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Welcome to the second issue of Two Fifty
Well, we said it would evolve, and evolve
it has! This issue of Two Fifty takes on a
new look, and a new, albeit familiar, mis-
sion: small bikes with big appeal. Whereas
most magazines focus on big bore, high cost
bikes, we focus on the most versatile, most
prevalent, and (we think) most exciting of
rides, the small displacement motorbike.
Take a global snapshot of the motorcycle
market and you realize that not only are
small displacement bikes the most popular
motorcycles, but in many markets (notably
parts of Asia and India) they are the most
prevalent form of any motorized transpor-
tation. In fact the Honda Cub, coming in at
a whopping 50cc, is the most popular mo-
torized vehicle the world has ever known
(60 million, and counting). Of course, small
displacement bikes are not only about utility,
and economy, although that is certainly true
of the class in general. When it comes to
moving the spirit, these bikes run with the
best of them.
The class leader in North America, the Ka-
wasaki Ninja 250R has better acceleration
than all but the most powerful cars, it has
better fuel economy than any hybrid car on
the market, and can cruise all day on any
road and highway this continent has to of-
fer. If you happen upon one in the twist-
ies, where motorcycles are really meant to
be, in the right hands it can keep up with
just about any other bike, regardless of class.
It’s a great beginner’s ride, sure, but it’s also
the consummate rider’s motorcycle, the pure
James R. Davis
PUBLISHER / PRINTER
© Two*Fifty Magazine
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
Elizabeth Rodeno conquering her
demons at Butttonwillow Raceway. For
more on her experience see page 6.
PHOTOGRAPH BY STEVE VANHAP
You may fnd a young rider learning the fun-
damentals on one, as he makes his way to
school; you may cross a veteran racer hon-
ing his skills, as he carves through a canyon
on one; or you may see one fully loaded on
a cross-continental trek; they are versatility
personifed. And in these times, where belts
are being tightened, and oil resources are a
valuable commodity, they are as relevant as
they are exciting.
Issue #2 of Two Fifty Magazine takes us
from the beautiful shoreline of California,
to the treacherous depths of Africa; from
the excitement of one rider’s frst lap around
a race track to the yearly gathering of the
Ninja 250 Rider’s Club, this year in the Av-
enue of Giants.
From Trans-African treks to casual rides,
essential riding skills to all-out racing, basic
maintenance to major modifcations, and ev-
erything in between, we have you covered.
Two Fifty brings you the stories and pictures
from the world of small displacement bikes,
their devoted riders and the clubs that bring
Two Fifty is a new magazine and is con-
stantly looking for collaborators. If you are
interested in building a magazine from the
ground up, contact us (see the Off Topic
And of course, ride on and write on,
IN THIS ISSUE
Big Sur to Malibu
Lois on the Loose
Avenue of the Giants
SKILLS & THRILLS
The Newbie and the 250
WHAT THE FAQ?
THINK BIG RIDE SMART
TWO*FIFTY ISSUE 2
This is our way of giving back to the forum,
by giving away gift certifcates to NewEnough.
2010 brings with it a new year-long contest,
the 2010 monthly picture contest. For the
next ten months, along with a couple of ‘spe-
cial’ contests, there will be a monthly picture
The basic rules are simple, you will submit a
picture that includes at least one Ninja 250.
Additional rules and stipulations will be given
with each contest.
The winning picture chosen from of each of
the twelve contests will then be used to create
a 2011 Ninja 250 calendar. Thumb up
Also, each monthly winner will be given a
$20 gift certifcate to NewEnough. There will
also be one or two additional year-end contest
awards, to be announced later.
Ninja 250 Riders Club
Spring, the vernal equinox, arrived today
which means that it’s time to start riding more
regularly. So, the biggest ever ‘win free stuff ’
contest is back! This is our way of giving back
to the forum, by using donations from the
community to the Ninja 250 forum through
* If you don’t have a Ninja 250 anymore,
don’t despair!!! *
This contest is simple, take a picture of a
Ninja 250 in front of a USPS location . If you
live overseas, then the local equivalent is al-
lowable for entries. For each picture you take,
you will earn one point.
So, the rules are simple ~ any active forum
member (once the have an activated profle)
can participate. This contest will run from the
Vernal Equinox until the Autumnal Equinox,
which is from the frst day of spring until the
frst day of fall.
Vernal Equinox Mar 20 2010 1:32 PM EDT
Autumnal Equinox Sep 22 2010 11:09 PM
1st - $125 gift certifcate to NewEnough.
2nd - $85 gift certifcate to NewEnough.
3rd - $65 gift certifcate to NewEnough.
4th - $45 gift certifcate to NewEnough.
5th - $30 gift certifcate to NewEnough.
That’s a total of $350 we will be giving back
to the active participants of the Ninja 250
rider’s club forum!
Golden Rule Rally
TOP 15 (Current Standings)
teknokruncher 12 28
mattwood1221 11 26
Blazerhair 3 16
laurainmonterey 3 13
AP 3 12
funkshn 3 12
JonP 7 12
Agent K 1 11
F15_in_GA 2 11
Ivan 1 11
rmi03 1 11
Sunny Fla 1 11
twigtech 1 11
XBeemerRider 1 11
splitthewind 2 10
# Meets Score
Monthly Picture Contest
ISSUE 2 TWO*FIFTY 5
And The 250
BY ELIZABETH RODENO
PHOTOGRAPH BY STEVE VANHAP
After I separated from my
husband at 43 I decided that I
wanted to learn how to ride a
With the help of a friend who rode, I bor-
rowed his helmet and went to take the MSF
course. I had been on the back of a mo-
torcycle exactly twice in my life, the month
prior. I sat in the class, the only one who had
never ridden a bike, wondering which way
you turn the throttle. Somehow I managed
to pass the written test.
ISSUE 2 TWO*FIFTY
What ever you
do, don’t go past
Then the real test arrived: actually riding
the bike. I was given a Honda 150 which I
could barely hold up. The frst time I actu-
ally drove across the parking lot was a scary
thrill. The whole day was exhausting. I did
ok on some of the skills. I failed miserably
on the slow speed turns and U-turns. The
coach kept pushing me to go faster. I was
totally petrifed. I failed the fnal riding test
and was told to come back the next day and
take it again. I think the coach liked me and
let me slide on the test. I passed but I am not
sure I should have.
Prior to getting on the bike I had delusions
of grandeur thinking I could ride off on a
V-Strom or SV650. After struggling with the
150, which I dropped repeatedly, I realized
the only bike for me was the Ninja EX250.
I found a 2007 in Candy Plasma Blue at the
dealer near me. I talked the dealer into de-
livering it to my house as I couldn’t imagine
riding it the 20 miles home.
Since I lived in a neighborhood with little
traffc, I was able to practice going round
and round and round and round; shifting,
braking, stalling, falling. I
dropped that poor little bike
so many times. A neighbor
always seemed to be there to
help me pick it up. I think he
found it quite entertaining.
For months at a time she stood in the garage
unloved. I was so fearful that I couldn’t ride
One friend, a veteran rider, took me out a
few times. At the end of a session he told
me “What ever you do, don’t go past second
Finally I made a decision that I had to get out
and ride. I found a female rider who would
put up with me. She didn’t tell me what to do
or what not to do. We just rode. I followed
her. She waited patiently for me to pick up
my bike every time I dropped it. Slowly but
surely I got more confdent riding the curvy
roads above my house. It took me months to
fnally venture on to the freeway. To this day
I try to avoid the freeways as I much prefer
to ride mountain roads.
Last year I decided I was going to become a
better and more confdent rider. I enrolled
in Reg Pridmore’s School at Streets of Wil-
low in Rosemond, CA. Since I had no one
to accompany me I decided I was going to
ride there. I had never been on such a long
ride but I was determined to do this. So off
I went on my little blue bike sporting two
small saddlebags, wearing my pink leathers.
Not normally direction challenged, my ner-
vousness led me to get lost somewhere on
Route 126 trying to get to Rosamond.
By the time I found my way it was dark and
the winds had picked up. I fgured I would
head east until I hit the 14 freeway. Coming
out of complete darkness I was happy to see
lights ahead. As I cruised along I realized I
was riding by a prison. The image of me on
my 25hp bike in pink leathers in front of
the prison made me chuckle. Finally, after
battling 30mph winds on the freeway in the
dark, I arrived at the glorious Devonshire
Inn. What have I done?
The next day I arrived trembling at the
track. Listening carefully and following the
lead rider I made it around the track a few
times. Then they let me go
and boy did I go. I don’t
remember what turn it was
but I looked where I wasn’t
supposed to go and low-
sided. My bike was inop-
erable. Mortifed and very
humiliated I called a friend on his way to the
track to see me. I told him to turn around
and get his ramps. I wasn’t riding home.
My friend helped me fx my bike. I accompa-
nied him to the big track at Willow Springs a
few weeks later. Fearful once again I was de-
termined to make it around. I just got better
and better. Even as the liter bikes left me in
the dust, I felt like the little Ninja that could.
My track addiction was born.
Since then I’ve been riding a lot and going
to Buttonwillow with friends who are teach-
ing me a lot. My friend Bernie and his son,
Javelin Broderick, a 13 year old racer, have
become my coaches. Having raced a 250, Jav
gives me lots of pointers. Now my friends
put the bug in me to race my little bike. I’m
taking a New Racers Class and planning on
entering a WERA race next year. God help
I’m still pretty frightened when I get on my
bike, seeming to never have enough conf-
dence but I get out there and ride and ride.
I fall down, crash in a corner or two and get
up and go back to conquer the track. I’m
not trying to be the fastest. I am committed
to being as skilled and as confdent a rider
I can be. I’m looking forward to my next
track day and scared about my frst race. I
may come in last but from where I started it
will seem like frst place. 
SKILLS AND THRILLS
Big Sur to Malibu
Views wax more and more epic, the sheer cliff
faces appearing as barriers to Rivendell, with taste-
fully sculpted, arched bridges spanning rocky di-
vides. The road bends form a stage for riding he-
roics; weaving in and out of the hillside, cutting
inland before sharply winging back toward the
bony cliffs, Highway 1 is choice tarmac.
BY RYAN SALLEE
PHOTOGRAPHS BY RYAN SALLEE
Big Sur to Malibu
lthough I’ve lived in California for
most of my life, Big Sur might as
well have been in Greece. In my
twenty years of local residence, California’s
central coast remained a mystery. Is Big Sur
a city? A region? A frame of mind? I in-
tended to discover en route to a group ride
arranged by my future mother-in-law in the
Santa Monica mountain canyons surround-
ing Malibu, more than four hundred miles
south of home in San Francisco.
In the days leading up to the trip, I still
hadn’t pinned down a route. I knew for cer-
tain only that I wanted to ride through Big
Sur. On the way down or the ride home?
Unsure. All the way on Highway 1 or just
a quick grazing of the coast? Who knows.
The route I really wanted would take more
than ten hours, tracing Highway 1 from
Santa Cruz to San Luis Obispo, and I feared
a time paucity panic reminiscent of the frst
day of my Seattle trip. US 101 would usher
me to my destination in half the time and
seemed the logical option.
10 TWO*FIFTY ISSUE 2
Logic is overrated. With all the providence
of a hormone-gorged adolescent on prom
night, I picked the long way.
In an insincere display of prudence, I took
inland freeway south until Santa Cruz. To
bridge my path to the coast, I had to take
Highway 17. The 17 is a bit nutty, which
suits its destination. For a freeway, it’s cra-
zy twisty, narrow and teeth-gritting quick.
And traffc isn’t light. Around one sweeping
right-hander at 55 mph, brake lights bulged
red as cars squeezed left past a stalled big rig
in the right lane. Fortunately that was the last
of 17’s drama. As Highway 1 came into view,
the sky opened, wide and blue, sun still rub-
bing its eyes open in the early morning.
Curiously, it wasn’t until Monterey that I
caught my frst clear view of the ocean. Just
a skip further south and I was in Carmel,
which from the highway doesn’t impress
with poshness the way its obnoxiously up-
pity full name suggests. Signs in-
sist it’s Carmel-by-the-Sea, which I
hope to never hear uttered aloud.
Still, I dared pull over for gas and
coffee in the Highlands and fred
off a couple of text messages to
my treasured fance, just to brag
about my vacation while she was
trapped at work.
Between Santa Cruz and Monterey,
CA-1 bears a modest and sedate
line through sprawling farm lands.
Countless produce stands dot the
road side and advertise enticing
prices for fruits and veggies that
shame grocery store impostors. If
only my saddlebags had room to
spare. And refrigeration.
I got back to Highway 1, still not sure what
constitutes Big Sur. But just a few minutes
south of the Carmel Highlands, I got a clue.
In an instant, the coast transforms. Hillsides
steeply plummet into the brilliantly blue sea
with innumerable craggy islands too small
to stand on giving the effect of a sprawl-
ing global landscape miniaturized and con-
densed, presented as God might see the
Views wax more and more epic, the sheer
cliff faces appearing as barriers to Riven-
dell, with tastefully sculpted, arched bridges
spanning rocky divides and completing the
Lord of the Rings motif. The road’s bends
form a stage for riding heroics; weaving in
and out of the hillside, cutting inland before
sharply winging back toward the bony
cliffs, Highway 1 through Big Sur is
A shame it draws so many tourists. I don’t
mind sharing, but the road was often hogged
by long lines of inconsiderate lallygaggers. I
don’t demand slow drivers pull over the mo-
ment they see me itching to get by, but by-
passing a series of perfectly suitable turnouts
is infuriating. “Don’t make me be rude,” I
thought out loud in my helmet, “Don’t make
me act uncivilized.” Another ignored turn-
out? Sorry clown, enjoy my high beam. I’m
usually quite prudent in my passes, always
waiting for legal opportunities, but double
yellow painted lines lose their meaning when
painfully slow Tour America Winnebagos
stubbornly disgrace roads like that.
Hours fipped by like a Hollywood mon-
tage dubbed in Spanish (I tend to sing and
think to myself in Spanish when I ride long
distance). Before I’d tired of the world-in-
a-bowl scenery of the Big Sur coastline–as
if I could–Highway 1 dumped me onto the
southern end of US 101. I spent seven hours
riding to San Luis Obispo, a distance saner
routes could cover in three. But there’s no
doubt the Big Sur excursion merited the
Another three hours of US 101 separat-
ed me from my destination, so I hustled.
