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Discussion Starter #1
Finally hit the bit number, 150,000 miles on the EX! What a journey it has been to get here.

From a free motorcycle I got from a friend after an offhand comment on the old bike in the corner collecting dust while working on a car to a machine I now know more about than I ever imagined I would. This bike really helped launch me into doing all of my own auto and moto work. It's been my go-to transportation for the last decade and initially was my only mode of transportation. I've gone through a number of other cars, trucks and motorcycles over the years but my first bike has stayed with me the whole time.

This forum, its information and its members helped me greatly in the first few years of membership in keeping my bike not only on the road but saving me a pile of money by providing the knowledge and confidence to do the work myself. Once I became intimately familiar with the inner workings, I've been giving back to the community much in the same way it provided to me early on, sharing my knowledge and wisdom freely. I've even used this knowledge to save wrecked and neglected EX500's, bring them back to life and hand them off to friends as reliable steeds.

Lately, with the knowledge I've gained both here and it practical application, I've been moving beyond the forum and working on new ways of working on these bikes and meddling in the unknown with parts and theories, all in the name of ever improving my ride and to bring back the information to share here for everyone else. Some of these are so recent I've yet to create a thread about them, coming soon!

Now, my bike moves largely into the unknown for this particular model with this high of mileage. I have yet to read of another EX with over 150k. I will be keeping track of what new and unusual service items I run into at such high mileage and, of course, posting about it here.
You all can expect me to stick around for a good long time, I thoroughly plan on riding this thing until the frame splits, weld it back together, then keep riding it some more. Only one way to find out just how long an EX500 lasts.

Here's a "quick" (maybe not so quick) synopsis on what my particular ride is and what I've done to it.
1990 EX500, gifted to me in September of 2010 by a friend with 21,152 miles on the odometer.
First engine was replaced at 57,000 miles. It wasn't toast, kind of a long story, but bottom line, it's long gone now.
Second engine, an early gen2 unit, was installed an ran until it started sounding a bit off around 110,000 miles. Including prior mileage, total miles on that engine was 67,000. It's awaiting a teardown and diagnosis. A backup engine I keep was run for a couple months while I built up a replacement. That engine now has close to 40,000 miles on this frame, don't know prior mileage.
A new, fully rebuilt engine (I did the rebuild, of course), so bottom end bearings, rings, etc, is done, sitting on the bench. It'll go in soon, my current engine didn't have the rings bed in correctly and it burns more oil than I'd like.

Gen2 suspension went on at 103,000 miles.
Upper fairing is original but nearing the end of its life. The plastic has become very brittle with age, a ton of heat cycles and lots of vibration from bad roads. Fuel tank is original and aside from several dents, it completely fine. No rust.
Lots of odds and ends have been replaced over the years for various reasons. Not everything I've replaced has been due to failure or fatigue. The suspension, for example, was just an upgrade for better tire selection. Voltage regulator was replaced after 100,000 miles for a Mosfet for peace of mind, though it was amazingly original and still functional.

Here is photo of the odometer right after hitting the big number. Yes, that is the original odometer still ticking. Wasn't easy, there's been more than one occasion of it not registering, requiring a cleaning and lube. Most recently, the main odometer/speedometer drive in the cluster got so gummed up it snapped the original speedometer cable, which I was super bummed about. It took some work, but I freed it up and got it spinning again, though not like a lower mileage unit does and I plan on replacing it with a matched mileage unit after I roll it over a second time at 200,000. There's plenty of clusters on ebay with just a couple thousand miles showing.



And here's how it sits today. The partially cut upper fairing was done for three reasons. First, drop damage was a pain to fix, so I cut off the part which always hits the ground when dropped. Second, it allows much easier access to the top of the engine without removing the upper fairing. Third, the fuel tank can be removed now without having to touch the upper fairing.


Here's a fun one. Who can spot the part which isn't supposed to be there? The hint is that it's in the front half of the bike, so forward of the front of the seat and the footpegs. It's a new modification I'll be posting about soon.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
It's important to note than I'm a bit hard on my engines in this bike. I don't abuse them per se, but I certainly don't baby them either. Let's just say I put these engines through their paces. Combine that with this being an old tech, budget, entry level parts bin special from Kawasaki and I tend to find the durability limits of the main and rod bearings, piston rings and camshaft wear tolerances.
 

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Not an EX front fender - unless you trimmed it and swapped it end for end.
 

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I'm not really any good at guessing games but from the foggy photo. it appears to have more non gen 1 bits than original. those are not gen 1 forks or brakes. neither is the engine or most of the running gear. if it is anything subtle I can't see it.
 

