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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    Been riding the bike, no issues so far. Couple minor rattles that I have had to fix.

    Measured the wheelbase, right at 59" so the same as a DRZ.

    I brought the bike to the start of the Iron Butt Rally yesterday and a couple of they guys who were involved in tech inspection were checking it out. I sauntered up and said,

    "Huh, how about that?"

    "I hope he's not really planning on riding the IB on that..."

    (other guy) "Hey, we should seriously find out, if he's not we can probably get him an entry in the "hopeless" class" :lol3

    I finally confessed it was mine and they were serious about me getting in. Said if I wrote a 1 pager about why I should be in they would seriously consider it. I think they were yanking my chain:D They did say it would pass inspection, which was cool.

    Still in love:D
  2. Rambo

    Rambo Adventurer

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    Looks sweet dude! Your best work yet!
  3. sailah

    sailah Lampin' it

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    Thanks don, we miss you btw!
  4. Rambo

    Rambo Adventurer

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    Awww...shucks! Thanks man. I appreciate that.

    It had to be done man! It was either myself or bob that had to give in to bring the club back together. Since he's a prick that only cares about himself, I figured I'd take the hit for the sake of the club, plus all that drama was weighing on me heavily! I had to get away from it to clear my mind.

    I think I saw you on 51 near zookys yesterday! Was that you on this bike?
  5. sailah

    sailah Lampin' it

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    Haha yeah that was me! I rode to Lisbon OH for business and then was heading back to Cranberry for bike night. I stopped by Ralph's and left one of my new stickers on his garage. :evil

    Haven't been updating the thread because I have been riding it. Just a barrel of laughs. Love the motor. Back end needs some more preload or heavier spring. Bike is very tall but I like it that way. Couple adjustments will be made this winter but over all I diggit.
  6. sailah

    sailah Lampin' it

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    Thought I would give an update. Took the bike down to WV for a 3 day trip to Laurel Fork with my buddies from Pittsburgh.

    Just before the trip I took off the forks and completely cleaned the internals. Glad I did as it was nasty. The forks were bought off someone who never changed the oil. Anyways got them super sano clean and refilled with oil. Made a huge difference. That and finally balancing the front wheel got rid of the rythmic throbbing I was getting in the front end.

    I had never had them apart and I wanted to swap in some heavier 0.58kg/mm springs anyways. It's hard for me to tell when forks need service, but something didn't seem quite right like they had a lot of stiction.

    So tore them apart.

    Then I decided that I should swap in the forks from the KTM 690R I bought. So then I had to rebuild them too...How many forks can you have apart at once? 2 pair here if you can spot em.

    [​IMG]

    Then I decided that I wouldn't use the 690 forks and proceeded with the 450 forks. Man, what a mess inside. There was this sticky residue on the inside of the lowers, so bad it took 20 minutes of reaming it out with acetone soaked rags and a pipe. By the time I was done the bore was gleaming like a gun. Popped out the compression stack, stock. I plan to have these revalved at some point so I left it alone.

    Then the springs, heavy, wouldn't fit over the black damper rod bumper thing. So I chucked up the entire thing in the lathe and turned it down, came out great. Had to shave off the plastic fuzz with a razor blade after the lathe.

    [​IMG]

    <iframe width="960" height="720" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/IAaBGUXSUik" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

    Then I gave it a final cleaning, swapped in the heavier springs and filled with new 5wt fork oil. This is my air gap tool, the hose is 120mm which is the factory spec for the KTM forks. I place the nipple of the syringe on the outer tube and voila, perfect air gap.

    [​IMG]

    Took the bike for a ride and what a difference. Feels awesome, just plush like the Husky. I was flying over curbs and shit pavement and it floated right over it. Before it would bind and stutter. I think it was that crap inside the forks not allowing the damper to do it's job.

    Then I pulled the rear shock and added some much needed preload. Ready to rock.

    The bike immediately felt much better. The added preload in the back was nice along with the much more plush forks.

