Ex-500.com - The home of the Kawasaki EX500 / Ninja 500R banner

1 - 20 of 30 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
18 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Greetings all!

For a little bit about myself, I'm a mechanic in north-central IL. I've been riding off and on since I was 16 (now 34). Most of the riding I've done as an adult has been cross country tours on a V-Strom 650 and later on a Versys 1000LT. In the past couple years I've gotten into track riding a bit. I purchased a Ninja 300, promptly crashed it at the track and have put it back together into hideous but working order. Problem is, at 6'1", it's quite cramped for me. So to fix that problem...

I just picked up a '94 EX500 yesterday for cheap and have plans of making it my next track bike. It's got about 29k on the clock and is in rough but rideable condition. It runs and shifts well but the suspension is pretty much sacked and the front brake has got something going on with the pushrod or lever. It squeaks and is tough to pull at first.

The plan is to spend the winter tearing the bike down, inspecting things, doing maintenance/repairs and rebuilding the suspension. I'm planning on doing springs and emulators in the front and replacing the rear shock. This is just a track day build, not a race bike, so budget is the primary concern (I'm not inclined to buy a Penske). On my Ninja 300 I swapped the rear shock out for a unit off an '07 GSXR750. This took minor modification of the shock, some spacers and longer dog bones. I was wondering if anybody knew if this was a possible swap for the 500 as well. I've seen some threads that the 300 shock fits the 500. Would it stand to reason that the GSXR shock would also fit the 500?

Also, if anybody has any recommendations for clip-ons or rearsets, that'd be greatly appreciated.

Other than that, if anybody has any tips, tricks, warnings or general wisdom they'd like to share about how to get one of these on a track at the best fun/speed/dollar ratio I'm all ears! I've done some kicking around on here and see that Fog is the guy to talk to about suspension and geometry. So I'm sure I'll be bugging him at some point :) I don't do a lot of work on bikes but I do work on cars for a living. So I might need some clarification on some bike-specific jargon from time to time. But overall, I should (hopefully) be able to follow along with technical suggestions.

Thanks in advance!
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
6,150 Posts
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
3,732 Posts
Welcome! Gen 1 bikes have some known weaknesses, but '94 was the first year of it's only redesign and they fixed all those issues. They also upgraded to 17" wheels, rear disc, slightly stouter forks, and other stuff I can't remember.

While upgrading the forks, replace the steering head bearings with tapered rollers. The stock bearing is loose-ball-in-race, not great even when new.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
144 Posts
Welcome to the forum, I think you'll enjoy the 500. I'd be curious what you find out about the rear shock, but you may have to trial and error it. I haven't read about that combination yet. I primarily use my bike around town, but the front springs and emulators are great. Definitely worth the investment.

Happy to recommend @fog for rearsets and FOG Bones (maybe motor mounts if you'd like to go there) to better the geometry (He's still making them, the ad is up ;) ). As for clip-ons, I believe Woodcraft is making adjustable clip-ons for our bike again but not positive.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
18 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Welcome! Gen 1 bikes have some known weaknesses, but '94 was the first year of it's only redesign and they fixed all those issues. They also upgraded to 17" wheels, rear disc, slightly stouter forks, and other stuff I can't remember.
Yeah, '94 was my cut-off for buying because of the upgrades. Mostly the tires and rear brakes. But the added rigidity is a nice bonus, too.

While upgrading the forks, replace the steering head bearings with tapered rollers. The stock bearing is loose-ball-in-race, not great even when new.
They're on the list. :) All Balls Racing has them unless somebody has reason for a different brand/supplier. They actually seem to have quite a bit of stuff I've been trying to find on different sites. Definitely gonna snag a caliper/master rebuild kit from them, too.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
18 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Welcome to the forum, I think you'll enjoy the 500. I'd be curious what you find out about the rear shock, but you may have to trial and error it. I haven't read about that combination yet. I primarily use my bike around town, but the front springs and emulators are great. Definitely worth the investment.