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Congrats on hitting 150K! It's fun to look back and see this post from 8 years ago:

51900


In the replies to you, someone wrote "I think the service life is 150,000 miles." Seems like you are on your way to 300K! 😁
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Not an EX front fender - unless you trimmed it and swapped it end for end.
That is actually a stock gen2 front fender. They are visually much different than the gen1 fenders. I wanted to keep the original but the mounting is completely different.

I'm not really any good at guessing games but from the foggy photo. it appears to have more non gen 1 bits than original. those are not gen 1 forks or brakes. neither is the engine or most of the running gear. if it is anything subtle I can't see it.
I know the photo kinda sucks, sun had already set and my phone is 5 years old and the lens has collected an unfortunate amount of dust. Moving on, you are correct in there being a bunch of gen2 stuff on there. Suspension is completely gen2 swapped. Engine, however, is gen1, at least the bottom end. It a super early production block, engine serial number is about 1,000, so late 1986. Cylinder head was whatever I had laying around the shop that looked good. Could be gen1 or gen2, the 5 fin head first appeared in 1991. The original engine did, however, had a 4 fin head and I'll be going back to my roots with the replacement engine which is a 1989 unit with the original 4 fin head.
You are right that the difference is very subtle. It's a hose, an extra one.


Congrats on hitting 150K! It's fun to look back and see this post from 8 years ago:

View attachment 51900

In the replies to you, someone wrote "I think the service life is 150,000 miles." Seems like you are on your way to 300K! 😁
Haha, you managed to dig up one of my old posts I had completely forgotten about! Guess I answered my own question eh. Onward to 300k!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Is that a Thermo-Bob? How do you like it?
We have a winner! It is, sort of. He doesn't make a kit which will bolt up directly to the EX500 so I have to get creative. I'll go in depth with my setup, trial and error process to get there and the flaws I have found in the stock cooling system in a separate thread. It is also still a work in progress, I need to fine tune it. The next step is to run a different thermostat, which I recall reading somewhere that a version of the Ford Ranger uses a thermostat which will drop right in. So far, the bike runs a bit warmer, which is good considering the year round cool weather I get here near the California coast. It's hard to tell if morning warm up times have been accelerated. That will be improved with a thermostat which lacks the built in bypass hole of the factory thermostat, which is no longer needed due to the radiator bypass I now have.
 

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A testimony to intestinal fortitude of the owner rather than to the ruggedness or longevity of the EX. refusing to give up on it.
Kicking a dead horse comes to mind.

FOG
 

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Nah, that particular horse hasn't been allowed to die peacefully. More like putting it on indefinite, long-term life support.
Well done, Saabnut. That old horse will probably be part of your estate sale!
If you replace enough parts of a motorcycle (due to damage or wear), is it still the same motorcycle as at the beginning?
Would it be considered the same bike if only the frame is the original part? Or is it just another bike with the same frame?
At what point does it become a Franken-bike?

Sometimes these questions won't let me sleep :p
 

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good point. I never thought of that. mine has done 88k now or has it. the frame has the engine is original so that has the wheels have but just about everything else has been changed.
 

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The engine replacement intervals make me feel better about my inability to get much more than 50k out of any low end bike before things start getting dicey. Your perseverance with a single model, nay frame, is much better than mine. As you say, you reap the rewards of complete familiarity with the machine, whereas all that accumulated know-how tends to get squandered when one jumps ship to something else.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
A testimony to intestinal fortitude of the owner rather than to the ruggedness or longevity of the EX. refusing to give up on it.
Kicking a dead horse comes to mind.

FOG
Let's be real here, this bike is still on the road due to my stubbornness, mechanical knowledge/aptitude and access to a large pile of spare parts.


If you replace enough parts of a motorcycle (due to damage or wear), is it still the same motorcycle as at the beginning?
Would it be considered the same bike if only the frame is the original part? Or is it just another bike with the same frame?
At what point does it become a Franken-bike?

Sometimes these questions won't let me sleep :p
At this point, it's easier to list the parts I haven't replaced than the ones I have. Frame and instrument cluster are still original, so there's that.


The engine replacement intervals make me feel better about my inability to get much more than 50k out of any low end bike before things start getting dicey. Your perseverance with a single model, nay frame, is much better than mine. As you say, you reap the rewards of complete familiarity with the machine, whereas all that accumulated know-how tends to get squandered when one jumps ship to something else.
Some have claimed abuse or neglect is the cause of me not getting particularly stellar mileage out of an engine and while the former may be partially true, the latter is not and a running the engine through its paces is not enough to wear out these engines were they actually designed to last. An EX500 engine is no BMW boxer or Duc L-twin.


