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Discussion Starter #1
i am looking into possibly getting a kawasaki ninja 250 or 500 as my first bike but i wanted to know something. i have a question about the kawasaki ninja 250's suspension. i have sat on one many times before and noticed that the suspension feels a little too soft. i was wondering, is there anything you can do to fix this without having to get a new suspension set up? the bike is very small to begin with and i think the soft suspension may make the back end of the bike dip down right over the rear wheel and make it look like a freakin low rider bike or something. i dont want it to look any smaller when im riding it cause im 6'2 and i will proably feel like its too small for me. would a kawasaki ninja 500's suspension be better and would it be a better bike for me?
 

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The 500 has better suspension, but in my experience with it I don't like to ride with because at 6'1" my knees don't fit in the cutouts on the side of the tank, and I end up posed uncomfortably. The 250 at least I fit on better. You're tall too, so if you have long legs like me, the 500 might not be comfortable for you. I know I don't like it.
 

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You should be able to buy a rear shock, do a search online, penske or ohlins might make one that will fit it.
 

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Yes, the suspension is soft on the 250R and it's only real weakness. Easy fix is a Ninja 500R rear shock (it's a direct bolt-on replacement). That gives you preload adjustment and a little stiffer rear setup. Do note that the 500R suspension is almost equally soft. For the front, a set of fork springs to stiffen the front end does wonders for a 250R.

The softness isn't all that bad. But if you don't like it, you will need to spend a little to improve it. $150 or so generally covers it (plus labor for fork spring installation) and it will be a new bike. Considering a Muzzy system for the 250R is an easy $300, suspension is by far one of the cheapest and best upgrades for the bike.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
do i need to get the suspension fixed in the front forks if i get better suspension in the rear? where can i get a better suspension setup? the reason i have noticed that the 250's suspension is so soft is because i have my brothers wrecked 250 behind the house that i have sit on many times before. do you guys think i should go with getting the 250 this summer instead of the 500? i have sat on it many times it it fits me pretty well even though im 6'2. see that picture of the guy sitting on the 500 that i posted above? thats how i want the suspension to be on whatever bike i get, nice and balanced.
 

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Honestly, the suspension isn't that bad on the 250R. I'm 6'1" and I never had a real problem with it. For general street riding, the softness is a good thing. Keeps the ride comfortable. The softness in the front comes into play in the front under heavy braking as you can bottom out the front forks.

If you like the 250, get the 250. If you like the 500, get the 500. Ride-wise, they are nearly equal. I never had a problem with suspension balance on the 250 at 195lbs. The sag feels worse when you are on the bike than it actually is. If you replace the rear shock on the 250R with a 500R unit, most of your complaints should go away. I'm of the attitude that a couple hundred dollars invested in the 250R suspension is a better value than the nearly $2000 price difference between the 250R and 500R (using new prices as a guide). If you find you have the same complaints with the 500R, you are going to be looking at a fair bit of money to fix its suspension.

For getting a 250R suspension upgrade, it's easy. 500R shocks can be found cheaply on eBay or post on a race/track board in your area. Any 500R racer in your area will likely have a 500R shock sitting in their garage. Either way, cheap and easy.

For the front, just visit any decent bike shop that sells upgrades and ask them to look up front fork springs for an EX250. Several to choose from and it really depends on your weight. They cost around $90-$100 for a set. Ask them what it would cost to install them. They may recommend heavier fork oil at the same time. If so, go with that too. For me, I was looking at 0.95kg-1.0kg springs.

Do the rear shock first. It's the easiest change to make and can have a huge impact provided you set the preload properly. Often, many suspension complaints are due to bad or improper setup. Remember, 1/3rd of your suspension travel should be taken up by the bike itself without you on it. Another 1/3rd gets used up when you sit on the bike with all your weight. You need to have the preload adjusted to allow you to meet these ratios. The remaining 1/3rd is your active travel. This type of setup is the baseline for any regular streetbike.

However, only go down this road after you have some time on the stock setup. Just to get a better feel for what you want to do. And only do it if you plan to keep the bike for more than a season. Otherwise, it is not really worth it on a temporary bike as it is value you never recoup in resale of the bike (like most mods).
 

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Discussion Starter #7
that was a bunch of good info linux. i think i may just go with the 250 for my first bike and keep its stock suspension setup because like you said its not worth upgrading a bike that you will be selling a year or two down the road. thanks again man you really helped. one last question though, is there any way that i could adjust the stock suspension to be stiffer on a 250? does kawasaki say anything about it in the user manual?
 

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The suspensions on the EX250 and EX500 are non-adjustable in the front. The EX250 shock is not adjustable at all and the EX500 for preload only.
 

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The extra money that the 500 will cost is not worth what small gains it has. Check out www.ninja250.net read the FAQ and you will get any answer to any question imaginable, very helpful site.
 

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Having ridden both, I'd reccomend the 500. The little bit of extra umph is well worth it. That said, here's what I'd reccomend to anyone buying either of the two bikes (This is what I did before I sold mine).

Upgrade the suspension!!! Buy at LEAST some new drop-in front springs. If I had a little bit more money, I'd have bought some gold catridge emulators, but I only threw progressive fork springs in. Works makes a shock for both the EX500 and the EX250. Fox used to, and they can be bought on ebay and rebuilt.

Upgrade the ergos. This was one of the more important things to me. I don't like the stock ergos on the EX500 for any ride under 250 miles. I bought a set of woodcraft clipons, which gave me something closer to the seating position I desired--as close as you'll get with the bike's shape.

Buy something that's a '94 or newer. The older transmissions have... Problems. The tranny pops out of second and into neutral on engine braking (this includes going downhill at a constant speed).
 

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Hey, the 250 is fine.. I used to ride two up on mine, and never bottomed out.. And dont waste the money on buying new suspension components.. It is a learner bike, and adding anything to it will not raise its value at all. Keep it, learn on it, and save your money for your next ride.
To be honest, I think the suspension on the 250 is a good thing.. That bike is set up very soft, so it will bob a weave a little if youre hard on the corners, and the front end will dive on hard braking.. But this teaches you a little more control, and once you move to a properly set up 600, it will feel like its on RAILS.. especially when you stop.. That extra experience with chassis flex and stuff will really help out with control of a b***** bike.
 

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Punkwood2k said:
Hey, the 250 is fine.. I used to ride two up on mine, and never bottomed out.. And dont waste the money on buying new suspension components.. It is a learner bike, and adding anything to it will not raise its value at all. Keep it, learn on it, and save your money for your next ride.
To be honest, I think the suspension on the 250 is a good thing.. That bike is set up very soft, so it will bob a weave a little if youre hard on the corners, and the front end will dive on hard braking.. But this teaches you a little more control, and once you move to a properly set up 600, it will feel like its on RAILS.. especially when you stop.. That extra experience with chassis flex and stuff will really help out with control of a b***** bike.
The 250 is def very nice on the road, and with 2up (although have bottomed out once.) I haven't had a chance to test it on a track yet to see how it handles when pushed a bit harder. I think I may take it to TWS this coming Monday and try it out for a bit. If I do, I'll post and let you know how the susspension handles when its reemed.
 
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