Happy to recommend @fog for rearsets and FOG Bones (maybe motor mounts if you'd like to go there) to better the geometry (He's still making them, the ad is up ;) ). As for clip-ons, I believe Woodcraft is making adjustable clip-ons for our bike again but not positive.
Thanks for the recommendation. At some point this winter I might pull the shock off the 300 and see if it'll work on the 500. For being a considerably larger bike, the space for the rear shock on the 500 is a lot tighter than the 300. If/when I get around to that I'll try to make sure to post the results.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
136 Posts
I have read that the most common rear shocks used are from SV650, 08-12 Ninja 250, and Ninja 300. Personally I have a Ninja 300 shock on mine, and I'm happy with it. If you are looking for budget suspension upgrade I did one on mine recently, and love it. I don't do track days but I do run the winding roads around me, and am quite happy with it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
18 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
I have read that the most common rear shocks used are from SV650, 08-12 Ninja 250, and Ninja 300.
Of course the 300 shock fits and is an upgrade, I already pitched the one that came off my 300 😅 (it was pretty well trashed, though). The fact that an SV shock fits gives me some hope that the GSXR shock might also fit. I know swapping enitre front ends and the rear shock is a popular mod on the SVs.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
136 Posts
Of course the 300 shock fits and is an upgrade, I already pitched the one that came off my 300 😅 (it was pretty well trashed, though). The fact that an SV shock fits gives me some hope that the GSXR shock might also fit. I know swapping enitre front ends and the rear shock is a popular mod on the SVs.
I believe the sv650 shock needs some modification as the bolt hole is smaller than the ex500 mount, but I think some people have either pressed in a larger bushing into the shock or made some kind of spacer to make it work. Guy I bought my ex500 from gave me an sv650 shock, but after looking at it I went the simpler route with a low mile Ninja 300 shock. Pretty sure I have that sv650 shock somewhere in the massive parts house that is my garage lol.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
429 Posts
Clip ons and rearsets = check out woodcraft. I have a set on my bike and love em!

My bike was a track day bike too, the rear suspension is a penske, there are custom dog bones in it and some other little tweaks.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
18 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
Clip ons and rearsets = check out woodcraft. I have a set on my bike and love em!

My bike was a track day bike too, the rear suspension is a penske, there are custom dog bones in it and some other little tweaks.
I have Woodcrafts on my 300. Good product, good company. The clip-ons came with the wrong hardware and they express shipped the right ones to me after I contacted them about it. And they CC'd me on the email to their QC department about the whole thing. I thought that was pretty cool.

Still working through some of the shock threads on here. I'm not an advanced enough rider to need or be able to take advantage of something like a Penske. But the stocker is such a soggy POS I need to do something with it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
429 Posts
I got lucky and the Penske came with the bike, along with racing fairings and the OEM ones, all for uber $500 . I think the previous owner had dreams of track days but family and work got in the way and his wife made him sell it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
18 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
I got lucky and the Penske came with the bike...
I saw in another thread that you might be inclined to sell the Penske. Any possibility we could work something out? Any idea what weight rider it's set up for?

Also, that sounds like a god damn steal.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
40 Posts
Hi @Wrencher86 and welcome to cheap thrills at the track.

