Monday, February 2, 2015

How To Build A Luggage Rack for the Ninja 250

Several years ago, I designed a luggage rack for my 2006 Ninja 250.  It was made of 1/2"  4130 Chromoly aircraft steel tubing. It was light and strong and worked well.  I had that rack on my bike for over 30,000 miles.  It was mostly trouble free, but it had issues with fatigue cracks that I had to re-weld several times.  Not to mention that even though I put detailed printed plans out there, very few people actually built one due to the fact that it had to be welded.  Welding, especially chromoly steel, is not a skill that everyone has - not to mention the equipment needed.  

Old luggage rack was made out of welded steel tubing

So I decided that it was time for a whole new design that would be stronger and more resistant to fatigue cracking.  This time, I designed a much more solid rack out of 2024 aircraft aluminum.  2024 is stronger than mild steel and is significantly more resistant to fatigue cracking.  

New luggage rack is made of riveted solid aluminum bars.
While the term "aircraft aluminum" might scare a few folks off, its really not that expensive and quite easy to get.  I got all mine at Aircraft Spruce and the prices and shipping are very reasonable.  You can't use the aluminum in the hardware stores for this project because its too flimsy and not the correct alloy - not to mention that it costs a lot more.

With all the tools and materials on hand, this new luggage rack can be built for about $50 and in an afternoon.  The only gotcha with this build is the fact that to do it right, you need an air compressor and an air riveting hammer.  That's because this build requires the use of solid rivets.  Pop rivets are too weak and wont hold up.  If you don't believe me, I suggest tying strings to all the parts so that when they fall off going down the road, you wont have to run out in traffic to get them all back.  If you don't have one, an air riveting hammer and bits costs about $100, but it might be possible to rent one from a tool rental place.

Aside from the air riveting hammer, most DIY guys already have most of the tools in their shop.  A drill press is extremely helpful, but its possible to build this rack with just a hand drill.  I also used a lathe to cut a bevel on some parts, but this can also be accomplished with a bench grinder.

Originally, I had planned to build the entire rack out of aluminum.  However, there is one little bracket that needed to be bent and I quickly discovered just how hard 2024 aluminum is.  Every time I tried to bend it, it snapped.  So for two brackets, I had to use steel.  Steel bends a lot easier.

Here is a video I made showing exactly how it's made.

The plans for the new design can be downloaded here: NewLuggageRack.pdf
The plans for the old rack are also available here: NinjaLuggageRackPlansv1.pdf 

EDIT: Some people have pointed out that there are aerospace pop rivets that can be used successfully in this luggage rack.  The problem is that they are very expensive.  Here is one that costs about a dollar a piece.  Other rivets, called "Cherry Max" don't seem to come in long enough lengths.  You'll need rivets with a 1/2" grip for this project.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Stabilized Video of Range Rover vs Bikers Road Rage

I finally got a clean copy of the Bikers vs SUV Road Rage Incident in NYC video. I ran this video through a custom fixed point video stabilizer.  This produced highly stable video which makes the video look as if it were taken on a tripod.  This eliminates much of the optical illusions caused by the camera being waved around.

The video specifically addresses Cruz's brake lights, Mieses legal status, why the gang definition doesn't matter, following too close, why Cruz was looking back like that, Rocking of the SUV, the Prius video, and similar cases.

Please spread the word.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Documentary about the Range Rover Attack

Because of all the research, this documentary took me an unreasonable amount of time to produce. I fear that it may be a little too late, but hopefully will offer a new perspective into the events back in September.

Note that some people have been confusing the animation with some sort of trickery.  Please don't do this.  Its just meant to illustrate the statements made by witnesses. I had to choose between putting it out sooner or spending another 6 months to get it perfect.

Some of the key points include:

1. Proof that the SUV driver wasn't actually in fear of his life, and may have actually been drunk.
2. Proof that the "Brake check" rider wasn't actually staring down the SUV driver and includes fixed point video stabilization.
3. The "Hollywood Stuntz" gang, biker prejudice and more.

If you watch it, please watch it all the way through due to the many twists and turns. If you do like it, please spread the word. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The proper way to remove the Ninja 250 carburetors

As far as motorcycle carburetors go, the Ninja 250 is one of the most difficult bikes to work on.  Unlike most bikes, the Ninja's carburetors are not easily accessed and are somewhat difficult to remove.

On Youtube, I have seen several videos claiming to have the correct method for removing the Ninja 250's carburetors.  They all seem to disagree and some even resort to using hammers.  To hopefully clear up the confusion, I have produced this video showing how its supposed to be done.  Feel free to watch this and the other videos and decide for yourself which way is better.

I suggest that you watch my video and then print out the following cheat sheet to take into your work area.

Tools Needed:
  • 4mm Allen Hex wrench
  • 10mm socket and wrench
  • #2 phillips or JIS screwdriver
  • Pliers
  • Old tire or similar to hold tank.

Instructions for removing the carburetors from a bike with the stock unmodified air box.
  1. Remove seat.
  2. Remove both side fairings (#2 phillips).
  3. Remove upper tank fairing bolts (4mm allen).  Note that when reinstalling these bolts, they should only be tightened so they are snug.  Over-tightening will puncture the gas tank. :(
  4. Remove the tank overflow hose and the two rear bolts (10mm socket).
  5. Disconnect the vacuum and fuel lines from the petcock (pliers).  You should leave the petcock turned to ON as a test.  If its working properly, then nothing more than a few drops of gas should come out.
  6. Remove the tank and set it on old tire to keep petcock from touching anything.
  7. Remove the bike toolkit and unstrap the battery.
  8. Disconnect the battery starting with the negative (-) terminal (#2 phillips).  Make sure you replace the battery terminal bolts because they are easily lost.  Later, when reconnecting, start with the positive (+) terminal.
  9. Remove the battery and the rubber holder.
  10. Remove the bolts at the bottom of the battery box (10mm socket).
  11. Remove the coolant overflow tank bolts and let the tank dangle on the foot peg.
  12. Remove the fuse panel bolts and pull the panel away from the frame a little.

