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Discussion Starter #1
I've been using my 250 as my primary means of transportation for about a year now. I've put 11k mi on it. I'm not an uber racer but do twisties sometimes; mostly it's for commuting, sometimes I take it camping w/ all my gear in the topbox, etc. The engine went FUBAR on me yesterday, so I'm looking for a new bike and will probably be disassembling the 250 for parting out.

I'm considering getting a 500 to replace it. What should I know?

FWIW I haven't found the 250 to be particularly lacking in power for my needs. I've actually been very happy with my 250. I'm just considering a 500 as an option vs the 250, depending on what comes up first and cheapest on Craigslist.

I've read a couple things about it so I'm not totally out of loop, but a few specific concerns:

1. a) I'm 5'5", 30" inseam. I more or less exactly flatfoot the 250. Is the 500 taller?
b) I'm 135 lb and not all that strong. I can pick up the 250 with effort. How much harder on me would the 500 be?
c) Is it a significantly different riding position than the 250? I like the 250 where I can go from sitting upright to full tuck, and am usually more in the upright mode except when I tuck for the sake of reduced wind noise or hard acceleration.

2. I have some modifications to the 250 that I'd like to carry over. Namely:
* rear brake lights modded to have 3 bulbs not 1 (http://faq.ninja250.org/wiki/I_want_to_wire_extra_brake_lights_into_those_empty_rear_sockets)
* front turn signals modded to act as running lights (running light fed off horn's hotwire; approx like http://www.pogmech.net/~knight/ninja250/drls/ but simpler)
* very large topbox mounted to cargo hooks & grab bar (grab bar goes into the bottom of the box, locked from the inside; very stable, but tailored to the 250's spacing - http://forums.ninja250.org/viewtopic.php?p=482245#482245 )

How similar are the two bikes? Would I be able to swap out a 500's brake light set for my dead 250's? Is the grab bar size/width & cargo hook spacing about the same?

I use the top box a lot so I wouldn't want to lose it. It's fugly but very useful. ;) (and no, it doesn't affect the handling by anywhere NEAR as much as people think; I've dragged peg with the thing on and loaded with my usual stuff)

3. How different are the two mechanically?

I'm used to doing most of my own servicing on the 250 - oil changes, brake fluid change, spark plugs, valve clearance adjustment; the only thing I haven't done is the tire replacement. ninja250.org has an awesome FAQ about all such topics; is there an equivalent for the 500?

4. How different is pre-'94 from post-'94 500?

I just saw a '93 500, 11kmi, been sitting for 6 months, $1500. Cheaper than 250s on offer right now. What issues should I be aware of?


Thanks a lot!

- Sai
 

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Whats up Sai,

I never had a 250 - but they are substantially bigger bikes - in terms of height and weight. You may have to shave the seat a little - I can exactly flat foot mine - but I can with one foot at the light and the other on the brake very comfortably - I'm 5'7" btw. The only thing shorter I can think of that's shorter is an R6 really -- but it should be fine.

I don't know anything about the lights on the 250.

It has way more power than a 250 I'll tell you that, and if you're a buck 35, its got PLENTY of power. If you want to get nutty and do any exhuast system like I did you can really have fun with it - but FOG will telly ou thats not necessary to get some real kick out of it, and he's right. (but the exhaust looks and sounds HAWT) :)

If you like riding twisties, its a very fun bike and you'll be really pleased with its handling.

A 93 for 1500 almost seems expensive, but our bikes seem to hold their value you like crazy. I guess all bikes in general do though... idk I bought my 2002 with 4k miles for 3200.

Get a color your like though :)
 

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Hi Sai. Interesting first post.

If you're pretty handy it doesn't seem like you oughta sweat any mechanical differences between the two bikes. The 500 will weigh, what... 50 pounds more, but it'll do 0-60 in under 4 sec & a quarter mile as fast as a 400 hp Corvette. Isn't the 250 is more like BMW sedan, or v-6 Mustang territory? The 500 throttles well... it's not hyper-touchy, & the engine is most thrilling above 7000 rpm.

The fuel mileage of 250's driven conservatively is... 70 mpg? The 500 won't be as good but not far off either... maybe 55-65.

When you start searching to find other info, be sure to go to the Homepage first, then enter your key search word(s). Seems to me that your electric mods oughta fasten up with a little tweaking at most... but I have no 250 experience. Still, they're both small twins from the same company.

