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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hey all,
I've been doing quite a bit of work on the new Ninja 400 and thought I would share some of the modifications I've made. So far it's been a great bike to work on (with the exception of the ECU removal for a reflash) and I'm pleased with the overall construction. I've also been teaching the wife how to do some of the work herself. She is definitely getting a lot of satisfaction and enjoyment out of it and is learning quick. I'm excited for when she'll get to ride the motorcycle herself. It's a heck of a feeling to ride a bike you've worked on and optimized. My aim with this thread is to give owners a sense for how to go about modifying and maintaining their own bike and enable them to feel that sense of empowerment.

I'd like to say this to the individuals who gravitate away from working on their own bikes: I'm a strong believer in DIY work, since it is liberating to understand the operation and intricacies of your motorcycle, having the satisfaction of accomplishment of a job well done, and achieving that visceral man/machine connection. Instead of dropping your bike at the dealer, I'd recommend getting a small quality set of hand tools and doing the simple maintenance tasks and modifications yourself. You'll learn a good bit, save some cash, and hopefully enjoy the heck out of it. The worst thing that can happen is you break something. Then you fix it and move on with life.

With that said, on to the mods!

Current mod list
Pro Grip 719 Grips Grey/Black
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0074ZL832/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o08_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Puig Extendable Foldable Brake Lever 2.0
https://www.revzilla.com/motorcycle/puig-extendable-foldable-brake-lever-20

Puig Brake Lever Mount (says only for Ninja 300 but the master cylinder is the same)
https://www.revzilla.com/motorcycle/puig-brake-lever-mount

Driven Racing Axle Blocks Grey
https://www.revzilla.com/motorcycle/driven-racing-axle-block-sliders-kawasaki-ninja-250r-300

Driven Racing D-Axis Spools
https://www.revzilla.com/motorcycle/driven-racing-d-axis-spools

Shorai Lithium Battery (can use either LFX14A4-BS12 or LFX12A1-BS12)
https://www.revzilla.com/motorcycle/shorai-lithium-battery-lfx14a4-bs12
https://www.revzilla.com/motorcycle/shorai-lithium-battery-lfx12a1-bs12

Puig Ring Bar Ends
https://www.revzilla.com/motorcycle/puig-ring-bar-ends-kawasaki

Puig Clutch Lever and Mount
https://www.motosport.com/puig-20-clutch-lever-kit

TST Fender Eliminator
https://tstindustries.com/TST-Standard-Fender-Eliminator-for-Kawasaki-Ninja-400-2018.html

TST Universal Plate Light
https://tstindustries.com/TST-LED-Low-Profile-Universal-Fit-License-Plate-Light.html

TST Signal Kit with BL6 Low Profile Signals
https://tstindustries.com/TST-LED-Rear-Pod-Turn-Signal-Kit-Kawasaki.html

Kawaskaki Frame Sliders
https://www.kawasaki.com/accessories/item/2018-ninja-400-abs/frame-slider-set/EX400GJF/999941036

Front Reflectors Removal
Removed the front reflectors since they look terrible and aren't going to help you much anyway when that minivan next to you decides to abruptly change lanes. Simply twist reflectors off lefty loosy. Replaced the studs that mount the reflectors with some nice stainless cap screws.

Upcoming mods
2WheelDynoWorks ECU flash
Status: Image extraction ongoing to read ECU. Once this is done, ECU will be flashed and I will re-install. I highly recommend 2Wheel. They are responsive and do excellent work. Because my ECU was not readable initially, they are providing the flash (~$250) for free. I have their flash on my FZ-07 and it is absolute quality.
https://2wheeldynoworks.com/

Dimple Magnetic Drain Plug
A little extra protection for the bike. Will go in after the 600 mile oil change.
http://www.drainplugmagnets.com/

Kawasaki Tank Pad
https://www.kawasaki.com/accessories/item/2018-ninja-400-abs/tank-pad/EX400GJF/999941039

Not yet available
Radiator Guard
Exhaust
Front Axle Sliders
Intake (maybe)
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Grip and bar ends install

Put some nice Progrip 719 Grips on, which helped tremendously with feel and improved the look of the bike. Also installed some Puig bar ends with anodized rings that match the dark pearl yellow highlights of the bike. Here's a quick tutorial:

Remove the stock bar ends. This consists of removing the screw on the end of each bar end. It is an M8 or M10 screw with a locking patch, so it will take a bit of torque to break the bolt and remove it. Note that the stock bar ends are heavy for a reason. They also have a rubber damping compound to suspend the weights at the end of the bars. This works both sides of the equation frequency=sqrt(k/m), where k is stiffness and m is mass. By decreasing the stiffness and adding damping, while weighting the bar ends (increasing mass of the assembly), the natural resonance frequency of the bars is reduced which is more tolerable than a high frequency buzz that would be felt if the bars were stiffer and weighed less.

