Shoosh Engine, Don’t Cry! The APE Racing MCCT Will Soothe You!

The Dilemma

Since day one, my 2005 Suzuki GSX-R1000 has had a bothersome top end rattle, even when it had low miles. After a few years and 26,000 miles later, the rattle seemed to get worse. I checked valve clearances twice (once at 17,000 and again at 26,000) and all clearances were in spec. I knew there had to be a way to quiet the top end down, so I asked around.

Most of the mechanically inclined friends I spoke to said it’s rare for cam chain tensioners to go bad and I should just try to push the stock tensioner out a click to see if that worked. I tried this. No change. Though I respected their opinion, I was convinced there had to be a better solution.

Not too long ago, a friend brought a 2005 Suzuki GSX-R1000 engine to me to rebuild after it started knocking at a race. Two of the bottom connecting rod bearings had spun out after just six laps. I rebuilt the engine and noticed it was equipped with a manual cam chain tensioner. I had never used one before and really had no clue what the advantages were so I started doing some research.

Automatic CCT’s vs. Hydraulic CCT’s

What I found out is the automatic cam chain tensioners that come stock with a Suzuki motorcycle (for example) have a ratchet type mechanism that holds the push rod of the tensioner to the cam chain guide and maintains tension. But after continued high r.p.m. use, it is possible for this ratchet mechanism to weaken and thus dull or wear the teeth on the push rod. This can cause the tensioner to slip which creates noise or worse, inflicts damage.

On the flip side, hydraulic tensioners use oil pressure to determine how much pressure to put on the cam chain guide and cam chain. These types of tensioners actually have a tendency to put too much tension on the chain guide under high r.p.m.s or high oil pressure conditions like during start-up. This could result in premature wear of the cam chain guide and other components, per APE Racing. Additionally, if there is any foaming of the oil or the engine loses oil pressure, this can also cause the cams to go temporarily out of time and you’re back in the same boat you would be in with a faulty automatic cam chain tensioner. The

APE Racing Manual Cam Chain Tensioner

Per Ape Racing: “The easy-access socket head adjuster screw is perfect for tight spaces. The interior o-ring design ensures that repeated adjustments will not eventually flatten the o-ring against a jam nut.”

Per Ape Racing: “The easy-access socket head adjuster screw is perfect for tight spaces. The interior o-ring design ensures that repeated adjustments will not eventually flatten the o-ring against a jam nut.”

I found the APE Racing Parts website online and starting reading about the manual cam chain tensioner (or MCCT for short). The MCCT is designed for the racer who frequently adjusts or makes changes to their engine, per APE Racing. This means the MCCT will have to be adjusted every oil change, but I believe a happy, humming engine is worth it. APE Racing’s MCCT can eliminate the possibility of the tensioner being too loose or too tight as the mechanic can set the tension himself (or herself). The tension will remain the same, regardless of oil pressure or r.p.m’s. What does this mean? The possibility of engine damage goes down dramatically and the engine runs much quieter with better performance.

As APE Racing MCCT’s are CNC machined from billet alloy to exact tolerances, they fit perfectly to the gasket surface of the engine with no modifications needed. This makes for a quick install with little hassle. After reading this information on APE Racing’s website, I was convinced the MCCT was the answer I’d been looking for.

The Install

The part number of the MCCT I received was ST1000-3-PRO. I know this one works on more than just one year/model GSX-R. Click here to see what models APE Racing currently make manual cam chain tensioners for. I did appreciate, though, how they had a link to the “how-to” page right on the packaging. And I know this is going to sound really girly, but I love the color of this tensioner too!

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I removed the valve cover and made sure the engine was on TDC or top dead center where the cam chain is at it’s slackest point. I checked to make sure the timing marks on the crank shaft were correct and lined up. I also checked the position of the intake and exhaust cam sprockets and marked them with a paint pen (both on the chain and on the sprocket itself) in case I needed to reset time for any reason.

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I removed the original, stock tensioner and placed it in a baggy.

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It should be noted that I removed the oil feed to the tensioner body and placed it in the baggy as well. The APE Racing MCCT will not install correctly if this oil feed nozzle is not removed.

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I then cleaned the gasket surface at the CCT opening.

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I loosened the jam nut on the MCCT and pulled the tensioner push rod all the way back up against the body. It’s best to do this when on installation to prevent the cams from jumping time as it would be prematurely set too tight.

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I installed the gasket to the MCCT body.

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I installed the MCCT, tightening down the body first and torque-ing the two body bolts to about 16 ft. lbs.

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I screwed in the tensioner foot or push rod while turning the engine clockwise slowly until I felt resistance against the cam chain guide. I must note it was really difficult to feel where the best stopping point was, so I screwed the push rod in until it nearly stopped, then backed it out half a turn. I turned the motor clock wise at the crank shaft and checked the cam chain tension. It should have had a 1/4’’ deflection but it was extremely tight, so I loosened the tensioner another half turn, tightened the jam nut and turned the engine clock wise again. I checked the chain tension and my timing marks and everything was spot on!