There’s nothing unpleasant about the free-
way, but without the distractions of Tolk-
ien vistas and RV circumnavigation, time
dragged. Fuel neared empty as I approached
Santa Barbara, and I wanted to make a
stop in the fair city to see if
it’s as beautiful inside as its
veneer. But I rolled into
town at the peak of
rush hour traffc,
which clogs the
ISSUE 2 TWO*FIFTY 11
city of 100,000’s only major asphalt artery.
Instead of stopping to enjoy a minute of the
stunning seaside city, I spent the next half
hour splitting narrow halls between crawl-
ing cages, my eyes furiously scanning motor
body language fve seconds ahead.
Lane splitting is mentally exhausting after
just a couple of minutes, so I was properly
frazzled by the time I reached Ventura. I
exited the freeway and gave the bike its last
drink of gasoline before reeling in the last
miles of the 101 freeway.
My real reason for being in Southern Cali-
fornia is too embarrassing to admit (baby,
ahem, shower) but I had the fortune of a
good excuse to skip on the future-in-law
family outing to Meryl Streep’s latest theat-
rical assault on masculinity. I’d been set up
on a blind moto date (purely platonic) with
a group of experienced gents. They were
billed as “old man sport bikers,” but none
of them were on trick knees or anything. To
Because we started the day early “to beat the
traffc, the heat and the Harley riders,” I lay-
ered a thermal under my jacket. Mornings in
San Francisco are always chilly, but I quickly
learned that Southern California in August is
always hot. Before we’d even left the meet-
ing point, the thermal layer was in my tank
bag and I was still a bit sweaty-sticky under
my gear. Must. Create. Air fow. Before too
long–maybe a little too long–we left morn-
ing coffee behind to carve some canyons.
I left the path fnding to the two locals, both
of whom were mounting 1,000cc uber-bikes,
one a Yamaha FZ1 and the other a Honda
RC51. Four of my bikes wouldn’t equal the
horsepower of one of theirs, and so I hoped
we wouldn’t endure much superslab before
hitting twisty bits where the 250’s power def-
icit might shed relevance. I didn’t cry a tear
when we ignored the freeway on-ramp and,
way before I expected, rolled to a stop at the
base of Decker Canyon Road. My chaperon
leaned and yelled over the bellow of his Yo-
shimura pipes thrumming a V-twin rhythm,
“We’ll take it easy,” before ripping around
the frst bend.
Decker Canyon is steep and intensely tight,
with hairpins stacked atop each other as the
road climbs up, up and away from civiliza-
tion and into the mountains north of Mali-
bu. Good thing the guys leading me took it
“easy” as I had to push to match their pace.
Brake late and hard, pitching all my weight
onto my wrists and into the handlebars, lean
into a corner and there’s no way to keep up
without separating ass from seat. Weight in-
12 TWO*FIFTY ISSUE 2
side, trailing the front brake, peg the apex
and break open the throttle, wah-wah-wah,
upshift for a few revs and immediately
downshift, strangle the brake lever for the
next lascivious bend.
After thoroughly separating ourselves from
society, we veered east on Mulholland High-
way. I didn’t know it, but I was being es-
corted to a popular stretch of Mulholland
locals know as The Snake and which com-
prises bends and road quality worthy of a
racetrack, chiseled into the sloping canyon
wall and marked by terrestrial sculpting
more perfect than the contrived Disneyland
At the base of the course is The Rock Store,
a business that attracts motorcyclists of all
sorts and allegedly Jay Leno and other celeb-
rities on occasion. I couldn’t say what The
Rock Store’s business is, because while we
spent ten or ffteen minutes wandering the
parking lot, I didn’t bother to go inside. Out-
side, a display not too unlike the usual lot
at Alice’s offered some frsts for my eyes. A
Vincent Rapide tricked me into thinking I’d
spotted a mint Black Shadow. Across the lot,
a cherry Indian stood apart from the Har-
leys, dressed in a shade of brown that went
extinct decades ago.
Commonly, my escorts ride up and down
the Snake three or four times on a weekend
excursion. It’s worth indulging. We decided
to run back to the top for photos, but the
RC51 had killed its battery. The two of us
that didn’t leave our headlamps shining while
we wasted time in The Rock Store’s lot took
back to the road anyway and the Honda rid-
er assured us he’d join when the bike started.
We loitered at the top, where I snapped some
shots and noted the delicate ecosystem of
highway, motorcyclists and cops, both hu-
man species cohabiting the narrow stretch
of asphalt in peaceful harmony. The police
weren’t on the scene as predators eager to
chase riders with hungry citation quotas. To
the contrary, I witnessed a CHP cruiser pull
onto a narrow gravel shoulder to let a mo-
torcyclist pass from behind. The only prey
was an endless supply of tasty corners that
seemed to have multiplied like rabbits. Ag-
gressive riding’s no problem on Mulholland.
Just population control.
I surveyed the road, the landscape and the
motos that traced the skinny lines in dis-
tant hills around me. After what must’ve
been near a half hour, the rider with a dead
battery rolled to the top of The Snake will
fully juiced electrics, having signed a liability
waiver to demo the Zero S electric motorcy-
cle its manufacturer was showcasing at The
Rock Store. The bike looks hot, compact
and capable. Granted, the sound it makes is
less stirring than a plug-in leaf blower, I fg-
ure I’ll happily make the electric jump when
there’s infrastructure to recharge with the
convenience of a petrol fll.
After tear-arsing back down to The Rock
Store, a dash of smart phone Googling as-
sured me the dead Honda could be bump-
started. The bike’s rider, trusting my cautious
advice, rolled downhill, allowing gravity to
massage speed into the wheels. Around the
frst corner, out of view, and still no inter-
... the Snake comprises of
bends worthy of a racetrack,
chiseled into the sloping
canyon wall and marked by
terrestrial sculpting more
perfect than the contrived
ISSUE 2 TWO*FIFTY 13
nal combustion rumbling. Silence. Pushing
the bike uphill won’t be fun. More silence.
And a minute later, prowww-arrr-prrr-arrr-
prowww, the Honda willed itself to rejoin
We turned to Encinal Canyon Road to guide
us to Zuma Beach. Unlike earlier roads, En-
cinal carves longer, sweeping blind turns
that allow for more speed…provided there’s
trust the corners don’t sharpen. It’s all new
to me, so I backed off the throttle and pru-
dently trusted the turns only as far as I could
see ‘em. The local literbikes excelled, and for
the frst time that day I was left behind. No
worry, as Encinal is dead-simple to follow to
Our posse picked up a fourth bike and a
third old man sport biker, who also brought
with him no fewer than a thousand cubic
centimeters of displacement. A short tour
of Malibu’s beaches and the Pacifc Coast
Highway brought us to Kanan Road for
more canyon carving.
Those canyon roads are seriously special and
not only challenged but completely demol-
ished my belief that California’s Bay Area
is home to the West Coast’s best tarmac.
Scorched hillsides and desert fora might not
beat San Francisco’s greens, but the turns
are just phenomenal and much more tightly
packed than I’m used to.
To traverse the Santa Monica Mountains
of Southern California is to endure a con-
stant barrage of angry corners, some so
long and sharp they seem to form infnite
loops that somehow connect to the next se-
ries of bends which alternately firt with the
On our fnal run, we passed by a Toyota
MR2 on its own group joyride that also firt-
ed with the canyon ledge. The ledge was not
amused, and the driver was left with both
front wheels dangling over the lip of the
road, the back held down by the luck of a
mid-mounted engine and two friends stand-
ing on the rear bumper. Don’t see that in San
SI had thirty-six hours of rest off the bike
before diving into another day-long ride to
return home. I’d fulflled my desire to see
Big Sur on the way south, so surely I could
shorten the return trip and just endure free-
I took the long route home. The skies were
overcast the entire day, and traffc was no
lighter on a Monday than it was on the previ-
ous Friday –get jobs, people– but the coastal
roads are unmissable. For the pleasure, a day
is a fair price to pay. 
14 TWO*FIFTY ISSUE 2
Tips and Techniques from Safety Expert James R Davis
Think Big, Ride Smart
Standing on your Pegs
Control AND Visibility
As many of you know from reading other
of the safety tip articles I have written, Cash
and I have found ourselves riding for dozens
of miles at highway speeds while standing
on our pegs. In our cases, the usual reason
for doing that is that we are a long way from
a place to pull off the road for a break when
the sky opens up and it begins raining on us
- hard. It is almost impossible to see clearly
through the raindrops accumulating (actual-
ly washing in waves) down our windscreens
and our helmet visors. We stand on the pegs
to improve our ability to see - our visibility.
(Cash has declared that that is one reason
she is glad not to have forward controls be-
cause standing on the pegs is one behavior
we sometimes need to do.)
It is well known that standing on your pegs
while negotiating diffcult pavement (or dirt)
at slow speeds can aid in your control of the
bike in that it is far easier to move a bike
to one side or the other without having to
move yourself with it.
But there is one other time you might wish
to consider standing on your pegs while
moving, even at highway speeds, and it again
ISSUE 2 TWO*FIFTY 15
involves enhancing your visibility - this
time for others. Suppose, for example, that
you are riding down a two-lane road that’s
marked with a line between traffc mov-
ing in opposite directions and you notice a
commercial area to your right. What are the
odds that an oncoming car, particularly one
with their left turn blinker fashing, might
decide to turn left across your path to enter
That’s right, the odds depend on whether
or not the driver of that oncoming vehicle
notices you or not.
Your BEST behavior in that condition is to
slow down in anticipation that you might
have to stop or dodge that left-turner (with
a cell phone glued to his/her ear). But that
might not be enough and is not the only
thing that you can do to increase your odds
You can make yourself more visible! In
advance, you can do that, (and by law you
must), by having your headlights on, and
you can wear light colored clothes with re-
fecting patches. Rather than in advance of
needing to, you THEN can also turn on a
headlight modulator or fash your brights on
and off. (I don’t like that last idea one bit
because it might be interpreted as a signal
by you giving the other driver ‘permission’
to encroach on your right of way.) You can
also gently swerve from side to side within
Or, you can simply stand on your pegs!!!
That certainly makes you more visible to
others. It does not destabilize the bike. It
cannot be misinterpreted as a signal giving
away your rights.
On the other hand, if you happen to get
into an accident and there are witnesses
who saw you standing on your pegs, you will
need to be ready to defend your actions in
court. Particularly non-riding public ‘under-
standing’ of what you were doing out there
standing on your pegs will vary from ‘show-
ing off ’ to ‘stunting’ to ‘racing’ (regardless
of whether or not you are speeding), and
probably not a single suggestion that you
were trying to make yourself more visible
in order to diminish the likelihood that an
accident would occur.
Here is one expert witness who will stand
up for your side and describe such behavior
as being rational and intelligent instead of
It doesn’t need to be said, but just in case ...
If that driver does make a left turn in front
of you while you are standing on your pegs,
you sit back down as you aggressively use
“I laid it down”
Is a Crock
it is an excuse.
I recently had a message posted on my
board from a long-time rider which said the
“I laid it down one time on purpose.
I was entering a green light intersection about
30mph when I saw what turned out to be a
drunk driver entering on my right intending to
run his red light.
I ran thru 3 options in my head:
1) If I keep going he will T-bone me;
2) If I try and stop I will T-bone him;
3) Lay it down and hit him with both of my
wheels and the whole bike between me and his
I took Option 3, destroyed my helmet on his A-
pillar, destroyed his left front fender/wheel/ door,
landed on my tailbone after fying over his car.
Bottom line: totaled Harley, totaled Plymouth,
totaled Bell helmet, cracked tailbone, opened up
head, 10 days on a board in the hospital. I never
ride without a helmet now.
His ‘logic’ was reasonable, though badly
fawed, but worse by far it sounded like a
recommendation to others to consider do-
ing the same thing. On balance, it was a
crock of ...
This is the kind of story that a newbie must
learn to flter and dismiss instead of believ-
ing. It is especially diffcult for them given
the ‘story’ includes a rational and obvious bit
of good advice (to always wear a helmet).
His ‘option 2’ was the ONLY viable and
certainly the safest choice he could have
made. If you are going to crash you want
to do it at the slowest possible speed and
that happens only if you use an emergency
braking maneuver. By ‘maneuver’ I mean
that you squeeze the front brake hard, then
harder, then harder still without locking up
the brake, and by using the rear brake mod-
estly and then with less and less pressure so
that it, too, does not lock up. And it means
that you keep your head and eyes pointing
straight ahead, the bike pointing straight
ahead, and you lean forward to lower the
bike’s center of gravity.
Let’s look at the whole idea of ‘laying it
down’. Do you wonder where a person
learns how to lay a bike down on purpose? I
mean, I have never heard of a class, certainly
not an MSF class, that teaches a rider how
to do that. Yet, it seems, this rider knew just
how to do it in an emergency situation. Isn’t
Let’s suppose that you really did want to lay
down a bike while it’s moving at highway
speeds. Which control would you use? There
is no ‘lay down’ button on your motorcycle
so it must be one or more of the other con-
trols. Since this rider wants to end up with
his wheels hitting the car ahead of him,
my guess is that the bike has to be made to
turn 90 degrees from its direction of travel.
The only controls that you have to change
direction are the handlebar itself. And, at
highway speeds, you have no choice but to
use counter-steering. So, it must be that you
use counter-steering to lay a bike down. But
my experience has taught me that when you
change direction you actually move in a dif-
ferent direction. If this rider merely pressed
hard on, say, his left grip, then his motor-
cycle would have moved dramatically to the
left, not just swiveled in place within his lane
of traffc and switched the front end of the
bike from pointing dead ahead to pointing
directly to the left.
But if the bike actually moved away from
the track he was riding in, and aggressively
so, then wouldn’t that actually be a panic
swerve? And if a panic swerve COULD be
performed such that you would miss the col-
lision altogether, why wouldn’t you simply
do that instead of going further and ending
up on the ground?
The fact is that if you could use a panic
swerve to avoid an accident you would do so
instead of ‘laying it down’. This rider already
claimed that that was not an option because
it was not listed.
