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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hello! I’m a beginner rider that just purchased a 1999 ninja 500 a month ago. The guy I bought it from put brand new tires on it, had the break fluid and coolant flushed, and lubed the cables before he sold it. I got it and changed the oil then put about 400 miles on it. I don’t know the last time it’s had a valve adjustment, but I don’t have any reason to think the valves need it, just wondering if I should bite the bullet and do the adjustment or wait till the next interval. It has 8600 miles on it currently. I’ve had some minor experience with working on motorcycles before, but I’m always kinda nervous about messing something up, so I’m apprehensive about doing the valve adjustment myself. Any help is appreciated!
 

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You should check/adjust the valves. Odds are high that it is over due. Make sure you have a service manual. Just take your time. Ask any questions to clarify what you may not be clear on.
Valve Adjustment (bpe version)
A second alternative would be to just bring it to a reputable dealer to have them do it. But I think you can do this your self. ;)
 

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beat me to it bpe.
8600miles on a 22 yo bike. depends how those miles were done and if any previous owner had it long enough to do the mileage between services. should be possible to check who the last owner was to ask. in any event I would guess as a general rule they would need at least a check. nothing to lose if they have been done recently. they probably may only need the feeler gauges sliding under the rockers. if not then they are not difficult to adjust (with care) go to the "how to" section and have a read, there is all the info you need in there. including a excellent guide written recently by @bpe one of our moderators.
as new member with access to the forum this section is going to be your best friend until you have learned enough to do it yourself without instruction.
oh and as @bpe said buy a workshop manual ASAP it will have all the service intervals and all the information on specs needed to do work on the bike.
 

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+1 to what they said.

Even with instruction and know how what them little devil dowel pins,they like to jump right down into the deepest crevasse of the motor so pay close attention to that part while doing your reading it is not that bad at all just really really got to pay attention. Don't do shortcuts. If you do shortcuts just follow what is a known solid one, don't venture out on your own version of a shortcut, you will regret it.
 

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If you have any friends that can help you out then I'd ask them!

If not, performing a valve adjustment is not that difficult, even for someone who's never done it. There's a few YouTube videos that can give you an idea as to what you're looking at. Then, all of the members on this forum will help you out - as well as all of the previous threads on this topic.

For me, the biggest pain is getting the cover off! Best to loosen up some cables and then go at it. Make sure you have all of the tools you need, too.

***And like FlipFlop stated...remove cover very slowly and watch for those tiny dowels!!!
 

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The 500's like to tighten their valves very quickly, at least for the first few thousand miles. I bought a bike with less than 7,000 miles and the valves were seriously in need of adjustment. So, like the others said, a check if most worthwhile, and adjustment likely needed.

Some write-ups have you remove the little copper oil lines. I don't think it's difficult do, but I was able to work around mine with no problem and didn't have to to remove them, so one less job to job.

Like the others said, take your time....
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for all the help guys! I appreciate it! I already have a manual on the way, so once I get that I’ll dive in! I figured that’s what the answer would be, just kinda hoping it wouldn’t 😂
 

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all the above is good advice and sound information. I would however add a couple of points regarding procedure the very first time you remove the top cover watch those two dowels that locate the head to the cover. then while the top is off pull out those dowels squeeze one end slightly so it is just out of round smear some Loctite on to the squeezed end and tap them into the head gently with a hammer those suckers are never going to move in the future and will not require attention on the next valve check.
the other point is to the oil pipes I do mine without removing them (simply because I have a valve adjustment tool) but it does make using a ordinary spanner on the nuts a bit more difficult. if you have to remove them be very careful they are not deformed on removal. they locate into the head via a O ring each end if the pipe gets distorted it may not hold pressure at the rings then the oil feed is reduced to the rockers and cams and excessive wear will result. you can tell when they are correctly located as they sort of Click into place. and dont forget the bolts that hold the pipes (it has been known).
 

