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How to Resurrect a '96 Ninja 500?

9651 Views 29 Replies 19 Participants Last post by  dirtha
Raj's Dilemma

Raj is facing what many newbies face; a percieved bargain. But is it?

This bike has a Kelly Blue Book value (average selling price, in perfect running order, at a dealership) of $2410. But this bike will need:

-Tires. Sure, there's lots of tread, and maybe the sidewalls aren't cracked, but you need to replace them. More than 5-6 years old=replace!

-Fluids. You need to replace them all. Dirty--even slightly dirty oil with 900 miles (assuming a break-in service)--motor oil has corrosive acids in it that break down internal surface parts and perform other mayhem. Brake fluid is no good after sitting two years, and I assume this is the original oil. Same with coolant and speedometer fluid.

Battery: It's a paperweight after two years, unless it was on a trickle charger.

Gas: you need to have the tank cleaned out and checked for rust. A good radiator shop can do this, but you need to drain the gas and dispose of it properly.

Clean and lube the chain, and all other lubrication points; lever pivots, brake caliper sliding pins, etc.

Title: Did he register it or register it Planned Non-Op (I don't know if that's just a California thing; it's $20 a year and it just keeps the bike on the books without legally registering it for use on public roads). If he just let the reg run our three years ago, you could be looking at $500 to register it.


Tires: $300 w/labor and tax

Service: $300 minimum

Battery: $40

Reg: $100-$500

We're looking at a grand plus whatever your friend wants. You can get a nice, clean, nice-running late-model EX500 for $2800-3500. He paid $6000 otd for the bike ten years ago; if he's like most first-owners, he'll squeal like a pig if you try to offer him KBB less refurbishment: $1500.

If he says OK to $1500, he is a friend doing you a nice favor. If not he's a greedy d%$# trying to take advantage of your newbie-ness (and you can't be a squid until you actually have a bike to ride!).

In any case, take the MSF course first and then make sure you fully understand what you are getting into with whatever bike you buy. The Ninja 500 is a great bike; that's a good choice.


Gabe Ets-Hokin

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I just train rookie fleecers out here. The FL market is too easy for the head of the ECOC. It's like taking candy from a baby.

I milked everything out of the Kook family years ago. He thinks his kids are going to Harvard. Once I'm finished they'll be lucky to afford Edutech.
Something occurred to me while reading your post; Why do so many people want to do their own engine work? I have no desire to be a mechanic. "do the valves yourself....blah, blah" If my hobby was to rebuild engines, great. I don't know why it took me years to figure out I don't like to work on bikes.
What a bunch of negative comments posted here.

Here's what I'd do. First, see if you can have the bike for the weekend before you buy it from him.

1) Install a new battery.

2) Pull the bottom float bowl plugs out of the carbs and drain what ever is in there. Check for water.

3) Drain the gas tank.

4) Pour fresh gas through the gas tank, slosh it around and let it pour out through the gas tap until it's clean.

4) Connect the gas tank back to the carbs and pour gas into the gas tank and let it drain through the carb float bowls and out. do this until it comes out clean.

5) Drain the engine/tranny oil. Pour a little fresh oil into the engine and let it drain out of the drain plug until it looks clean.

6) Pull the spark plugs and again check for rust and water. Squirt about a thimble full of engine oil into each plug hole.

7) Fill the engine with fresh oil.

8) I think this bike is liquid cooled, so you will need to drain and refill the coolant.

9) With a fresh battery and the plugs out start the bike and let it spin around a couple of minutes to circulate the oil.

10) Drain and refill the oil again.

If everything looks good up to this point put the plugs back in add gas and try to start the bike. I bet you it starts and runs just fine. If not split the costs with your friend and give the bike back.

As for tires, I wouldn't worry about them too much at this point. Make sure they hold pressure and ride the bike a bit before you decide to replace them.

See less See more oldest one is 12 years younger than me. Whats worrisome is my current project(to be debuted(sp?) in two weeks at Mid Ohio ) is 34 years younger than me;but it runs in the post vintage class so i dont feel TOO bad. when a bike that new is considered "Vintage" is when i worry.

64 harley Sprint vintage mx

67 Harley Sprint flattracker

7? Indian Boyracer(50cc)

71 harley baja vintage mx

73 harleybaja/redline vintage mx

74 Can AM vintage mx/vintage cross country

77 CanAm Post vintage MX

78 Harley MX250 Post vintage MX

86 Honda XR200 post vintageMX/Post Vintage cross country

I recently sold my 82 yammy YZ125 and a 74 CZ400-----Im learning my limits.

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best post yet...its what I would do......but I didnt think his plan to buy it and "tow it to the dealer" was a good idea. My cosmetically pristine/low hours trail riding 82 Yammy YZ125 had sat in a neighbor's basement for over 20 years.....two evenings work doing basically what you describe and that weekend my son raced it...on the original tires.
A stored bike is not a lost cause. However, the "negative" posters are correct that you need to be aware of the costs of inheriting a used bike. This applies to any used bike though, and I'll bet a lot of posters would agree that a used Ninja 500 is a great first bike, and would suggest against buying new when it's your first bike. That said, this is perhaps one of the cleanest, lowest mileage Ninja 500s you're going to find, right? So it's a reasonable purchase as long as you approach the pricing (and your friend) appropriately.

One suggestion I've not heard is to let a dealer handle everything. This bike will need brake fluid and most novice mechanics are not comfortable handling corrosive brake fluid and learning about brake bleeding, not when brakes are so critical. You could come to some sort of nice agreement with your friend and the dealer to look it over and estimate the refresh.

If you buy new from a dealer you'll pay for the set-up, too.

Another factor to consider in pricing is tax. In California, people often forget when comparing prices to include the substantial tax and registration fees, which you will have to pay even for a used bike at the time you register it for your new title.

Some have suggested changing your own tires. This is in fact easy to do but not if you've never done it! (I used to work in a shop and have changed hundreds, maybe thousands, of tires.) And while you can spoon them on easily enough if you know how, balancing the tires requires a balance stand and weight kit, which is going to run you a bit of change. Even now I take my wheels into the shop to mount up new rubber so I can use the electonic balancer. I'm such a grifter, I tell ya.

Finally, you can't always agonize over every $50 in your quest to be on the "best" side of a deal. Come to a reasonable agreement and then accept that you have a new baby that will cost you money for all kinds of things down the road.
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Different strokes. I LOVE to work on my stuff. But only on MY stuff.
Different strokes.

I agree. The "newer" bikes are just a PITA to screw around with my limited wrenching abilities. Pull a 1966 Ford motor? No problem. Mess around with the ecu on a new lexus? Not a chance. Same with bikes for me.
Before you do anything.............

Before you decide to tackle this, check out the following for help and ideas:


for the EX500 Mailing List

a few websites devoted to the EX

You are not the first to attempt a resurrection of an EX500. If you join the List, read carefully and follow anything the nice FOG tells you..........
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Re: Before you do anything.............

Yes! if you are game to do it yourself try:

The Airhawk is correct--FOG knows all!
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