First 200 Mile One-Way Ride on the Ninja 250
August 7, 2009 at 1:07 am #3256
Well, folks, I’m back intact from a 200+ mile ride from Ohio to Indiana to visit the significant other.
A lot of things were learned along the way about long-rides.
Here’s what I had to lug my junk in:
Backpack with reflective lines on it, and a field-sheer expandable tailbag.
Anything pokey or hard was put in the tailbag. Clothes and soft stuff went into the backpack.
I ended up packing too many clothes, and about 30 miles down the road, I did some re-arranging at the rest area. My back was killing me from the weight, and because there was so much junk there wasn’t room between my back and the tailbag. I threw as much as I could into the tailbag from the backpack. Much better.
The ride out was at night. Which wasn’t so bad. Traffic was light, low number of trucks. I found myself stopping every 30-40 miles, not because I needed to, but because my butt ended up hurting so much.
I ended up losing an earplug in the bathroom of a gas station in London, OH, and I didn’t have any spares. My left ear had a very noisy ride until I stopped at the Walmart in North Dayton to buy more.
Once I made it to Indiana, I rolled off onto the US-35 off-ramp from I-70, I felt an instant loss of power and the oil light light up. Huh? I look at the trip odometer, ~90 miles on it from my last top-off. Huh? I pull off. Temperature is OK. I wasn’t lugging the engine too low. Try starting again.. nothing. Hmm. Try switching to reserve. Bingo! My highway mileage is that bad?
Pull into the Loves truck stop and fill ‘er up. Now, the next leg of the trip is US-35 to Muncie. I started out fine, but quickly got into some awful fog. First the windscreen got fogged up on the inside. So I flipped up the windscreen to see. Then my glasses got fogged up. After numerous times of wiping my glasses, it seemed fruitless. And to make matters worse, US-35 between I-70 and Muncie has lots of curves. Which would have been fun during the clear day, but had drop written all over them at night, in the thick fog and with fogged up glasses. I took it really slow. Luckily, I only had one car behind me during the entire ride, and I was lucky enough to find a church near a flashing red light to pull into for a second to let them pass. That was honestly one of the most stressful and seemed like the longest pieces of road I’ve ever rode on. The fog started to clear, and I noticed more cars — I must be close to Muncie. The rest of the trip was fine.
On the way back, I ditched a lot of my clothes at the significant others, so I don’t have to bring so much next time. That made for less backache. But I still had to stop too often because my rear end was sore.
And trucks. How about ‘dem trucks. Lots of them. And they drove me crazy. Two lane interstate, and for some reason trucks find it necessary to damn near cut me off to pass the truck in front of them. Which wouldn’t be quite so annoying, if they were passing each other at more than 2 MPH more in speed. Seriously, what’s the point?
And man does the Ninjette get thrown around by trucks. And wind in general. I think it’s because the bike is so light.
I hit Columbus at the tail-end of rush hour. Someone lost a lot of oil in the lane I was in down the middle of the lane, so I tried to stay in the tire tracks as much as I could, before I could get out of it.
Traffic was at a stand-still at the I-270/I-70 interchange near Brice Road. What else is new? I had to come to a complete stop, and you can bet I already had a escape path mapped out if I heard locking up brakes behind me.
Uneventful the rest of the way.
Things I learned:
1) Put as much as possible in the tailbag.
2) Put as little as possible in the backpack.
3) Carry some extra earplugs in the tailbag.
4) Whenever possible, fill it up.
5) Take IN-3 to Muncie from I-70, instead of US-35. It’s straight and the speed limit is 60, not 50.
6) The Ninja 250 is not made for someone 5’10”. If I could find a way to either raise the seat or lower the footpegs, I would. Riding more than 30 minutes leads to sore rear.
7) The Ninja 250 can do highways, but a little more power would be useful.
Fuel economy appears to be much worse than I expected. Granted, I like to run 8-10K RPM, which is where the 250 actually seems to have any power. I’ll do some math when I gather up the receipts.
Right now, I’m seriously considering looking at moving up to a bigger bike. But one thing that is seriously important to me is making sure my rear doesn’t get sore. I found it so distracting. And I found myself speeding just to get to nearest exit with a gas station or rest area, just to make the pain stop. Not fun.