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All that stuff above, I might have missed it, but I use RTV or Yamabond on my half moons, the gasket stays on my head when I remove the valve cover (PITA but be patient and you can get it out) When I re-install the valve cover, I take extra special care to get the valve cover seated on my gasket. This method works well for me, I have done it the other way in the past and like this way better (a more experienced mechanic than me suggested this btw.) Peace and enjoy the experience, leave the spark plugs in until your ready to turn the motor over by hand too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Alright I’ll make sure to do all that. Like I said I have some experience but since this is my first bike I’m kinda nervous about doing it after reading all the stories about the dowels and it not running right after adjustment.
 

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Alright I’ll make sure to do all that. Like I said I have some experience but since this is my first bike I’m kinda nervous about doing it after reading all the stories about the dowels and it not running right after adjustment.
I did my first valve adjustment on an EX500 a few years back (and I'm an old guy!). Didn't adjust them correctly the first time and had to take it all apart again.

Point is, that's how we learn! Had a ton of help from the forum members which made it much easier. And I'm telling you, once you complete your valve adjustments you will have so much more knowledge about your motorcycle and will hopefully want to do more of your own maintenance. It will also build confidence in wrenching!

What part of the world are you in and maybe someone close to you would swing over and help you out!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I did my first valve adjustment on an EX500 a few years back (and I'm an old guy!). Didn't adjust them correctly the first time and had to take it all apart again.

Point is, that's how we learn! Had a ton of help from the forum members which made it much easier. And I'm telling you, once you complete your valve adjustments you will have so much more knowledge about your motorcycle and will hopefully want to do more of your own maintenance. It will also build confidence in wrenching!

What part of the world are you in and maybe someone close to you would swing over and help you out!
I’m in mid-Missouri right now. I’m getting a quote from a motorcycle dealer right now and if it’s astronomical I’ll tackle it by myself. I know I can do it but if it’s not gonna be that bad for an adjustment, paying someone to do it isn’t that bad for me.
 

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I’m in mid-Missouri right now. I’m getting a quote from a motorcycle dealer right now and if it’s astronomical I’ll tackle it by myself. I know I can do it but if it’s not gonna be that bad for an adjustment, paying someone to do it isn’t that bad for me.
I did that for years, and found out that several things happened. #1 they slopped a lot of things, #2 they charged me for things they broke, #3 took forever, #4 Shop rate at 75-125 per hour USD. I got over it and decided to indulge myself and learn to do it. Carbs and motor internals and tires is what I always for years paid others to do. Learn it and be much more satisfied. If you choose to have a stealership do it double check their work. IMHO I wish I had every penny back that I paid others to do ANYTHING as I feel like they put no love into nothing they did except collecting the money. My two cents. -BK
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I did that for years, and found out that several things happened. #1 they slopped a lot of things, #2 they charged me for things they broke, #3 took forever, #4 Shop rate at 75-125 per hour USD. I got over it and decided to indulge myself and learn to do it. Carbs and motor internals and tires is what I always for years paid others to do. Learn it and be much more satisfied. If you choose to have a stealership do it double check their work. IMHO I wish I had every penny back that I paid others to do ANYTHING as I feel like they put no love into nothing they did except collecting the money. My two cents. -BK
You had to pay for the stuff they broke?y reasoning was that, yea it’s a lot of money but if they mess it up they have to fix it. All the other maintenance has been done other than the valves and I’m not terrible confident.
 

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I think it's too bad that you've had negative experiences at dealerships because, you know what, the guys working at dealerships are US! That's right you and me and other guys who were really good at fixing stuff. So before you get too critical, I suggest you go work in a flat rate pay motorcycle repair shop, and get back to us after about two years of experience on the line. Trust me, it ain't easy, and most of the guys on the line are excellent mechanics.
 

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I’m in mid-Missouri right now. I’m getting a quote from a motorcycle dealer right now and if it’s astronomical I’ll tackle it by myself. I know I can do it but if it’s not gonna be that bad for an adjustment, paying someone to do it isn’t that bad for me.