Here's a breakdown of my bike and what I'd recommend:
  • FOG Mod on the airbox (search the treads before you ask FOG. You've been warned)
  • FOG Bones on the rear shock linkage. These are shorter than stock and will raise the rear but also allow the shock to function at a better angle than the stock shock so you have higher rear stance and better feel.
  • SV650 rear shock (needs a couple of washers on the linkage and a drill press to open up the bushing a skosh). Not sure you're weight at 6'1" but you'll find the SV650 is a good cheap starter if the gxr shock doesn't work. There's pre-load adjustment only, but it works well enough for the power of the EX. You're not lighting up the rear tire with this bike.
  • Tires: Go up a size in the rear to get more tire options. I'm partial to the Michellin 2CT+'s front and rear (rear is 140 70R 17) because they work on the road for a commute and on the track for several track days; like 10. (I'm in Texas so temps are warmer)
  • Race Tech springs and 1/2" PVC pipe spacers from Home Depot for preload adjustment. Keep the stock spacer in place. I used Race Tech's spring calculator (link set for your 1994). I'm 185-190lbs without gear and the spring rate and oil levels were spot-on. Preload is all I had to mess with. Don't have the emulators yet. Those are possibly next but I'm not 100%.
  • Calipers were rebuilt and Vesrah Sintered Metal pads added front and bake. Surprisingly, I pass a lot of people on the brakes. Even with a single rotor, two crappy piston setup in the front. She stops.
  • PAIR removal kit installed for easier maintenance access (smog delete)
Still need to be done or wanting to do:
  • GP shift patter - you will likely want this too. Supposedly a ZX6 lever will work but the one I got for a 2000's model bike was too large at the mounting point and too long where I had to remove my foot to shift. Haven't found the right lever yet. Anyone want to weigh in?
  • Quick shifter - Supposedly a quick shift kit is possible but haven't found details yet. It'd be nice to stay on the gas and shift so the little power this bike has is always on. These bikes love higher RPM's so clutchless shifting would be a dumb option if you want to ride the afternoon track sessions.
  • Emulators for front forks but without an improved rear shock, it may not make any difference to fine-tune 1/2 of the bike.
  • Change the petcock to a high-flow (non-vacuum operated) one. The stock petcock SUCKS!!!
Con's anywhere and at the track:
  • WHATEVER YOU DO, DO NOT RUN AN INLINE FUEL FILTER FROM THE PETCOCK TO THE CARB!!!! The basic fuel filter I was running wouldn't allow the vacuum-operated petcock to function properly and so the bike was starved for fuel at high rpms. I got black flagged several times for "running out of gas" when it was just the filter causing the petcock to fail.
  • While I'm thinking about it, ALWAYS LEAVE THE PETCOCK ON. When this thing runs out of gas, you've got to crank it and crank it until the vacuum from the starter running the motor engages the petcock to flow. Track Marshalls don't like you sitting on the side of the track for 3 minutes waiting for your bike to start.
  • This bike rails the corners and you'll close on everyone diving into them as well. Sadly, the guys on liter bikes will simply out drag you to the next corner and you'll have to yo-yo with them a few straights. It sucks but you'll earn respect when they see you're on a beater 500 and you've lapped them twice.
  • Geometry of this bike is more cruiser than sport bike. You've got to stand on the pegs to get it to lay over, no matter how nose-down and ass-up the bike suspension sits. It just wasn't designed to be a track bike. That said, it's a fast bike in the corners if you don't slow down and you'll get good feedback from the front-end under braking and full lean.
  • Handlebar/Hand controls are sheit. The bars are like motocross bars and the clutch and brake levers don't move where you're comfortable in a laid down attack position. Woodcraft clip-ons can solve this.
I'd be surprised if anyone has anymore attention span left, so I'll stop there. Best.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
18 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
Wow! Thanks! That's just about everything I've been looking for!

I'm curious how you got the second gen 500 to show up on the Race Tech calculator. If I go through the site and try to select the EX500 from the drop down menu the cut-off is '93. I've actually emailed them to ask about it and they said they haven't seen a '94+ and that's why it's not on their site.

Definitely swapping tires. I've got a set of Q3+'s on my 300 and would like to use the same on the 500. I actually wanted to go up to a 150 on the back (same as what's on the 300) but the 500 rims are too skinny. I'll probably see if the 300 rim fits the 500 at some point this winter. I had a 140 on the Ninja the first time I crashed it. Rode right off the edge of the tire. But That was a street tire without an aggressive profile. So maybe the Q3s will be better.