The radiator cap fits the Ford ranger 1999 and vice versa
I'm almost half way currently at 73k miles
That's what I was thinking of, not the thermostat but still cooling system related. I'll have to get further creative with my Thermo-bob system.
 

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Some have claimed abuse or neglect is the cause of me not getting particularly stellar mileage out of an engine and while the former may be partially true, the latter is not and a running the engine through its paces is not enough to wear out these engines were they actually designed to last. An EX500 engine is no BMW boxer or Duc L-twin
[/QUOTE
I'm not sure I understand you here. Are you saying the boxers/ducs were not designed to last? Or they are and the ex isn't?

I have almost exactly half the miles you have on my ex500 (75,000) with the original engine and pretty much original everything. So far, no real troubles, and I do not baby the bike in any way. I'd love to take it up to 100k and beyond. I always read your posts with interest. That said, when I see all that you've had to do, all that you've replaced (and that I likely will have to replace if I keep the bike), my instinct tells me to switch to a Guzzi or some other really overbuilt bike that will supposedly last hundreds of thousands of miles.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I'm not sure I understand you here. Are you saying the boxers/ducs were not designed to last? Or they are and the ex isn't?
I guess if you're not particularly familiar with either brand then that might not make sense. The big BMW boxer twins have a long standing reputation as one of the most durable and long lasting motorcycle engines on the planet. 100,000 miles on an original, unopened engine is commonplace, 200,000 miles happens regularly and 300,000+ is not unheard of. The Ducati L twins are not far behind with many owners reporting well over 100,000 miles without needing to do anything to the bottom end.
So, what I am saying is an EX is not like either of those in terms of durability.

I have almost exactly half the miles you have on my ex500 (75,000) with the original engine and pretty much original everything. So far, no real troubles, and I do not baby the bike in any way. I'd love to take it up to 100k and beyond. I always read your posts with interest. That said, when I see all that you've had to do, all that you've replaced (and that I likely will have to replace if I keep the bike), my instinct tells me to switch to a Guzzi or some other really overbuilt bike that will supposedly last hundreds of thousands of miles.
However much I love these bikes, I gotta say they are not the top choice for anyone who wants a long lived machine. They're small, lightweight entry level bikes and it shows over time. Thankfully, that makes them fantastically easy to work on, parts are cheap and it's not a big deal if you drop it. Nobody is about to waste their time either trying to steal a bike worth 900 1,000 bucks.

If you're looking for a bike which will take you there and back again both reliably and comfortably, a more sturdy and overbuilt bike isn't a bad idea. Guzzi is good, BMW's (at least the older models, newer ones are over-engineered and can be expensive to service and repair), Ducati's (see my comment on BMW's), larger engined Honda's and I know Victory's and newer Indian's are stout machines. My brother helped service a guy's Victory with over 300,000 miles on the clock!
 

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I guess if you're not particularly familiar with either brand then that might not make sense. The big BMW boxer twins have a long standing reputation as one of the most durable and long lasting motorcycle engines on the planet. 100,000 miles on an original, unopened engine is commonplace, 200,000 miles happens regularly and 300,000+ is not unheard of. The Ducati L twins are not far behind with many owners reporting well over 100,000 miles without needing to do anything to the bottom end.
So, what I am saying is an EX is not like either of those in terms of durability.



However much I love these bikes, I gotta say they are not the top choice for anyone who wants a long lived machine. They're small, lightweight entry level bikes and it shows over time. Thankfully, that makes them fantastically easy to work on, parts are cheap and it's not a big deal if you drop it. Nobody is about to waste their time either trying to steal a bike worth 900 1,000 bucks.

If you're looking for a bike which will take you there and back again both reliably and comfortably, a more sturdy and overbuilt bike isn't a bad idea. Guzzi is good, BMW's (at least the older models, newer ones are over-engineered and can be expensive to service and repair), Ducati's (see my comment on BMW's), larger engined Honda's and I know Victory's and newer Indian's are stout machines. My brother helped service a guy's Victory with over 300,000 miles on the clock!
Yes, I thought that's what you were saying about the boxers. Just making sure. I have been thinking about this--and putting off the decision--a long time now. I always come back to the Guzzis, either a V7 or one of the older, not-so-huge California's. Or--I always catch a bit of hell here for saying this--a sporty XL with mid controls and the 4.5 gal tank (there's a guy who did many iron butts on one and didn't have to rebuilt the engine until nearly 300k or so). I had no idea that Ducatis had this reputation though. How far back do you have to go with them? I glance at Older BMWs sometimes but it seems like you have to go back so far to get to the simpler ones.

But I am hijacking your thread here. Congrats on doing 150K on the ex500!
 
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