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Done and ready to start!

Done and ready to start!

 “APE'S Pro Series tensioner features an internal O-ring and custom-machined adjuster bolt. The bolt is broached with a 4mm hex.”

“APE’S Pro Series tensioner features an internal O-ring and custom-machined adjuster bolt. The bolt is broached with a 4mm hex.”

Conclusion

Before I put the bike back together, I also installed NGK iridium spark plugs and swapped out the coolant. On start up, it purred like a kitten. It literally sounded like a completely different bike. All the top end rattle was absent. It was so quiet! I was so impressed at how quick and efficient the install was and how much of a difference it made! I was not expecting such a drastic change. The APE Racing MCCT really is an amazing, simple solution to an annoying problem. I highly recommend it to anyone who doesn’t mind spending extra time working on their bikes.

More about APE Racing’s MCCT

The APE Racing MCCT is available with the bolts and gasket included and is available at an m.s.r.p. of $51.65 for standard model tensioners and $89.95 for pro series tensioners.

Take a look at this detailed video on how to install the APE Racing manual cam chain tensioner on a 2005 Suzuki GSX-R1000.

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Part 3 of Project Ninja Turtle: 300R Handlebar Conversion

If you’re going to build a streetfighter, especially a Ninja streetfighter, you need to have a bad ass handlebar that instills fear into the enemy the way a policeman’s nightstick makes a purse snatcher pee his pants. You have to be able to throw your elbows up and muscle your bike into corners and slides the way a matador grabs a bull by the horns.

To do that, you need a tough handlebar that makes you forget about the wimpy, stock risers the bike came with. These risers are basically a Steve Urkel version of what a handlebar would be if it wasn’t made by Renthal. The Renthal “Street-Fighter” bar is perfect for transforming the 300R into the streetfighter who can Hoo-doo-kin! his competition to tears.

We approached Renthal with the idea of building the Ninja Turtle and of course they were on board. Who doesn’t want to see David beat Goliath? Thanks to Renthal, we were able to acquire the “Street-Fighter” handlebar so you could see first hand how we did a seemingly impossible task in a just a few hours.

The Transformation

The stock handlebar risers had to go. Riding a 300 with these is like watching a T-Rex make a bed. Just sad.

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We used KX250F OE handlebar clamps to fit the Renthal Street-Fighter handlebar to the Ninja 300R’s stock upper triple.

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First thing’s first. To remove the stock handlebars, we had to first remove the left and right hand handlebar switches, the brake lever, perch and throttle grip.

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To keep track of the screws for the switches, we left them in the switch assemblies.

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Since the bar end had never been removed before, we tried to remove it using an impact, but eventually had to turn to the torch to get it off. Say bye bye bar ends!

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We removed the clutch lever, perch and left side switch.

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Lastly, we used compressed air to remove the left side grip.

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With everything removed from the risers, we were able to take them off by removing two bolts on each side.

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Now that the upper triple was bare, we finally had to chance to figure out how to install the Street-Fighter handlebar without weakening the triple.

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We decided the best way to do it would be to use the upper two holes that were already there for the risers. This way, the Street-Fighter handlebar would be centered on the upper triple and we wouldn’t have to drill any extraneous holes.

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Next we removed the steering stem nut and loosened the upper triple fork clamp bolts. Please note that to remove the triple, you have to turn the forks to the side to allow the ignition switch to clear the steering neck.

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The bummer was even though the triple was free of the forks, the ignition switch was still connected. The ignition switch connector is located underneath the gas tank, so we had to remove the tank to disconnect the switch and remove the upper triple.

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We used a mill to drill the holes for KX250F bottom clamps into the 300’s upper triple. Unfortunately, the mill doesn’t come with a jig for these sorts of things, so we had to make one.

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The bolts attached to the KX250F bottom clamps measured at .470’’, so we matched a 15/32’’ drill bit to that size for a precise fit between the clamp and upper triple.

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Watching the mill do its work was as entertaining as seeing a shoe hit George W. Bush in the head. We loved it.

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As you can see, our measuring paid off. A perfect fit!

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Now for the other side…

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With the bolt holes drilled, we de burred the edges with a de burring tool – A classic machinist’s trick for a clean finish.

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After we installed the clamps, we noticed the bolts were too long. In most other cases a long bolt would be considered an endowment, but in this case it was an impediment. How do we make it so we can tighten the clamps to the upper triple with the bolts that we have?

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Before we continued machining, we made sure that we could fit the bars to the clamps with the holes that we drilled and still clear the ignition switch.

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Luck is on our side. Our machinist happened to have an extra piece of stainless steel we could use to make spacers for the bottom clamp bolts. Using a lathe, we peened a hole into the steel so when we connect the drill bit, it can drill a hole to just exceed the diameter of the bottom clamp bolt.

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After a little sharpening, we installed the drill bit into the lathe and drilled a hole into the steel deep enough to match the length of the spacers we needed.

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We measured the sections of steel and cut the spacers to our desired length.