In order to end up on the ground your tires
have to lose traction. That happens, as you
know, if you overuse your brakes. Skid marks
are clear indicators when that happens. And
the brake that is easiest to overuse is at-
tached to the rear wheel. Its at least a coin-
cidence that when you skid the rear tire your
bike’s rear end tends to yaw to one side or
the other, particularly if you are also using
the front brake. And the result can easily be
that the rear tire, not the front one, is what
slides out from under you while you tend to
stay in the same lane you were traveling in at
the time. Surely it is more likely that in order
to ‘lay a bike down’ you use the rear brake
instead of counter-steering.
But if you skid your tires you no longer are
getting maximum stopping power from your
brakes. Instead, you have reduced your rate
of deceleration by about 25% from what it
was just prior to the start of the skid.
Now I don’t know about you but if I had my
preferences I would want to be slowing as
quickly as possible when faced with a crash
and that means I would not want my tires to
skid at all.
But what if you could increase your rate of
deceleration by sliding on the side of your
motorcycle instead of on its tires? Well, the
problem with that is that steel (and plastic)
have less friction when scrubbing against as-
phalt than does the rubber of its tires. So
that a sliding motorcycle which is on its side
instead of on its tires will slow even less
quickly than if you simply skid your tires.
You know what I’m saying ... ‘laying down’ a
motorcycle is NOT a deliberate event on the
street. Instead, it is an after-the-event expla-
nation, an excuse, of what happened which
is designed to save face. In short, it is BS.
ISSUE 2 TWO*FIFTY 17
A function of speed,
If you have read some of my other articles
you know that I am a strong advocate of
covering the front brake lever while I’ve
been essentially quiet about whether or not
you should cover your clutch lever while rid-
Further, you probably know that I prefer to
use two fngers to cover my brake and, when
I do cover my clutch, I prefer to cover it
using all four fngers. So, what’s the deal?
What’s the logic that explains these differ-
First, let’s look at why we cover a lever.
Whether it’s the brake or the clutch, the
ONLY reason we cover these controls is to
reduce reaction time when we need to oper-
ate them. In exchange for reduced reaction
time we pay a price - we have less control of
the corresponding grip when some of our
fngers are covering a lever instead of being
in contact with that grip.
The next question is not as obviously an-
swered as the frst one: When should you
cover those controls? The answer is that we
cover them whenever we might have need
to quickly use them, but NOT when quick
usage of the control (or simply covering it)
can be dangerous.
The brake lever is the one that most of us
cover virtually all the time. Is there a time
when it should NOT be covered? You bet.
At slow speeds, particularly when making
turns. In these cases the use of your front
brake is often so counter-productive or dan-
gerous that you are far better off having the
fngers of your right hand wrapped around
Another time you want to keep your fngers
off the brake lever is when you are about
to surmount an obstacle in the road. If you
take a frm jolt to the front or back wheel
you must not lose your hold on the grip and
having all of your fngers wrapped around it
is your best insurance against that happen-
So, it follows that in general you want to
cover your front brake lever anytime you
might have to stop quickly. In other words,
almost always if your motorcycle is moving
faster than you can run.
But should you cover it with two fngers?
The answer to that question raises no end
of controversy amongst seasoned riders. I
suggest that you use as many fngers as you
are comfortable using over an extended pe-
riod of time. In my case, I use two fngers.
If I try to use three, my hand gets cramped
as I try to maintain the other one in con-
tact with the grip. If I use four fngers then
without a wrist rest to give me positive con-
trol of my throttle I fnd myself unable to
smoothly control speed and my thumb will
cramp over time. Since the right grip is itself
a control (throttle), it is my preference to
use two fngers to cover the brake lever and
two to maintain contact with the throttle.
Further, using two fngers GREATLY re-
duces the odds that in a panic I might try
the dangerous practice of ‘grabbing a hand-
ful’ of brake.
When to cover your clutch lever is a little
more subtle than when to cover your front
brake lever. However, since the left grip is
not itself another control, when you do
cover the clutch you should use all four fn-
gers. And, of course, the clutch lever can
be squeezed until it contacts the grip. That
means that if you use less than four fngers
to cover the lever you can trap the other fn-
gers between the lever and the grip.
The clutch is not used simply to disengage
power from the rear wheel. Its friction zone
is used to act like a vernier control of speed
and it is far more subtle in doing that job
than the throttle is, particularly at slow
speeds. Thus, covering the clutch makes
sense at slow speeds.
At higher speeds, however, covering the
clutch is essentially useless. The price you
pay to cover the clutch at higher speeds is a
diminished control of the left grip. Since the
brake lever should be covered when travel-
ing at any reasonable speed, it makes sense
to me that the clutch should not.
And, like the brake lever, the clutch should
NOT be covered if you are about to sur-
mount an obstacle in the road. This, to min-
imize the chance of losing control of the
Cover the clutch at slow speeds
Cover the brake at higher speeds 
s James R Davis is a recognized expert
in the feld of motorcycle safety and
He has over 50 years and 500,000
miles of accident free riding, and is
a former Certifed MSF Instructor.
His articles have been reproduced
in publications all over the world,
and on his web site (www.msgroup.
org). Davis has worked with the
motorcycle division of various police
departments, and has given safety
presentations for the US Navy.
He continues to lecture at motorcy-
cle organizations throughout the US
and is active on his forum board.
One 250cc Motorcycle
Ten Thousand Miles from London to Cape Town
TEXT BY LOIS PRYCE
PHOTOGRAPHS BY LOIS PRYCE
Adventure of the Congo River Crossing
On October 14th, 2006 Lois Pryce set out from London
to ride the length of Africa on a Yamaha TTR250. Four
months and ten thousand incredible miles later she
reached Cape Town, South Africa.
Upon her return, Pryce compiled her harrowing tales into
the captivating book “Red Tape and White Knuckles“.
In a special contribution to Two*Fifty Magazine, Pryce
presents us with an excerpt from the book accompanied
with photographs from her travels.
20 TWO*FIFTY ISSUE 2
they go back and forth, selling and buying between Brazzaville and
Kinshasa, they sell cheaper then everyone else, and they smuggle
things too. They are trouble, very aggressive when they are all to-
gether like that. You must not talk to them’
I watched them arranging themselves and their strange collection
of wheelchairs and tricycles, piled up with goods. Africa is probably
the worst place in the world to be disabled, but they were getting on
with it, survivors making something of their pitiful lives. But they
all had the look that I now knew so well, the cold, empty eyes of
A few able-bodied chancers were diving off the wharf into the
brown swirling water and swimming round to the other side of the
boat, where they clambered aboard to avoid paying for a ticket. One
of them was even carrying a sack of rice while he carried out this
manoeuvre, holding it on his head and swimming with his free arm.
Then a burst of shouting and banging drew my attention away to
the top of the gang plank where an elderly woman and one of the
deck hands were in the midst of a fst fght. She punched him in the
chest, then he shoved her up against a bulkhead, her skull making a
dull clanking sound as it came into contact with the rusty iron wall,
fortunately she was wearing a large and elaborate head-dress which
hopefully softened the blow. But she was not to be deterred and
came back at him with a right hook in the face, which he returned
immediately. It was the Rumble in the Jungle for the twenty-frst cen-
tury; Ali and Foreman had nothing on these two as they continued to
n Brazzaville port the usual hoo-hah
involving small men with big rubber
stamps was particularly drawn out and
painful, requiring a constant stream of cash
and an industrial scale of photocopying.
By the end of it even Ricky, my self-appointed helper was starting
to look a bit stressed, and we lost his friend Kevin somewhere along
the way when he got roughed up and thrown out of an offce by
angry hulk of a man in a grey uniform.
Eventually Ricky beckoned me to follow him on board the ferry,
and I rode up the rickety gangplank, clanking my way on to the
boat. It was a rusting old iron heap that comprised no more than a
covered deck and a few rows of seats for passengers. I parked my
bike facing out towards Kinshasa and stared over the water, feeling
more apprehensive than ever before on my journey.
There were plenty of men and women coming aboard, carrying
enormous sacks of grain on their heads, several men who were al-
ready drunk at nine in the morning and a surprisingly large number
of cripples dragging themselves around on their withered limbs,
or being pushed on board in homemade Heath Robinson style
wheelchairs. I asked Ricky why there were so many of them and he
‘They are trouble, big trouble. They can travel cheap on the ferry, so
ISSUE 2 TWO*FIFTY 21
batter each other, sometimes rolling on the foor but always coming
up for more. It was turning into quite a commotion as more passen-
gers boarded the ferry, pushing their way past the scrapping couple.
In the end some of the heftier looking males on board, including
Ricky, steamed in and successfully pulled them apart.
‘What was all that about?’ I asked Ricky when the excitement had
died down. The elderly woman was sitting alone, perched on a sack
of rice, her face clouded with fury.
‘Oh nothing, she is his mother, they are always fghting’ he explained
with a shrug.
Ricky bid me farewell, he had other business to attend to, more scams
and fxes to take care of, and no doubt, more fghts to break up.
‘Good luck in Kinshasa’ he said, shaking his head.
Now that Ricky had gone and the drama of the fght had subsided
the attention was turned towards me and I was soon surrounded by
a curious crowd. They formed a circle around me and the bike and
stood there staring, except for one particular man who was steam-
ing drunk and insisted on lurching towards me and draping his arm
round my shoulders. Each time he did this I would hop round the
other side of the bike, but he always followed, staggering and slur-
ring after me, sending me skipping off back to the other side until
I was trotting non-stop around the bike with him in hot pursuit. It
was straight out of Benny Hill; the only thing missing was a nov-
elty theme tune. This ridiculous carry-on continued for some time
until one of the young men in the crowd hauled him away with a
few choice words and a look of disgust. Drunks, the disabled, old
women; there was no respect for these weak, lowly members of so-
ciety in the Congo. It was survival of the fttest, quite literally the
law of the jungle.
I thanked the man for coming to my rescue and this dialogue
prompted a wave of questions from the crowd. As each one spoke,
it encouraged the others and soon I was under siege from a non-stop
interrogation. Where was my husband? Where was I from? Where
was I going? And again and again, Where was my husband? I told
various lies by way of response, but my inquisitors were quick to
warn me that I shouldn’t even be thinking of going to Kinshasa,
repeating everyone’s warning; it was ‘very dangerous for a woman
alone’. I made up a lie that my husband was waiting for me there, but
they wanted to know why he wasn’t with me, where he was exactly,
where would we be staying? I was thinking on my feet and made up a
fantastically elaborate story which they seemed to buy, but I still felt
thoroughly unnerved and as the crowd swelled, moving in closer and
the questions and warnings came thicker and faster I felt distinctly
panicky. Overcome with dizziness and nausea, I forced myself to
breathe slowly and deeply and stay calm but it was easier said than
done. It seemed to me that by taking this ferry to Kinshasa, I was
jumping out of the frying pan and into the blazing, fery depths of
Hades. When the boat cast off from the dock my heart was thump-
ing fast at the thought of what awaited me on the other side of the
LOIS ON THE LOOSE
22 TWO*FIFTY ISSUE 2
The crowd continued to stare at me, but the questions subsided and
mercifully everyone’s attention was diverted to a scuffe on top of
the roof where one of the ticketless chancers was hiding out. I had
seen him swim round, climb aboard and then leg it up a pole on to
the corrugated iron roof. But the deckhands had seen all the tricks
before and it wasn’t long before he was rumbled. There was burst of
shouting above us before a lithe black body sailed past, landing like a
bomb in the churned up water. Whether he jumped or was pushed, I
didn’t know, but he broke into a fast front crawl and it looked highly
likely that he would make it to Kinshasa before the rest of us.
The crossing of the river took half an hour and in some way I wished
it would never end, that I could foat indefnitely in limbo, that I
would never have to make my nerve-wracking entry into this most
awful of African nations. As we left Brazzaville behind and the hazy
image of Kinshasa’s tower blocks became steadily clearer, I became
more and more fraught. Now I wished the boat would just hurry up
and get on with it and spare me this slow and dreadful countdown.
I could see the chaos of Kinshasa port before we even touched the
bank. As the boat edged in to moor, people were already jumping
on from the quayside, making daredevil leaps across the water. The
port offcials were screaming orders to no avail, everyone was yelling
at each other and throwing their sacks of rice and bulging Chinese
laundry bags on and off the boat. I sat on the bike and waited for
the mayhem to subside, before making a speedy run-up the ramp.
But I didn’t get very far. My passage was quickly blocked by a mob
of aggressive, shouting men who were grabbing hold of my arm,
waving fake IDs in my face and yelling orders at me: ‘Show me your
passport! Get over there! Where are you going? Stay there! Show me
If they were attempting to intimidate me, they were succeeding, but
I knew immediately that my usual tactic of smiling patiently and be-
ing extra polite would have no currency in this situation, and I’d long
since realised that damsel-in-distress mode doesn’t work in this part
of the world. Chivalry is a rare commodity in Africa, and the women
are as tough as the guys; they have to be, considering their position in
the pecking order, which is somewhere above the animals, but below
the men. As I sat there on the bike with my engine running, slipping
the clutch on the steep ramp, I knew there was only one way I was
going to get out of this situation unscathed. It was time to dig out
and dust off my hard-nosed side; if I didn’t I was likely to burst into
tears, and that would be the worst thing I could do. I got the feeling
that people had stopped crying in the Congo a long time ago.
It was a strange sensation to make a conscious decision to act like a
seriously stroppy bitch, as there’s not much call for this kind of ac-
tivity in my regular day-to-day life, but it was reassuring to know that
I could draw upon it in an emergency. I stayed sitting on the bike,
made what I hoped was a don’t-mess-with-me-face and started yell-
ing at everyone, telling them where to stick their fake ID cards and to
get the hell out of my way. I was almost laughing as I heard myself; I
sounded quite ridiculous, but amazingly, it worked. The men made a
feeble show of being threatening, but then slowly, one by one, they
skulked off into the crowd, leaving me free to ride up the ramp and
into the fenced off yard where the real trouble would begin; dealing
with the men with the genuine ID cards.
There were no signs suggesting where I should go, all the buildings
were unmarked and equally shabby, and to make matters more con-
fusing none of the men who claimed to be customs and immigration
offcials were wearing any kind of uniform. There was no way of
telling them from the hordes of dodgy fxers that I had success-
fully banished at the quayside, and once again I found myself at the
mercy of yet more shifty, steely-eyed men. To add to the fun, there
was now the added delight of being mobbed by legions of money-
changers waving wads of Congolese Francs in my face.