    About 20 minutes into the ride I got a low fuel warning light which was weird because I had just filled it. So I stripped the tank off and we found a sorta kinked fuel drain line from the main tank to subtank. I unclipped the quick release and found a o-ring cut in half. Great, I'm at a gas station near WV without any idea where I'm going to find an oring. My buddy takes off and comes back in 5 minutes with a four pack. Turns out I have a client literally right around the corner that rebuilds hydraulic cylinders and pneumatics and had a ton.

    But this wouldn't be the last of my fuel problems. This kept happening and I think I chased it down to the bend in the hose needs to be just right. Not a big deal but it gets annoying and I;ll need to figure out a fix.

    [​IMG]

    So on to the fun stuff like how it's working once the novelty has worn off. I got the chance to ride back to back from a 950SE Erzberg owned and maintained by a Orange level KTM mechanic. It's def not as polished as that bike. Also the suspension wasn't as good. Obviously they are pretty different price point bikes but I would hope I could get close to that. He rode my bike while I rode his for 20 miles. We decided I would lower the forks and shock down to SE height and run the SE valving stack, or close to it. I have ridden 2 Super Enduros with stock valving and just clickers and oil and it is about as close as I can get to ideal for how I ride.

    The Ninja is also too tall. I can deal with the seat height but it causes a lot of swingarm droop. Which leads to chain tension issues. So I think the right course is to lose about 2" of travel which will still put it in the 950SE realm of travel by taking it out of the forks and shock. I'll get the suspension geometry closer to where I want it and I think it will improve the whole package.

    That said, it's so much fun. I hit 85 mph on some dirt roads and it was just straight as could be. Very stable. It wheelies almost on command. I'm 230# and I can get the front up in second just by whacking the throttle. It has a very fun torque curve, not much screaming on top, but power where you want it. Compared to the SE it doesn't have the hit, but it also feels much lighter.

    I like the front brake on the Ninja better than the SE, but the SE wins in the rear brake dept. My Braking setup is a one finger, full on endo type stopping power so it's already really nice.

    The seat is very comfortable. I will address the wind protection, as it has none, but I'm used to that. None of my bikes has a wind screen:lol3

    I thought the Ninja was nice to stand up on, but that was until I tried the SE. I could stand on the pegs for hours on that bike. The shape of the tank prevents your thighs from getting forward to make it truly natural. I can still easily stand up on the pegs but not as nice as the SE.

    As far as overall abilities go, I took it through some mild off roading this weekend. Couple rock climbs/ledge stuff, stream crossing, ATV trails, muddy puddle type trails. The power is awesome to wheelie over stuff. I could loft the front end over any water or logs with ease. As easy as my Husky TXC511. There is a clanging from the back and and I think it's the chain when I bottom hard and the chain rubs on the guard. I hope the suspension work fixes that. I had the bike crawling in first at a walking pace following a 950A, KTM 450, 1200GSA and a DR650. It was easily handled. I have a Heidenau K60 on the back and I really like the tire. Whoever convinced me that this was a 6-8k rear needs to see me ride:lol3 I think if I get 2k out of the back I'll be impressed. I also ride like a complete jagoff roosting and doing wheelies as much as possible.

    As far as road handling manners, it's without fault. I put it to the test on Gladys Run road near Alpine WV, one of my favorite all time strafing runs. Felt great, composed, planted, never unsettled. I backed the rear in one corner and was impressed how controlled it was. The front brake will scrub off an impressive amount of speed. Def limited on the tire for traction, front is a Pirelli Scorpion. Bike is doing 73 mph at about 6k and feels comfortable there. I held that for hours today and it felt fine.

    Overall I have some tweaking to do, but the basic premise is solid. I think dropping the bike a couple inches and having the suspension worked over will help a huge amount and fix a bunch of problems I am having from it being too tall. I also don't need 12" of travel anyways. I'd like to get the rally fairing on this winter and then I can break it back down to finish the paint etc.

    I do really love that motor though. It's plenty fast enough to get to very illegal speeds quickly, but can also crawl along at trail speed. The hit from the motor also comes early so it works very well as a ADV bike. Back when the SE rider and I switched back to out respective bikes, we caught each other's eye as we were headed up a steep mountain grade with 2 climbing lanes. We both dropped it and I wrung that poor Ninja's neck. To redline in every gear all the way to holding 5th gear pinned. He pulled me at the end but I was still impressed to have hung on that long. Later on that day I was joking with him and said "You had it pinned right?"