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Once the two spacers were cut, they’d take some fine tuning to clean up the finish.

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Using a belt sander, we cut a notch into each spacer so they’d clear the bolt holes for the wire/cable routing brackets on the under side of the upper triple.

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See! Perfect fit! Now we can tighten the clamps.

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Before re-installing the Street-Fighter bar and upper triple to the forks, we had to install the bar to the triple off the bike and tighten the clamps to make sure they were straight.

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We installed the upper triple with the handlebar on the forks and had originally thought about cutting the Street-Fighter bar shorter, but after comparing the length of the stock handlebars to the Street Fighter bar, we determined that the length was the same. We needed all the room we could get to reinstall the levers, grips and switch assemblies.

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Next we had to drill holes in the Street-Fighter bar in order to reinstall the switch assemblies. We were able to measure the exact length and spot where the holes needed to be to reinstall the switches just as they were before.

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We removed the handlebar and used a center punch to punch a divot into the bar for the drill bit. If you don’t do this, it will walk around the drilling surface and do more damage than good.

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Using a drill press, we drilled the holes we needed into the Street-Fighter bar. We had to sharpen the bits, as the bar’s hard exterior was putting up quite the fight.

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With all the machining complete, we reinstalled the Street-Fighter bar and put the bike back together. It came out so awesome! The handlebar install is so clean it looks stock, with the exception of the open holes in the upper triple, but we can fix that later.

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Just one hiccup. We had to reroute wiring and cables to get the switches and levers to fit with the new handlebar. Unfortunately, our Ninja Turtle is an ABS unit, which presented quite an issue with the front brake hose. It was way too short. We tried to route the hose behind the triple, but with a few turns of the handlebar, the hose was already cut from being pinched against the plastics and it was also binding behind the triple. We’d play with it for the rest of the day, but it became evident this is going to take some research. Stay tuned to see how we resolve the brake issue.

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What’s Next for the Ninja Turtle?

Unfortunately, we are left with a few minor problems after installing the handlebar. With the brake hose from the front master cylinder to the ABS unit being too short, we’ll need to find a longer brake line that will not only work with the ABS, but be long enough to reach the master cylinder while being safely routed with no danger of binding or tearing. In short, the Ninja Turtle needs different brakes.

Also, we’re now on a mission to find a set of bar end mirrors that can be adapted to fit inside the Street-Fighter bar’s uniquely smaller interior.

A Little About the Renthal “Street-Fighter” Handlebar

se-road-1The “Street-Fighter” handlebar (part # 789-02) is a new bar by Renthal that is designed with a bend specifically designed for street bikes and equipped with a cross brace and bar pad for a dirt-bike look and feel. The handlebar has a 7/8’’ or 22mm external diameter and fits most standard clamps and controls.

The Street-Fighter handlebar has a shot peened finish in an effort to prevent breakage or failure due to fatigue. The bar is made from 7010 T6 Aluminium, a developed alloy specifically used by Renthal to manufacture handlebars. This high-impact material has the strength of Edward’s diamond skin, which was evident when trying to drill holes for the handlebars switches. The strong material of the Street-Fighter bar is as durable as it is thick to provide some serious dampening against vibration.

The bar also has other features that are beneficial to the rider. The left side of the handlebar is knurled on the grip end to better adhere the clutch-side rubber grip to the bar surface. At the center of the handlebar is a laser etched positioning grid which really helped us to position the bar where we needed once the job was done.

List of Mods So Far

Competition Werkes GP slip-on exhaust, Competition Werkes Fender eliminator kit, Renthal 7/8’’ Street-Fighter handlebar with KX250F handlebar clamps and custom machined spacers, rreen adjustable levers (from China)

Special Thank You to Sam Rothschild

196178_3089152122493_1530828056_nWe couldn’t do this installation with the tools we had in our garage, so we had to take the Ninja Turtle to “Sam’s Man Cave,” a code name for the extremely well equipped domicile of our brother-in-law, Sam Rothschild.

Sam races an H4 Honda CR-X with Southern California NASA or National Auto Sport Association at tracks like ButtonWillow and California Speedway and he turns lap times most motorcycle road racers only dream of. He is also a driving instructor for NASA Pro Racing. Sam finished 5th in points out of 18 racers for the 2013 season.

Sam is not only a driver, but he is also a very gifted machinist and fabricator. The guy even makes his own wiring harnesses for crying out loud! He also made a custom stunt cage for our 2010 Kawasaki ZX-6R. We’re very grateful to Sam for his help with all the random projects we drop in his lap. Of course, bringing a case of beer always helps to make up for the time we take him away from his race car. Thank you!

If you’d like to see Sam drive, click here.

Competition Werkes Fender Eliminator Kit for the 2013 Ninja 300R

Whenever I purchase a new motorcycle, the first thing to be removed is the kite of a mud flap hanging off the rear end. It’s unsightly, ungodly and just unacceptable. My favorite thing about riding sportbikes has always been chasing tail (no pun intended) and it wouldn’t be any fun if that tail were bigger than mine, catch my drift? So naturally, that legal, DOT compliant fender has got to go. No streetfighter of mine is going to be stuck with excess plastic.

