Ninja 400 Riders Forum banner

1 - 7 of 7 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
58 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
This was important milestone for me b/c now I've matched the mileage of the previous owner and every mile after is my own.
I'm still learning a lot and am getting comfortable w/ freeways; I signed up for a Ride to LIve course taught by police motorcycle cops!

1) While adjusting my clutch, I saw a long thread about the clutch plates and pins causing false neutrals and slippage. Is this something that applies to racers? So far no issues, but I will probably take the bike in for a service check in a month or so and I can order those parts to have them replace it if necessary.

2) Tires look good; but living in Southern CA, I have little experience w/ rain. When I replace them, is there a good brand that will help w/ rain/wet situations.

3) I've felt the ABS kick in twice on the rear brake. Does this mean I'm not using enough front brake as I've never felt it on my front? Also wondering if I got my moneys worth w/ the ABS, does that mean it saved me two drops already? Obviously I realize I should have been lighter on the rear brake.

4) I'm not sure if I'm engine braking correctly or abusing the slipper clutch. When I'm getting off the freeway at 65 in 6th gear, I roll off throttle, shift into 5th when bike is around 45-50mph, shift into 4th when it's 35-40mph and depending on the light either open throttle to keep going, or pull clutch in/brake/downshift to first and stop.

5) Related to this on the freeway, I've just rolled open the throttle in 6th for passing. I read people drop a gear which is when I think I should be rev-matching? Is this a racing thing or should I also practice it on the freeway?

6) I love the bike and the only upgrade direction I would consider would be something that handled wind/crosswinds better and could deal w/ wet roads... but I suspect this is more rider dependent.

7) I think I may need to do a track day/class to get more comfortable w/ highway speeds/wind etc. Do I have to pull out my mirrors, put a special oil filter, and tape up my rear lights (I want to keep riding my bike on the street and want to be able to reverse it)? Some classes do have an option to use a BMW s1000 but I'd rather practice w/ my bike. I'm hoping to get a friend and trailer our bikes b/c I've heard you get exhausted.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
1,145 Posts
Just keep riding!
1) The Ninja is made for a wide variety of riders, greenies, racers, commuters, canyon riders etc etc. If you find yourself in a particular situation with the bike, it won't take long to realize you need to upgrade or change something to make your particular style work better for you. If your clutch is not slipping, don't change it. If it starts to slip there are numerous threads on here about doing an easy and cheap mod to upgrade the clutch.
3) You are probably not using enough front brake, your front brake is your friend. Having said that, don't go and grab a handful of front brakes...remember your training.
5) You can practice that anywhere. Especially when you have a good (loud) exhaust and driving under a bridge with Prius's all around you. ?
7)My opinion on a track day would be to get a bit more road experience first, that way when they are having you go through the drills, you are much more confident in maneuvering your bike, especially in slow speeds around a parking lot. I drove to the track about 80 miles away and stayed in a hotel. It was a good call because I was wasted every evening. I have been riding bikes on and off since my first new Ninja in 1985, I thought I was a good rider, the course taught me so much, well worth the money and so much fun.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
573 Posts
2) I've found the Michelin Road series of tires to be really good in the rain. Even at interstate speeds. They also have a long life. I plan to get the most current version when I wear out my stock tires, they're currently producing Road 5 (they used to be called Pilot Road, but now its just Road). I also liked Avon Spirit ST tyres (that's spelled correctly, they're British), but they might not be available in our sizes. Neither of these would be the first choice for the track.

3) What atomicmonkey said. Rear skids are easier to recover from than front skids, but your ABS probably helped you both times. Most braking comes from the front wheel (physics), so use both at once whenever you can. Grabbing the front too much isn't advisable even with ABS. ABS is a good safety tool but you should be learning to brake without using it, just as with a car.

5) For highway passing, I usually am able to roll on in sixth without any bother. But if you need to do a quick pass, the "drop a gear and disappear" advice still works. The highest part of the torque curve is in the upper RPM range. That's what gives the greatest acceleration. If you're loping along in sixth at low RPMs, then dropping to fifth will put your engine in a place where you can accelerate more quickly. It's probably a good skill to have, but you shouldn't routinely need to do this in street riding.