I'm telling you...it's not that bad! Plus, the knowledge you will get is priceless!

Take the tank off - Move some of the cables aside - wiggle out the valve cover!

Once the valve cover is off it's pretty standard. But once you've done it, you will ALWAYS know how to make the next one easy. Also, these bikes tend to need the valves checked after a few thousand miles. Are you willing to keep paying a shop to do this over and over?

If you do go with paying a shop to check them, get the book, "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance", and start reading while you're waiting! :cool:
 

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I think it's too bad that you've had negative experiences at dealerships because, you know what, the guys working at dealerships are US! That's right you and me and other guys who were really good at fixing stuff. So before you get too critical, I suggest you go work in a flat rate pay motorcycle repair shop, and get back to us after about two years of experience on the line. Trust me, it ain't easy, and most of the guys on the line are excellent mechanics.
hi, in defence of @FlipFlop yeah I have experience of both having jobs done at the dealers and working in a repair shop no it's not easy it's all about money the guys may make 10 bucks an hour the shop owner 50+ bucks. a job should take 4hrs he wants it doing in two so you make short cuts. if you need a part not in stock it's ordered the bike goes to the back of the shop and the back of the queue as new jobs arrive. if you break a stud ok the shop pays for the stud the time taken to remove it and replace it is billed to the customer in time.
on the other hand I had the warning lights come on in the car. took to the dealers (as I have no test equipment) to have it checked out. yeah a sensor has gone and needs replacing. trouble is it could be one of 4. after two weeks they had fixed it and the bill was eye watering just for a sensor nope. they changed all four sensors one at a time found it on the 4th one but they charged me for all four new ones. and labour fitting all four even though there was nothing wrong with the first 3.
after a stand up fight in the accounts office I got a 25% discount. and made them give me the old ones they took out.
next day I replaced the first 3 for the old good ones. then flogged the new ones on E-bay to get some cash back.
 

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Don't get me started on the Manufacturer's monopoly on being able to fix the new electronic jazz they're forcing us to buy.
I'd like to hear more detail about your "dealer" because they are often the only place that has the software and manufacturer support to fix the electronic stuff.
The independent shops are often in the same position as the owner, trying to figure out troubleshooting electronics without spending a fortune on diagnostic equipment.

As far as what goes on in dealerships and independent shops, I think the part I resent the most is that any of us (all motorcycle people) would ever walk into the shop with the express purpose of ripping someone off. It just doesn't happen that way. Sometimes, a younger tech will try to hide mistakes, but most mechanics take responsibility for stuff that goes wrong with the repair process, but draw the line at parts that fail while on the bench. And if the Service Manager/Shop Foreman allows any irregularities, the reputation of the shop can plummet quite suddenly; nobody wants that, not the tech, not the manager, and certainly not the owner. The real culprit is the flat rate system that forces time pressure on the one person you want to take all the time needed, the technician. Wouldn't you love to give your bike to an experienced tech, and let them ride it, and work on it for a weekend? Go ahead check whatever you want, replace whatever it needs. You'd get it back running as good as the tech's own bike!
 

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BTW, I just fixed a 2009 BMW G650GS problem by buying and installing all 5 of the fancy Diode Switches!
 

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dealers yeah I can answer that one in a word "Ford". I don't want to dwell on this and hijack someone's thread but as a quick follow on. my daughter has a Vauxhall 3 years old. took it in for a "service" after a couple of days she noticed the steering seems stiff. she took it back for them to sort it. yes they said the electric steering motor has gone bad a new one will cost £2000 to replace. rubbish I told her why was it working ok before the service they have done something to it they won't admit leave it to me. there is a problem with the can-bus system. now I don't have the equipment as I said but a guy in town does. took it him for a diagnostic check. fine go for a coffee and come back in half an hour. when I went back he said "it's fixed" ok what was it. there was a break in the steering can-bus section. (y) someone had forgot to re connect one of the steering angle sensors. cost £10 for the check to fix it . not all repair shops are the same bud.
 
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