Planned Mods for the Bike I Don’t Own Yet
I know the Ninja 250 is a great beginner’s bike. It has all the power I’m likely to need starting out, and I love the way it looks – it’s the bike that gave me the bug and it’ll always have a special place in my heart. In spite of that, I believe I’ll trade up eventually – but I’m not expecting the Ninja to be a single-season bike. I’ll have it for a while, I suspect, and I want to be able to take long trips on it because that’s largely why I’m buying a bike in the first place. So I’ve been pondering various comfort-related mods to make it viable to ride the Ninja for long trips. Here’s what I have in mind so far:
Handle Bar Risers
One of the biggest complaints about the Ninja 250 (aside from people saying it doesn’t have enough power) is the riding position. Street bikes in general have a crappy riding position. Most of them are worse than the Ninja, from what I can gather. They require you to ride somewhere between sitting upright and a tuck – not quite either one. Masukomi told me that the riding position annoyed her when she took her big trip last year, and I can already see just from sitting on it and a few other bikes that the riding position is going to be irritating. So I’m planning to install these handle bar risers, which will raise the handle bars a little over an inch and bring the bike closer to an upright riding position. (Plus it’s an excuse for me to fiddle with the bike, and I like playing with mechanical things.)
A Touring Windscreen
The stock windscreen that comes on the Ninja 250 is practically non-existent. It’s tiny and barely does anything unless you’re riding in a tuck, which I wouldn’t be – especially after installing the handle bar risers. There are a couple of guys who used to hand-make larger touring windscreens for the Ninja 250, but links to their websites no longer work. That’s a problem. I’m going to hunt around and see what I can find because I think that’ll make a big difference for the long trips I’m planning on the bike.
Everyone agrees that the stock seat that comes on the Ninja 250 is hella uncomfortable. At the very least, you have to wiggle around a lot while riding. At most, your but goes numb after 30-60 minutes and you have to take breaks every hour. I’m not planning to take breaks every hour. I’m planning to make some long trips on the Ninja, which means I’m going to need a better seat (likely). Masukomi just has a beaded seat cover on it and she did fine on her long trip last year. I’ll hold off until I actually ride the bike a bit, but I’m thinking a seat upgrade is highly likely, based on what I’ve read.
Seat upgrades can get very expensive. I’ve found a few places that will either modify your stock seat, build you a custom seat or places that sell upgraded seats. One popular seat upgrade is the Corbin. The Corbin seat is over $300 – for that price, it just makes sense to me to have a custom seat made. It’ll probably cost close to the same, but be made for your butt. There’s supposedly a place a few towns over that makes custom seats, so I’ll try a long-ish trip in May, hopefully, and then decide if I need to go that route.
This one is probably a given. The Ninja 250 forum riders often comment about handle bar vibrations, and Masukomi confirmed last night that the handlebars vibrate significantly at certain speeds/RPMs. Grip Puppies are foam grips that slide over your regular grips and help lessen the vibrations. They increase the size of the grips somewhat, but since I haven’t done any riding at all, I won’t have to ‘adjust’ to the larger grip – I’ll just start riding with it. It’s wicked cheap and supposedly highly effective, so I’m totally going to get this one.
Heavier Bar Ends
Finally, I’m thinking about replacing the OEM bar ends on the bike – also to help with vibrations. The stock bar ends are 5 ounces, but you can find aftermarket bar ends up to 17 ounces that can help to dampen the vibrations quite a bit. Depending on which bar ends you choose, they can be fairly inexpensive, so this is another likely upgrade.
One upgrade that’s very much in the ‘optional’ category right now is replacing the stock pegs with alternate, lower pegs. The Ninja 250 riding position is very much a sport bike riding position – has your knees bent somewhat sharply. Masukomi says that sometimes when riding, her legs get fatigued and she has to ride with them just hanging. Switching the pegs to something lower or in a different position – especially in conjunction with the handle bar risers – would make a big difference in the comfort of the regular riding position. Which makes a big difference in taking long trips. I’ll see how much the current pegs bother me, but I might consider swapping them if it looks like it’ll be an issue.