Luckily I was taken in hand by a young chap by the name of Jean-
ISSUE 2 TWO*FIFTY 23
Paul who I immediately liked, partly because he spoke English and
partly because he was a bit chubby and showed the beginnings of a
slight paunch under his too tight T-shirt. There was something quite
sweet about him, but I was forever wary about who to trust and once
again had only my instinct on which to rely. But my instinct had been
getting a good workout lately and it came up trumps again. Jean-Paul
never left my side, guiding me over the hot coals of the D.R.C’s en-
try formalities, most of which were conducted on the bonnet of a
decrepit seventies Mercedes under a ferce midday sun.
Customs went pretty smoothly, aside from the unwanted attentions
of a one-legged offcer who called me into a vast, gloomy hangar
on the pretext of examining my bike and made various lascivious
suggestions, some of which involved me sitting on his stump. Merci-
fully, Jean-Paul came to the rescue and steered me back outside into
the glaring sunlight where a man from immigration wanted to have
a word with me.
Perched on the bonnet of the Mercedes, he appeared to be proof-
reading every page in my passport. He turned to me, his eyes hidden
behind mirrored sunglasses for maximum intimidation and I could
see the refection of my pale, anxious face staring back at me. It oc-
curred to me that I couldn’t be more out place.
‘So, where were you before you came here?’ he said,
‘I was in Brazzaville, in Congo’
‘And before that?’
‘And before that?’
He said nothing, but ficked through the pages in silence, studying
the dates of my visas and stamps to see if they matched my story.
‘Let me see your vehicle papers’ he demanded
I fshed them out of my luggage and he laid everything out on the
bonnet, double-checking and cross-referencing every single date,
right back to when I had entered Tunisia, before copying it all down
into a book.
‘But you say you come from England. Where did you go from Eng-
land, not to Tunisia no?’
‘I took a boat to France, and then another boat to Tunis’
‘There is nothing in here of France!’ he slammed my passport down
on the bonnet triumphantly, and I realised how the car had become
‘If you’re English you don’t get stamped in France, it’s in the EU’ I
said, trying not to sound too much of a smartarse. I wanted to add
‘duh!’ at the end of my statement, but I feared it would not help my
He obviously had no idea what I was talking about and continued
picking through my papers, determined to fnd something - anything
- untoward that would provide him with the evidence he needed to
extract a big, juicy bribe. Meanwhile, sensing that cash would soon
be changing hands, the vulture-like money-changers were circling
again, but as Jean-Paul shooed one away another would appear in
his place. Oh sweet civilised Europe! I thought, with a sudden pang
for its open borders, its temperate climate and its single monetary
Confounded by the European question, the immigration offcer
instead quibbled over smudged visa stamps, questioned the sloppy
handwriting of the Nigerian offcials, tested me to see if I could
remember what dates I had entered and exited each country, and
accused me of lying when I failed to recall each one correctly. Jean-
Paul was hopping around, trying to reason with him on my behalf,
but was blatantly ignored or barked at occasionally. The sun was
LOIS ON THE LOOSE
24 TWO*FIFTY ISSUE 2
blazing high in sky now, even the broken-up tarmac beneath my
feet was radiating heat but our man from Immigration was immune
to the ferce rays burning down on us, and continued to interrogate
me as I perched on the car bonnet feeling distinctly weak and light-
headed under the glare of the cruel Kinshasa sun and its equally
cruel bureaucracy. How is it possible, I marvelled, that this amount
of attention to detail is lavished on completely unnecessary red tape
and bullshit while the rest of this country’s affairs are in a state of
The immigration offcer didn’t like it, but eventually he had to admit
it: there was nothing he could get me on. My papers were whiter than
white, except for my faked Cameroon exit date which had sailed past
his supposedly eagle eyes. He slammed my documents down on the
car bonnet and made an invisible nod that meant I was free to go. I
smiled at him, enjoying my mini victory; my spotless admin had tri-
umphed over corruption! But my euphoria was short lived as it was
now the turn of the policemen, and they wanted to see the contents
of my luggage laid out on the ground.
Jean-Paul began a plea in my defence, but was banished to the side-
lines as they picked over my belongings. The money changers were
still hovering but they were blending into the crowd that had come
to watch me unpack my kit. I recognised some of the faces; the
one-legged customs man and a few of the guys that questioned me
on the ferry were there, as well as some of the disabled men in their
hand-pedalled carts. With a quick glance I approximated that my
audience averaged about 1.75 legs per person.
‘This is for me, yes, a gift for me?’ said one of the offcers, an older
guy with a cunning, lined face. He was holding up a bottle of liquid
‘Er yes, I s’pose so’ I shrugged. If soap was all he was after, I had
got away lightly.
‘And this,’ said his younger sidekick, ficking through my French/
English dictionary, ‘I like this, I learn English yes?’ he giggled.
‘Yeah, sure, knock yourself out’. If all went to plan I would be in
Angola in a couple of days and my French dictionary would be re-
dundant. In fact, these guys were doing me a favour, lightening my
load, just as long as they left me my Portuguese phrase book.
‘Why are you here in Kinshasa, where are you going?’ the older of-
fcer asked me with a hint of suspicion. ‘You are married yes?’ he
seized my left hand and stared at my wedding ring. I was getting used
to being grabbed by complete strangers, and I barely finched.
‘I’m meeting my husband, he’s here in Kinshasa’ I replied, rolling
out the old line.
‘But where is he? Why is he not with you?’
I started to launch into my elaborate cover story, but I couldn’t re-
member the full details. To make matters worse, I was surrounded by
various people to whom I had already told all sorts of lies, and with
the overbearing heat and the pressure of the situation, I was becom-
ing confused about what I had said to whom. Thankfully one of the
guys from the ferry unknowingly came to my rescue.
‘Her husband is at the embassy, the embassy for Great Britain’ he
shouted to the policeman. This was just the cue I needed.
‘Er... yes, yes, he’s at the embassy’ I concurred
‘But why is he not with you?’ the offcer simply couldn’t understand
how this could be.
It was all coming back to me now and my fabrications tripped off
my tongue. Luckily, the fnicky immigration offcer was not present
to challenge my quickly rewritten history.
‘We were travelling together, but when we were in Brazzaville, I had
to go back to England, and while I was away, his visa ran out, so he
came here. Then I few back to Brazzaville and now I am catching
up with him.’
‘So he came through here, through Kinshasa?’ the policeman sound-
‘He is riding a motorcycle, like you?’
‘Yes’ I said, a little uncertainly. This was one nosey police offcer.
‘I have not seen an English man on a motorcycle here’ he said, his
‘Uh...’ I tried to avoid his stare, not knowing what to say. But I was
saved by his colleague piping up.
ISSUE 2 TWO*FIFTY 25
‘Yes, yes! I see him, he is with a friend, yes?’ he said, turning to me.
‘Two motorcycles, big motorcycles, one is red, yes? They are here
two weeks ago!’
What on earth was he on about? Then the realisation dawned on me;
he was talking about the two motorcyclists from Portsmouth that I
had heard about. They were ahead of me by about two weeks and
unbeknownst to them, they had saved my bacon in a most miracu-
‘Yes, yes, that was him!’ I agreed a little too eagerly.
The policemen both nodded, reassured and I suppressed a roar of
laughter at this coincidental stroke of good fortune.
‘But why do you go back to England without him’ asked the older
‘Well,’ I said, putting on a sad face and lowering my voice, ‘my grand-
mother died over Christmas so I had to go back home for her fu-
It worked every time. A murmur of sympathy passed through the
crowd and this band of cruel, hard men poured out their condo-
lences. One thing they knew about in this country was death.
‘Ah, I am very sorry. Very sorry about your grandmother’ said the
older policeman, now gripping both of my hands.
I nodded and thanked them for their kindness, trying to look suit-
ably grief-stricken. I didn’t feel too guilty as both my grandmothers
had been dead for years, and I’m sure they wouldn’t have objected to
me misusing their identities to help me out of a hole such as this.
Despite their burst of compassion, no amount of dead grandmoth-
ers were going to stop the police getting on with the business in
hand and they continued to rife through the rest of my clobber,
choosing a few more ‘gifts’; a cigarette lighter and a marker pen
but I didn’t mind too much; I was just relieved they possessed such
humble tastes. Looking pleased with their haul, they wandered off,
examining their prizes, leaving me to pack up and go. The Demo-
cratic Republic of Congo was mine for the taking. 
The Bike - 2005 Yamaha TT-R 250
Displacement: 249.00 cc
Engine type: Single cylinder, four-stroke
Fuel system: Carburettor
Cooling system: Air
Fuel capacity: 9.46 litres
Seat height: 36 inches
Kouba Link - To reduce seat height
22 Litre Tank - 350 mile range (on tarmac)
Aluminum Top Box from Potterton’s Cases
Custom Rack for the top box
Andy Strapz Expedition Panniers - 40 litres
New Wheel Bearings
New Brake Pads
Super Heavy-duty Inner Tubes
Sheepskin Seat Cover
LOIS ON THE LOOSE
For more on Lois Pryce’s incredible adventures, and
to order her books go to www.loisontheloose.com
About our forum layout Why do I have to check the FAQ? How can I log into the FAQ? How should I post articles? An in-depth guide to posting Proper posting, or “Why did I get
famed?” How do I add images to my article? How do I add HTML to my article? How do I submit a profle? What is the board usage policy? How do I join the club? Club merchan-
dise Donations Club Support Subscriptions Things to know before you buy a motorcycle What protective riding gear should I have? Should I take an MSF course? How much does it
really cost to own a motorcycle? Why 600cc+ sportbikes are NOT beginner bikes I’m gonna save big money by buying an EX250 What do I need to know about insurance? Should
I pay for the “extended warranty”? AAA-type roadside assistance Is it better to buy new or used? What do I need to know about buying a used bike? How to sell your bike Can I
import a motorcycle into Canada? Why bikes die I want to get a bike but I don’t know the “process” I want to get a bike but my parents won’t let me How can I haul my bike on
a truck/trailer?  Thinking about a Ninja 250 What is a Ninja 250? Differences between New Generation and Classic bikes Can I get some stats/specs for the bike? Ninja 250
testimonials and stories What kind of performance can I expect from a Ninja 250? What kind of gas mileage can I expect? Am I too big for this motorcycle? Am I too small for this
motorcycle? How does the EX250 handle freeway riding? Shouldn’t I consider a bigger bike? Won’t I want a bigger one later anyway? What are some other good beginner bikes?
How does the EX500 compare to the EX250? Buell Blast vs Ninja 250 What about the ZZR250; how does it compare? What are the different models of the EX250? What colors were
available? Comparisons and Reviews of the EX250 I have a 1986-1987 model. What’s different? How long will a Ninja 250 engine last? Is it a good investment; will it retain its value?
Used ex250 price calculator Just bought a Ninja 250 living with the bike technical info/maintenance First days: Living with a motorcycle Motorcycling fowchart: Not becoming a
statistic What are some good riding techniques? I want to improve my riding skills. What exercises can I do? I can ride just fne after a couple beers, right? Right?? What is the mean-
ing of some of this bike vocabulary I’m hearing? What do I need to know about keys? How do I wash the bike? I am having trouble putting my bike on its centerstand My bike jolts
forward when I put it in gear after frst starting it; is this normal? E-Z shifting for beginners My bars move side-to-side when I take my hands off How far can I go after putting the
fuel petcock on “reserve” What are those tubes hanging down from the bike for? Should I use the side prop or centerstand when I park? Why does my gas tank sometimes whine
when I stop? Cold weather preparation I want to install frame sliders My bike was wrecked but it wasn’t my fault Service Manual Do I really have to follow this break-in period? Do
I have to do this 500 mile service? What is the correct way to apply choke at startup? Warming up your engine What is the engine idle speed? How do I adjust it? What can I do if I
food it? Why does my bike take so long to reach normal running temperature? What kind of fuel should I use? How do I check my oil? My oil pressure light comes on during heavy
braking How does the reserve tank work? Why performance mods might not be good for you Loud pipes save lives - is that true? I Need Recommendations For Tools/Parts Sup-
porting Your Bike While Servicing Speed @ rpm calculator Speed, rpm & acceleration explained EX250 parts diagrams I bought a bike that’s been sitting for a while. What now?
How should I go about preparing my bike for winter storage? Troubleshooting 101:General engine troubleshooting How to jump start your bike from a car AAA-type roadside as-
sistance My clutch lever rattles when I rev the engine My oil pressure light comes on during heavy braking My engine is running poorly Why does my bike take so long to reach
normal running temperature? Why does my gas tank sometimes whine when I stop? I’m hearing a noise from the right side of my engine Supporting Your Bike While Servicing I
bought a bike that’s been sitting for a while. What now? Wiring schematics & diagrams My bike won’t run General things to look for if your bike won’t start Wiring schematics &
diagrams Understanding/troubleshooting the safety switches My battery is good, but when I turn on the ignition I get no power When I try to start my bike I hear a chattering noise
My bike tries to start but won’t, and I see white smoke coming from the exhaust My bike starts initially, but the carbs food very soon thereafter What can I do if I food it? My bike
has been sitting for a while, and I can’t get it started How to tell if your battery is dead My battery is dead; how do I bump/push start my bike? My battery is dead; how can I bring
it back to life? Tires 101: An Introduction What tire makes are available that ft the 250? Tires for 08--> About wider tires Where can I buy tires online? What tire pressures should I
use? What sort of pressure gauges are available? How do I warm up the tires? I think my tire is losing air What can I do if I get a fat out on the road? How long do tires last & when
to replace them Mounting & balancing tires yourself Tire Mounting Hints & Tips How can I balance the tires by myself? Removing/replacing the rear wheel Reinstalling the front wheel
How do I scrub in new tires? How do I adjust chain/rear wheel alignment? Do 120-width tires really work better on the rear? Do taller/wider tires work better than the stock sizes?