Ever consider switching the dead-engine 250 to an electric rechargable bike?
I'm kicking around that idea for a personal project & maybe tie it in w/ my Middle School GearHeads club.

Bart
Omaha
 

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Discussion Starter #4
SoarAndEnvision said:
I never had a 250 - but they are substantially bigger bikes - in terms of height and weight. You may have to shave the seat a little - I can exactly flat foot mine - but I can with one foot at the light and the other on the brake very comfortably - I'm 5'7" btw. The only thing shorter I can think of that's shorter is an R6 really -- but it should be fine.
Hm. :/ I'll probably have to just try it and see. I wouldn't be comfortable on something I can't flatfoot - e.g. how am I supposed to walk it in reverse or swing it off centerstand?

It has way more power than a 250 I'll tell you that, and if you're a buck 35, its got PLENTY of power. If you want to get nutty and do any exhuast system like I did you can really have fun with it - but FOG will telly ou thats not necessary to get some real kick out of it, and he's right. (but the exhaust looks and sounds HAWT) :)
Ha! As I said, the 250 already has plenty of power for me. ;) I'm not worried about that (except possibly a bike being too powerful; I'm a relatively calm rider).

MrSciTrek said:
If you're pretty handy it doesn't seem like you oughta sweat any mechanical differences between the two bikes.
Is there a good source of info about the 500 comparable to the faq.ninja250.org?

The 500 will weigh, what... 50 pounds more, but it'll do 0-60 in under 4 sec & a quarter mile as fast as a 400 hp Corvette. Isn't the 250 is more like BMW sedan, or v-6 Mustang territory? The 500 throttles well... it's not hyper-touchy, & the engine is most thrilling above 7000 rpm.
*laugh* Per above, I'm not too worried about the power difference. More might be nice, but enh, I'm not missing it... So long as it's smooth delivery etc so it doesn't cause problems. The 250 has peak around 9krpm.

When you start searching to find other info, be sure to go to the Homepage first, then enter your key search word(s).
Yeah, I did that. Read through all threads that mention "250".

Ever consider switching the dead-engine 250 to an electric rechargable bike?
Oy. That's a bit more work than I'm willing to do. And like I said - I used my 250 as my daily go-everywhere vehicle, for everything from groceries to commuting to twisty runs to camping. It has to be reliable.
 

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"Oy"??

Are you in England?
 

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MrSciTrek said:
a quarter mile as fast as a 400 hp Corvette.
no wai.

a 405 HP C5 Z06 will run a low 12 to high 11 out of the box (depending on driver)

the ex, according to the internets, will do low 13s or high 12s


still faster than a stock rustang GT though :)
 

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I own both a 250 and a 500. Here are some numbers:
Dry weight:
- 250: 304lbs
- 500: 388lbs
Factor in gasoline, oil, coolant, etc. and you're looking around 420lbs easily. It's quite a difference having to pick up the 500, if and when that sad moment comes. I'm 5'8" and I am only flat-footed with the 500 when the ground beneath me is flat. If there's any sort of incline, dip, etc. I find myself on my toes.

The 500 has more power. Around 52 hp at the rear wheel, with the 250 somewhere around 30 hp.

It isn't as maneuverable as the 250, as light or anything else really. It's a lot more fun (for me anyways), looks a helluva lot nicer, and is great all around. Mileage isn't as high as the 250. Average around 48 mpg, while the 250 can easily get up to 70 mpg.
Having ridden the 500 a good amount, I can fairly say that I would not enjoy going back to the 250, only because I'm just slowly moving through the chain. Eventually I'll ditch the 500 and join the 4-cylinder club, but this has been a great second bike.

All around, you'll feel comfortable with the 500. If it's a little high for you (and it is taller than the 250), there are ways you can have it lowered.
You've spent plenty of time on that 250, you should definitely move up.

You mention how comfortable you are on the 250, and it's odd because that bike is still quite a ways off when it comes to comfort. There are other bikes out there that are bigger, faster AND more comfortable. Kawasaki's line of Sport bikes, including the 650R and the ZZR600 are comfortable and are used by lots of riders as sport/touring bikes.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
eXce!!eNt said:
Factor in gasoline, oil, coolant, etc. and you're looking around 420lbs easily. It's quite a difference having to pick up the 500, if and when that sad moment comes. I'm 5'8" and I am only flat-footed with the 500 when the ground beneath me is flat. If there's any sort of incline, dip, etc. I find myself on my toes.
I would not be happy with that. :( And I'm 3" shorter than you (and probably weaker too).