This is why we chose to install the Competition Werkes fender eliminator kit to return the tail section to the high and tight look it was meant to have before it was tainted with an awning meanwhile remaining street legal with a license plate light and turn signals. There you go California. I haven’t completely disregarded the rules. And it only took an hour to install.

Interested in getting one for yourself? They pay attention pupils because we’re about to give you a lesson in mechanic-in.

Step 1:

Make sure you have all the necessary hardware to complete the task.

The packages should contain the license plate bracket, license plate light, short stalk turn signals and all the necessary hardware to install.

The packages should contain the license plate bracket, license plate light, short stalk turn signals and all the necessary hardware to install.

Step 2:

Remove and passenger seat and flip up the tray underneath to expose the four bolts holding the mud flap assembly and three wires routed to the turn signals and license plate light. Cut these three wires with a pair of cutters and remove the bolts with a 5mm allen socket or T-handle. Pull away the stock mud flap assembly.

The bolts and wires are located just underneath this flip-up tray.

The bolts and wires are located just underneath this flip-up tray.

Cut these wires and remove bolts with a 5mm allen.

Cut these wires and remove bolts with a 5mm allen.

Here is what the 5mm allen bolts look like from the under side (just underneath the tray). They should come out fairly easily.

Here is what the 5mm allen bolts look like from the under side (just underneath the tray). They should come out fairly easily.

Step 3:

Adhere the license plate light to underside of the top of the license plate holder and route the wires up through the center of the slot.

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Step 4:

Take the zip tie provided in the package and loop through the center hole of the license plate holder from the back as shown.

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Step 5:

Retrieve the two second to longest bolts from the package. I found it easier to loosely install the turn signals and turn signal brackets to the license plate holder before installing the holder to the tail section but of course, this can wait until later.

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Step 6:

Route the wires from each turn signal through the zip tie on the back of the license plate holder and then route the wires up through the center grommet and into the tail section.

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Step 7:

Retrieve the four longest bolts from the package along with four washers and nuts. Install license plate holder to the tail section.

I installed the bolts nuts-up (lol) in the tail and I used a 10mm T-wrench and 4mm allen to install all four nuts and bolts.

I installed the bolts nuts-up (lol) in the tail and I used a 10mm T-wrench and 4mm allen to install all four nuts and bolts.

I loved how the license plate holder had holes to slip the T-allen wrench through in order to tighten the mounting bolts. Installation would have been a pain without them. Remember! Appreciate the little things!

I loved how the license plate holder had holes to slip the T-allen wrench through in order to tighten the mounting bolts. Installation would have been a pain without them. Remember! Appreciate the little things!

Step 8:

Adjust and tighten the turn signals so they’re facing level.

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Step 9:

Use the splice connectors provided to connect the turn signals to the previously cut wires. Note the sleeve with the black wire and white wire is for the license plate light. It may take a few attempts to connect the turn signals correctly, however, as both wires for each side are black and it is difficult to tell which side goes to which. Don’t worry though. You can turn the key on and hit the turn signal switch to verify both sides are blinking correctly.

Tip: I used pliers to squeeze the splice connectors onto the wires due to my lack of upper body strength. Hey, work smarter not harder!

Tip: I used pliers to squeeze the splice connectors onto the wires due to my lack of upper body strength. Hey, work smarter not harder!

Step 10:

Hook up the license plate light. I had to cut the spades that were originally crimped to the wires and strip the wires to crimp new spades. I didn’t use the ones in the package because they’re a one-time, permanent-type of connector and I want to be able to unhook the running lights if I need to.

I used a set of wire crimpers to crimp on a set of automotive-style spades. You can find these at any auto parts store.

I used a set of wire crimpers to crimp on a set of automotive-style spades. You can find these at any auto parts store.

This is the end result. It takes more time, but it's worth it to have options.

This is the end result. It takes more time, but it’s worth it to have options.

Step 11:

Tuck the wires to the side so you can close the tray above them. I wrapped the wires with electrical tape and secured them to the subframe with a zip tie to clean up the install.

I wrapped the wires in electrical tape for fear that the zip tie might eventually chaff the wiring from vibrations. Call it paranoia, but better safe than sorry.

I wrapped the wires in electrical tape for fear that the zip tie might eventually chaff the wiring from vibrations. Call it paranoia, but better safe than sorry.

Step 11:

Verify operation of all lights and install the license plate with the remaining hardware from the kit.

The license plate light is pretty potent for a couple of small LED's. Kudos to Competition Werkes on the lighting.

The license plate light is pretty potent for a couple of small LED’s. Kudos to Competition Werkes on the lighting.

Stock mud flap vs. Competition Werkes fender eliminator. Yes, Comp Werkes eliminator wins!

Stock mud flap vs. Competition Werkes fender eliminator. Yes, Comp Werkes eliminator wins!