Can I put a front tire on the rear? Ride height and different tire sizes How do I raise the front fender to ft a 110-width tire? I want better traction on ice & snow How to shim the cush
drive Greasing the axles & wheel bear- ings A brief guide to bearings Replacing the wheel bearings I want to remove the paint from my wheels for a polished look I
want to paint my wheels I want to mount up bigger wheels I am having trouble putting my bike on its centerstand Supporting Your Bike
While Servic- ing So how do brakes work, exactly? How do I bleed the brake lines? How do I change the brake fuid? Stainless steel brake
lines upgrade The brake disc How do I replace the brake pads? What replacement pads should I consider? Master cylinder/caliper seal
r epl acement – every 2 years What is this brake torque link? I want to wire extra brake lights into those empty rear sockets I want a
brighter brake light I want tail lights with more brightness & contrast Brake light system overhaul with LEDs Where can I get a fashing
brake light? Re- placing clutch & brake levers How do I adjust the rear brake lever? I want adjustable clutch & brake levers My brakes
are not operat- ing normally Torque Values How often should I lube the chain; what should I use to do so? How do I clean the drivechain?
How do I mea- sure chain slack? How do I adjust chain/rear wheel alignment? When does the chain need replacement? How do I replace
the chain? Re- moving/replacing the rear wheel What replacement chain/sprockets should I consider? I want to change my gearing Do I need a
different chain if I change my gearing? How do I change the front sprocket? My front sprocket “wobbles” How do I adjust the shifter? Speed @ rpm calculator How to
shim the cush drive Greasing the axles & wheel bearings Replacing the wheel bearings A brief guide to bearings Service Schedule Torque Values I am having trouble putting my bike
on its centerstand EX250 parts diagrams Troubleshooting EX250 parts diagrams Do I really have to follow this break-in period? Warming up your engine Do I have to do this 500
mile service? Engine Oil How do I adjust the valves? Changing the spark plugs & brands to avoid My oil pressure light comes on during heavy braking Checking engine mount bolts
What’s the redline of my bike’s engine? What is the engine idle speed? How do I adjust it? What is the correct way to apply choke at startup? What can I do if I food it? Why does
my bike take so long to reach normal running temperature? What are those tubes hanging down from the bike for? An overview of the cooling system How do I service the cooling
s y s t e m? W h y
p e r f o r - man c e
m o d s m i g h t
not be good for
you How do I re-
place the s i g h t
g l a s s ? H o w
long will a Ninja
250 en- g i n e
last? Cam c h a i n
tensi oner mainte-
n a n c e How to
build your o w n
track bike What is
i nvol ved in re-
mo v i n g / rebuild-
ing the engine?
I want an engi ne
stand for my 250
I want to put a
bigger en- gine in
my Ninja Just how
small is a 250 en-
g i n e ? Servi ce
Schedul e Tor que
Values I Need Recommendations For Tools/Parts I am having trouble putting my bike on its centerstand Supporting Your Bike While Servicing What is the correct way to apply
choke at startup? What is the engine idle speed? How do I adjust it? What can I do if I food it? What kind of fuel should I use? How do I install a fuel flter? Removing idle mixture
screw plugs How do I adjust the idle mixture? How do I synchronize the carburetors? How does the reserve tank work? How far can I go after putting the fuel petcock on “reserve”
Draining the carbs How do I drain the fuel tank? Hose routing for California emissions/3 line fuel tanks Rebuilding the petcock/fuel tap How a carburetor works: Carbs explained
How do I work on the carbs? How do I avoid working on the carbs? Carburetor photos How do I clean the air flter(s)? Why performance mods might not be good for you Aftermar-
I’m a Beginner, what Mods should I do?
Modding a bike is fun, especially if you’re one who likes to tinker.
It’s part of “making it your own”, even if the mods you do are small,
simple or (heaven forbid) free. The trick is to not get into a situation
where you’ve mucked things up so bad that you then have to pay a
mechanic to undo the damage.
Typically, the majority of folks on this board recommend mods that
are safety-related, including the most important one, rider training,
because riding skills transfer from bike to bike.
Here’s what other people might tell you to do:
Carb jet kit
“Performance” air flter
These aren’t necessarily the best mods for a very big portion of new
riders, as this bike is their starter bike that they’re gonna sell in like
3 months. If you aren’t going to keep the 250, don’t mod it, because
you will NEVER get that money back. Also remember that if you
decide to post up your mods, not everyone is going to agree with you
or like what you’ve done. Get over it, cause it’s your bike, and you
are the only person who needs to be happy with it. (If you require
validation from strangers on the internet, you have other issues.)
U’VE GOT 250 Q
THEY’VE GOT 250 ANSW
WHAT THE FAQ?
ket air flters and pods I want to improve my carburetor jetting I Need Recommendations For Tools/Parts What is carburetor ice? Torque Values EX250 parts diagrams E-Z shifting
for beginners My bike jolts forward when I put it in gear after frst starting it; is this normal? Lubing the cables Adjusting the throttle cables Adjusting the clutch cable Replacing the
clutch cable How do I adjust the shifter? Replacing clutch & brake levers I want adjustable clutch & brake levers Servicing and replacing an adjustable clutch lever Understanding/
troubleshooting the safety switches Checking the clutch safety switch Cleaning and servicing the clutch switch My clutch lever rattles when I rev the engine What’s that noise coming
from the clutch? Why is my transmission ‘clunky’? Wet clutch Q & A Can I ride my bike home if the clutch cable breaks? How do I refurbish a slipping clutch? I wanna do a track day
Learn to Ride Faster Preparation for track riding Track day Q & A How to build your own track bike Spares to bring to a track day Preparation for a track day Riding Hallett
circuit August, 2007 First day at Sears Point A day at the Keith Code Track School Road Atlanta September, 2007 Track Day Experience or Boy, Am I Stiff Now Track Day Experi-
ence 2.0 or I wish Wes, Jeb and Leon were here Racing: The next step for adrenaline junkies Race Report May, 2002 Category: Track Days How do I remove the fairing, fuel tank,
etc? How to keep the bodywork hardware organized Replacing body fasteners/bolts I want to remove the rear fender 1 I want to remove the rear fender 2 I want to extend the
rear fender I want a new windscreen Removing & replacing bar ends I hate these mirrors What do I need to know about keys? How to replace the ignition switch I want to remove
the decals from my bike How do I wash the bike? Painting Body plastics repair guide Updating faded plastic parts My upper fairing stay is broken I want a pad for my seat I want
to reshape my seat I want a custom seat What can ft underneath the seat? I am having trouble putting my bike on its centerstand I want to install frame sliders Body color by
model year My swingarm is ‘dented’ What are those tubes hanging down from the bike for? How do I eplace the sight glass? I want to put mesh grills on my fairing vents I need to
remove a stripped screw I want to get some new pegs Adding lower footpegs How to build your own track bike I want to make my bike into a streetfghter How does the reserve
tank work? How do I drain the fuel tank? Rebuilding the petcock/fuel tap Hose routing for California emissions/3 line fuel tanks I need to realign my forks and front wheel How do
I install forks? Basic Controls What is the correct way to apply choke at startup? Lubing the cables Adjusting the clutch cable Replacing the clutch cable Can I ride my bike home if
the clutch cable breaks? Adjusting the throttle cables Throttle cable dis/re-assembly Reattaching the speedometer cable & retainer Speedometer Error My bars move side-to-side
when I take my hands off Removing & replacing bar ends I want to get some new grips Installing heated grips I want to get some new pegs Adding lower footpegs I want a louder
horn What do I need to know about keys? How to replace the ignition switch How do I adjust the shifter? How do I adjust the rear brake lever? Replacing clutch & brake levers I
want adjustable clutch & brake levers Servicing and replacing an adjustable clutch lever Checking the clutch safety switch Cleaning and servicing the clutch switch I want a throttle
lock/cruise control Installing a Sigma bicycle computer My clutch lever rattles when I rev the engine My handlebars shudder when I ride I need to remove a stripped screw I’d like to
know more about clipons Installing Woodcraft lowered risers Woodcraft rearsets shifter adjustability fx Category: Controls & Cables Wiring schematics & diagrams Battery stuff
Lights & Bulbs What are these wires that aren’t attached to anything? How to tell if your battery is dead Why your bike needs a battery How does the charging system work? How
to check the fuses I want a louder horn Alternator Information Waterproofng your electrical connections Installing an accessory fuse box Making your accessory wires ‘switched’ How
do relays work? Opening your garage door with your light switch Installing heated grips How to replace the ignition switch Installing a Sigma bicycle computer Soldering 101 How to
read a multimeter Installing a voltmeter Installing connectors for your wiring Understanding/troubleshooting the safety switches My sidestand switch doesn’t work right Checking the
clutch safety switch Cleaning and servicing the clutch switch I want to make my bike into a streetfghter I want a small fashlight so I can see my stuff EX250 parts diagrams I’d like
to improve my bike for touring I want a new windscreen I want a custom seat I want to reshape my seat I want a pad for my seat Tank Bag Tail bag Saddle bags Ventura rack
Hard luggage Evolution of a touring bike Cold weather preparation Heated cold-weather gear Hippo Hands Installing heated grips I want a throttle lock/cruise control I want a
small fashlight so I can see my stuff Dale Borgeson’s Motorcycle Touring For Beginners Iron Butt Association’s tips to long distance touring Ninja 250 Rider’s bookshelf About our
forum layout Why do I have to check the FAQ? How can I log into the FAQ? How should I post articles? An in-depth guide to posting Proper posting, or “Why did I get famed?”
How do I add images to my article? How do I add HTML to my article? How do I submit a profle? What is the board usage policy? How do I join the club? Club merchandise Dona-
tions Club Support Subscriptions Things to know before you buy a motorcycle What protective riding gear should I have? Should I take an MSF course? How much does it really cost
to own a motorcycle? Why 600cc+ sportbikes are NOT beginner bikes I’m gonna save big money by buying an EX250 What do I need to know about insurance? Should I pay for
the “extended warranty”? AAA-type roadside assistance Is it better to buy new or used? What do I need to know about buying a used bike? How to sell your bike Can I import a
motorcycle into Canada? Why bikes die I want to get a bike but I don’t know the “process” I want to get a bike but my parents won’t let me How can I haul my bike on a truck/
trailer?  Thinking about a Ninja 250 What is a Ninja 250? Differences between New Generation and Classic bikes Can I get some stats/specs for the bike? Ninja 250 testimoni-
als and stories What kind of performance can I expect from a Ninja 250? What kind of gas mileage can I expect? Am I too big for this motorcycle? Am I too small for this motorcycle?
How does the EX250 handle freeway riding? Shouldn’t I consider a bigger bike? Won’t I want a bigger one later anyway? What are some other good beginner bikes? How does the
EX500 compare to the EX250? Buell Blast vs Ninja 250 What about the ZZR250; how does it compare? What are the different models of the EX250? What colors were available?
Comparisons and Reviews of the EX250 I have a 1986-1987 model. What’s different? How long will a Ninja 250 engine last? Is it a good investment; will it retain its value? Used ex250
price calculator Just bought a Ninja 250 living with the bike technical info/maintenance First days: Living with a motorcycle Motorcycling fowchart: Not becoming a statistic What
are some good riding techniques? I want to improve my riding skills. What exercises can I do? I can ride just fne after a couple beers, right? Right?? What is the meaning of some of
this bike vocabulary I’m hearing? What do I need to know about keys? How do I wash the bike? I am having trouble putting my bike on its centerstand My bike jolts forward when
I put it in gear after frst starting it; is this normal? E-Z shifting for beginners My bars move side-to-side when I take my hands off How far can I go after putting the fuel petcock on
“reserve” What are those tubes hanging down from the bike for? Should I use the side prop or centerstand when I park? Why does my gas tank sometimes whine when I stop? Cold
weather preparation I want to install frame sliders My bike was wrecked but it wasn’t my fault Service Manual Do I really have to follow this break-in period? Do I have to do this
500 mile service? What is the correct way to apply choke at startup? Warming up your engine What is the engine idle speed? How do I adjust it? What can I do if I food it? Why
does my bike take so long to reach normal running temperature? What kind of fuel should I use? How do I check my oil? My oil pressure light comes on during heavy braking How
does the reserve tank work? Why performance mods might not be good for you Loud pipes save lives - is that true? I Need Recommendations For Tools/Parts Supporting Your Bike
While Servicing Speed @ rpm calculator Speed, rpm & acceleration explained EX250 parts diagrams I bought a bike that’s been sitting for a while. What now? How should I go about
preparing my bike for winter storage? Troubleshooting 101:General engine troubleshooting How to jump start your bike from a car AAA-type roadside assistance My clutch lever
rattles when I rev the engine My oil pressure light comes on during heavy braking My engine is running poorly Why does my bike take so long to reach normal running temperature?
Why does my gas tank sometimes whine when I stop? I’m hearing a noise from the right side of my engine Supporting Your Bike While Servicing I bought a bike that’s been sitting
for a while. What now? Wiring schematics & diagrams My bike won’t run General things to look for if your bike won’t start Wiring schematics & diagrams Understanding/trouble-
shooting the safety switches My battery is good, but when I turn on the ignition I get no power When I try to start my bike I hear a chattering noise My bike tries to start but won’t,
and I see white smoke coming from the exhaust My bike starts initially, but the carbs food very soon thereafter What can I do if I food it? My bike has been sitting for a while, and
I can’t get it started How to tell if your battery is dead My battery is dead; how do I bump/push start my bike? My battery is dead; how can I bring it back to life? Tires 101: An Intro-
duction What tire makes are available that ft the 250? Tires for 08--> About wider tires Where can I buy tires online? What tire pressures should I use? What sort of pressure gauges
are available? How do I warm up the tires? I think my tire is losing air What can I do if I get a fat out on the road? How long do tires last & when to replace them Mounting & bal-
ancing tires yourself Tire Mounting Hints & Tips How can I balance the tires by myself? Removing/replacing the rear wheel Reinstalling the front wheel How do I scrub in new tires?
How do I adjust chain/rear wheel alignment? Do 120-width tires really work better on the rear? Do taller/wider tires work better than the stock sizes? Can I put a front tire on the
rear? Ride height and different tire sizes How do I raise the front fender to ft a 110-width tire? I want better traction on ice & snow How to shim the cush drive Greasing the axles &
wheel bearings A brief guide to bearings Replacing the wheel bearings I want to remove the paint from my wheels for a polished look I want to paint my wheels I want to mount
up bigger wheels I am having trouble putting my bike on its centerstand Supporting Your Bike While Servicing So how do brakes work, exactly? How do I bleed the brake lines?
