

    [​IMG]
    #12
  13. sailah

    sailah Lampin' it

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    Lukas I looked at those tanks and also the F650GS tanks. Tempting but I think it would end up square peg/round hole. I would love to use a stock BMW tank since they are already set up for FI and just think of the welding saved:D But in the end, I think doing it from scratch will allow the most flexibility and volume. My whole tank subframe unit including the tail light and blinkers weighs under 10 lbs on the CBR.

    Although...I just pulled up a pic of the BMW, it looks like the tank follows a similar line and also has the cut out for the shock...hmmmmm

    Looks like I could then use the rear fairing, seat etc from the BMW. Warrants further investigation for sure, they are fairly inexpensive on ebay

    [​IMG]

    The F650 looks way too forward

    [​IMG]
    #13
  14. sanjoh

    sanjoh Purveyor of Light

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    WIth respect to the triples, if you have a set off a motard that uses the 48mm wp's, that's what I would start with. They are much wider than the dirt version. The 48's will restrict the steering significantly. Another option is to use triples with more offset but then that changes a bunch of other things as well.
    #14
  15. sailah

    sailah Lampin' it

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    Not sure what you mean, all my WP triples are the same width even the RFS version I have on the FZ1 which is holding 950 forks and wheel.

    I have the regular offset triples I think. I also have a set of 22mm offset Emig triples that have a damper mount etc on the CBR. It might make sense to use those on this bike. Either way I must have 6 sets of WP triples to pick from. My steering on the CBR is restricted by the stupid radiator hitting the forks which I plan to change out anyways.

    If the triples were different widths then you wouldn't be able to change around wheels, and I like to be able to swap those around. Although now that I think about it the SMR forks with a radial lug brake runs a 310mm rotor and the dirt wheel has a 320mm rotor. I can run the 310 sumo wheels on the dirt forks but not the other way around unless I spaced out the caliper 5mm and got a 320 rotor for the sumo. I guess if I build this bike I won't be swapping wheels around very often anyhow.
    #15
  16. LukasM

    LukasM Long timer

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    KTM parts interchangeability... I should have written my master thesis on that shit instead of renewable energy like I'm doing right now!!! :lol3

    - Most KTM offroad(ish) bikes use 190mm width triples, this goes from 125-990 Adv. BUT it also includes 450-560 SMR bikes with radial caliper mount.

    - KTMs street-ish bikes like LC4 Supermotos, both the old 640 version with the axial gold 4 piston Brembo, and the newer 690 SMC/Duke/SM, use 210mm width clamps. This also includes 950/990 Super Dukes and Supermoto.

    - Next you have to be careful with offsets, because generally all offroad-ish bikes have leading axle forks and therefore less offset in the triples (generally 18-24mm, only SMR 14-16mm) but more offset in total, while the street-ish bikes have more higher offset triples (around 35mm) but less in total due to the in-line axle. The exception is the 640 LC4 SM, it has wide triples with 18mm offset and a leading axle.


    I have no idea what offset would work well for you Pete, but if turning radius is a concern with a 48mm WP conversion on the Ninja frame, then it might actually not be a bad idea to put on a 690 SMC triple clamp and radial fork combo. This gives you the wider spacing and the most triple offset but less total (35mm IIRC). The disc gets spaced out with the factory 8mm spacer, so it should be possible to get enough clearance to the spokes of a 21" wheel with a radial caliper and a 320mm disc (just not the Brembo I think).

    Edit: you can still swap around wheels with the wider triples, they all use the same hub width. On the right the extra space gets taken up by a wider thick part on the axle, and on the left you simply change the left spacer.

    Hope that was clear as mud... :rofl
    #16
  17. DRjoe

    DRjoe Long timer

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    I feel your pain with the complexity of welding the rear tank.

    The one I made for my 520exc ended up being a welding marathon.
    I combined the air box, battery box, subframe and fuel tank together as on structure all made of 3mm 5083 plate with a bit extra round the mounts to spread the load.

    Surprisingly it transformed the handing on the bike, made it much more stable through corners.
    I thought it was just because it wasn't flexing like the stock subframe but I'm starting to think its not just because the seat isn't moving but I reckon it's stiffening the main frame as well.
    I could be wrong and usually I am.


    I thought it would be so simple at the start.
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    Then it got more and more complicated. I wish I had never tried to incorporate the guard like I did.
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    This is the only shot of the air box cover that I'm particularly proud of. It took 10hrs to make and works and fits perfectly.
    [​IMG]

    Its been finished and in use for several years now, its survived several failed hill climbs and various other riding errors.
    [​IMG]
    #17
  18. sanjoh

    sanjoh Purveyor of Light

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    I have the 43mm wp's on the Dirt Ninja and would not consider going to a larger diameter fork due to the limitation of steering. I've been able to amke it work but it's kinda strange having to lean the bike and hang off when you are in tight single track to get it to turn, all the time with the fork against the frame.:huh

    I think there is a 640 duke being parted in the flea market iirc, I would jump all over those triples.

    Parts fiche is your friend:D
    #18
  19. sailah

    sailah Lampin' it

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    Nice job on that rear tank. I found my biggest problem doing the rear tank is I just jumped into it and didn't really think it through, especially the rear cowling where the lights would be. So I had to end up butchering the whole thing up.

    On this build I will be much more careful about laying it out. Also need to be careful about how the fuel travels in the tank and if I created any dead spots like my first tank.

    I want to get a factory rear end complete with lights, blinkers, license plate holder in hand before I start this tank so I can make sure it will just bolt on. Any suggestions?

    Also probably going to make another seat, my Fz1 seat is really comfy and I have plenty of black suede left.

    Sanjoh, Totally understand your point now. My Fz1 suffers from that. I just live with it. I really can't step down to the 43 because my wheels won't swap well I guess I could machine spacers, but I already have the forks, wheels and triples. I'll mock it up, I imagine I will quickly see the issue you are having. I could always cut scallops out of the frame and brace it back up.

    Wish me luck on getting the bike, Tuesday 12PM High Noon baby:evil
    #19
  20. DRjoe

    DRjoe Long timer

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    There are plenty of aftermarket rear lights with a number plate bracket out there or the ones that come on the ktm exc range are good and are a lot more substantial than the aftermarket ones.
    #20