• 2002 Kawasaki Ninja 500

    In August 2004, my husband announced he was ready to get a bike. The next day, I signed us up for the MSF class. Yes, us. I have always wanted to ride, but never quite seemed the right time, but we were ready. We had to wait two months for the class, so I had plenty of time to do the research. I knew I wanted a sport bike or something similar. No cruisers for me. I browsed around the former beginner biker site and poured over the bike reviews. I had it narrowed down to the three popular choices: the Ninja 250 or 500 and the GS500E or GS500F. I visited local dealers A LOT. I didn’t have much luck finding the Kawasaki’s, but saw one of the Suzuki’s. The Suzuki was basically brand new, though, and I didn’t want to have the thought in my mind about scratching up all that shiny, new plastic called fairings. Although beautiful, it was too much for me to worry about. On October 29, 2004, a local dealer called me to let me know they had one of the bikes I placed on their wish list. Although I knew he was a salesman, there was a certain excitement and urgency in his voice that I really needed to see the condition of this red 2002 Ninja 500 with 1670 miles on it. I couldn’t get down to the dealer until the next day, but as soon as I saw it, my husband recognized the longing look immediately – only this time it was over a motorcycle. We left a couple of hours later – but not until we left a deposit on the bike. A friend of ours rode it home a couple of days later for us since we had yet to take our MSF class. He is a Harley rider, but his first words upon arrival at our house: “You are going to have a blast on this bike. It’s a lot of fun, even for this old guy with back problems.”

    "Then" pic:

    He was not wrong. I rode my Ninja in our cul-de-sac for 2 months – 40 miles of big circles and short little jaunts around the neighborhood. The very first time I pulled it out of the garage was the very first time being on a motorcycle. I quickly overcame the “wow, this is how big a bike feels like when you are actually on it” fear. The friction zone was very easy to figure out, even for someone who had never heard of the term. My circles were VERY big and my throttle was ugly, but the Ninja always took care of me; it was very forgiving of my rides up little curbs and mailbox near-miss(es) from bad throttle control. That bad throttle control didn’t cost me any mailboxes or neighbors thanks to the Ninja.

    Once I passed MSF and graduated from big circles, the emergency braking practice was effortless. I would tear up our neighborhood street into our cul-de-sac and practice the emergency braking. The Ninja handles very well, even with a little too much brake lever input.

    With this forgiving attitude of the Ninja, does it get boring? The Ninja craves to be ran up into the higher RPMs. Redline is 13-14K. You make the call. Live near twisties? Fogedaboutit. You and the Ninja will bond within seconds. Running the Ninja through the mountains is one of the finer things in life.

    Can the Ninja handle longer trips? I’ve done a 250-mile day with the Ninja. Add some soft luggage (I have Tourmaster Cortech tailbag and saddlebags) and the Ninja is ready! At about 75 mph, it gets a little more vibration than I would like, but still tolerable. It’s not meant to be a sport tourer, but I would do another 250-mile day any time.

    What would I change about the Ninja, you ask? The stock seat. I had a hard time completing my 35-mile commute without some pain. I now have a Corbin seat and it has made a huge difference in my tolerance for riding longer distances.

    To be nitpicky, I wish it had a clock.

    You can’t go wrong with the Ninja. To quote our friend again: “You are going to have a blast on this bike.”

    Now pic:
    This article was originally published in forum thread: 2002 Kawasaki Ninja 500 started by Missy B View original post
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