    "Nah, I was just trying to make you feel good"

    :bluduh :lol3

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
  7. 4play

    4play Next?

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    Nice!
    I've put over 1600 miles on mine, about 1400 of that was offroad & I'm really digging the bike as well. I regulary ride with Orange SE's & Adventures. I rate the offroad capability between the two. I'm really enjoyng the fuel economy/range. Easy 200 mles between fuel stops, the Orange crowd get a little panicky way before that :deal

    [​IMG]

    I went with a 150 Mefo Super Explorer rear, it should make 4k & the tracton is suprizingly good, the TKC front is Just OK offroad (tends to push, controllable, but pushes), quiet & well mannered on the road.
    The ADV Monster headlight fairing kills just enough wind.
  8. sailah

    sailah Lampin' it

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    I don't get anywhere near 200 miles, and I have more fuel than you.:huh

    I'm having trouble reliably calculating the MPG because the fuel is constantly getting trapped in the main tank and setting off the fuel light in the sub tank. And when I do fill it, it's hard to tell how much I added because the fuel is trying to drain into the subtank while I'm filling. I need to do a longer fuel study over 1000 miles and keep track of gallons used so I can get a better handle on real world MPGs.

    I don't know if I would go so far as to say the Ninja slots in between the ADV and the SE. I rode with a 990 ADV and a 950SE this weekend. Both bikes would walk away from mine on road. I like the suspension of the SE better offroad. I think if I get the bike lowered and run better valving it would compare to the ADV. The SE beats it hands down in almost every dept though. It's much more comfortable to stand for a long time, has better stability, not as stretched in the cockpit.

    And as much as I absolutely ADORE the carb'd 950 motor, I do give the edge to the 650 for an ADV bike. It's more friendly and forgiving if you want it to be but it will also easily haul the ball when pushed. I wish I was getting 50 mpg to seal the deal but I suspect I'm in the 30-40's. Like I said, I was riding like a complete idiot. If I behaved, maybe I could get it to 50. But that's a big maybe. On me behaving that is.:evil
  9. sanjoh

    sanjoh Purveyor of Light

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    Sounds like you are enjoying your creation:freaky

    Owning both a Dirt Ninja and an SE, it seems that the Ernge bike always needs something, while the DN just keeps giving and giving. All that after I left the DN in the woods as a write off for a couple of weeks.
  10. 4play

    4play Next?

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    I'm running the Versys fuel tank (5.4 gallons) & over 1600 miles my average corrected mpg is 42. My comparison to the two bikes was for OFFROAD. On road, yeah the 990 I used to own definately had more power, but I don't think it handled as well as the Ninja on or offroad I'm sure mostly because of the added weight. The SE, yes it would have an edge on my build in gnarly high speed stuff no doubt. Your build is more dirt oriented than mine, but mine continues to impress me for exploration/adventure rides.

    I have my KTM for stuff like this past Saturday;

    http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?p=22286891#post22286891
  11. Kennon

    Kennon Been here awhile

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    200 miles really? borrowed my dads ER-6F when my bike was in bits and hit 2 bars at 110 miles but that's in standard road trim and sitting about 80 on motorways for most the day.
  12. sailah

    sailah Lampin' it

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    I forgot you had the big tank. So maybe we are close in MPG? I do think the Ninja gets the nod in the handling dept on the road due to less weight. It's hard to say though. I know the SE weighs more, but it feels like about 50# more although I don't think that works out on paper. Mine weighs 380 lbs. I think if I lower the suspension down and get the "travel" back from better valving it will be even more in favor of the Ninja. My COG is really high with the legs I have on it. 2" drop in seat height would make it feel even more planted.

    It's like comparing a tuner import car to a Ferrari. Yes you can easily make a tuner car run with a Ferrari for 1/10 of the cost. But it's still not a supercar. And I know that, I was never looking to hold my bike on par with a Factory bike. Just as an exercise in "can I do it?" I think the answer is yes, it can be 85% of what an SE is in terms of performance for 40% of the cost.

