The Ninja 500r is a little cunt of a machine. I bought it because it reminded me of my Honda CB500T, a 1975 model. I liked that bike and still have it and it will likely never be sold because it was a gift
(from Marlo, no less!). I like it but don’t love it at all. The CB has character and style, a me-generation machine. It’s got a brown tank, brown seat, and padded sissy bar. No one believes in it still, even after I took it to Florida and to James Bay and rode part of the Trans-taiga Road on it. That’s 6600 miles of non-failure. The appeal of that machine is its simplicity. There is nothing to it, really; two cylinders, two carbs, a couple of wheels, etc. The seating position is perfect. It sounds like a bike and rattles and vibrates like a real bike should. The thing about the CB is that it handles and feels like shit. It is the most non-confidence inspiring motorycle ever built and feels like it is going to fall apart all the time. It is far too maintenance intensive and needs constant readjustment of the valves, carbs, and timing. For some reason, the chain needs to be adjusted every 300 or 400 miles. There are also some other minor and major confidence sapping things about it which I will get to at some later juncture in time.
Therefore, I set out to purchase the modern equivalent of a 1975 CB500T with all the things that I like about the CB but with better reliability and non-spoked wheels because I hate changing tubes.
Getting a flat on a tube tire entails removing the wheel from the bike, removing one side of the tire from the wheel, patching the tube or installing a new tube, and remounting the wheel; which also entails fiddling with the spacers, chain, rear brake, and axle to get everything back together and then adjusting the chain again. Try doing this in the rain or when it’s 95 degrees out and then you discover that you pinched a hole in the tube and you have to do it all over again. Sometimes there are a lot of little parts that make up the whole rear wheel assembly, like little safety clips, nuts, bolts, etc. When I was changing a tire on the James Bay Road I lost a little part of the rear brake in the gravel on the side of the road (this little barrel shaped thing with a hole in it) and would have been fucked if I wasn’t able to fabricate something in its stead. Keep in mind that getting the tire off of and then back on the wheel is worse than Sartre’s verson of hell. Hell is changing tires.
So I sought a bike with solid wheels.
I also sought a bike with a centerstand, which is like a kickstand that pops the rear wheel off the ground. This makes it easier to lube the chain, air up your tires, or perform any needed maintenance. The point is that a centerstand is the most practical thing that you can have on a bike. Most newer bikes do not come with centerstands anymore.
I decided that this bike must be water cooled. I imagined myself riding through the desert with an ambient temperature of 120 degrees. An air-cooled engine is something that I do not trust to do this and survive without any extreme sacrifice to longevity. Although, an air-cooled engine would probably be fine.
I also sought a bike that was cheap to purchase, cheap to maintain, and cheap to insure.
MPG, weight, cost, and reliability were also paramount to my bike search.
The bike of choice ended up being a 2001 Kawasaki Ninja 500r with 5500 miles on it. This bike fulfilled all of the aforementioned qualities.
However, the bike is purple and is an extraordinarily ugly bike. Despite its model year of 2001, the Ninja 500 has remained virtually unchanged since its inception in the 1980’s.
It’s another bike that no one respects.
Despite all this, it is one of the most reliable, stout fucking machines ever made. It is small and light, extremely cheap to own and maintain and requires relatively little maintenance. Please note however that adjusting the valves on this bike is an awful experience as compared to a 70’s Honda. To adjust the valves, one needs to drain the coolant, remove the tank, peel back the fairing, unbolt a bunch of hoses and shit, and then defty slide the valve cover out through the frame. This exposes the top part of the engine and allows you to drop shit into the crankcase if you’re not paying attention.
I will give the bike credit in this regard because you don’t need to shim anything. You just adjust the valves with a screw and lock washer. Otherwise, you would need to carry around different size shims, and then what happens if you dont have enough shims or one of the shims is not the right size? Then you have to put everything back together and find a shim somewhere. I don’t want to do that.
And it goes without saying that I will be doing the valve adjustments personally, as well as everything else.
Like I said, no one respects the 500.
You know what; neither do I. I’ve always hated that bike and bought it solely for its practicality. I destroyed it yesterday. This was an act of the subconcious. I know this because I subconciously destroyed my 2007 VW Rabbit also. Totalled it.