Tools I used: 4mm allen T-wrench, 10mm and 14mm ratchet wrenches, cutters, pliers, wire crimpers (one automotive, one metric-specific)

Tools I used: 4mm allen T-wrench, 10mm and 14mm ratchet wrenches, cutters, pliers, wire crimpers (one automotive, one metric-specific) and electrical tape

The Competition Werkes fender eliminator kit for the 2013-2014 Ninja 300R includes the CNC laser cut license plate holder made from 304 stainless steel as well as short stalk turn signals and an LED license light. The entire kit is feather light compared to the heavy weight mud flap the bike is equipped with at the factory. You can purchase this kit from any Competition Werkes dealer at an m.s.r.p. of $119.95.

Competition Werkes is an aftermarket motorcycle accessories and parts company that has been producing fender eliminator kits, exhausts and parts for motorcycles since 1984. To find out more about their products, click here.

Here is how the Ninja Turtle looks with the Competition Werkes exhaust and fender eliminator kit installed. Stay tuned as the transformation resumes!

Here is how the Ninja Turtle looks with the Competition Werkes exhaust and fender eliminator kit installed. Stay tuned as the transformation resumes!

Competition Werkes GP Slip-On Exhaust System for the Ninja 300R

There is nothing like the rumble of an aftermarket exhaust while decelerating into a corner. If you’re going to build a streetfighter, you need a sound to match the look; something that gives the bike a loud, in-your-face persona and  makes people stare as you ride down the street.

In 2013, Competition Werkes developed the GP shorty slip-on exhaust system for the Ninja 300 that transforms the bike’s passive thrum into a race bike’s growl. The system produces a little more bottom end grunt to gives you a snappier feel at the throttle and leaves an inevitable grin on your face.

The system is hand crafted from 304 stainless steel and has a tapered baffle for “improved performance and advanced tuning.” The canister is small and compact giving the bike a lighter, tighter feel without sacrificing styling. We installed the stainless steel GP system on our Ninja 300R Streetfighter project bike and here’s how we did it.

Step 1:

Make sure you have all the hardware and clamps needed to install the system.

The GP exhaust system comes with the muffler, high shield, 4mm allen bolt, pipe clamp and sticker.

The GP exhaust system comes with the muffler, high shield, 4mm allen bolt, pipe clamp and sticker.

Step 2:

To remove the heat shield from the stock exhaust can, remove the 5mm allen bolt and the clamp on the mid pipe with a Phillips screwdriver.

Remove the 5mm allen bolt.

Remove the 5mm allen bolt.

Loosen the bottom clamp with the Phillips screwdriver.

Loosen the bottom clamp with the Phillips screwdriver.

Step 3:

Pull the bottom clamp on the mid pipe down or toward the front of the motorcycle, then pull the heat shield toward the front of the motorcycle to remove it.

Pull the bottom hose clamp down the mid pipe, then slide the heat shield forward (toward the front of the bike) to remove it.

Pull the bottom hose clamp down the mid pipe, then slide the heat shield forward (toward the front of the bike) to remove it.

Step 4:

To remove the stock exhaust can, loosen the clamp around the muffler with a 12mm socket or T-handle.

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Step 5:

Remove the 14mm bolt and nut from the rear set.

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Step 6:

Pull the exhaust toward the rear of the motorcycle.

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Notice how the stock exhaust has a muffler gasket while the Werkes USA exhaust does not. This is because the Werkes USA exhaust muffler slides forward onto the midpipe until the bolt hole for the heat shield is just forward of the rear set heel guard bolts. The Werkes USA exhaust does not need an exhaust gasket!

Stock (left), Werkes USA (right)

Stock (left), Werkes USA (right)

Step 7:

Remember to slide the Werkes USA clamp onto the mid pipe before sliding on the Werkes USA canister onto the midpipe.

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Put a rag over the swing arm to avoid scratching or denting the Werkes USA canister while wiggling or sliding it over the mid pipe. Note: It is a tight fit, so it takes a little body English.

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Clean the Werkes USA exhaust thoroughly on the outside with WD-40 or comparable cleaning substance to avoid discoloring the canister after starting the motorcycle.

Step 8:

Tighten the hose clamp. Install the new stainless steel heat shield with the 4mm allen bolt provided.

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Final Step:

Make sure you clean the outside of the pipe with WD-40 or a comparable product before running the motorcycle to avoid discoloration.

Start and enjoy.

Tools I used: 3/8’’ ratchet with 14mm and 12mm sockets, Phillips screwdriver, 12mm T-handle, 14mm wrench 4mm/5mm T-allen wrenches

Tools I used: 3/8’’ ratchet with 14mm and 12mm sockets, Phillips screwdriver, 12mm T-handle, 14mm wrench
4mm/5mm T-allen wrenches

We put each exhaust system (both stock and the Werkes USA muffler) on the scale. The stock exhaust weighs 17.5 lbs. while the Werkes U.S.A. exhaust weighs 2.5 lbs. This is a total weight savings of 15 pounds!