All around, you'll feel comfortable with the 500. If it's a little high for you (and it is taller than the 250), there are ways you can have it lowered.
True, but those are a PITA + extra $. Same stuff can be done on the 250; I presume it's all the same mods.

You've spent plenty of time on that 250, you should definitely move up.

You mention how comfortable you are on the 250, and it's odd because that bike is still quite a ways off when it comes to comfort. There are other bikes out there that are bigger, faster AND more comfortable. Kawasaki's line of Sport bikes, including the 650R and the ZZR600 are comfortable and are used by lots of riders as sport/touring bikes.
Yeah, like I said: I *am* comfortable on the 250. The only thing that irritates me (and only sometimes) is wind buffeting. Only a couple times have I wanted more power, when I was on a long backroad and wanting to pass a trucker at 55mph or so. Otherwise it's been great. I don't at all care about bigger, faster, or blingier; in fact I prefer light enough that I can pick it up without hurting something, and take functionality over looks. (If you took a look at my topbox pics that should be obvious. :p) So, honestly, more power is not much of a draw for me; I haven't felt much *need* to "graduate". Maybe I would in retrospect after I got one; that's hard to tell.

Comfort is a good thing though. How is the 500 more comfortable than the 250? (Remember, I'm a relatively small guy.)
 

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I would really recommend the ZZR600. It's a few pounds lighter than the 500 (381 lbs for the CA model), and can be outfitted to be an ideal bike when it comes to cruising around and avoiding that wind in your face. If you would like to graduate to another bike, and you've put 11k miles on your 250, I really have to recommend the ZZR as per your needs.

The 500 is a great second bike, not a tremendous amount of power (you'll be hard pressed to wheelie it even if you dump the clutch), but the ZZR wins in terms of rider comfort.

Here's Kawasaki's intro to the ZZR:
"The ZZR®600 sets the standard for practical middleweight performance while offering class-leading comfort and cutting edge style."

I know it's straight from the horse's mouth an all, but I know riders who own the ZZR, and I'm not just talking outta my behind here.
Another option is the Suzuki GS500F, weighing in at 372lbs dry. It's just a little big quicker than the EX500 (probably due to its weight difference alone), but is lighter than other bikes of its caliber.

Honestly, most comfortable bikes are on the heavy side. Manufacturer's try to make the Super Sports be light and quick, and so they spend more time engineering a bike that meets those standards. Kawasaki kind of re-designed the ZZR over the years, and now it's a great buy. It used to be much heavier, and quite a bit uglier. Now it has lost some pounds, and looks sporty, while still being a very comfy ride.

The 500 is more comfortable to me over the 250 only because the 250 kind of felt like a toy after a while. The 500 has up-right seating like the 250, is wider (so my legs hug much more comfortably) and it definitely feels heavier, which makes it seem more solid on the road.
If you're set on an EX500, you can lower the bike yourself. Just poke around these forums (use the search tool) and you'll find some threads on users having the bike lowered the DIY way.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Honestly? I want my box. :-\

I seriously was not joking when I said that this is my primary, everywhere/everything vehicle. One of the primary reasons is because I have 24 gallons of storage behind me. (In practical terms, that's 6 full paper bags of groceries and then some, or a toolbag, food, full 30lb camping backpack, and miscellany.) I use it a lot. Mostly what I carry is just my backpack, water, food; I've tried carrying a backpack on while riding (instead of the box) and found that fairly uncomfortable.

Second to that, I want comfort. I'm small. It has to be something I can comfortably walk backwards (on slight hills too, which means not on my tippy tip toes), pick up if it falls (**** happens), etc. I usually sit upright; I don't really find tuck comfortable for more than a few minutes at a time, and only use it when wind gets rough. (Which it does sometimes on the 250. That part would be good to change... possibly with a bigger windshield.) I haven't found wind from truck contrails to be an issue, but wind over bridges or in heavy storms does blow me around my lane. That would be nice to have different, but on the other hand it doesn't bother me all that much; it's self-correcting so long as I don't try to push things too much, and I give it space to lean into the wind in compensation.

I need at least its amount of power, in acceleration and braking. I don't really need more or miss having more, though it might be nice also. I find its cornering very pleasant; possibly I could lose some on that and not miss it too much, as I'm not really a kneedragger.