I drove it into the side of a garbage truck at 40mph. The Rabbit and I hurtled into the driver’s side door of the garbage truck as it blindly pulled away from the curb and right into my lane. I didn’t see it at all because of the low angle of the sun. The sun was shining directly into my eyes as I drove perfectly straight in the center of my lane doing the speed limit. The impact ripped the passenger side of the Rabbit apart from the hood to the rear wheel and spun the car around 180 degrees so that I was then facing the garabge truck. I was physically unmolested and the garbage truck sustained minimal damage to the cab doorstep. No garbagemen were molested either. A garbageman or myself could have easily been ripped to fucking shreds. A testament to German engineering, the engine never skipped a beat and was still running after this spectacular crash. But get this(!), the week before the aforementioned crash I had bemoaned publicly, to Marlo at least, that I no longer wished to be in debt to that car, that it was a great car BUT I possesed no feelings towards it. No ill will but no real feelings of attachment. I wished that I could get out of that fucking loan somehow, as I did not want to feel indebted to Chase bank to the tune of 12g’s for a car I did not truly love. I wished it would be totalled. I merely said aloud what I had been thinking, but never truly admitting, to myself for some time
The car was totalled the following week and I paid back those gross slimy moneylenders at Chase bank.
Of course, we all buy shiny new things for different reasons. I was tired of buying shitty $500 cars and smashing them up or having them break. Maybe I wanted to celebrate the fact that I was making $10 an hour and living at home.
I should never have shiny new things.
And after my experience with the Ninja, I realized that I should never have purple things either really.
In regards to my destruction of the Rabbit, I wished the same for the Ninja, though I was more outspoken this time. I hated its purpleness, shitty plastic fairing that did not even look cool, and weird seating position. Sitting on that thing always made the back of my knees sweaty, even when it was cold outside. All this was no secret. I treasured its reliability, and that was the reason why I bought it, but was disgusted by its lack of panache. A bike or a car can lack panache and still redeem itself by merely doing something remarkable, like going fast or stopping on a dime or railing around corners. The ninja did none of these well enough to distinguish itself from anything else out there. And so much for its reliability. A motor should not be designed to so easily semi-self destruct.
So fuck it, its done for and I’m not gonna gix it.
Know that I destroyed it subconciously.
I did the valves yesterday and, like I said previously, you have to take half of the fucking thing apart to perform a relatively simple and routine maintenance procedure. The valve cover needs to wrestled out from between the top of the engine and frame. Pressed into the valve cover and/or head are these little steel dowels that occasionally come lose, for instance when your wrestling the valve cover off. This is a stupid fucking design because if one of these things falls out and drops into the crankcase and you don’t notice the engine is pretty much fucked. Well, fucked in the sense that depending on the damage made by this little metal cylinder bouncing around in the engine, you will have to do a lot of work to fix it, ie. dissasemble engine, have shit machined, etc. All this trouble for a little dowel that doesn’t really need to be there in the first palce and should be fixed permanently or semi-permanently to the cover or head so that it doesn’t fall into the fucking engine and destroy it when your doing a simple maintenance procedure. I remembered to keep an eye on the dowels the last time I did the valves, 7,000 miles ago (ahead of schedule, like any Karmic minded mechanic should do with any and all maintenance but more on that later).
With everything else during that valve adjustment I was extra careful this time, deft even. To be honest with you, even though I was being extremely careful, I dropped a screw into the engine and had to go to the store to buy one of those tools with the magnet on the end to fish it ouf of the crankcase. This was while I was being careful and paying attention (as noted earilier, it’s a stupid fucking design).
The fact of the matter is that I willed one of those dowels to drop ino the engine and stop it dead (on the Southern State Parkway) because I hated that bike. Because I am stubborn, I would have taken that bike around the world with sweaty knee-backs. No longer. The motorcycle Gods have spoken clearly it is not meant to be. I knew this and that is why I am not fixing the Ninja.
If you read this and want the Ninja please let me know. The rest of it is in awesome shape.
I am in the market for a new bike…maybe
The bike cost me a little bit. I’ll eat the cost. Fuck it. I’m done with it. It will not be my vehicle of choice when the apocalypse comes.
Therefore I must find a new bike.