I’m not sure if I’m at the level to move up to a 600cc sporty or not. If I did, I’d want to play with the sprockets to lower the maximum speed per gear to make it more useful at legal speeds.August 7, 2009 at 1:22 am #21338
…moving to a supersport is a really bad idea. It could be one of the reasons that most races last 45 minutes Just sayin’.August 7, 2009 at 1:48 am #21341MunchParticipant
Check into gels seat pads and other accessories that are availablebefore making that jump.August 7, 2009 at 11:36 am #21356
I don’t think it’s the seat itself that’s the problem. I think it lies in footpegs being not where I think they should be in height. They are too high up, and it makes me have to sit crunched and makes my rear hurt.
The only reason a 600 comes to mind, is because the GSX-R600 I looked at, like everything was adjustable.August 7, 2009 at 1:43 pm #21360AParticipant
Personally, I carry as little as possible on my body when I’m riding, every bag or luggage is attached to the bike, not my body.
Buy a box of 100 pair of foam earplugs for $17.. shuve 5 pairs in yout tailbag or backpack.
Rotate sitting on your thighs when your rear gets tired.
I’m 5’10”, 150 lb. Ninja 250 would not be my choice of bike for long highway jaunts.
Lowering the gearing on a 600 sportbike will likely make it accelerate quicker at legal speed, which may or may not be safer for someone unfamilar with sportbike handling.
Look into Suzuki Bandit 600 or Yamaha FZ6, upright riding position, more wind protection..
Used Bandit 600 could easily be found for under $3000.August 7, 2009 at 4:05 pm #21362zeppelinfromledParticipant
If you do end up looking into new bikes, make sure that the Ninja 650R is on your radar. A lot of these real sport bikes (600s and 1000s) have ergonomics that are not ideal for long trips. You’re leaned over all the way, all the time. On the Ninja 650 (which is what I ride), you’re more upright, but you want easily lean over to escape the wind or just for a change. It’s also heavier than the 250 and more powerful, so highways are easier. 70 mph in 6th gear is around 5000 rpm.
Disclaimer: I’ve never ridden the Ninja 250, so I don’t really know how they compare.
Also, I’ve heard that pair of bike shorts (bicycling shorts) with the padding can do wonders for long trips. I have a pair, but I haven’t thought to use them.
I second what someone said about carrying as little at possible on my body. I hate bringing a backpack. I have a tank bag (highly recommended), and I’ll get a tail bag before I take any long trips, but I hope to avoid a backpack. I’ll get saddlebags before I wear a backpack.August 7, 2009 at 5:29 pm #21365briderdtParticipant
As a former bicycle racer… I’m surprised I never made the connection to using them for motorcycle riding. But the difference is like night and day.August 7, 2009 at 10:10 pm #21368
Distance Gallons MPG
Muncie, IN to Spiceland, IN 31.9 0.42 75.59
Spiceland, IN to Dayton, OH 65.1 1.44 45.37
Dayton, OH to Pataskala, OH 89.6 1.70 52.58
August 8, 2009 at 12:46 am #21375
It really sucks for heat and sweat, but I generally wear bike shorts (like you brider, I’ve got a drawer full of them from “back in the day”) under armored shorts when I ride. It’s MUCH more comfortable in a lot of ways…some of which will go unmentioned.August 8, 2009 at 12:50 am #21376
At high speeds, the Ninja eats gas, bringing it down to the fuel economy of…oh wait, every other bike out there
MPG-wise, the Ninja does best ridding in 6th gear around 5K rpm. That’s not always convenient on the road. Also, if you don’t tuck down at higher speeds, the drag you add will kill your fuel economy. Wind drag increases dramatically with speed. At 100mph I think something ridiculous like 75% of a CAR’s horsepower goes to displacing the air in front of it. (don’t quote me on that)August 8, 2009 at 10:09 am #21387
I didn’t tuck a lot, mainly because I never was technically trained on how to do it, and I feel like a poser doing it. Well, that and my Scorpion EXO700 even with the vents shut whistles like mad when the helmet isn’t close to level.
I still am digging that CBR125R with rated 95 MPG. Something is weird with me right now – I would still like a Aprillia RS-50 or a CBR125R to play with, even though the other part of my head wants to get a SV650S or Ninja 650. Notice how all the options except the RS-50 are FI.
I wouldn’t mind a CBR125R for commuting to work and wasting time talking to squids seeing the look on their face when I tell them it’s a 125, when it looks just as hot as their 600 I4s, LOL.
But the other side of me wants to be able to make highway riding easier. Where the 650s come in. I have a bad feeling, the best solution is to buy both. But the finances at the moment really don’t dictate either unless a good deal was had.
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