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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello All,

I've been a quiet member here since 2008, when I got my first motorcycle, a 2001 Ex500. I rode it for many miles in the late 2000's/early 2010's, but here we are way too many years and a few kids later and it's been sitting since 2013. I decided recently to get it running again in hopes of selling...but am having too much fun working on it. I've decided to go the cliche route of a street fighter/naked build, something to tinker with and take around the block every once in awhile. Tank was slightly rusted inside and has been given a vinegar bath; it's now stripped of paint (the purple I've waited 13 years now to remove). The carbs are out and the plastic is off. I've put on new sprockets and chain, and am currently waiting on a fuel petcock and carb rebuild kit in the mail. Headlight, speedo, and brackets came in the mail today. My FOG Bones are sitting on the garage floor (to be installed last). I likely will have work to do on the cooling system, brakes, front forks, and whatever else I come across in my journey.

I don't intend this to be a how-to, you guys already have that covered. I'm starting this thread to chronicle the project, but also to contribute to this incredible community that I've used as a resource for many years now. I plan on posting progress updates and pics to this thread, I believe this is the best format (hopefully there aren't rules against it?). I welcome any comments, suggestions, critiques, etc. Thank you!
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1997 Kawasaki Ninja 500
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Welcome back, I have definitely enjoyed tinkering on these machines. I look forward to watching your progress. With as many questions as I've read on the forums it would be good for you to list the items you use to convert the bike. I also highly recommend the POR15 treatment for your gas tank. It's relatively straight forward, though cleaning the tank out took me a long time.
 

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Looks fine. Looking forward to see the complete result. For the tank, I may recommend tankerite. Mine has been treated too, and you'll never have to worry about rust anymore. It's not crazy expensive, and a professional will charge you around 50. If you do it by yourself you will only spend the price of the kit.
 

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That's a fun coincidence. My 2005's been sitting in my garage for years after it starting running poorly and I've finally gotten the inspiration to get it working again because it struck me I could make it into a streetfighterish bike. I just started tinkering and pulling stuff apart yesterday.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks fellas, I looked into POR15 and Tankerite. I'll be holding off for now, but will likely use a sealant down the road.

This weekend the crew (myself and an old friend who happens to be an X-Harley mechanic) got the headlight and speedo on the bike. The headlight needs new connectors, but the speedo was compatible with the stock connectors. The 500 has a bolted on wire stay on under the handlebars that I was able to unscrew and bolt the speedo directly to. I was fully expecting to fabricate a bracket, so that was a nice surprise. Wiring the speedo was easy, once I realized there's a ground on each of the two female connectors coming from the bike (some cursing before figuring this out). Everything was operational, then suddenly the speedo backlight refused to illuminate with the headlight on, hopefully due to a low battery. I also painted the front sprocket cover and installed that.

Parts used:
Headlight
Headlight bracket
Speedometer (KPH)

This week I hope to tackle the carb rebuild and synchronization.

She's a few different colors right now, some imagination required:

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Update:

I've finished removing rust from inside the tank. Using vinegar and a length of chain worked really well. For now I have WD40 to keep the rust away until its full of gas. Thanks to the forums I'm now aware that it should be sealed up with a product at this point, but I'm determined to find this out for myself the hard way. I painted the tank with Dupli-Color metallic black, which looks great and really sparkles when the sun is on it. For clear I went with USC Spray Max 2K High Gloss Clear which hasn't turned out as high gloss as I was hoping. I still need to wet sand and polish after it sets so I'm optimistic it will pop after that. I'll be giving the front fender the same treatment and roll with the stock gray on the rear plastics for now.

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Carbs have been cleaned and rebuilt using an Ebay carb kit from seller Majo978. All parts appeared to match OEM except for the needles. They were slightly shorter and had a different profile so I stuck with the originals after cleaning them up. The carbs were in pretty rough shape after sitting with fuel in them. I wont be making that mistake again. The carb sync tool is in so a carb sync has been added to the list.

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I rebuilt the fuel petcock using a kit made by All Balls Racing that I picked up from Montgomeryville Cycle Center. The parts seem of good quality but the valve is now impossibly tight to operate, even after using silicone to lubricate the o-ring a little. Hopefully I don't soon regret declining a new OEM petcock for $110. The filters were totally destroyed so I'll be installing an inline filter between the carbs.

Next steps are new plugs, install newly arrived Delkevic exhaust (cause why not), install fuel filter, add coolant, and see if she'll start.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Tonight I fired up the 500 for the first time in a couple years. Unfortunately it has an issue idling. Once the throttles open everything seems fine but when idling without the choke on, it dies. We played around with the idle adjustment and carb sync screw without any luck. It was also putting out a lot of smoke. Video linked below:


I'll be searching the forums, doubt I'm the first to have this issue. At least the pipes look cool:

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84' Goldwing Aspencade, 91' EX500, 98' Ninja 250/17' 300 engine, 07' EX500
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Sounds like clogged idle jets, it's typical when a bike sits for a long time without fuel that hasn't been treated with a fuel stabilizer.

Carbs need to be removed properly cleaned. I suggest you contact @ducatiman
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
That’s what it sounds like, the odd thing is the idle jets were removed and replaced with new ones.
 

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84' Goldwing Aspencade, 91' EX500, 98' Ninja 250/17' 300 engine, 07' EX500
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Could be the idle circuit itself, very tiny passages.

These need to be clear as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
The bike was putting out a lot of smoke because it was running rich, and I think I know why. Check out the size difference between the OEM idle jet and the one I purchased on ebay:

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I burned through about a half gallon of fuel in 15 minutes while attempting a carb sync. At one point the mixture screw was out 1/2 turn and it was still wildly rich. I cleaned the OEM best I could and put it back in the carbs. I'll try and source a new one, but that will have to do for now. I haven't been able to get back to the garage, but I'm hopeful this remedies the problem.
A secondary issue I'm having is that the throttle runs away at times on its own - but I want to get the OEM idle jet back on the bike before I try to figure that one out.
 

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I think that original jet is probably good.
 
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the trouble with some aftermarket kits is they are generic and not bike specific. sellers will say "fits" EX500 but not "for" the EX500. being generic there is no guarantee the kit in them contains all the right bits for a particular bike.
it seems you got one of those as the jets and needles were the wrong ones. one more case of buyer beware when E-bay is involved.
 

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The bike was putting out a lot of smoke because it was running rich, and I think I know why. Check out the size difference between the OEM idle jet and the one I purchased on ebay:

View attachment 54482

I burned through about a half gallon of fuel in 15 minutes while attempting a carb sync. At one point the mixture screw was out 1/2 turn and it was still wildly rich. I cleaned the OEM best I could and put it back in the carbs. I'll try and source a new one, but that will have to do for now. I haven't been able to get back to the garage, but I'm hopeful this remedies the problem.
A secondary issue I'm having is that the throttle runs away at times on its own - but I want to get the OEM idle jet back on the bike before I try to figure that one out.
Those main jets are not why you are burring through gas whilst syncing the carbs, unless you're syncing at very high revs. Main jets only come into play much higher in the rev range, and will explain why you have plumes of black spoke when really twisting the throttle hard.

When you are syncing you should only be on the air-fuel mixture screw. Richness here indicates too large a pilot jet (or a hogged out OEM pilot jet of the correct size), or your fuel levels are too high in the float bowls.
 

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I'd hope OP would not picture mains while referencing pilots. I can see confusion from the shady "top" view, they do look similar.
 
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