Assessing the Damage: Bike Repairs
Yesterday afternoon was a nice, warm sunny day and I wanted to be on the bike. Of course, the bike is busted right now, so I decided to disassemble the cowling and fully assess the damage so I can start the repairs. I found some unexpected damage once I disassembled the cowling, but I’ve dealt with some of it and I’ll deal with the rest soon. So in no particular order, here’s what I found:
Ultimately, the cowling is probably repairable. But it’s got a big-ass crack down the right side, starting just above the right turn indicator (which is busted). And it’s got some more cracks where the right mirror connects to the bike, as well as some scraping. I could probably render it functional, but it wouldn’t be pretty. I bit the bullet and ordered the new cowling from Bike Bandit today – it was the cheapest place I could find it. $488 and change after my AMA discount. Some folks on the Ninja 250 forum recommended Ron Ayers for parts, and the parts there are initially cheaper, but with the 10% AMA discount, Bike Bandit had a slight edge.
I found a used right mirror on eBay for a total of $24 with shipping, which is a damn sight less than the $84 for a new mirror assembly, so I’ve ordered a replacement mirror.
Some of the folks on the Ninja 250 forum were also kind enough to recommend some replacement turn signals from eBay, which turned out to be slightly cheaper ordering a replacement pair than replacing just the right one new with OEM, and I like the AMP replacements better, so I ordered those for like $24.
When I removed the cowling, I found that the mirrors don’t actually mount directly to the plastic cowling – they mount to the metal frame underneath the cowling. And the metal frame where the right mirror was mounted got drastically bent back. To the point that it penetrated the meter housing slightly (essentially the dash, which holds the speedo, the tachometer and the indicator lights) and put a crack in the case. Unfortunately, I also discovered that the pressure had broken off a part of the plastic housing underneath where it bolts to the bike. The bolt was still attached, but the plastic part that it connects to on the housing broke away from the housing itself. The meter housing is still connected to the bike via two bolts on the left side, but there’s only one bolt on the right, and now it has no way to connect to the meter housing.
So the first order of business was to try to bend the frame back. I tried banging it with a rubber mallet, but I couldn’t make any headway and I was just shaking the bike. So I removed the meter housing and the headlamp, which gave me free access to the frame. I was able to use a pair of pliers to mostly bend it back, although being a girl, I lack the upper body strength of a guy and it gave me some trouble. The bike also kept wanting to come off the stand since I was pulling forward on the frame, so I sort of had to prop my hip against the bike to push back and keep the bike from rolling forward off the stand, and push forward with the pliers to try to bend the frame back into position. Needless to say, it wasn’t pretty, and the frame still isn’t perfectly flat. I think it’s close enough, though, that the rubber gasket will provide the flex it needs to mount properly.
Since I’d removed the meter housing anyway, I decided to have a go at reattaching the plastic part to the main housing with Gorilla Glue. After like an hour of sitting, it didn’t seem to have much effect, and I tried putting the housing back on without the right bolt to see if the left bolts were strong enough to hold it. They’re not. Without the right bolt acting as a spacer to at least hold the housing in place, it was flopping around everywhere. So I reattached the bolt, applied a little bit more Gorilla Glue, and duct taped the housing in place on the bolt. At least now it sits properly. No idea if the Gorilla Glue will take, after having been duct taped into place overnight. I did find that I could replace just the bottom housing, which costs $55, and I’ll probably do that once this initial flurry of purchases is done. I think it’ll hold for now, though, although I won’t be taking any long trips like that.
So I put the bike on the center stand to do this stuff, and next I inspected the front brake fluid reservoir (which, it turns out, is also the front brake master cylinder). When the bike was on the side stand, the brake fluid level looked fine. On the center stand, though, it’s clear that it’s been leaking brake fluid. I assume it’s leaking brake fluid there, at the master cylinder, because the corner is sheered off and it does look as though the seal and the diaphragm have been breached. To replace the parts individually via Bike Bandit is something like another $50-60, but I’ve found entire front brake master cylinder’s used on eBay for $20-30, so I’ll just buy one from eBay. But Masukomi pointed out yesterday, when I was telling her about the bike’s damage, that it might be a break in the brake cable or the brake itself, so I’ll go back out today and inspect the front brake system for damage before I buy a new master cylinder.