We put each exhaust system (both stock and the Werkes USA muffler) on the scale. The stock exhaust weighs 17.5 lbs. while the Werkes U.S.A. exhaust weighs 2.5 lbs.
This is a total weight savings of 15 pounds!

You can purchase the GP slip-on exhaust for an m.s.r.p. of $399.95. The exhaust is also available in Carbon Fiber, Cobra Black, Cobalt Black, Tungsten, Titanium, Mag Silver, Satin Silver and Gold for $100 more, as well as Black Velvet for $50 more. The install takes roughly ten minutes and is very easy. With the Competition Werkes GP exhaust, you’ll be where on your way to a lighter, faster and better-sounding machine in no time!

Competition Werkes is an aftermarket motorcycle accessories and parts company that has been producing fender eliminator kits, exhausts and much more for motorcycles since 1984. To find out more about their products, click here.

How much oil is the right amount?

Pay special attention to the fill line. You should be able to see the oil level in the window.

Pay special attention to the fill line. You should be able to see the oil level in the window.

Recently, I’ve come across a few bikes in my garage where the right amount of oil has made the difference between a cheap repair and a major one.

I just want to remind you if you do perform your own maintenance, to pay careful attention to the amount of oil you’re putting inside your engine.

For racers: Depending on the type of racing you’re doing, sometimes more oil is recommended to prolong the life of your engine. If you’re racing sidecars and are running oil baffles, it’s good to run a quart or more over the usual amount to make sure you don’t starve your bottom end (crankshaft and connecting rods) for oil. This may seem like you’re going against the grain, but the added oil ensures the extra lubrication reaches the connecting rod and crankshaft bearings under high rev scenarios like hard first gear take-off’s, high rev drives into corners and extended time in the higher r.p.m.’s in the straights. When you’re racing, it doesn’t take much to spin a bearing, so in your case remember “lube is your friend.”

For street riders: Your sight window on the clutch cover is your assurance that the right amount of oil is in your engine. If you’re can’t see the top of the oil level in the window, you have too much oil in the engine. Don’t fret though, because you can simply unscrew the drain bolt enough to drain the excess oil if you go over the recommended limit. Make sure to let the engine cool first, as the oil will be hot.

Also, if your motor utilizes a screw-in type oil dip stick, make sure to screw in the dip stick until it seats into the case, then unscrew it to check the oil. If you merely touch the top of the dip stick to the case without screwing it in, you may think the motor has enough oil if it reaches the full line, but you could in fact, be over.

Lastly, don’t forget to let the bike idle for two to three minutes after an oil change. Once the bike is warm, let it sit for another two to three minutes, then check the oil level again to add or take away as necessary.

Excerpt from the 2010 Kawasaki ZX-6R service manual.

Excerpt from the 2010 Kawasaki ZX-6R service manual.

These simple details can mean the difference between a happy engine and a complete top end rebuild. If you over fill the oil, the pressure from the excess oil could force it’s way past the piston rings into the cylinder, causing the spark plugs to foul and the engine to lose compression or power. In which case, you’d have to remove the top end and repair the damage, which could require several hours of expensive labor time. If you have over filled the oil, you will see blue smoke coming out of the tail pipe. This is a bad sign. The sooner you catch the mistake, the better.

I recommend purchasing the service manual for your motorcycle if you plan to do your own maintenance. It has a wealth of information and as long as you follow it, you can stave off the high costs of a mechanic.

Oil Change and Chain Maintenance on a 2010 Kawasaki ZX-6R

Our 2010 Kawasaki ZX-6R

Our 2010 Kawasaki ZX-6R

Maintaining your bike not only prolongs the life of your motorcycle, but it saves you money on parts. Since we’re doing seminars for women riders, I figured I’d clue you in on what tips and tricks we will be sharing with the ladies. We rolled our ZX-6R on the lift as an example and I will talk about how we changed the oil first, then move onto upkeep on the chain.

Part 1: Oil Change

IMG_1152Tools and Supplies I used:

funnel

enclosed oil pan with mesh cover

rags

contact cleaner

black sharpie marker

4mm T-Allen Wrench

10mm box end wrench

cutters (for the zip tie on the bottom of the fairing)

8mm T-handle

3/8’’ ratchet, extension

3/8’’ 17mm socket

3/8’’ inch-pound Craftsman torque wrench

small screw driver

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In your owner’s manual, there are instructions on how to change the oil, as well as what type of oil and filter to use. You can find this for the ZX-6R on pages 100 to 105. It even includes torque specs! The owner’s manual calls for approximately 3.8 quarts of SAE 10W-40 oil.

The owner’s manual also states to get your first oil change at 600 miles, as well as each maintenance interval thereafter. You should have a happy and healthy engine as long as you change the oil every 2,500 to 3,000 miles.

2010 Kawasaki ZX-6R owner's manual pages

2010 Kawasaki ZX-6R owner’s manual pages

If you do purchase the factory service manual for your bike, the instructions and specifications regarding changing the oil can be located on pages 2-55 and 2-56.

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Excerpt from the 2010 Kawasaki ZX-6R service manual.

