The Four Stages of Motorcyclist Maturity

It’s March 1994, and I’ve decided that I’m going to buy a motorcycle. The thought has been brewing in my adolescent head for several years, but funding shortfalls and parental units had previously placed restrictions on such things. There’s no stopping me now, though. The classic mystique and excitement of two-wheeled motivation is in me for good.

I don’t really know anyone who rides, so I’m left to mosey around used bike lots and scour classifieds and take wild guesses at what bike is for me. The internet isn’t mainstream yet, so there are no busy forums to guide me. I’m shopping on my guts.

Miraculously (or maybe foolishly), dealers are willing to allow me test rides with just a motorcycle learner’s permit and a helmet. My first ride was phenomenal. I’d never felt such powerful acceleration! I was hooked, and the bike was sold.

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Handguards for the Ninja 1000 on the Cheap

ninja-handguards-001Here's my further attempt to extend the riding season in Minnesota. Unfortunately some late November precip put too much ice on the roads and I'm probably done for the year. It starts with some cheap PowerMadd handguards from Amazon. They've gone up a few bucks since late summer 2012, but are still a bargain.

I picked up a 36" piece of 1/8" by 1/2" aluminum and some longer bolts for the stock bar ends and went to it. I put 3 3/8" flat washers inside the bar end to fill the void, preventing the aluminum bar from being bent up when the bolt is tightened. I also added a couple layers of foam tape to the back of the guard where it contacts the brake and clutch levers. This prevents scuffing and rattling on rides.

The only problem I ran into was that the left side bracket interferes with the stock clutch lever when pulled back. I intend to pick up some replacement levers before spring to resolve this. The way the stock bar ends mount isn't the prettiest, but I don't much care. Maybe a better idea will come along for that down the road.

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Ninja 1000 Symtec Grip Heat Installation

I'm in Minnesota, and I really, really like riding my Ninja. I ride until the snow flies in November most years, and I'm out again in March as soon as the roads are ice-free. Temperatures on my morning commute are often down to about 20 degrees Farenheit, which is pretty brutal at 70 mph. Some sort of heat for my hands is a necessity.

Here's how I installed the Symtec grip heat kit, which is the same kit I used on the Bandit. It's an inexpensive but very effective solution to my need. I bought both times from California Sport Touring. As of this writing the kits are selling for $37 plus $7 shipping. They include a nice round high/low rocker switch which fits beautifully in the dash, and the heating elements are balanced to account for the plastic throttle tube's insulating characteristic.

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Lift the Ninja 1000 with Vortex Paddock Stands

Rear Stand

ninja-vortex-stand-006After coming perilously close to ordering a generic rear stand on Amazon, my brother emailed to say he had come by a set of Vortex stands that he didn't need. Would I like them for dirt cheap? Does a bear sh.... Yes. Yes I'd love them.

Being completely new to owning a bike without a centerstand (at least since I started doing all my own maintenance), I had some learnin' to do about how these things work. Here's what I've learned, thanks in part to the great folks at riderforums.

I knew that the rear stand lifted on spools bolted to the inserts welded to the underside of the swingarms at the factory. That was pretty straight-forward. All I needed to do was expand the Vortex stand's adjusters to maximum width. To get the rear off the ground, carefully stand the bike vertical, engaging the spools with the lift's notched plates, and lever downward. Here's a good video of the process if you haven't seen it done before.

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Ninja 1000 Fairing Removal & Installation

This is a fairly new model yet, and I haven't come upon a good fairing how-to. Here are some tips that may be helpful. This information applies to 2011, 2012, and presumably 2013 models.

Start by removing the dash panel. Take out the 4 screws (4mm Allen) and work the panel rearward to free it.

ninja-fairing-018A good next step is to remove the plastic fasteners that stitch the fairing side panels to the inner front panel. There are two types. The smaller ones (4 on each side - see photo at right) which are found at the top and sides are removed by pressing the center pin inward. You'll feel a pop when the pin slides in about 1/8", and then the fastener can simply be pulled out with your fingers. A thin-bladed screwdriver or putty knife works well to slide under the head and lift them out. Once these are out you'll want to pop the center pin back out, past flush, to prepare them for reuse. More on that later.

The two larger fasteners (not shown in the photos) are down at the chin of the fairing. Remove them by sliding a small flat screwdriver under the center pin's round head and popping it up. There's a notch on one side that's a good spot to grab. Once the head pops up you can remove the fastener with your fingers.

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Kawasaki Ninja 1000 ABS

ninja1000After nearly 10 seasons and more than 47,000 perfectly carefree miles on the Bandit I've made a change. Opting for newer technology, lighter weight, and better suspension, I've ridden my first 400 miles on the new Kawasaki Ninja 1000 with ABS.

I've added T-Rex frame and fork sliders just in case, mounted my Garmin Zumo 550 to the left brake clamp, installed a Givi topcase rack for the V46 case, and trimmed the rear fenderd down to a reasonable size.

So far the bike has proven amazing. The EFI means no choke to futz with on cold startup and beautiful fuelling from off-idle to redline. Power is linear and impressive. The handling is sharp and far more flickable than the heavier Bandit, even after its upgrades.

Drawbacks are fuel range, which I hope to remedy somewhat with taller gearing, and wind protection, which isn't as good as the Bandit's, particularly on my hands in the cool morning air. An aftermarket windscreen and maybe some seasonal hand guards could help. The really handy adjustment for the windscreen means I can have maximum protection or a cooling breeze as needed.

More to come.