I did finally manage to find the right footpeg bracket on the Bike Bandit schematics – for some reason, it’s under the electrical diagram. (A Google search had turned up that someone else posted the part number somewhere, and then a Bike Bandit search for the part number revealed it on the diagram.) And that stupid plate is $80 to replace. I found an entire bracket/peg/rear brake pedal/rear brake master cylinder on eBay for $85, which I considered, because I want the part. But I looked again today and found just the bracket from a newer bike (that appears to be interchangeable) for $9 – except the auction doesn’t end for a week, and he won’t do a Buy it Now. So I’ll watch that auction, and try to buy that part, since the cowling won’t be here before then anyway so the bike won’t be ride-able yet.
And when I go out to check out the front brake, I’ll check out the rear brake, too, and make sure nothing there got irretrievably busted. It turns out that on the 2008-newer models, there’s an engine oil window there under that bracket, and people low-siding on the right often find the engine oil thing window busting out and leaking oil. And there was a slippery fluid on the pavement when I picked up the bike after the crash. So I need to check that out and make sure there’s nothing important down there on my model that got busted.
I also discovered that when the front windscreen broke, one of the bolts went away. So I had to order a new bolt/washer for the front windscreen.
So all told, here are the parts I’ve currently ordered for the bike, and the ones I still need:
- Cowling – $488
- Turn Signals – $24
- Right Mirror – $24
- Hardware for Windscreen – $5
- Front brake master cylinder – $30
- Right footpeg bracket – $30
- Windscreen – $80 (except I had already ordered a custom windscreen, so that’s incidental)
- Meter housing unit – $55
Bringing the total for this damage so far to: around $750, with shipping. Alas, the fairing is $500 of that – would be so much cheaper if I didn’t have to replace the fairing.
Luckily, the stuff I looked at yesterday is all stuff I can manage myself. And while I was futzing with the bike, I put on the left bar riser (I can’t get the right handlebar allen bolts off – will have another go today) and the bar riser actually rocks. I’m very happy with the riding position. It sucks to have all this damage to the bike, but I’m kinda enjoying tinkering with it, and I’ll enjoy putting everything back together when the parts come.
The only thing I’m not sure about is the front fork. Someone on the Ninja 250 forum suggested that the front fork may have simply twisted a bit in the triple tree, and after taking the cowling off yesterday and looking at it in detail, it looks like that’s exactly what happened. The bars aren’t completely in line with the tire, now, and you can actually see where the fender has shifted to the right because the forks are twisted. But the forks are serious stuff – the rest of this is more-or-less cosmetic. I’m not sure I trust myself to deal with the forks on my own because that could have serious safety repercussions if I get it wrong.
I checked out the service manual yesterday (yes, I cracked the service manual for the first time yesterday) and there’s all kinds of stuff about fork fluid and special tools and things that are just intimidating to me. So I may still take the bike to Riverside and have them deal with the forks. On the one hand, I’d rather not pay for the labor and I’m enjoying doing stuff to my bike. But on the other hand, this is one of those things that it seems like it might just be safer to let the professionals handle. Haven’t decided yet and it’s a moot point at the moment, since I have to wait for all of the parts to arrive before I can fix and ride the bike anyway. I’ll probably poke around the Web and see if there’s anything about people dealing with this problem, and maybe take another look before I put the new cowling on.
In other news, I’ve more-or-less decided to go with the Rev’It Sand Pants to replace my busted Rev’It Ultimate Pants. Which is another $300.
So, all told, after parts, labor to fix the forks, and my new pants, this is going to be around a $1150-1200 drop.
[EDIT]I placed the order for cowling with BikeBandit.com today, and received email notification that the item was backordered and the manufacturer couldn’t provide an estimate on when the order would be available. So after some poking around the Ninja 250 forum, I’ve decided to attempt repairing the cowling myself. The damage isn’t really that bad – mostly some cracking – so I’m going to try dealing with it myself. I’ve ordered paint from ColorRite that matches the year/make/model, as well as a matte clear coat to go over the top. I’m going to attempt repairing the back side of the cowling so I don’t have to sand and paint the entire front, and use the paint for touch ups. Apparently I can repair it using ABS cement and a soldering iron, and I’m comfortable with at least trying that… so we’ll see what happens. I’ll keep you posted, plus provide pictures, if possible.
However, by canceling the order for the cowling, I’m saving $500 on this repair. The paint, clear coat and shipping on the paint is $45, and I may spend $20-30 on materials to repair the plastic. So it’s gone from a $500 repair to a $65 to $75 repair, which brings my overall price for this drop down to $650 to $700, the majority of that being the cost of new pants/repairing the forks. That’s much more palatable.[/EDIT]