How do I change the brake fuid? Stainless steel brake lines upgrade The brake disc How do I replace the brake pads? What replacement pads should I consider? Master cylinder/
caliper seal replacement – every 2 years What is this brake torque link? I want to wire extra brake lights into those empty rear sockets I want a brighter brake light I want tail lights
with more brightness & contrast Brake light system overhaul with LEDs Where can I get a fashing brake light? Replacing clutch & brake levers How do I adjust the rear brake lever?
I want adjustable clutch & brake levers My brakes are not operating normally Torque Values How often should I lube the chain; what should I use to do so? How do I clean the
drivechain? How do I measure chain slack? How do I adjust chain/rear wheel alignment? When does the chain need replacement? How do I replace the chain? Removing/replacing
the rear wheel What replacement chain/sprockets should I consider? I want to change my gearing Do I need a different chain if I change my gearing? How do I change the front
sprocket? My front sprocket “wobbles” How do I adjust the shifter? Speed @ rpm calculator How to shim the cush drive Greasing the axles & wheel bearings Replacing the wheel
bearings A brief guide to bearings Service Schedule Torque Values I am having trouble putting my bike on its centerstand EX250 parts diagrams Troubleshooting EX250 parts dia-
grams Do I really have to follow this break-in period? Warming up your engine Do I have to do this 500 mile service? Engine Oil How do I adjust the valves? Changing the spark
plugs & brands to avoid My oil pressure light comes on during heavy braking Checking engine mount bolts What’s the redline of my bike’s engine? What is the engine idle speed?
How do I adjust it? What is the correct way to apply choke at startup? What can I do if I food it? Why does my bike take so long to reach normal running temperature? What are
those tubes hanging down from the bike for? An overview of the cooling system How do I service the cooling system? Why performance mods might not be good for you How do I
replace the sight glass? How long will a Ninja 250 engine last? Cam chain tensioner maintenance How to build your own track bike What is involved in removing/rebuilding the
engine? I want an engine stand for my 250 I want to put a bigger engine in my Ninja Just how small is a 250 engine? Service Schedule Torque Values I Need Recommendations For
Good Beginning Mods
Here are some decent frst mods for newer riders. Keep in mind that,
given proper maintenance, the bike works just fne as it is. Your Nin-
ja 250 doesn’t have to be perfect right away. Concentrate on making
it safe and roadworthy, and on you learning to ride it, before you get
caught up in what other people think you should do.
New tires - If you have an F series EX250 (88-07) the stock Dunlop
K630s never were that great in the frst place, and by now they’re old,
anyway. If you have a newer J model (08-->) then you have to decide
whether the IRC tires (09+) are OK for you. Whatever you do, don’t
replace the stock tires with the same model. The bike was built to a
low price point, and the tires refect this. Check the FAQ tire models
page for your bike, and get a set that’s appropriate for your riding
style. Tires are part of the suspension and the brakes, so not only do
they help handling, good tires also allow you to stop better.
Conspicuity - This is a general term to describe “being seen”. Check
the Gear section of the FAQ, along with Electrical & Lighting, which
features items such as better brake lights, headlight bulb upgrades,
headlight modulators, and better horns.
First Mods That Are A Good Idea
Flush mount front signals - Look better and lessen the possibility of
the signal stalks punching a hole in the fairing. (If you have a 2006 or
newer model with fexible stalks, this may not apply to you.)
Brake lights in pods and/or extra brake lights
Seat - Spencer or DIY mods make distance riding way more com-
fortable and are pretty inexpensive.
Horn - Because the stock one sucks.
Taller windscreen - Considered by many to be a must for extended
Gel grips - Reduce vibration from the bars; notice that doesn’t say
15 tooth front sprocket - Reduces cruising rpm and makes the bike
more useful overall.
Mods You Should Avoid
Until You Know What You’re Doing
Exhaust - Don’t touch it.
Intake - Remove the idle mixture screw plugs and adjust. Anything
else, see Exhaust.
HID headlight - In order for HID to work correctly, the refector
has to be designed to work with the bike. No one makes such a thing
for the Ninja.
Performance mods in general
Mods To Do After You’ve Been Riding a
Suspension - This is the performance mod that will provide the most
beneft. Start with Sonic springs in the right rate for you, along with
new fork oil. For the rear, check the reviews of various shocks that
people have used on the 250. If you have the funds, an aftermarket
shock such as Works Performance or Hagon (bolt-on) or Fox (modi-
fcation sometimes required) will be a big improvement.
Brakes - If your bike is over four years old, it’s time for new brake
lines, anyway. You might as well make them stainless steel. They
give better feel and performance for the same amount of money.
There’s nothing terribly wrong with the stock pads, but upgrading to
an aftermarket set of HH pads will give you better stopping power.
Be advised that putting on new pads and stainless lines necessitates
practicing quick stops, otherwise you WILL lock up the front in an
emergency. Practice, practice, practice.
It’s really hard to tell if what you did is better when you don’t have
a baseline for comparison. For instance, there is a tendency for new
riders to make their suspension too stiff. It might be all right for that
Saturday morning jaunt through the woods, but if you take off for
Peoria one day, you may fnd that your body hurts more than what
you’d like it to.
This is why it’s important to frst ride for a while and get a feel for
what the bike (and you) can do. Figure out what works well, what
feels a little off, and where it’s not performing well. Then you can
reasonably address the issues.
WHAT THE FAQ?
28 TWO*FIFTY ISSUE 2
How Do I Add Running Lights Without Relays?
What’s this for?
This is a way to add running lights to your bike without having to use
any relays. This project uses stock turn signals (2005 & older only).
You could do the same thing with fushmounts, although fnding the
right sockets may be diffcult.
Where to start
Our owner had a Yamaha with DRL’s from the factory and wanted
to set up the same thing on his Ninja. They work by using a dual fla-
ment bulb in the front signals. One flament is for the running lights
and the other is for the turn signals. All you need to do is change the
front lights to accept a dual flament bulb and run a wire to the signal
lights for the running lights. At frst, he was just going to change the
light socket pigtail from a single contact to a double contact. (1)
Light socket pigtails are available separately, but the problem is with
the light socket itself. The pictures below show that the single con-
tact bulb (2) alignment pins are at the same depth, while the dual
flament bulbs (3) are at two different depths.
Because of this, you have to change the socket to accept the dual
flament bulb. When you take the turn signals apart you’ll discover
that the original sockets are crimped into place. In order to change
the sockets, you have to cut the old ones out. If you don’t want
to hack up your socket bases (in case the mod doesn’t work) buy
two socket bases to use as “guinea pigs”. Used signal assemblies are
pretty easy to come by.
In order to remove the old sockets, you have to cut notches in the
lip of the socket inside the base, then carefully pry the socket loose
from the base. (4)
With the old socket removed, you can see how they are crimped into
the base. (5)
Picture 6 shows the base, ready for the new socket.
Source some sockets from your local auto parts store. The brand
here is unknown; they were just laying around for a while and fnally
got used. (7)
Since the sockets won’t be a perfect size match, mount the new sock-
ets with epoxy into the bases. With the new sockets in place, you
need to tap into the running light circuit. If you look at the wiring
2 3 4
ISSUE 2 TWO*FIFTY 29
WHAT THE FAQ?
schematic, you’ll fnd that a good place is into the wire feeding the
meter lights. The wire is red with a blue stripe and can be found in a
six-pin connector under the right side of the instrument panel. You
will need to remove the fairing to access this connector. (8)
Tap into the wire and add a second splice to run a wire to each front
signal light. (9)
Run the new running light wires along the stock turn signal harness-
es to keep things neat. You can see the new running light wire and
connector secured with the stock signal wires on the right side. (10)
Install the turn signals into the fairing. You can see the extra blue
running light wire with the stock signal wires. (11)
Re-install the fairing and connect the wires. (12)
You can retain the stock wiring for the turn signals, and if you ever
need to return to the original set-up, all you need to do is change the
turn signal bases back and remove the extra wire.
This installation uses #2357 bulbs (28w high/8w low). There are
other options. The lights seem to be no less visible in the day than
the tail/brake light, and add better lighting in dusk/dark conditions.
See the FAQ for a short video clip of the lights in action.
You can get a pair of relays known as Magic Blinkers from Custom
Dynamics that uses your stock front signal lights as always-on run-
ning lights, then changes one to fashing when the signal is switched
on. They work fne with the Asian Signal fush mount front signals.
The installation does require some wiring knowledge. Wiring instruc-
tions are online, and a wiring diagram is included in the package.
If you fnd some fushmount signals that have 3-wire sockets already
included, then hooking them up is just a matter of following the
wiring instructions. It does positively change the visibility of your
bike in the front. (13)
8 9 10
11 12 13
WHAT THE FAQ?
30 TWO*FIFTY ISSUE 2
Stuff you need
Once you decide to change the oil in your bike, the process is not
that diffcult. First, gather together the needed supplies. You’ll need
oil, a flter and a drain pan. The silicone spray lube is for the cables,
and any other external moving parts, such as the foot pegs, levers,
etc. Also shown in photo 1 are chain lube (you should always have
some around) and fuel stabilizer, since these pictures were originally
taken for a winterization article.
One other thing that you will have to have before you start changing
the oil is a torque wrench. This is mandatory. Learn how to use it
before you change your oil for the frst time. Don’t practice on your
Warm up the engine by riding it. Turn off the engine and let it sit
for a couple minutes. Place the bike on the centerstand. Removing
the lower fairing is optional. Some people prefer to do it because it’s
quick, gives you a bit more room in which to work, and minimizes
mess; others think it’s not worth the effort, so it’s up to you; it’s held
on by 7 bolts.
First, remove the drain plug and drain the oil into a suitable 3+ quart
pan (don’t burn yourself). Removing the oil fller cap will help the oil
drain faster. Let the oil drain until it’s obvious that no more is going
to come out. This will usually be 5+ minutes.
The drain plug and flter bolt (2) can be quite stubborn to remove,
so use a 6-point socket (17mm for the oil flter and drain plug) and
long-handled ratchet (3). A 6-point socket is superior to a 12-point
because it fts the bolt/nut better, providing more surface area and
less chance of rounding off the head. In some more drastic cases
a breaker bar may be helpful. Do not use your torque wrench to
loosen the drain bolt; torque wrenches are only for checking torque
as you tighten a bolt.
Make darn sure you are turning the wrench in the right direction.
Make sure you don’t spin the bike or pull it over on top of you while
you’re putting pressure on the ratchet. If the bolt is so tight that you
F. A.Q. - THE BASICS: How Do I Change the Engine Oil?
ISSUE 2 TWO*FIFTY 31
WHAT THE FAQ?
really have to pull hard on it, get some help so these things don’t
After the oil drains, remove the flter bolt and plate, just in front
of the drain bolt. More oil and a dirty flter element will come out.
Be sure to keep all the springs/grommets in order. Once the oil is
drained and the flter removed, check the flter for debris. If you see
metal particles or other debris, it could mean serious engine damage
is occurring. This flter looks clean (5), so it’s time to install the new
flter and o-rings.
Before replacing the flter, install new o-rings on the flter bolt and
plate. Coat the O-rings with oil before installation. Not doing so
could cause a tear when you put everything back on (4).
Note that many riders do not replace the small o-ring at every oil
change; if you don’t separate the bolt from the plate, you should
maintain a good seal (7).
Once the o-rings are in place, insert the bolt back into the flter plate.
The oil flter assembly consists of the bolt/plate, a spring, a washer,
the flter element, and the flter retainer (6). Note that the washer
has a tendency to stick to the flter; check for it before pitching the
Place the spring over the bolt, follower by the washer as shown.
Then, place the flter element on the bolt. Dip your fnger in your
new oil and spread a bit around the two inner grommets on the flter,
where it rides over the bolt. Then add the retainer as shown.
The flter assembly is now ready to install. Dip your fnger in your
new oil and spread a bit around the large o-ring to prevent it from
catching and being pulled out of its groove as you tighten the assem-
bly. Screw the bolt into the crankcase, making sure the o-ring stays in
place. Tighten the flter bolt to 14.5 ft/lbs.
Diagram 14 shows the flter assembly.
Make sure the drain plug washer is installed on the drain plug and
tighten the drain plug to 14.5 ft/lbs (the same as the flter bolt).
Use a new drain plug gasket (92065-097 GASKET, 12X22X2). Many
people don’t replace these every time, but they’re cheap. Stock up.
When you reuse the crush washer, you run the risk of oil seeping out
around the already compressed crush washer. Why skimp on a $0.33
WHAT THE FAQ?
32 TWO*FIFTY ISSUE 2
part (92065-097 from ronayers.com)? Two alternatives are Hyundai
part #21513-23001 or Nissan #11026-01M02.
The torque value of 14.5 ft/lbs is very important. Don’t over-tighten
it or you risk stripping the threads out of the engine case. This is
diffcult to fx.
After you have both the flter and the drain plug installed and prop-
erly torqued, open the fller cap on the right side of engine if you
haven’t already. Fill with 1.5 quarts of your favorite oil. Wait a min-
ute, then add a very small amount of oil at a time until the level in
the sight glass is up to the upper mark. Replace the fller cap. Start
the engine, make sure the oil light goes out, and let the engine idle
for a minute. Shut the engine off and wait a few minutes before
checking the window again. Add oil as necessary to bring the level
up to the upper mark (when both wheels are on the ground) (11).
Repeat until the oil level is consistently in the center or higher of the
view window. Keeping the oil at or close to the upper mark is desir-
able, but do not overfll it, as you could blow a gasket. This is why
you’re adding oil bit by bit.
You may also want to check the old oil for any contamination or
debris. Dispose of old oil responsibly. (Recycle)
Make sure you check for leaks, and check your oil level frequently.
Ride it for a few minutes and check for leaks again. Make sure there
is no oil leaking from around the flter assembly or drain plug.
When the bike is on its centerstand the level in the sight glass will
be lower. When both wheels are on the ground the level will show a
more full reading. (The bike is tilted forward and isn’t level when on
the centerstand, so the level appears a little lower.) The recommend-
ed check method is with both wheels on the ground, but there’s only
a small variation between on and off the centerstand; as long as
you’re in the middle of the sight glass or above with either method
you’re fne. Be happy and go ride.