    It's also much easier to live with once you get the bugs sorted. The motor seems was less maint than the 950 I had. Oil changes are a 5 minute job. The motor appears to be bulletproof and not stressed very hard.

    I just need to get a few things sorted to get rid of a couple problems and I think it will be ready to run.
  13. 4play

    4play Next?

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    Many of the guys that have these & Versys claim low 50's mpg, I'm only claiming 42 & like I said I have a Versys fuel tank that holds ~1 gallon more than a std Ninja, The 200 or so hwy miles I've done are an indicated 80mph, which is actually 72mph on my bike so my hwy mileage would be better than yours. Mine does not have a gauge so I don't know what two bars would relate to. The earliest the low fuel light has come on was at 189 miles indicated which is 178 miles actual. Mine engine is dead stock except the versys intake cam.
  14. 4play

    4play Next?

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    One of the little things I noticed is while waiting on other riders to make a turn on the trail, I have no urgency to turn the little sewing machine off. The KTM's I'd kill the engine as soon as I'd stopped, like you said, less stressed. I never have the feeling I'm doing anything to hurt it.

    Your build took you into a whole new level and it's a credit to you that you really have not had anymore teething pains than you have. Mine's really not that far from stock, For what I do with it 8" of rear wheel travel does pretty well. I would like to look into a rear shock with a slightly larger piston, for those unexpected big hits but Pete Russel did an amazing job revalving this one. It does really well as long as I don't forget which bike I'm on :eek1
  15. sailah

    sailah Lampin' it

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    I think the better way to get travel front and rear is to use a linkage shock and swingarm. That way the stock tank can be used.

    If I were to attempt again, and I might, I would do exactly the same thing up front as I did. KTM forks, big brake and wheel with an Excel front.

    The rear I would look into a YZ/CR/KX swingarm. Whichever was longest. And I would fit the linkage. Being linkage the top mount for the shock would *probably* fit under the stock tank. That right there just saved 70% of the work on my bike. Redoing the shock mount arms would be dead simple as I already have the geometry for the frame in CAD.

    Then you would have a completely stock tank and fuel system and not this crazy ass setup like I have. I would then shape the tank with knee cutouts to allow comfortable standing.

    The suspension I would shorten to 275mm front and rear.

    I would run a cush drive rear with heavy spokes and a 2.5" rear rim.

    And I would can the stock gauges and go with a trail tech dash on the HDB top plate.

    And I would give some serious consideration to doing a custom frame on the stock headtube. There is a lot of weight to be lost in that frame, the wall thickness is absurd. And I would build the crash guards into the frame design.

    And I would also run the exhaust out the back. It's pretty loud under the bike like I have it esp with the shorty can

    But that's for someone else to pick up where we left off and run with it.
  16. sanjoh

    sanjoh Purveyor of Light

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    Sign me up for one of those frames:clap
  17. 4play

    4play Next?

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    I just recently purchased a bender & have day dreamed a scratch built frame as well. I was thinking more along the lines of flipping the TB's & going with a convenional airbox opening the door for a plastic main tank.
    Full cradle frame or possibly a bolt on cradle that includes the crash protection? After working with the ABS plastic , I'm not scared to make my own seat pan..
    Dentvet had already installed the 640 Adventure rear wheel with cush hub, so mine already has that.
    You design a frame, maybe I'll build one :)
  18. Roadracer_Al

    Roadracer_Al louder, louder, louder!

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    I scored a DR650 hub with an 18" rim already laced to it. It's admittedly a bit heavier than a KTM item, but it was VERY reasonably priced.

    There's a complete DR 650 wheel on eBay now for $100 BIN and another for $160 BIN. There are precisely zero KTM wheels on eBay at the moment.
  19. 4play

    4play Next?

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    No frame design? :deal
  20. Roadracer_Al

    Roadracer_Al louder, louder, louder!

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    Don't tempt me! I already have too many projects on my plate!

    If I were doing it, I'd go with a double cradle: it makes mounting the foot pegs and skid plates significantly easier.

    And, as long as you're building stuff, build the swing arm length you want.