Excerpt from the 2010 Kawasaki ZX-6R service manual.

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For this oil change, we used roughly four quarts of Kawasaki Performance Oils SAE 10W-40 petroleum based oil, as well as a KN-303 K&N oil filter. I like using the K&N oil filter because there is a little knob in the center in the shape of a bolt head which is easily tightened and loosened with a ratchet and socket. This prevents the mess of having to wedge the filter loose with a screwdriver or a pipe-style wrench.
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The first thing we did was remove the lower, left side cowling. This requires the removal of four bolts and two pop-clip rivets.

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The larger pop-clip rivet is underneath the cowling, but since we lost ours, we used a pair of cutters to remove the zip tie.

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The other smaller pop-clip rivet is located just inside the lower cowling, behind the front wheel. You can press this loose with the T-allen you used to remove the cowling bolts.

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To pull the fairing out, lift the cowling up and out as there are two tabs (ours is missing one) at the top of the cowling and you might break them if you attempt to pull the cowling downward.

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Be sure to clean any road grime off the bottom of the engine, as well as the area under the bike before you drain the oil. This will help you to better see any leaks when you put everything back together.

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With the cowling off, you can now see the oil drain bolt. Use the ratchet and socket to remove it. Remember, lefty-loosy. Only loosen the drain bolt about one turn, then slip the oil pan underneath before removing it all the way. You may need to lift up the bike on a rear stand. We used a pit bull stand.

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Here is an example of a drain bolt that was over tightened during the last oil change. The crush washer is frozen onto the bolt. If you can’t get it off, you’ll have to replace the drain bolt. If you put the drain bolt back on with the frozen crush washer, oil is more likely to leak from the bolt when it is re-torqued.

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Another possible hazard of over tightening the drain bolt could result in stripping the threads in the oil pan. If this were to happen, once you got the drain bolt back out, you have to install a heli coil to repair the threads, which means the oil pan would have to be removed.

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Here is the bolt with a new crush washer. Technically, the crush washer should be replaced with each oil change to be on the safe side, but if there is no visible damage to the washer, you can get away with re-using it.

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Let the oil drain for about twenty minutes, then remove the oil filter.

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Re-torque the drain bolt at 17 foot pounds with a torque wrench.

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The oil filter is located in the center of the engine on the left side of the motorcycle. This is a pain, as it can be a mess to remove the filter. To avoid unnecessary oil dripping down the case, start by removing the shift linkage. Make a mark on the shift shaft so you can return the shift lever to it’s original position when you put the shift linkage back on.

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Remove the 10mm bolt.

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Remove the shift linkage. Screw the 10mm bolt back into the linkage to avoid losing it.

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Remove the speed sensor with an 8mm T-Allen. Pull the sensor away and tuck someplace out of the way.
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Remove four (4) 8mm bolts from the countershaft sprocket cover then remove the cover.

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Turning the cover over, you can see there is plenty of road grime that has gathered inside, now would be a good time to clean it with some contact cleaner and a rag.

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Place a funnel underneath the scoop just underneath the filter.

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Make sure the funnel is positioned so the oil will drain into the pan.

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Unscrew the filter and let it sit in the funnel. Chase out the remaining oil with contact cleaner.

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Apply oil or grease to the O-ring of the new oil filter. You can use the old dirty oil or the new oil, as you’re simply applying the oil to improve the seal to the engine casing.

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Remove the old oil filter and funnel and screw in the new filter. Tighten by hand until you can’t tighten it anymore, then tighten it with the ratchet and socket about 1/4 to 3/4 turns until it’s snug.

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Re-install the countershaft sprocket cover. Make sure the two dowel pins are in the cover.

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Press it in with the front side tucked behind the radiator hoses first so that it will clear the frame. Make sure the dowel pins sit flush against the case surface.

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Install the longest bolt on the top, left-hand corner of the cover. Remember the smaller the bolt, the smaller the torque, so make sure not to over tighten them.

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Re-install the shift linkage, being careful to line up the mark on the shift shaft with the opening in the linkage. Reinstall the 10mm bolt. Keep in mind the 10mm bolt must be removed to install the linkage onto the shift shaft.

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Let the old oil filter drain into the drain pan before disposing of it.

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Tip: Dump your used oil into a container like an old milk or cat litter jug. This makes transport much easier when getting rid of the oil. You can take your used oil to any auto parts store and they will dispose of it for free.

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Now you’re ready to start adding oil. Remove the oil fill plug. Make sure the O-ring is in good condition. The oil fill plug is located on the clutch cover on the right side of the engine.

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The sight window for viewing the oil level is on the lower section of the clutch cover just in front of the rear set. Here is an expanded view.

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Tip: Only add half a quart, then check for leaks. You may have forgotten to torque the drain bolt or oil filter. It’s better to only lose some oil instead of all of it. Also, don’t forget to remove the rear stand for a more accurate reading on the oil level. Poor oil down the funnel until the oil level reaches the top line or ‘F’ (full) mark in the sight window. Make sure not to poor too much in at once, as it might burp back at you.