A shock swap is going to happen but the GSXR shock definitely won't fit. Just eyeballing it you cant tell there's not enough room. Was thinking of just doing the 300 swap. But I'll see what's available.

The petcock is on the list to change. I had a '82 GS750E with a vacuum petcock on it that would leave me stranded on the side of the road after bouts of, uh, spirited riding.

Thanks again!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
19 Posts
I'm curious how you got the second gen 500 to show up on the Race Tech calculator. If I go through the site and try to select the EX500 from the drop down menu the cut-off is '93. I've actually emailed them to ask about it and they said they haven't seen a '94+ and that's why it's not on their site.
Something you'll find when searching for parts is that some places refer to the bike as an EX500 and others as a Ninja 500. Factor in that versions outside the U.S. are classified as GPZ500 and it can be a little frustrating.

That RaceTech website is a good example. The drop down for "EX500" runs through 93; the drop down for "Ninja 500 (EX500)" runs from 94-09. You can usually find what you need by looking for one or the other.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
19,367 Posts
The previous posters have covered the setup pretty good, I'll add, your never done, as you progress in your riding ability, you'll find some changes to be required to suit your track conditions, also every change in suspension setup will require a corresponding change in riding technique .
As far as riding the bike goes. generally follow the lines the GP bikes ride, higher corner speeds and forget point and shoot. try to learn trail breaking, and learn a sense of front wheel traction. (that is when your about to loose it) . a GP shift is a must as you get steeper lean angles you won't be able to get your foot under the shifter to upshift coming out of the corners.
Don't be afraid to make changes even ones that turn out to be worse ,teach. I used fork oil viscosity as high as 80 wt to cure a bottoming problem.(ended up with secondary springs inside the forks).

FOG
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
18 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
Something you'll find when searching for parts is that some places refer to the bike as an EX500 and others as a Ninja 500. Factor in that versions outside the U.S. are classified as GPZ500 and it can be a little frustrating.

That RaceTech website is a good example. The drop down for "EX500" runs through 93; the drop down for "Ninja 500 (EX500)" runs from 94-09. You can usually find what you need by looking for one or the other.

100% correct. And now I feel awfully stupid for not checking the whole list. Thanks for the tip. Genuinely appreciated.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
18 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
The previous posters have covered the setup pretty good, I'll add, your never done, as you progress in your riding ability, you'll find some changes to be required to suit your track conditions, also every change in suspension setup will require a corresponding change in riding technique .
As far as riding the bike goes. generally follow the lines the GP bikes ride, higher corner speeds and forget point and shoot. try to learn trail breaking, and learn a sense of front wheel traction. (that is when your about to loose it) . a GP shift is a must as you get steeper lean angles you won't be able to get your foot under the shifter to upshift coming out of the corners.
Don't be afraid to make changes even ones that turn out to be worse ,teach. I used fork oil viscosity as high as 80 wt to cure a bottoming problem.(ended up with secondary springs inside the forks).

FOG

Having a done a couple track days on my 300, I agree, point and shoot doesn't work on low powered bikes. Or, at least, it's not effective or fun.

I bug the hell out of the control riders about body position, trail braking, etc. A lot of people (who are way faster than me) seem to have their own style. At this point, I do a little bit of trail braking, but mostly try to be rolling back on the throttle through most of the turn. I don't actually record my lap times so I measure my progress by how well I'm keeping up with people and how fluid it feels. I'm definitely not a racer. Just there to have fun and learn.

I'll probably be in contact with you about a set of FOG bones soon. Thanks for the feedback. Here's a vid of me last year on the 300 (before I crashed it (again!)). Just to give an idea of how I tend to ride and what level I'm at (beginner class).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
412 Posts
You don't live too far away from me, unless of course you travelled a very long way to ride Blackhawk Farms.

I would love to let the 996 off the leash there for a day, but I don't have the leathers. Swapped over to more comfortable (for the road) fabric gear years ago....
 
1 - 20 of 30 Posts
Top