I don't think I could fit luggage onto a ZZR600. I might be able to on a GS500, though without cargo hooks it'd require some modifications to make it stable.
 

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Here's a ZZR600 with luggage... see attachment.
(someone posted the pic on this site)
To me anyways, it looks like around a 2000 model. New ones are much sleeker and lighter.

A heavier bike will get blown around less with wind. I remember getting whipped around on my 250 traveling at higher speeds, and getting blown around by passing semi's. The 500 is much more stable, but there are better options out there. I only chose the 500 because it was incomparably cheaper than the GS500F, and the price difference isn't worth mentioning between the EX500 and the SS bikes.
If you aren't stuck in school like me and can afford a better option, then go for it. I can't imagine you sticking with a 250 your entire life. There's a lot more out there in terms of riding comfort, overall ride-ability and other such things.

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And here is a 500 with luggage.

Most any bike can be outfitted to suit your needs. That's not the part I'd worry about. I know you're not a huge person, but dropping a bike should be a very seldom occurrence. And there are ways to make picking a bike up easier.

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Discussion Starter #14
eX - Thank you for the pics & advice. Probably I *could* add a securing device of some sort to most bikes.

I think at this point what it'll come down to is my comfort with its height. For that I'll have to just try one on for size to see. It's one of those things where I'm small enough that an inch or two of height could make the difference. Ah well.

There's always the option of getting a 250 again. ;)
 

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saizai said:
eX - Thank you for the pics & advice. Probably I *could* add a securing device of some sort to most bikes.

I think at this point what it'll come down to is my comfort with its height. For that I'll have to just try one on for size to see. It's one of those things where I'm small enough that an inch or two of height could make the difference. Ah well.

There's always the option of getting a 250 again. ;)
On the 500... the front springs can be lowered without much grief, & the rear spring can be adjusted down some, but I don't know how much. Might search for the topics on "dogbones" which can be swapped out to change the rear height.
 

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saizai said:
eX - Thank you for the pics & advice. Probably I *could* add a securing device of some sort to most bikes.

I think at this point what it'll come down to is my comfort with its height. For that I'll have to just try one on for size to see. It's one of those things where I'm small enough that an inch or two of height could make the difference. Ah well.

There's always the option of getting a 250 again. ;)
Haha please don't get a 250 again! :D

I just want to reiterate that lowering a bike is a rather painless procedure for the DIY'er, and it wouldn't cost you much to have a shop do it. The bigger bikes will feel bulky at first, but once it's rolling and you're in control, they're a lot less intimidating, and feel very stable.

And if you do go the route of grabbing a bigger bike, I could give you some advice on how to make your bike easier to pick up in the event of a fall (frame sliders, bar ends, etc.).
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I have no doubt that the height can be adjusted. But even as DIY it'd be a sunk cost, unrecoverable on sale. How much? Sliders, bar ends, etc... those are all $100 or so each, and it adds up quickly. Could you point me to a FAQ about lowering the 500? How much can be taken out WITHOUT harmfully affecting the handling, braking, etc and without expensive parts (like new seats)?

I'm in a pretty bad spot right now financially; the death of my primary transport is a Bad Thing. :( My car works but only barely; its front left universal joint is giving death-rattles and will need repair imminently (something I'm not qualified to do, so that's $200-$300 to a shop) or at some point it'll seize up in turn and try to kill me. Plus something wrong with its charging system (again, $$.)

I know that even heavy bikes can be leveraged up, but I've also had to push my bike; push it backwards uphill a bit to get out of tight spaces; etc. The combination of heavy plus small leg clearance means that that would be very difficult for me.
 

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you could get dogbones from either FOG or DAD for around 50$, that would lower the rear.. They'd do them to lower 1 to 1.5 inches.

You could also 'push the fork' up through the tripple tree, lowering the front a bit more.

If you don't want to spend $ at all, you could do like the previous owner did on my ride, and unwind the preset on the rear shock.. but that alter the ride.. the other mods just lower the center of gravity ;)
 

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Bar ends and frame sliders can all be had for easily under $100. Depends on the bike though. You can get [rear] sliders for the 500 for $18 + S&H on eBay. Bar ends can be grabbed from HVMP for ~$50, or you can get cheaper ones for less on eBay or other places.

So you're settling down on the 500 then? :D
 

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You can also check the For Sale and Want To Buy sections on this site, good deals can be found there ;)
 
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