If you have previously made the battery box mod to your bike and your battery box is separated from your air box, remove the battery box and skip to step 16.

  1. Remove the two upper rear fender bolts just behind the battery box (10mm socket).
  2. Remove the two lower fender bolts (10mm socket).  These are difficult to reach and are located just in front of the rear tire under the rear fender.
  3. Pull the rear fender backwards as far as it will go.

  4. Pull the air box backwards as far as it will go in order to create as large a gap between it and the carburetors as possible.
  5. Loosen both front and rear carburetor boot tube clamps on the LEFT SIDE ONLY.  Do not remove the clamps from the boot tubes.
  6. Loosen ONLY the rear carburetor boot clamp on the RIGHT side.
  7. Remove the screw that holds the throttle cable bracket on and detach the cables.
  8. Remove the choke cable.
  9. Wiggle the carburetors out of the rear end of the boots.
  10. Pull the carburetor out from the left side.  The overflow tube will pull out from the side of the air box.

Re-installation is essentially the reverse of this process.

Secret Ninja 250 Carburetor Passages

Here are the secret passages in the carburetors. They are kind of hard to figure out sometimes and this picture guide shows where they are for cleaning purposes.

When cleaning your Ninja 250 carburetors, all of these passages need to be cleaned so that gas can get through them unobstructed. You can usually do this with spray carburetor cleaner. In some cases, a very thin copper wire can be used for stubborn clogs.

It is recommended that the diaphragms and plastic caps be removed prior to cleaning to prevent damage to the expensive rubber parts.

There are three jets in each carburetor - pilot, main and choke. The choke jet is pressed into the body and does not come out. The main jet is easy to remove with a socket and a large flat head screwdriver. It is actually two parts. The pilot jet is a little more difficult and requires a thin but strong flat head screwdriver.

On both the pilot and the main jet assembly, there are little holes in the ends and sides that must be clear. They are easy to miss sometimes so look carefully to find all of them.  The choke jet can be cleaned with a thin copper wire poked through the end followed by a squirt of carb cleaner.

 Carb Pilot jet Circuit

Carb Main Jet Circuit

Carb Fuel and Overflow Drain

Carb Diaphragm Intake, upper choke and vacuum ports

Carb Choke Circuit

Not pictured is the coasting enrichener circuit. It usually does not need to be cleaned, but because it contains a small diaphragm, you should be careful not to get carburetor cleaner inside it.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Ninja Terminology

Seems like every time someone has a problem with their Ninja they use a totally different language to describe the problem. For example, "It cranks over but it don't turn over" – which is a totally meaningless description. When asking for help online, people need to be precise and technical. So I decided to list out the proper terminology to use when describing problems with the Ninja (not that it ever has any :-) ).

Crank – This is the act of attempting to start the engine in the normal manner. When an engine is cranking, the starter motor is running and spinning the engine. The engine does not have to start in order to crank, but it does have to turn over.

Turn Over - This is when the engine crankshaft rotates. It can either be by cranking, by rotating the crankshaft manually or by other means. The engine does not have to start or crank in order to turn over.

Start – This is when the engine is turned over and begins to run on its own. The method used to turn the engine over is irrelevant. The term "Wont Start" means that the engine will crank normally, but not run.

Bump/Push Start – This is when the engine is turned over by using the wheels rather than the starter motor. Since it is not the normal way to start the engine, it is not the same as cranking. For example, when the engine wont crank, you can push start the bike to get it started.

Run – The engine is turning over under its own power.

Engine – The thing on the bike with a crankshaft and pistons that propels the bike.

Motor – The thing on the engine that cranks it.

Starter – This is the motor.

Solenoid/Starter Solenoid – This is a high amperage relay located on the right side of the bike next to the fuse panel. It has explosed electrical nuts that connect the positive battery terminal to the starter. For testing purposes, these nuts can be shorted to crank the bike.

Break - The act of ruining something.

Brakes - The mechanical devices on the bike that cause it to stop.

I will add more as I come across them.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Downloadable Gaskets for the Ninja 250

The oil screen on the Ninja 250 should be removed and inspected with every oil change.  If there are any metal shavings or particles trapped there, it could mean a big problem.  Steel shavings are the worst.  You can tell them from aluminum shavings because they will stick to a magnet.

Below is a link (click the image) to a PDF file that will allow you to make your own Oil Screen Gasket for your Ninja 250.  I am told this works on all Ninja 250's.  You'll need some gasket paper from the local auto parts store and a printer that will handle thicker paper.  Print out the image full scale on regular paper first.  Once printed, verify the scale by using the scale marks on the image that you have printed.  They should both measure 50mm.  If not, then you may need to adjust your printer settings until you get the scale correct.  Most printers will default to the correct scale. 

Once you are certain the scale is correct, you can print the gasket onto gasket paper.  When done, cut the gasket out using scissors and a hole puncher.  You are ready to replace your oil screen cover.

Depending on the type of gasket paper, a laser printer may work better.  In a pinch, it is possible to use ordinary thick paper.  A cereal box or pizza box usually has some that can be used.

NEW: Here is the Clutch Cover Gasket

 The Clutch Cover Gasket has to be printed out on a wide printer capable of printing on 11"x17" paper.  If you don't have one, you might be able to take your gasket paper to an office supply store that offers printing services.  The actual gasket is only about an inch too big for 8.5"x11" paper.