6) Riding in headwinds and crosswinds is a skill to develop. Lean into the wind, tuck in behind your windshield, and tighten your grip with your legs. Be aware of hills, bridges or other vehicles which may temporarily bock the wind and cause you to change direction. Gusts can push you into another lane but won't knock you over. Just don't overreact, let the bike's physics do its' job. Riding in the rain is also a skill to develop, primarily just remember to be gentle with your throttle, brakes and turns. I purposefully practiced both when I was a noobie so I wouldn't get caught unprepared on a trip. But skills only go so far, know when to give up and seek shelter.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
596 Posts
Great tips from Atomicmonkey and Baxter.. That "Most braking comes from the front wheel (physics)".. has been calculated at 70% front wheel braking potential by several reputable safety organizations. So don't be afraid to use the front brake.. Just get into a habit of always using both front and rear. Are there any exceptions to that rule? Sure, but by the time you need to use those exceptions, you'll know when. And Congrats on the mileage and seat time. Ride Safe.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
500 Posts
Hard to say whether yer using enough front brake or not. While braking hard, the rear should be light or off the ground, 'n ABS would prolly kick in 1st at the rear. Best thing to do is practice in a remote location, with clean, dry pavement. I'd recommend not even using the rear brake, just concentrate on the front. You'll want squeeze the front brake progressively, without locking your arms, keeping yer body supported with yer core muscles, 'n squeezing the tank with yer legs. It take practice. You'll be supprised at how quickly a bike can stop. Practice a lot, and hard braking will come natural in panic stops.
The Ninja 400 is a great bike in wet, and cross winds, you just need to relax. I was riding some high speed sweepers yesterday in howling winds, 'n my little Z400 did just fine. I found leaning forward 'n get'in more weight over the front helped, and once again relaxing. These bikes are engineered to be quite stable, despite having a short wheelbase, but ya gotta let the bike do it's thing. Biggest mistake I see riders doing is fighting the bike, and not working with it. That may work for Marquez, but not the rest of us.
My other bike is a 660 lbs FJR1300, and I like Bridgestone T31s on that, (Great in the rain too!) but I've found ST tires aren't as good on lighter bikes, cuz they're heavier, and have a stiff carcass. Tire seem to be getting better, and better, but you'll need to do a lot of research to find what works for you. I go to all the different sites, look at the tires, and try to find one with more grooves 'n stuff, and that'll work better in the wet. But you also wanta find one that's a modern design. I was looking at tires the other day, saw some Bridgestones that looked good, had lotsa grooves 'n stuff, then saw they were 020s; that's what came on my 2001 FZ1! So you wanta try to find tires with a recent design.
That's my $0.02 cents anyways.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
58 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
hey thanks for the replies and tire suggestions. Things have gone crazy w/ work due to Covid, but fortunately I could take an intermediate training course before things shut down. Our instructor turned out to be a youtuber, Motojitsu, who I fully recommend. So w/ that feedback, I realize I'm definitely not using enough front brake! He said w/ my bike, braking power was probably 85-90% of front brake so I need to practice that more for emergencies.

As we're moving towards a possible lockdown order, I've started riding some gentle canyon roads and working on my vision and apexes during turns. With less traffic, don't have to worry about being to slow for the other riders. This is the fun route to the hospital so it counts as necessary commuting :)

Unfortunately, with all the things we were working on, I forgot to ask about slowing down from the highway? How do you guys come down form 60-70mph on the freeway? How do you know if you're stressing the slipper-clutch (in case, I ever ride a bike w/ non-slipper clutch)?
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
1,145 Posts
Glad things are going good for you. Motojitsu is definitely an interesting guy. He probably instilled some life long safe riding habits, always a good thing. If you are going to ride in the canyons around LA, man it would be great to get some track time at one of the schools. You'll ride out of there a whole new rider. As far as coming off of the highway, gently bringing in the clutch lever will really slow you down. I'm not a big fan of letting engine braking rev too high so on the highway I mostly tap the brakes on and that also helps the guy watching Netflix in the car behind me to have a second or two to respond before plowing into me. It won't take long to get used to the gearing on the bike and the good places to be. The hard part of driving on the freeways here is trying not to get distracted with bike things. A friend of my sons has/had a N400. As he was driving along on the 405, a car pulled in front of him and he fixated on the back of another car. He is OK, just a few broken bones but after watching the video, he had multiple ways out but got caught in that fixation thing.
 
1 - 7 of 7 Posts
Top