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Old September 6th, 2019, 03:53 PM   #1
99blackturq
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99 Ninja 250 revival problems

Hey everybody, I recently purchased a 99 Ninja 250 as a project bike/college commuter. It hadn't ran in a while (probably 4 or 5 years from the 2014 sticker) due to a hole in the gas tank which has now revealed a slew of new problems. After putting the bike together/new fuel filter/oil change/new battery it hardly ran or idled so I took the carbs off, cleaned them and it finally idled. However, I did notice that the right carb's diaphragm rubber had expanded and it didn't really want to get back into place correctly. Whatever, I put it back together and it ran a bit better but still had the same problem of cutting off upon throttle and it won't rev anywhere above 6k.
Also, I should mention that when I cleaned the carbs I didn't touch the air mixture screws at all and I didn't sync the carbs. I assumed Kawasaki had them correct from factory.

Alright, so I buy a new diaphragm off eBay (78 bucks?!!) and wait. Today when the part comes in and I'm taking apart the carbs I notice that the diaphragm had fixed itself! It literally had gone back to it's original shape and fit the grooves correctly! When I took it out the rubber even retained the shape its supposed to be in! Either way I still replaced it, put the bike back together and it's running better still. Idles well, throttle is there but it STILL won't go above 6-7k and if you try to push it the engine dies suddenly. I can actually ride the bike out of my garage and I go around the culdesac a few times to get the engine up to temp.

Now that it's warming up it's starting to smoke a bit out of the tailpipes. FUUUUUUUU. Oil level is still alright and it doesn't seem like too much smoke and it does appear white, not blue so I don't think its burning oil. The bike is warm and I shut it off, white smoke is still dribbling out of the right tailpipe.
What are the chances its piston rings or a head gasket? I'm about to go do a compression test now.

I was really hoping to get a good bike running since it only has about 5400 miles on it. Really didn't want to spend the money but I suppose I'm going to have to get my carbs sent out to ducatiman so I can eliminate that as my failure point. Any input is very welcome, this is my first bike and I'm super excited to ride!


I am located in San Marcos, TX and I do think this bike has lived in TX its whole life. Thanks!
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Old September 7th, 2019, 02:19 AM   #2
59096
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You will probably find that the smoke will disappear with a bit of use. Mine did the same after I brought it back to life after a few years in dock. Smoke stopped happening after 50km or so. The carbs issue wonít fix itself however and you will probably need to do a complete overhaul on them. Good luck!
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Old September 7th, 2019, 03:14 AM   #3
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MOTY - 2018, MOTM - Nov '17
Did you spray starter-fluid down carbs trying to start it? That’s really volatile stuff that will dissolve your rubber diaphragms and O-rings. Luckily, the floppy expanded diaphragm recovered as starter fluid evaporated. Any more and you’ll have holes!

Don’t assume anything! It’s been long time since bike left factory. Someone somewhere in past have tried their hands at “tuning” and gotten things out of whack. Best to clean and restore to 100% factory settings.

And “cleaning” involves more than just spraying “carb cleaner” into carbs. Needs completely disassembly down to last nut, bolt, and individual component. Replace every single seal, O-rings, jets, float valves. Scrub and floss every jet, hole & fuel-circuit. Need soaking in ultrasonic cleaner using caustic radioactive solvents. Finally clean out remnants with micro soda-blasting @ 100000 psi. Measure and adjust float-levels on assembly. Sync carbs and set pilots to 2.5-turns out. Do search here for “clean carbs ducatiman” to see examples and photos of what needs to be done.
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Old September 7th, 2019, 07:58 AM   #4
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MOTM - Nov '18, Mar '17
IMHO start fluid has no place in desperate, short cut, "get it going" attempts....the underlying fuel problem(s) remain and still need to be addressed.

The potential peripheral damage caused by the stuff (expensive rubber carb diaphragms, plastic slide bodies) just not worth the risk.

Using this poison to get the bike to run for 3 seconds...you are then right back where you started from.

If the bike has sat loaded with fuel for a year or more...a comprehensive carb service is obvious and inevitable. For best reliable performance there are no shortcuts, no way around it.

Going forward, consistent use of ethanol treatment/stabilizer and proper storage maintenance procedures will minimize, if not eliminate fuel related problems.

Srry...rant over! lol
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Old September 20th, 2019, 08:24 PM   #5
99blackturq
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Alright! So I sent the carbs to ducatiman for a professional cleaning and he did a great job as per usual. Absolutely beautiful job, but once everything was back together the bike still doesn't seem to be right.

It starts on full choke, basically only full choke, and must be taken down slowly until it idles at about 1800 rpm, idles well, but it still doesn't respond to full throttle. Still symptoms of bogginess and still very reluctant to go over 6k.