Use a razor blade to cut down the middle of the old grips, see pic below for cut lines. Insert the blade until you feel the blade contact the surface underneath, then lightly cut, being sure not to mar the surface. Before doing the throttle tube, unscrew the two screws holding the throttle assembly together, pry the two clampshells encapsulating the throttle tube apart, and remove the thottle tube/grip assy by disconnecting the push pull cables and pulling the tube off the bars. There will be a bit of glue but the grips should peel off relatively easily.


Left grip:
Clean the bar surface of residue and wipe down with IPA. Determine the ideal position of the new grip on the bar (the clocked orientation, since the grips I selected aren't symmetrical) and the ideal spacing between the bar ends you are using and the end of the grip. Test fit the grip part way to ensure it can be installed on the bar but don't put it on all the way since it will likely be pretty tight. The intent here is to ensure that you can actually get the grip on the bike once you have some glue on the grip. The glue acts as a lubricant until it dries, so don't do this next step until you are ready to install.

Apply several pea sized daps of super glue or grip glue along the ID (inner diameter) of the grip. Immediately install on the bar by twisting and pushing the grip to its final installed position. Twisting makes the application easier and allows the glue to distribute along the grip. Things to watch for are getting glue on your hands and contaminating your grips, as well as not installing fast enough, which will let the grip dry in the wrong spot. You need to use a good amount of force and torque to get this grip on properly. Once everthing looks good, install your bar end. I would normally use Loctite blue to retain the axial bolt of the bar end but there was plenty of locking compound left from the stock bar ends.


Throttle tube grip:
Clean residue from the throttle tube. As mentioned above, determine the ideal position of the new grip on the bar, keeping in mind that the throttle will twist which will impact the ideal position of the grip. Additionally, you need to make sure you have enough clearance to the bar ends and the housing of the throttle tube assembly, since you don't want any rubbing which would impede throttle operation. Too much clearance will make the install look shoddy. For this reason, I recommend ~125 to 130 mm length grips so you don't have too much of a gap. Once you've got this figured out, get your dremel out (or sand paper, but seriously, buy a dremel) and remove the lip at the end of the throttle tube. Stock grips use this lip to position them properly, but aftermarket grips will just get hung up on it. Pic below of the lip removed and indexing marks I'm using to locate the grip.


Now install the grip onto the throttle tube off the bike. This guy was really tight, so I didn't put glue on intitially. I used dry silicone lube applied to the grip ID to allow the grip to slide onto the throttle tube, but even then it was tough to get on. The lube eventually absorbs into the grip and sliding post install has not been an issue. Once positioned properly, I peeled the grip back on each end and applied a layer of super glue. Then I installed the throttle tube back on the bike and assembled the housing.


When I fit up the Puig bar end, there was a substantial gap between the throttle tube and the bar end. Luckily this was taken up by adding the black anodize ring to the bar end housing by gluing with epoxy to the housing. You can barely see the seam in the pic below, look at the red arrow:


Can't even tell there is a seam in this picture and the bike looks really sharp! Enjoy your new grips and bar ends! Note that while the Puig bar ends don't have the damping of the original bar ends, the reduction in mass is worth it and the new grips do a great job of removing vibrations at higher engine speeds.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Lever Install

Here is a tutorial on lever install. It also goes into how to take up slack in the levers. The adjustable and foldable levers from Puig look great and compliment the color scheme of the bike, but they had too much up and down play due to excessive tolerances between the mating parts. Otherwise, fit and finish of these parts is great.

Clutch lever
Loosen the ajusting wheel (screw it all the way in) to maximize clutch cable slack. Align the cutout of the adjuster wheel with the slit in the stock clutch lever. Remove the clutch lever bolt and remove the lever, guiding the cable through the aligned slits. Remove the cable from the lever.