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Replace the oil fill plug and let the bike run for a few minutes to cycle the oil in the engine. Turn the engine off and let the bike sit for a minute. Most likely, the oil level will have dropped. Top off the oil as needed to reach the ‘F’ mark.

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***DO NOT OVER FILL THE ENGINE. IT CAN CAUSE SEVERE ENGINE DAMAGE.***

If you do in fact over fill on oil and no level is visible in the sight window, you can loosen the drain plug and drain the excess oil into the oil pan. Do this as soon as you’re aware of the possible mistake to avoid hurting the engine.

IMG_1264Part 2: Chain Adjustment, Cleaning and Lubing

Tools I used

Mallet

Digital metric/standard caliper

cutters

Two 12mm box end wrenches

Screwdriver

1/2’’ torque wrench

breaker bar

32mm socket

WD-40

Motul Chain Lube

Tip: You can do your chain maintenance while waiting for the oil to drain to save time.

Place the bike on a rear stand.

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Remove the cotter pin with a pair of cutters.

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Loosen the axle nut. On the ZX-6R, use a 32mm socket and breaker bar to loosen the nut. You do not need to remove it. Remember to push the breaker bar down toward the floor to avoid lifting the bike off the rear stand.

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Use a pair of 12mm wrenches to loosen the adjustment nuts. The nut toward the inside (up against the swingarm) is the lock nut and holds the adjuster in place. The bolt head against the spacer (where the axle rests) is the adjustment “knob” per say. Turn the bolt left and it will bring the axle forward, therefore making the chain looser. Turn the bolt right and it will push the axle backward, making the chain tighter.

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When adjusting the chain, make sure the marks on both axle spacers line up with the same notch on the swingarm on both sides! For example, if the line on the spacer lines up with the third notch back on the swingarm on the left side, make sure it rests at the third notch on the right side. You will need to adjust both sides simultaneously.

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Adjust the chain, so that you have one inch of slack or “one thumb’s worth” of movement in the chain when pushing on it. This ‘one inch’ is a safe amount of slack for general street riding.

chain adjust

Two inches of slack can be okay for track day use or racing, but only if you are a faster rider and only with a healthy or new chain. The extra inch compensates for the added suspension travel as the bike compresses and allows the swingarm to give under the strain, thus preventing possible damage to the seal behind the countershaft (front smaller) sprocket. If you see this amount of slack on a standard street bike, however, the chain needs to be tightened to one inch.

CHAIN CARE-2

Once you’ve settled on an adjustment, tighten the lock nut on the adjuster while holding the adjuster bolt with the other wrench so that it doesn’t move while tightening. Otherwise, you will have to start over.

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Place a screw driver between the chain and rear sprocket and rotate the rear tire so that the screwdriver absorbs all the tension. This helps to hold the chain in place while torque-ing the rear axle nut.

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Torque the rear axle nut to approximately 93 foot pounds with a 1/2’’ torque wrench. Remove the screw driver and check the adjustment again. If it is tighter or looser than one inch, repeat the entire process. Keep in mind that the chain will get a tad tighter when torque-ing the axle nut, so when making your adjustment, loosen the adjuster about a quarter turn after your final adjustment to compensate for the added tension when tightening.

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Line up the cotter pin hole with a breaker bar and replace the cotter pin. Warning: Never loosen a nut with a torque wrench. It can throw off the calibration, making it useless.

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Replace the cotter pin when possible. Here is an example of a worn cotter pin versus a new one.

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Insert the cotter pin with the longer leg out. You can pray it up with cutters and hit it in place with a mallet.

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Ride the bike around the block to warm up the chain.

You can clean the chain with either contact cleaner, chain cleaner or WD-40. Spray the cleaner onto a rag and use the rag to clean the chain. Do not spray the chain directly, as the cleaner can dry out the O-rings between the links. You can also use a chain brush to clean the chain instead of a rag, but I did not have one.

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Here is an example of a dirty chain versus a clean chain.

CHAIN CARE

Lube the chain. Make sure to spray between the links (where the outside face meets the inside face) on both sides of the chain, as well as the rollers in the middle. Rotate the tire for roughly ten seconds, moving across the chain with the spraying nozzle. You can do this at the rear sprocket, or at the middle between the rear tire and cowling.

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Wipe the excess lube with a rag so it doesn’t end up getting flung onto your rim.

Tip: Lube the chain every other tank of gas to get as many as 30,000 miles or more out of a chain. Check adjustment roughly every 500 miles. If you don’t have a rear stand, have a friend pull the bike over onto the kick stand while you rotate the tire for maintenance.

Tip: If the rollers rattle, the links are kinked, or you feel tight AND loose spots (when checking adjustment at different points along the chain), the chain is toast and it’s time for a new one. It is recommend you replace the chain and sprockets at the same time to prevent premature wear and to get the maximum amount of life out of your chain.

Here is a sample video of how to tell when the chain needs to be lubed. A loud chain is an unhappy chain. A quiet chain is a healthy, lubed chain.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!