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EX500, the middle Ninja!

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  • EX500, the middle Ninja!

    The one I own is a first generation. I bought it for cheap as a bike for my then wife to learn on. It was beat up, not too bad, and the right price for a bike to drop in parking lots. I have ridden it a few times, and it was impressively light. Performance of this bastard hate child is not what this review is about. This review is to make you feel better about having gotten a Katana, a bike that doesn't make you want to die.

    So, the 500 was popping out of 2nd. I hadn't decided if I was going to keep this bike as a grocery getter or sell it, so I figured maybe I want it to work right. As I've read on the ex-500 forum, swapping in a 2nd gen transmission is "easy" and fixes the problem. I would have to say, +1 to Kawi for fixing a problem, and keeping the parts interchangable. So I got a transmission off of ebay for really cheap. This is where my fun began.

    As I'm sure you're aware, fairings get in the way of things like removing an engine. Naturally, you have to remove them to do things like disconnect stuff. Well, have no fear! On the EX500, you not only get to remove any main fairings, but the tail fairings as well!! That's right, the engineers that designed this bike somehow managed to find a way to make the tail fairings be in the way. But, it's easy. Each side is only held on with 1 screw. I mean, screws have mass, and you wouldn't want the weight of a stable bike to make it less fun, would you?

    They need to be removed so you can remove the sides of the airbox, because it's designed to be too large to fit in the frame. Once the sides are off, and the top, and you remove some electronics, and PULL THE BATTERY FROM THE AIRBOX, then you fight with pulling it off the carbs, and then bending and twisting and deforming it enough to get it out of the frame, so that you can remove the carbs, which was actually fairly straight forward after that.

    Another "feature" I noticed was all the precautions they took in making sure NO ONE would EVER mess with your spark plugs. I mean, if they were right there, easy to get to, you never know what might happen to them. So Kawi instinctively hid them. They are easy enough to find, they aren't hidden from view (with the tank off), just hidden from tools. After you remove the PAIR emission system tubes, you just need to remove 4 small bolts to be able to get the hose barbs out of the way. With that done, you can then drain the coolant system, so that you can pull the coolant hoses that run to the top of the engine. But that would be too easy as well, so you have to unscrew the metal tubes that run down into the engine where the rubber lines clamp onto the tubes with the clamps also hidden from tools. With all that out of the way, you can actually pull the spark plug wires/boots off the plugs and get to them, safe in the knowledge that NO ONE has tried to steal the plugs, or ever change them.

    I could actually go on and on, but with how long this is already getting, adding any more would be as retarded as being one of the engineers that made this abortion of a motorcycle possible. But hey, lets end this on a good note. The one great thing I can say about this bike is

  • #2
    I know how you feel. I had a first gen ex 500 before I got my Kat. My fly wheel exploded talk about fun took me forever to get a second gen flywheel and clean out all the magnet chunks. I got rid of the pair system you can buy a kit or make your own plates to cover it. After everything I sold it and told myself i would never get a 500 again.
    2005 Gsx600f- My baby
    1989 Gsx600f - My hell raiser
    Some times I take off one side of the fairings and ride around pretending I'm two face


    • #3
      Well, I see what bike I won't ever be buying
      Extra life.


      • #4
        The 250 version requires you to remove the entire rear wheel and undertail fenders to remove the airbox. It simply will NOT come out of the frame otherwise with out breaking it into smaller pieces....

        FYI... pod filters also do NOT work very well on those carbs either.

        93 750 Kat

        Modified Swingarm, 5.5 GSXR Rear with 180/55 and 520 Chain, 750 to 600 Tail conversion, more to come. Long Term Project build thread

        "I've done this a thousand times before. What could possibly go wron.... Ooops!"


        • #5
          haha i had my 02 ninja 250 b4 my 91kat600 and i was ALWASE working on it. i pulled the airbox( pulled all the screws around it and split it in 2 pieces) and put pods on it( took 4 days to get AF mix right and 5 mixture screws later caused from stripping every time even when being careful of not doing it) then it still didnt want to run right so to cragslist she went.
          so the message of the story is stay away from ninjas ix it has an EX
          track pro


          • #6
            I've found the EX500 motor to be one tough little mill. Yes maybe hard to get to but they just don't need that much service. Way overbuilt tranny (on the newer ones anyways) and clutch could handle a 750. They even put those engines in a heavy Vulcan cruiser, some of which have gone over 100,000 miles!
            I know most of us love to mod but you just can't get that much more HP out of a 250. But hey, when did practicality ever stop us from customizing our rides?