Install the aftermarket clutch perch (mine is from Puig). At this point, I noticed a good bit of slop between the perch and the clutch mount. This amounted to only about .005" of slop, but over a long distance (the lever) it feels quite noticeable. I cut a template out of some Roulon bearing tape (expensive but worth it) and applied it to the mating surfaces of the perch. This took up all the slack in the perch. Additionally, roulon bearing tape is extremely durable, has a high PV cycle rate (pressure x velocity durability) and readily absorbs lubricant to reduce friction. I sprayed a bit of dry silicone lube on the tape which soaked it up and made actuation smooth. See below for where I applied the tape.


At this point, all that was left to do was to install the lever to the perch. There was a lot of slack here as well, so I applied Roulon tape again at the following locations. It was a pain, but the lever feels much better and does not wobble in the slightest. When installing, push the clutch cable into the lever and guide it through the slit while aligning the lever with the bolt hole. Torque the bolt, adjust the clutch by turning the adjuster wheel so you have 2-3 mm of play and you are good to go.


Brake Lever
Easier than the clutch, just remove the bolt, pull the old lever, install the new perch (with Roulon tape on mating surfaces) and the new lever (with Roulon tape on mating surfaces) and bolt it back together. Locations for Roulon tape are the same as the clutch but on the brake side instead. The next guide on throttle play adjustment shows the tape, I just didn't have the best pics of it installed on the levers since it is covered up.
 

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Great looking bike, I really wanted the yellow/black it would have saved me money and weight from removing the ABS. I am not very hands on type person, looks like you have it under control though. Great bike great write ups.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Throttle play removal and cable adjustment

An unfortunate byproduct of mass manufacturing is looser tolerances. On the Ninja 400, this manifests as lateral play (sliding along the axis of the bar) of the throttle. Fixing this improved the quality of my ride, since your right hand directly connects with the bar through a properly constrained throttle tube instead of sliding to the left or right a small but noticeable amount. This guide outlines how to remedy this issue and adjust the cable tension to get that optimal snappy throttle feel.

Remove the two screws at the front of the throttle housing, split the clamshells, and remove the throttle tube. You'll have two plastic pieces that have two semi circles where the throttle tube goes. By applying some Roulon tape (or other bearing surface tape) to each of these faces, you can take up the play in the throttle tube and make the assembly buttery smooth. Cut out 2x dome shapes of tape and apply them as shown:


Get a sharp knife and cut along the edge of the tape so the tape is flush with the edge of the semi-circle. Do this for both sides of the clamshell:


Apply some dry silicone lube to the the tape surfaces. The tape will wick it up and decrease the friction coefficient and increase wear performance of the assembly. You can see it absorbing into the tape below:


Install the throttle tube, the push pull cables, and then the two throttle tube clamshells. The throttle should feel buttery smooth now and not have any axial play. However, the push/pull cables are likely out of adjustment. There are 2x cables, one which engages the throttle and one which pulls it back (for safety). Getting these to ~2 mm of free play really makes the whole assembly feel crisp. Adjusting this improperly can result in issues, such as throttle increasing during turns if the cables are too tight. Check throttle play in all handlebar rotations to ensure the throttle isn't opening.

The pull cable adjustment (controls play when throttle is opened/ twisted towards the rider) is a wheel just outside the plastic clamshell throttle housing. Turn counterclockwise until throttle play is ~2-3 mm when opening the throttle. Check that throttle isn't opening on its own when the bars are at full lock. I take no resposibility for throttle adjustment errors.

The push cable (returns throttle to its closed position/twisted away from the rider) is a wheel just above the throttle body. Adjust counterclockwise to take up slack until there is only ~2-3 mm of play left. To access, you need to remove the black textured side cover by removing the rider seat and 2x bolts that hold the side cover on.


The seat is removed by the following process: Remove the passenger seat. The process is in your owners manual and involves putting your key into the lock on the left hand side of your bike and pulling the seat towards the gas tank while you twist the key. The fit of my seat is quite tight so I have to be careful when removing. Next, remove the rider's seat. This is easily done by pulling on the small black loop that is located in the compartment on the right side of where the passenger seat used to be. A click should be heard and the seat can lift away.