A common mistake when putting the oil flter assembly back to-
gether is to forget to replace the small washer (part #92022 in the
diagram above). Many a rider has fnished draining his/her oil pan
only to fnd a tiny surprise at the bottom, or to fnd it stuck to the
bottom of the old flter. Should this happen to you, there’s no need
ISSUE 2 TWO*FIFTY 33
WHAT THE FAQ?
to worry; one of our administrators admitted to riding 20,000 miles
without his. However, it’s really better to have it in there. Reinstall it
at your next oil change. One good way to remember is to staple it to
your manual at the oil change page.
O-rings: Your new flter will usually (not always) come with two new
O-rings. It’s fairly obvious where the larger one (#671 in diagram
above) goes, inside the flter assembly cap. The small one (#670) is
supposed to go on the bolt that holds the whole assembly together,
but if you leave the bolt attached to the cap (#14025) there’s no need
to change this O-ring. Hang on to it, though, on the very off chance
that the old one starts leaking. Most club members rarely change it
and never have any problems.
Airbox drain hose service
Oil vapor and pressure in the engine crankcase are vented through
a hose into the airbox. The idea is to burn the oil vapors off during
normal engine operation. Sometimes liquid oil collects in the bottom
of the airbox, instead of being burned during engine operation. To
prevent the airbox from flling up with excess oil, there is a drain
tube in the bottom of the airbox to allow the excess oil to drain. Oil
in the airbox can be completely normal, especially if you do a lot of
high-speed riding (15).
This oil should be drained periodically, although don’t expect much
to come out under normal circumstances. There is a drain plug at
the bottom of the hose. Find the end of the hose, right down by the
swingarm and clutch release lever on the right side. You won’t need
to remove any body parts to get at it. You’ll fnd a metal clip holding
the plug in. Use a pair of pliers to squeeze the clip and move it up
the hose. You can then use the pliers to pull the plug out. Just twist
it a little; it’s not threaded. Drain any oil that may have accumulated
in the tube. Have a rag or small container handy to catch the oil. Re-
place the plug and move the clip back in place to hold it in.
Checking the oil screen
This is something that should be done at least by the second or third
oil change on a new bike, and on the frst on a used one. 
BY MARK HUNTER
PHOTOGRAPHS BY MARK HUNTER & MISHA (RURUGGER)
Avenue of the Giants
Onboard with Mark Hunter for the Ninja
250 Rider’s Club 2010 GRR Awards Meet
Gol den Rul e Ral l y Awards - 2010
Day 1, Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010
Although I have gathered everything I would
need for a week on the motorcycle (and a
fair amount of stuff I wouldn’t need), pack-
ing this morning seems to take forever. I f-
nally get rolling about 1:00 PM. The weather
is good in L.A. but I worry about what lies
ahead for me through the desert up to the
Eastern Sierra Nevada.
The desert is indeed warmer, even hot, but
not nearly as hot as it might be in late June. I
lucked out. I am used to making this trip on
weekends, when the traffc is heavy. Today I
have the road nearly to myself, and the Ninja
feels good underneath me. Once I leave the
town of Mojave the Sierra Nevada, low at
this point, becomes a continuous wall to the
west, and the desert spreads out endlessly to
the east. I eat up the miles and, except for a
gas stop in Lone Pine, ride straight through
There I stop and buy beer and cheeseburg-
ers for when I reach the Benton Hot Springs,
almost 40 miles further along. I take U.S. 6,
an isolated two-lane highway dominated
by big rigs and bordered by the occasional
lonely ranch. At the campground I have the
cheeseburgers and beer while soaking in my
own private spring-fed redwood hot tub. I
look out at green meadows and lush trees,
then low volcanic mountains covered with
sagebrush and the occasional pine tree, then
the late sun on 13,000-foot Boundary Peak,
on the Nevada border. I spread my sleep-
ing bag on a picnic table and sleep soundly
beneath the stars.
I wake early in the strong morning light and
go for a short walk, looking at the rusting
mining and farming implements, the old
graveyard, the scalding-hot creek. Night-
hawks and orioles add color to the sky. I
take one more long dip in the hot tub be-
fore getting ready to go. Last night I hung
my armor on the wooden wall surround-
ing the tub. Now, after I have packed up
the bike, I start to put on my armor pants.
Out from the pants fy at least ffty moths! I
don’t know what they found so attractive in
there, but dozens of them crawled in during
the night. I pick up my jacket - same story.
This is my high-altitude day. Off I go, west
on highway 120 to Mono Lake, riding from
Avenue of the Giants
the dry land toward the wet. The old, or-
ange rocks of the mountains near Benton
are quite different than gray Sierra granite.
There are very long views of pretty, empty
land along 120, then frst views of Mono
Lake framed by a burned-out forest with
just blackened trunks remaining. The 40
miles passes quickly and beautifully, with
only a couple of vehicles encountered on
the whole stretch. On highway 395, I’m try-
ing to make time, passing cars when pos-
sible. I ride through the beautiful fat valley
at Bridgeport, so fertile and full of creeks,
and gas up there. Soon 395 is following the
boisterous, clear Walker River down toward
Nevada. In a small town a mule deer doe
ambles across 395, breaking into a slow trot
when vehicles get closer. It reminds me that
a motorcycle-versus-deer accident usually
turns out quite badly for both parties.
I turn onto highway 89 climbing up, up past
gorgeous valleys, up to Monitor Pass, where
aspens and wildfowers frame snowy peaks.
Then I’m descending into the watershed of
the Carson River and on toward Marklee-
ville for lunch. Upward again on 89 to a big,
high, beautiful mountain meadow where
I turn north along the headwaters of the
Truckee River toward Tahoe. The road of-
36 TWO*FIFTY ISSUE 2
fers gorgeous views for a long time as I go
up the west side of the lake, followed by that
pretty drive along the Truckee River to the
town of Truckee.
I cross Donner Pass, start down the west-
ern side of the Sierra Nevada, and get on
highway 20 for a long, fast ride descending
through pine forests to the warmer, oak-and-
pine foothills. I get to see old friends in Ne-
vada City, and it’s off to my brother’s house
in Fair Oaks for a late arrival and some man
talk before bedtime.
Day 3 (GRR Day 1, Friday)
I look out the window upon awakening, and
there’s rain. No! Rain means extra hassle
packing the bike. I get the never-before-used
rain covers onto the saddlebags and put on
my rain jacket. I head for Ryan’s house to
meet the others who are riding to the Gold-
en Rule Rally (GRR). Along the way, the rain
covers come loose from the saddlebags and
fap behind the bike. I get off the freeway
and fx them, sort of.
While checking and flling my oil, I man-
age to shift a saddlebag so it contacts a hot
exhaust pipe, creating a three-inch hole and
some melted plastic contents inside the bag.
Ryan’s girlfriend is preparing a very compe-
tent breakfast for the Ninja riders who are
present. Finally all fve riders have arrived and
been fed, and we’re off. The ride progresses
from urban freeways to vast fat farmlands,
a twisting route along a pretty creek, then up
through low mountains to Napa Valley. We
ride a few miles west through the lush vine-
yards to highway 29 to gas up. We intended
to take that road north, but traffc is disas-
trous, so we double back to Silverado Trail
and take that north instead. For many miles
it’s a fast, lovely ride alongside the vineyards
and wineries, and at Calistoga it joins up
Immediately 29 changes from a straight,
urban, traffc-clogged road to a steep, hell-
ishly twisty, traffc-clogged country road.
I’ve seen small intestines that were straighter
than this. The passing lanes are a hoot, as
they corkscrew around the mountainside
in a nutty fashion. 29 eventually becomes a
more ordinary country road, and in Middle-
town we turn west on a quieter road through
the forested mountains.
It’s a typical good ride, with twisties large
and small. After a stretch of relatively high-
speed turns south of Kelseyville there comes
a sharper left-hander, and there one of our
fve riders low-sides into a bank of jagged,
fst-sized stones. The bike takes the brunt of
the rocks, and the rider (all the gear, all the
time) walks away from the accident. It takes
quite a long time to get the bike started, be-
cause it was slow and diffcult to pick it up
from that rocky bank so there’s raw gas all
through the engine. His bike is, cosmetically,
far short of perfect, but after some initial
hesitation it runs well, and all fve of us are
still on the ride. A few miles farther along, a
wild turkey fies across the road at eye level
and I miss it by a few yards. No more mis-
haps today, please!
We reach U.S. 101 and head north to Ukiah.
It goes from a fowing freeway to a country
highway to a bottle-necked urban parking
lot. We have good food and beer at Ukiah
Brewing, then begin a headlong rush up
101 toward Garberville. OK, it isn’t always
a rush. 101 becomes a single lane through
“downtown” Willits, with traffc jams wor-
thy of L.A. It’s odd how this major road
goes from 4-lane freeway to country lane,
and back again, so many times on its way
north. It’s not really a relaxing ride, although
the scenery is awfully nice.
Finally, Garberville arrives. We gas up, go
over to the grocery store, and Emily and
Laura arrive minutes later from their sepa-
rate ride north. After an extended expedi-
tion in the grocery store (everyone ridicules
my choice of Natural Ice beer, so I switch to
Olympia) we have 30 miles of good freeway,
ISSUE 2 TWO*FIFTY 37
following the South Fork of the Eel River,
then the merged Eel, to Redcrest. After the
unpacking we dine on pasta, salad, beer,
and brownies. And use the hot tub. In the
cabin’s bathroom, I open my toilet kit to get
my razor, and out fy two large gray moths.
Good luck to you, Eastern Sierra moths, in
your new home in the Redwoods!
Day 4 (GRR Day 2, Saturday)
My idle time is spent emailing and trying to
get a cell phone connection (I had to ride
south a few miles). Dizo arrives from the
Canada, and now we are eight. At about
11:30 the offcial GRR group ride begins.
Eight Ninjas head to Fortuna to gas up. It’s
a beautiful ride through the valley of the
Eel River. Then up lovely Highway 36 to
the Mad River burger stand for lunch: good
food, slow service. We backtrack to Van
Duzen River Rd, where a woman chases a
panicked cow, or vice versa, through a small
farmyard. Then to the microscopic hamlet
of Zenia, where we stop for a picture at the
post offce, baking in the heat. Then to Gar-
berville. There is much gravel, rough pave-
ment, and even patches of missing pavement
in the hours after we leave 36. But there is
also lots of great riding. We have continuous
stunning views of peaceful, green farms and
forests, with clear-running rivers. A couple
of deer are seen. Turkey vultures circle over
one of the tighter turns with a steep drop-
At a highway junction, as I try to maneu-
ver my bike at 1 MPH out of the pack of
stopped Ninjas, I drop it slowly onto the
right side. Embarrassing. Then we’re off
to the food store. I lash a 12-pack of Eye
of the Hawk to my back seat. My pathetic
bungee net is reinforced by Alberto’s far
better bungee net, much to the relief of all
the Ninjas, who are showing extraordinary
concern at the fate of the beer.
Then we ride to The Avenue of the Giants!
What a ride, through impossibly big, tall red-
woods lining the road edges, turning bright
day to dusk, soaring above us to a narrow
sliver of open sky. I expected to see ewoks
and imperial troopers zipping through the
trees (a famous Star Wars sequence was
flmed on this road.) The curves are ordi-
nary on this stretch, but the experience is
extraordinary, especially when you look up-
ward while in motion. We drop our food at
the cabin and ride the Avenue a few miles
back to the Founders’ Grove for a walk, tak-
ing the short nature trail. Impressive wildlife
and plant life are viewed.
Tacos for dinner. Laura slaves in the kitch-
en. The hot tub is utilized. Many beers are
consumed. Although the GRR plaque is
missing (in advance of the rally this time,
instead of after the rally), a brief ceremony
is performed nevertheless. Ryan graciously
accepts the award, and an imaginary tiara is
placed on his head.
Day 5 (GRR Day 3, Sunday)
Then much bustling about to get ready to
check out. All are disgruntled that the w-
if at this place is inoperative today. The
iPhone-enhanced among us are equally
powerless, at least until we get out of this
cell phone dead zone to a place where they
can get coverage.
We take group pictures at the Redcrest post
offce (curse you, Hickman, for this post
offce picture contest – we fnd ourselves
stopping at way too many post offces.)
Then Laura and Emily make their farewells
and head south along the coast toward San
Francisco. In retrospect, they will be known
as “the smart ones”.
The remaining six ride north to Fortuna for
gas, then begin the epic transit of Highway
36 to Red Bluff. A roadkill deer a little way
into the ride reminds us of the ever-present
possibility of deer strikes in this country.
We set a fairly spirited pace; traffc is light,
38 TWO*FIFTY ISSUE 2
and cars and trucks are mostly friendly about
pulling over for us. Leaving the Eel River be-
hind at Fortuna, we follow the Van Duzen
River for a long time, then visit the Mad Riv-
er and Trinity River later in the trip. The frst
part of the ride repeats a segment we did
yesterday, with some downright challenging
turns. After we leave the tiny village of Mad
River, the road is new, faster, with bigger
sweepers. It climbs and drops over endless
high ridges carpeted in pines and frs. Even
in the heat, snow clings to a few summits in
the Trinity Alps. The group snakes through
the curves in a lovely dance. The sheer scale
of this road is amazing: all the twisties any
rider could want, on and on. Over the hours
the redwoods give way to lush pines, and
those pines give way to the scrawny, grayish
digger pines that are typical of dryer inland
California. Near the canyon bottoms there
are some epic sweepers that go on for what
seems like a quarter-mile and far more than
180 degrees, giving you plentiful time to fnd
your groove. The last part of 36 is all rolling,
tawny grassland and oak trees. Near the end
the road becomes 3-D, with steep dips and
rises tossed into the curves. It’s a long, long
journey, especially since we arrive at the end
in suffocating heat (about 105 degrees). But
it’s a truly great ride.
We do the obligatory photos beneath the ad-
visory road sign that says twisting road, next
140 miles. At a restaurant several of us soak
our shirts in the restroom, in preparation for
the heat ahead. Mounting the bikes, we frst
putt to the Red Bluff post offce for a pic-
ture (curse you, Hickman, it’s hot out here!)
and then get onto southbound Interstate 5.