However, it does ride somewhat, in first gear it will go to about 7-8k RPM and then when you shift into second it'll only rev to 6k if the throttle is about 10% open, no more or no less. You can gradually open up the throttle once it does start grabbing and it does give power, it's a lot of fun. In third gear it's basically the same deal except the throttle is even touchier to any kind of input. Basically to get it to about 35 mph it needs the 10% throttle and then you must keep it there to continue going about this speed. I wouldn't take it any faster than this because in 4th it's even less responsive and I don't think it would go above 45.

I'm thinking either the throttle cables are messed up, but it does rev correctly once it "grabs" in gear. It will also rev hard if you pull the throttle body open on the side. Still, not above 6k.

Maybe the clutch isn't doing it's job correctly, and once it gets to about 6k RPM it becomes too much and the clutch slips. Still not too convincing because the bike typically doesn't want to rev above 6K in neutral. And, typically, if the throttle is blipped the engine just bogs a bit and then comes back up to idle. The revs typically only rise if the throttle is given consistent input.

Sorry for any vague descriptions, but this is boggling me. Maybe the timing is off so severely that this is a problem. Not sure how that could be checked.

Any input is severely appreciated, as riding this bike even below 35 MPH was incredibly fun and I would love to take it out of my neighborhood. This is my first bike and I can't wait for it to work correctly. I feel like I'm SO close, like I need to fix just one more little thing at it'll be fine. It comes up to temp nicely, the fan works, all the electronics work, save for the turn signals and the integrated rear brake lights the previous owner wired in.

Maybe the issue could be wiring related? The harness certainly has been butchered by the previous owner. I just can't tell, it all seems to be done correctly.
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Old September 21st, 2019, 02:54 AM   #6
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MOTY - 2018, MOTM - Nov '17
1. Do the tank-cap vent mod

2. Measure petcock flow-rate. i.e. cc/min. Post number and if not to spec, get rebuild kit and rebuild.

3. Inspect intake for obstructions: airbox inlet, air-filter

4. Inspect rubber tubes between carbs and head for cracks, leaks. Make sure they are oriented correctly. One end goes to carbs, other to head. Ends are labeled.

5. If you suspect cables, inspect throttle-plate movement. Turn throttle fully open and see if you can manually open throttle more

6. How fresh is gas in your tank?

7. When was last time valve-adjustment done? Measure all valve clearances and verify if they are within spec. Post clearance numbers here.

8. Do compression-test. Post numbers here.

9. What do spark plugs look like? Post close-up photo of their tips. Post how much gap is that you measured.
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Old September 21st, 2019, 06:25 AM   #7
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MOTM - Nov '18, Mar '17
sorry to hear of continuing difficulties.

I can't remember if you sent the petcock for a super clean/review...you are welcome to do so at your convenience, on me, no $$ involved.

I can't help but think there is some previous assembly error involved...a blatant vacuum leak or somesuch.

Do you know the previous owner and what he may have done or attempted to do? Did this bike run properly at any time during his ownership? Some history may be helpful. Has engine ever been (even partially) disassembled?
Valve timing, cam chain tensioner ever disturbed?

A compression test, if you can swing it, a good idea.
Spark at both plugs? Air passageways clear?

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Old September 21st, 2019, 08:05 AM   #8
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Prime suspects for me are your petcock and fuel filter.

Make sure you have a clean OEM fuel filter. I ran a brand new generic filter once and found it wasn't allowing sufficient flow which caused my bike to run crappy. I swapped it for a new OEM filter and problem was resolved.

As for the petcock, I've had problems with them on two separate bikes and both times they were pesky, finicky symptoms that drove me nuts. Can't hurt to rebuild it (or swap out the entire unit if you're willing to part with the cash).

Sounds like you're close to nailing it down, good luck.
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Old September 21st, 2019, 05:52 PM   #9
99blackturq
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So, I do now think the prime suspect is a vacuum leak of some sort. I took the carbs off and put the rubber mounts on correctly this time, and the carbs seemed to be set in place a lot better. The rubber tubes aren't cracked and were way easier to get on when they were oriented correctly. I restarted the bike and it starts a lot easier, but it idles lower now and it responds to throttle a bit better too. Still relies very heavily on choke to keep revs up and start the bike.

I did also run the bike with and without a fuel filter. It was a new generic one I got from home depot but fit in place well when I first started working on the bike. There seemed to be no change at all from when I used the line with the fuel filter and when I used a straight line.


This is what makes me think it is vacuum of some sort. When the bike is idling I can take the vent hose off the back of the fuel tank (the oem plastic, I think, it's clear/orange and very stretchy) and nothing happens. Also, the airbox doesn't seem to be mounted in place very well and the opening to get to the air filter doesn't sit flush or ever seem to lock in place. While sitting on the bike with the seat off I can press the cap to the air filter into place and that also does nothing to make it run better.

Also, the fuel tank cap is aftermarket and does not seem to seal very well. The lid to the tank cap screws into place with an O-ring at the end so the actual part you take off to put fuel in seals well, but I don't think the whole assembly does. It's some anodized aluminum tank cap, gold. SSR brand I believe. I am missing one of the mounting screws so it is only held into place by the 7 screws I got from the previous owner.

