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Modifying suspension for an 08-12 Ninja 250

Discussion in 'Modifications and Projects' at netrider.net.au started by GhettoNinja, Dec 10, 2012.

  1. G'day all,

    Just thought I'd post some of what I've found in here after playing around with my 08 Ninja's suspension and I'd be interested to hear from anyone else who's thought to do the same.

    Ok first up, disclaimer, I'm a relatively new rider (12 months) but having said that I think I do have a fair idea of when a bike (or car) is handling well and when it isn't. Probably from playing around on downhill mountain bikes for a few years and also from driving / modifying cars in the past. Why do I say this? well after getting my Ninja around this time last year, as much as I loved it, I always felt the handling wasn't quite what it could / should be.

    My opinion is that the suspension is set way too stiff on these bikes from the factory. I thought at first it might have been the pre-load was racheted up by the previous owner but nope it was set to the lowest (least stiff) setting. I asked around at dealerships and have done since and the almost unanimous response is a puzzled look followed by statements that seemed to pertain to the fact I must have no idea what I'm talking about.

    Why do I think the bikes too stiff? Well maybe not for a racetrack but around the goat-tracks that pass for roads around Sydney, hell any road in NSW really, the bike just would seems to get unsettled a lot by bumps and uneven sections in the road. It also used to tramline a fair bit when you hit one of the seams in the road that seem to be everywhere in Sydney between two uneven road surfaces.

    Anyway I set out to search for someone, anyone that thought the same. There doesn't seem to be many. In fact people were taking the shocks out of 08 Ninja's and retrofitting them to older Ninjas as an upgrade to that models supposedly mushy and bad suspension.


    But then I found this:

    Brian again: The older bikes ride better for daily road use. They are FAR more comfortable. Even at 240lbs, I think the '08 suspension is stiff and unforgiving. It's the biggest complaint I have about the bike. Of course, that does make it better, in stock trim, for track duty. Knowing what I know right now, I'd never buy an '08+ for street duty. Track use, sure. Of course, it helps to not be hung up on aesthetics.


    So I got a bit of confidence from that that I might not be wrong about the bikes suspension and I went out and bought myself a shock off an older Ninja (70 bucks off ebay) and fitted it to my bike. Fairly easy procedure if you have a mate to help you out with it.

    What did it do to the handling? I'd say it improved at least 100%. I can now ride the bike at speed over things I would be grimacing about riding over before. It just soaks it up with no complaints at all. The bike doesn't buck anywhere near as much and instead of looking at the road surface and dodging the bumps I can look ahead and enjoy the ride.

    Around corners the bike holds it's line far better now I reckon and doesn't get unsettled by bumps.

    The end result it my confidence in riding the bike has increased a lot.

    Cons? Because the suspension is softer there is some movement forward when braking, changing gears at low speed that wasn't there previously. Ideally I'd like to stiffen things up slightly to remove that but the other benefits make this change still well worth it. I'm thinking of using the older shocks spring in on the 08 shock (which has preload). I'd be interested in peoples thoughts on this mod and whether they think this would help with stabilising things under braking a little more?

    Oh yeah and one question people might ask, weight wise I'm on the lighter end of the scale at around 72 kilos (was near 80 when I got the bike though) ... I still would think that even if you had a good 15 kilos on me you'd likely still see a dramatic improvement in the handling (as Brian said up above).

    Hopefully this post might inspire some other people to give this mod a go because out of all the mods I've done to the bike (exhaust, tyres (sport demons), stainless brake line) I'd rank this as #1 for improving the bike.