That’s a serious road full of people trying
to make serious time, and our group of six
shoots along at 80 and 85 MPH indicated,
sometimes faster. My engine is turning 10K
RPM and I’m using up some oil. The farm-
lands and orchards stream by endlessly. We
stop twice at rest stops to re-soak our cloth-
ing, which makes a huge difference. That
rushing hot air is just like a blow dryer on the
skin. To the east rise the Sutter Buttes, one
of the smallest, and most ancient, mountain
ranges in North America. The Sierra Nevada
is a hazy shadow beyond them.
At a gas station near downtown Sacramento,
our group divides: one to Tracy, one to San
Jose, and four to various places in Sacra-
mento. The fellowship is over, the GRR is
history, but the memory remains.
Laura, for heroic service in the kitchen, with
Emily, for service as a DJ, cook, and morale
Ryan, for choosing such a cool place to rally,
and being leader (AKA frst victim) on all
Honorable mention to Ryan’s GPS
After a short night’s sleep at my brother’s
house, I spend the morning lazing around.
I decide to beg a night’s lodging from Laura
and Emily tonight, then do a long day back
to L.A. via Big Sur tomorrow. The infernal
heat is still oppressing the Central Valley so I
soak my t-shirt dripping wet, gear up, and hit
the road toward Monterey about 3:30. Traf-
fc south on I-5 is slightly heavy but manage-
able. I look for a rest stop to re-wet my t-
shirt but none appears until about 100 miles
later. I get onto highway 152 west through
the Pacheco Pass. Very strong winds have
me weaving all over the road. The big rigs
are not amused, nor am I. After the pass, for
the rest of the trip, the winds remain fairly
strong. Later the sun disappears behind a
thick bank of low clouds, and it gets cold.
Such temperature extremes on this day! I
put on a windbreaker beneath my armor but
I’m still wearing shorts. I get to Laura and
Emily’s about 6:45 and warm up with a hot
shower. We go out to dinner and end up at
a Korean barbecue place that turns into a
pretty interesting cooked-at-the-table meal.
Back at Chez Cohan, after a little conversa-
tion, I turn in early, anticipating a big day
I want a big fnish to the trip, so here goes. I
wake at 6:00 and go quietly about the busi-
ISSUE 2 TWO*FIFTY 39
The Golden Rule Rally is an annual
event to celebrate the Ninja 250
community spirit by encouraging
riders to meet one another.
The idea behind the rally is to get
board members to meet each
other while riding. This is rewarded
by a points system. Each time you
meet with someone you haven’t
already met with before during the
current rally period, you have just
given each other a point. At the
end of the rally, the person with
the most points wins the rally. It’s
Last year, the Ninja 250 Rider’s
Club had an impressive 56 meets
occur over the course of twelve
months! Ryan Saville (Ithaca00)
was the winner earning him the
honor of choosing the location of
the Awards Banquet.
Each year, the GRR continues to
grown in both participants, num-
ber of meets and the top scores.
The bar has been set very high for
ness of showering, dressing, and packing up
the bike. I roll out and fll up at a gas station
a few blocks away. Then, at 7:30 am, I point
the bike south on Highway 1, riding quickly
through a gray morning in Monterey, to the
wilder shore to the south.
You never have the road all to yourself in
Big Sur, and passing opportunities are rare,
but traffc isn’t much of a factor today.
For the next 74 miles this road will twist
and turn, and I do my best to get into the
rhythm. At sea level, low clouds hide every-
thing above a couple of hundred feet. In the
higher stretches of Highway 1, the clouds
become fog and my heroic curve-carving
gets a lot more timid.
The Ninja handles well on the thousand
turns of Big Sur, and in some fog-free
places I’m fying along the mountainsides
above the ocean at 75 MPH. Yet I also stop
often and bliss out at vista points and ran-
dom pretty places. (Group rides are fun,
but they don’t offer the luxury of stopping
anytime you like.) It’s been a wet spring and
the land is beautiful, with wildfowers fram-
ing a calm sea. After the cliff-hugging, in
the rolling tablelands that surround Hearst
Castle, I stop just south of Piedras Blancas
to check out the elephant seals, a must for
anyone traveling here. Nearer the Castle I
look for, and spot, the herd of zebras that
often hang out here. A big herd of mule
deer grazes in broad daylight a couple of
miles farther down the road. Amazing what
several decades of no hunting pressure can
I take Santa Rosa Creek Road inland from
Cambria. This is a beautiful ride on a rough,
narrow, twisty little farm road. Highly rec-
ommended if you’re ever near here. A few
miles through vineyard country, then several
more miles on the US 101 freeway, gets me
to Santa Margarita, where I stop for fuel and
lunch. This is a nice little cowboy town and
is the last signifcant civilization before the
western Central Valley (which some would
argue is not really civilization.)
After lunch begins the long, lonely run east-
ward through various mountain ranges and
across the San Andreas Fault. The clothes
that worked for foggy Big Sur need to come
off in the ever-increasing heat. By the time
I come down the last of the Temblor Range
into McKittrick, it’s broiling hot. I stop for
cold drinks, then ride across the very bot-
tom of the Central Valley to the Grapevine,
so named for the extreme twistiness of the
original highway through these mountains.
From here until home it’s freeway, on Inter-
state 5. As I-5 rises to about 4,000 feet the
heat eases a little and the rest of the ride
home is uneventful, except for a fool who
decides that his truck can lane-share with
me as he passes. Welcome back to L.A., I
Now I’m home, 2,012 miles later, with semi-
ruined saddlebags and a paint job composed
primarily of bugs. I have tomorrow to de-
compress, and I’ll need it, but wow! What
40 TWO*FIFTY ISSUE 2
Some time ago, I bought a used Fox Twin
Clicker rear shock from another member
of the Ninja forum, and installed it on my
bike. I recently had the opportunity to do a
track day on it, and wow is it amazing!! But
I am getting ahead of myself, frst the story
of my install.
The previous owner said he installed the
external reservoir under the gas tank,
but since I have the stock air box in, the
reservoir wouldn’t ft. I investigated put-
ting it in a different place under the tank,
but couldn’t come up with a good place.
I thought of putting in the tail, but the
reservoir line wasn’t long enough. Finally,
I decided to put the reservoir where the
stock tool kit goes, and put the tool kit back
by the brake lights. In order to get the res-
ervoir routed I had to remove pretty much
the whole right side of the bike, including
the rear brake reservoir and the fuse box.
It was a tight ft, but it came out well in
the end. I also put a piece of clear plastic
tubing around the SS line to prevent it from
When I frst tried to put the twin clicker
in, because the spring is a larger diameter
than the stock spring, I had to remove the
middle bolt from the unitrack and let it
hang so there was more space for the shock
to go in.
Before I got the twin clicker, I had pur-
chased a used EX500 shock to put in, but
that just wasn’t feeling right for me. The
bottom right image shows a comparison of
the twin clicker vs. the 500, and the 500 vs.
the stock shock.
I recently did a track day with Elite Track
Days at Harris Hill Road in San Marcos,
The track is decently short with quite a
few curves, which made it a ton of fun for
the 250. I especially enjoyed turn 8 (Dam
Turn), and coming out of the hairpin
through turns 11, 1, 2, and 3. Turn 4 was
one of the toughest of the track to do well
- decreasing radius, and you come out on a
steep downhill into turn 5, which made it
After running around the track for about
175 miles, I have to say that I love my sus-
Along with the Fox shock, I have 0.70 sonic
springs and GVEs up front. The suspen-
sion never let me down, and even though
I was running pretty aggresively, I never
had anything hard hit the ground, includ-
ing the center stand. The track had its
share of bumps, and I never had a problem
with keeping both wheels on the ground
BY MATTHEW WOODRUFF
Ninja 250 Upgrade: Fox Twin Clicker Rear Shock
SHOCK AND AWE
ISSUE 2 TWO*FIFTY 41
Is a gear indicator for a classic Ninja 250 possible?
GET IN GEAR
The answer is a qualifed yes.
I wanted a gear indicator. I know they
aren’t neccessary and I know real riders
don’t need them, but a wanted one anyway.
I know there are the ones that compare
speed (if you have an electronic speedom-
eter) and revs and calculate what gear you
must be in, but they sell for over $100 and
I’m cheap. Plus they don’t tell you what
gear you’re in if you pull in the clutch.
So could one be made that didn’t need the
electronic speedometer (I have one, but
that’s beside the point). Well, the answer is
that if you have a couple of weeks of free
time, a small machine shop, a digital oscil-
loscope and some knowledge of digital and
analog circuity, such a device is possible as
shown in the pictures.
It was something of a pig to get working
right since the power supply of the Ninja
is really dirty with all sorts of spikes due to
ignition etc (and you should see what the
horn does to it!). Eventually, with enough
voltage regulation and noise supression (in-
cluding chip capacitors on the pins of some
of the ICs), it’s working reliably.
Gear change signals come from magnetic
latch memory attached to the gear shifter.
If I’d known how much trouble it was
going to be to get the d*mn thing work-
ing 100% reliably I might not have started.
The basic idea is simple but I spent days of
debugging various glitches (like the neutral
BY BOB ATKINS
light coming on during 1st to second
shifts). Initially it also changed gear indica-
tion every time I crossed the railroad tracks
due to the electromagnetic feld generated
by the overhead power wires.
I’m not going to make a kit and I don’t
even have a decent schematic of the whole
circuit, but maybe this will give others the
confdence that it can be done if you have
enough time to waste on it and you have
the gear to debug the circuit. For the aver-
age rider an electronic speedometer and
one of the commercial kits that calculate
gear ratios is probably going to be a whole
lot less trouble.
ABOVE: The rat’s nest of wires that’s the heart of the indicator
BELOW: In neutral with gear “0” displayed
ABOVE: The gear shift position detector (2 sensors, 4 magnets)
BELOW: Click down into 1st gear. Upshifts increase indicator by 1 each time
42 TWO*FIFTY ISSUE 2
While lane splitting no less.
Yesterday on my way home from work, I’m
splitting lanes in some heavy traffc coming
up on a school bus. Now, generally speaking,
I do not split next to buses (of any kind)
or semis while they’re in motion because the
sides of those things are giant blind spots.
And I’m wary of them when they’re stopped
So I’m coming up on this bus, which is
stopped just like everyone else. All of a sud-
den WHACK! That nice little red STOP sign
on the rear panel of the bus pops out and
On my way home from work
today, I stopped at the local
liquor store for a 6-pack and
strapped it on the back seat
with my bungee net.
This is a fairly routine occurrence. No big
deal. I continue on my commute home in
the city traffc of west Los Angeles. No big
deal. As I slow down to turn right into my
residential street, I feel something touching
my butt. The 6-pack is shifting around be-
hind me. Uh oh. Then I hear bottles rattling
as I reach around with my left hand to steady
or reposition it. The bottom of the 6-pack
has slipped forward. Oh shit. It is now on its
back ready to let the bottles fall off the bike.
I look over my left shoulder just in time to
see a bottle exploding on the street!
So now I’m in second gear, just about to
turn right, glass exploding behind me, my
left hand holding what remains of my 6-
pack, and the car in front of me (also turn-
ing right) stops. I don’t think I can safely
stop (no clutch!) and not throw beer bottles
crashing in the street. Now I have to execute
a turn with one hand. Big deal. I manage to
slowly ease around the turn, around the car,
around another car, get out of the way of
an oncoming car, and ease up the road. This
all happened pretty slowly. I never really felt
like I was personally in danger. I was just try-
ing to hang on to the bottles and not make a
huge mess in front of my neighbors.
I keep moving up the block to my apartment
building and try to shift into neutral without
a clutch. I bounce between 1st and 2nd sev-
eral times and fnally, fnally, come to a slow
stop on the street. So far I’m feeling pretty
good about turning one-handed, not crash-
ing, and not dropping any more bottles; and
I think I’ve done this without looking like
a total retard in front of the inevitable and
unfathomably large crowd of pedestrians
walking their dogs.
I dismount, count 5 remaining beers (only 1
lost!!), re-bungee the pack, mount the bike,
turn around, pull into the driveway, stop, and
push down the side-stand. I think I’m safe
now but I’m nervous about leaning over the
bike onto the side-stand because I don’t want
the 6-pack to fall off again; so I, in 1 deft
movement, throw back my right leg, steady
the 6-pack with my right hand, lean the bike
on to the side-stand, and dismount. BUT, as
I get my footing, the bike is rolling forward a
bit, pushing back the side-stand. Oh shit. I’m
trying to stop the forward motion but I only
have one hand on the handlebar. The bike,
slowly, oh so slowly, because my right hand
is occupied holding beer, has started mov-
ing towards the ground. The left handlebar,
slowly, slowly yet determinedly, touches gen-
tly to the ground. The bike settles into the
concrete. I hear a woman’s voice behind me.
Everything is still. The word “fuck” exhales
from my lips. I am no longer in that elite
club. I am no longer a virgin. I have dropped
my bike for the frst time. *sigh*
But I saved 5 beers, dammit!
gets me right in the helmet. For-
tunately I was practicing what
I preach and not riding fast,
so grabbing the front
brake only stopped
me instead of wreck-
ing me. No damage
to the helmet, and the
only injury was to my
ego. Cause the people
in the cars around me
who saw it sure did
laugh their a$$es off.
Once traffc started moving
when the light turned green I
went around the bus in an-
other lane. I didn’t bother
yelling or waving my
arms or even try-
ing to fgure out if
it was intentional or
accidental. But now
there’s one more
thing to look out
for, and I re-learned
that you really have
to love riding to com-
mute on a bike.
BY GARRICK STAPLES
Save the Beer
BY AJ LAWLER
Hit a Stop Sign....
ISSUE 2 TWO*FIFTY 43
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0Z5V[(U6W[PVU Sportbikes are amazing, but for decades they've been wearing a target-and the
AMA has worked just as long to protect this exhilarating class of motorcycles. Federal legislation was introduced in 1988
to ban them, but the AMA stepped in and convinced the bill's sponsor to back off. Our foes continue to target sportbikes,
but the AMA remains vigilant, fghting unfair laws and regulations aimed only at motorcycles, such as bills to prevent
modifcations, introduce horsepower limits and even insurance blacklisting. lmagine mandates for OE exhausts, airbag
riding suits and roll cages.
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