I suppose I will send my petcock off to you, ducatiman, since that probably is my failure point. Not sure how to test if it's any good or not myself and you are the expert man.

The fuel in the tank is very new, and has a bit of fuel stabilizer in it, as per ducatiman's instructions when I got the carbs back from him.

Not sure when the valves were ever adjusted. I suppose I'll have to look into learning how to adjust them. I tried to get a compression tester from Autozone, but theirs didn't fit our smaller spark plug holes. Couldn't test compression but I did replace the spark plugs with NGK CR8HSAs, OEM spec and recommended by this forum. I didn't measure the gap, I don't have feeler gauges. I suppose I'll need some for the valves too.

I purchased this bike from Craigslist, in Austin. Some guy's dad had all the paperwork from the son who owned the bike. He had used it as his college commuter around 2014, it had an A&M sticker on the license plate when I got it. Damn aggies. The speedo cable was NOT attached and the odo read 5400 miles, he had the title and the title transfer form all filled out, the oil in the bike looked good and so did the coolant, it turned over so I figured I would take on a project. The only thing described wrong with it was a hole in the fuel tank, which was an easy fix. It's in the upper fairing screw mount so I figured he put the wrong screw in too far and punctured it.
Their house was really nice and in a nice part of town, the bike was in really good shape aesthetically so I thought he was being honest, and I still think that's true. This is all to say that I've never really spoken to the previous owner and I have no service records! Typing all that out has given me some introspective thoughts.

Still, there are less problems than I've expected. The bike came on Pirelli MT70 tires and the plastics are almost perfect. Seat is really nice too. The bike came with a cover and it was in a garage when I bought it so I don't think it's ever been seriously abused. I still don't regret this purchase because I've learned a lot already and basically knowledge is the only thing that really matters in the end. Enjoyment, too, I've had fun working on this and getting further. Yesterday in the neighborhood was great zipping around <35 MPH and struggling with my finnicky throttle, haha.
Anyways, sorry to turn this from an update post to a blog entry. Trying to be transparent. Much to think about.
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Old September 21st, 2019, 05:57 PM   #10
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Also, the previous owner before the A&M guy was a used motorcycle and rental business called Austin Moto Sales. I only know this because it's what was on the title. They are no longer in business. So, not sure what that says about maintenance or whatever, but it's probably not good news.

Yikes
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Old September 21st, 2019, 06:07 PM   #11
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MOTM - Nov '18, Mar '17
by vent hose, referring to the see through brown hose coming off the carbs....that must be left clear to atmosphere....NOT connected to anything.

Hoping you didn't plug it on to something (back of the fuel tank? NO!!!)

Yes send me petcock at your convenience. It is a stock factory vacuum type? The vacuum hose is present? Connected to the LH carb vacuum barb? Hose tight, no rips?

the rubber inlet manifolds were found installed backwards?
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Old September 21st, 2019, 06:10 PM   #12
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Haha, oh no, I've been plugging it into the back of the fuel tank this whole time. I am a fool. So where is the back of the fuel tank supposed to connect to?
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Old September 21st, 2019, 06:19 PM   #13
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you should really call, we can cover ground much quicker than posting to and fro here

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Old September 21st, 2019, 10:18 PM   #14
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Here's hose-routing. Easy enough to make sure yours matches. Very important that two vacuum-ports aren't open to atmosphere anywhere. Either by plugging into wrong locations at other end of hose or by having cracked hoses. One goes to petcock and other goes to coast-enricher. That's it.

Also tank-vent doesn't connect to carbs. That's just open tube that drains down by rear-shock, same as carb-vent (fuel overflow).



Other side.

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Old September 22nd, 2019, 05:15 AM   #15
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MOTM - Nov '18, Mar '17
safe to say OP carbs and associated have already been accounted for, petcock inspection and service up to bat next. (dammit, should have sent with carbs)
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Old September 22nd, 2019, 04:04 PM   #16
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Yup, carbs are perfect, don't mess with them. Additional problems outside of carbs.
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Old September 22nd, 2019, 04:31 PM   #17
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Of course the carbs were perfect! Ducatiman is a godsend. Talking to him really gave me some more knowledge and helped us narrow the issue down to the petcock.

This means, the bike runs! Like a cat in scalding water! I just rode the bike for about 45 minutes around town. For a little 250 it makes a great sound and pulls very hard. Relatively, from my perspective at least, this is my first bike and really the only one I've ever ridden, but it is so quick! It frightens.

Anyways, it was the petcock. I pulled it about 10-15 degrees towards the reserve side and it must've sealed up the diaphragm in there, this was all I had to do to fix the erratic problems. It still doesn't idle perfectly and I'm guessing it's because I just quick fixed it, I think it'll need a rebuild anyways so it'll work how it should.

Anyways, I'm ecstatic. Can't wait to ride it again later tonight after dinner and schoolwork.
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