Your throttle should feel awesome now. I added some throttle lubricant to the cable housing ends where they connect to the throttle housing and pulled the cables back and forth to distribute the lube. This made the assembly feel even better. Just be careful not to push too far and have the cable pop out of the the throttle body. If that happens, you just need to put the end back into the throttle body:
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Axle Sliders and spools install

These Driven Racing Ninja 300 axle blocks with sliders dress up the stock swing arm and add some Delrin sliding protection. I got the grey anodize (they look surprisingly good since grey anodize can be tricky and the laser marking is sharp too) which nicely matches the grey highlights on the bike. I also installed some spools to lift the bike when adjusting the chain, removing the rear tire, and of course for installing the axle blocks.

Spool install
Driven Racing makes some nice spools but they don't fit because of the lip that the spools have which prevents them from sitting flush. This can be remedied by getting out a griding wheel (dremel or legit griding wheel) or a file (you are in for a long filing session). Cut off the section as shown, then apply black gloss automotive paint.



These spools are aluminum and aluminum corrodes, contrary to popular belief, especially in the presence of moisture and salt. We see this kind of issue in the aerospace industry frequently so I'm probably overly paranoid about it, but I also live by the ocean, so I painted the bare aluminum to provide some corrosion protection.

Screw the spools in and you are good to go. Shown with the axle blocks.


Axle Blocks
These are Ninja 300 blocks but they fit and look great. I don't use the marks on the swingarm anyway when aligning and adjusting the chain. I opt for a Profi laser alignment tool since it is much more precise and the swing arm marks have a relatively loose tolerance. Don't get me wrong, they will work, but laser alignment is much better. For more detail see here:

To install the axle blocks, put your bike up on a rear stand using the spools you just installed. Remove that annoying cotter pin with some pliers, then untorque the axle nut. A helper is helpful at this point: have one of you hold the rear wheel while the other pulls the axle out and installs the block. Then put the axle back in and install the block on the other side. I lightly lubricated the axle with white lithium grease since it was surprisingly dry. A small amount of lube makes the install easier and will reduce internal friction of the axle assembly. Don't use more than a pea sized amount spread over the axle OD (outer diameter), otherwise you are asking for dirt contamination. Torque the axle to 72 ft-lbs (per owners manual) and install a new cotter pin by folding the two ends out. Cotter pins can be found at any reputable hardware store. Torque the Delrin slider bolts to 14 ft-lbs and you are done.

 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
Frame sliders

I recommend frame sliders for any bike since it will save expensive plastics in the event of a driveway drop or low speed fall. At higher speeds, they also prevent parts of your bike from catching the pavement and causing it to flip since the slippery Delrin ends wear down as they contact the pavement.

I acknowledge the Kawasaki frame sliders are offset. Instead of transmitting a direct axial force, they transmit that force coupled with a twisting due to the offset that could potentially damage the frame in the case of severe impacts. An ideal situation is to have the sliders mounted directly into the mounting holes of the frame to avoid this issue. However, the fairing geometry prevents this, so cutting the fairing would be necessary. I'm not too worried about this for a few reasons:
1. The sliders have a long straight length which sits flush inside the hole in the frame to reduce the heel toe prying force in the case of a drop.
2. If you are crashing hard enough to damage your frame in this manner, you have other more important things to worry about.

Because this bike is for my wife and she won't be tracking it (and I really hope she doesn't crash it, much less crash hard enough to damage the frame), I don't feel the need to install perfectly axial frame sliders and cut the fairing apart.

The install is easy once all the bodywork is removed:
1. Remove the seat as described in the lithium battery install guide.
2. Remove the two bolts that hold the textured side covers on. Pop these off.
3. Remove the plastic closeout that wraps around the upper part of the fairing and joins the two sides together. This is just above the front wheel and has 4x bolts and numerous plastic clips.
4. Unbolt the 2x screws on each side of the fairing that connect to the belly pan.
5. At this point, you can remove the belly pan if desired by removing the the plastic clip holding it together at the center right behind the front wheel.
6. There are several bolts securing the fairing sides to the frame. Remove these and lightly pull at locations where there are friction fasteners. The two fairing sides should come off and you should have access to the frame location where the sliders will mount.
7. Install the frame sliders per the included instructions. It's really simple: short bolts with thread locker coupled with circular spacers mount each adapter to the frame, then install the sliders themselves with the long bolts, nuts, and washers. Installed product looks good!