            • #7
              Ahhh, the GPZ500S, aka "EX-500". A 1st-gen copy would be between 20 and 26 years old by now. And your just getting around to needing to change the spark plugs? Where's the love brother? That bike does not owe you anything at this stage of the game. I have only fond memories of the one I owned. In it's first six months of service it saw a trip to Deals Gap, two trips to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for Track days, a trip to Grattan, Michigan (another track-day) and a Gingerman Raceway Track day in the pouring rain where it proved to be one of the fastest bikes of ANY size at the track that day. It's weight, (388 lbs wet) and a proper set of rain tires made it almost an unbeatable combination that day. By the end of the day, my head was so big, it's all I could do to hold it upright.
              A few weeks later, I traded it in for a ZZR 600 Kawasaki and the dealer gave me in trade what I had paid them for it new. Not a bad deal I thought at the time. The 600 was taken to Mid-Ohio, Grattan, Gingerman, Barber, Indianapolis Motor Speedway on numerous occasions and by the time I sold it a few years later, I figured I had got the good out of it as well.
              What did I have prior to the 500? Yup, a baby Ninja 250. Sweet bike. Averaged about 65 mpg and I could get to work and back (62 miles) on just under a gallon of gas. I rode that one for free as well...and got the good out it to boot.
              These days I own and ride a Concours 14, and believe me when I say, it's a ton of bike. She's my forth Kawasaki, and I've never "had" to put a wrench to anyone of the four. Zero mechanical issues, fuel and proper maintenance, that's all it took.
              Peace and Love.


              • #8
                Originally posted by superbike View Post
                ...and a Gingerman Raceway Track day in the pouring rain where it proved to be one of the fastest bikes of ANY size at the track that day. It's weight, (388 lbs wet) and a proper set of rain tires made it almost an unbeatable combination that day. By the end of the day, my head was so big, it's all I could do to hold it upright. ...
                Now THAT is a good point. Maybe instead of being a back-up track bike, I should keep a good set of rain tires, and have it be my track bike if I schedule a day and it rains.

                Hmmmmm. Now you've got me thinking.


                • #9
                  Just thought I'd give a little update.

                  I hate the way the airbox goes in.

                  While putting things back together, I adjusted the valves, reset the carbs, made better connections with the plug wires, and generally put things back together better than they had been. The bike run great now! It actually does seem like a 500 in comparison to a 600 now. It does have a little bit of power. I'm actually surprised. If my impression grows as I get it finally buttoned up, and take care of the fork dive and get good tires, I'll update again.


                  • #10
                    I had a EX 500 it was a soild motor and had a big mid range , i had it up to 105 mph and felt very safe but i hated the pinner tires , felt almost scooter like .


                    • #11
                      I owned an 87 EX. I put the Progressive spings in the forks and it helped the front end immensly. I kind of miss that bike. I didn't like the lumpy low end of the engine but once you got it up to 6k or so it ran great.


                      • #12
                        Overall, I'm a fan of the EX-series bikes, even after working on them. I have noticed that every Kawasaki I've ever touched was a pain to work on. Fortunately they don't tend to need much work.
                        Wherever you go... There you are!

                        17 Inch Wheel Conversion
                        HID Projector Retrofit


                        • #13
                          Okay, a further update. I tested it, getting more and more impressed, as I'd fix more things. I did not want to spend a lot of money on this bike, so I've done things the cheap way so far with correcting other issues. On my Kat, I've done the whole suspension with Tmod and RaceTech stuff. In comparison, testing the ex500, the front forks were scary soft. It was literally crazy how bad they were. I did some reading, and found that the front springs were a foot longer than needed to have full range of motion, so I cut the springs down by 5" and used a torch to reshape the ends and close the coils. I made spacers out of pvc pipe and came out pretty good with spring rate and proper sag in the front.

                          That made the rear more apparent, so I adjusted the rear stiffer, and it seems to be halfway decent for a mostly stock bike with horrible suspension parts.

                          So, it's now insured, registered, and inspected, fully legal for roadway use. I've kept on trying the tires that are on it. 4 year old touring kind of tires, the rear being a very wide 120/90-16. I've slid my way around turns until enough old rubber was worn off and the tires kind of "scrubbed in" again.

                          Another change I made was finally getting fresh gas in the tank. It was running pretty decent on gas that was over a year old, but after getting new gas, I had to lower the rpms at idle by 500 or so. LOL

                          I've already made it very close to the outside edges of the tires, and in just having fun and seeing the comparison with the Kat (while wearing a full leather suit), I played with corner entry speed. It's kind of odd heading towards a corner, knowing I should be slowing down due to being used to a heavier bike.

                          "I should be slowing down by now ... I should really be braking ... I really should've started braking back there!!! .... Oh, that was fine."


                          I wouldn't get rid of my Kat for this bike, not in the slightest. But, it is ending up being kind of fun.