As you may remember, my last ride didn’t exactly go as planned. Â Thus, this past Tuesday found me in the garage instead of out on the road.
Now, all I really had to do was replace the battery. Â This is a simple procedure: Â remove seat. Â Remove battery. Â Put in new battery. Â Put back seat. Â Well, we can’t have that! Â That will not take all day and result in cursing! Â Foo on that idea.
So I decided to also do a tune-up on the bike. Â In my defense, this was needed. Â I bought the Ninjette in September 2010 and subsequently did one oil change, in February 2011. Â Yeah, that’s regular maintenance, there. Â So, OK, no worries, I’ll run through the tune-up checklist too.
The issue is that the tune-up checklist also includes checking the valves. Â Which is how I wound up with my bike going from “I’ll just replace the battery” to this:
I don’t know why valves always have to be such a monstrous pain in the ass. Â I think my problem is that the Nighthawk 450, the very first bike I ever worked on, had easy valves. Â They were rocker arm/locknut valves and were in an accessible location. Â This gave me the false impression that valves were easy to do and, thus, I have stubbornly insisted on doing valves on all of my subsequent bikes, often with amusing results.
When I learned that the Ninjette had rocker arm/locknut valves, I thought, “Aha! This will be a piece of delicious cake!” I even have the Kawasaki branded valve tool with which to adjust the Kawasaki branded valves on my Kawasaki motorcycle. Â Cake, I say!
So. Â Let me tell you about the valves on the Ninjette. Â There are eight of them. Â Eight! On a two-cylinder bike! Â That’s just mean, first of all. Â But, OK. Â The real problem is the exhaust valves. Â I double-dog-dare you to find a human on earth that can manipulate their arms and hands into the configuration needed to adjust the exhaust valves. Â There is simply not enough room. Â Even moving the radiator wasn’t a huge help as there is a FRAME IN THE WAY. Â Seriously, people, a pox on any motorcycle engineer that decides to put maintenance items behind a frame (I’m looking at you, Mr Honda Engineer Who Put The VF700 Oil Filter Behind The Frame — yes, I’m still pissed at you 10 years later).
So, anyway, I finally did manage to wrestle the Kawasaki branded valve tool into my Kawasaki engine. Â I think. Â Honestly, I’m not 100% sure that I got it because I could not see a damned thing and was relying on what I assumed it felt like to turn a locknut with disjointed fingers while blind. Â If I put the bike back together and turn on the engine and it explodes, then I guess I didn’t get it right.
Anyway, surprisingly enough, fighting with the exhaust valves took most of my allotted time for the entire maintenance day, so the bike still looks like the first photo above. Â It’s pretty much done and just needs to be buttoned back up, which may happen this weekend but more likely will wait until next Tuesday.
Oh, and of course, I still need to replace the battery.
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