 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
ECU removal

ECU access on this bike sucks. This is especially a pain compared the the Ninja 300, which had the ECU just under the seat. You need to remove the fairings to get to this part. See the slider install guide above. In addition to that:

1. Remove the friggin fuel tank. Remove the two bolts holding the tank in place, and disconnect that battery terminals per the Lithium Battery install guide (see first page for link).

Once the bolts and battery are removed, wiggle the tank back and forth while pulling backward to pull it off the 2x friction fasteners in the front. This is a pain in the ass, but it will come off eventually. Once that happens, remove the red square circlip that connects the fuel line to the throttle body and the 2x vent lines that go to the evaporative control system. If your tank isn't empty at this point, you can use a catch can below the fuel line with some rags underneath to collect any gas that spills.

2. Remove the plastic tray (2 bolts) that sits below the gas tank. You should now see a rectangular block with 3x connectors going to its body. Underneath this is the ECU. Disconnect the myriad of connectors as shown. Also remove the painted black steel cross brace (4 bolts if I remember correctly) to improve access.


3. The ECU sits underneath. Disconnect the two cables going to it, and remove it. Dread the day that you will repeat this process when new exhaust and intake systems show up and you need to flash the engine tuning to accomodate. Or just get a Power Commander 5.


I recommend 2WheelDynoWorks for all your flashing needs. They are super helpful and already have a stock ECU flash for this new bike. No flashes for aftermarket exhausts or intakes yet, because they don't really exist. Supposedly stock flash is good for 2 more horses and adds radiator fan cycle time improvements, among other things. For those with potentially restricted ECUs such as Australia or New Zealand, it might be worth reaching out to these guys to see what they can do for you to unlock those ponies. They have the know how to read new part number ECUs and write new maps.
https://2wheeldynoworks.com/
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
Fender Eliminator and Relay install

Picked up the TST fender eliminator since it looks great and shaves off some significant weight from the ugly stock rear end. TST has already made a video for the fender eliminator install. Install per the following:

Once that's done, install the license plate light. Thread the cord through the opening in the tail. Cut off the connector for the license plate light from the stock assembly. This will let us easily connect and disconnect the aftermarket light just like the stock unit. If you want to preserve your stock assembly don't do this and wire directly. Either way, the soldering is the same. Prep the wire ends:


Install heat shrink over the wires at one side, and entwine the two wires on the light with the corresponding colors on the harness. Heat shrink is more robust than wrapping in electrical tape (which also works) and will be applied once soldering is complete.



Solder these babies together. Hold the solder to the underside of the wire connection to heat it, and dab rosin core solder onto the connection. It will wick accross the surface and then you are done. Holding the solder iron there for longer than necessary will cause the solder to yellow and embrittle, which isn't great.


Slip the heat shrink over the solder joints and heat with a heat gun away from the bike's body work. You'll see the shrink shrinking; once it stops turn off the heat gun. Reconnect the harness.


Now that that is done, remove the adhesive layer and fix in the center of your license plate. Secure the plate to the fender eliminator with the mounting hardware from the following kit:
https://tstindustries.com/TST-LED-Rear-Pod-Turn-Signal-Kit-Kawasaki.html


Install the signals onto the mounting hardware by removing the nut and threading the wires through the mount. Connect your harness converters supplied by TST to the original connectors being mindful of which side is which. Final torque the nuts that hold on the signals and you are done!



Except for the relay install. You just replaced incandencent rear turn signals with LED rear turn signals, which have a lower resistance. Turn signals are a good example of an RC circuit, or resistance-capacitance circuit. The capacitors in the circuit charge up and then discharge, causing the turn signal to blink. The rate at which the signals blink is a product of the resistance multiplied by the capacitance of the circuit. Because LEDs have much lower resistance than incandescent bulbs, the turn signals will blink at a much faster rate because the time constant is lower. Luckily TST makes a relay to fix this:
https://tstindustries.com/TST-2-Pin-LED-Flasher-Relay-Gen2-F.html

Unfortunately, it doesn't mount as nicely as the stock one. Disconnect and remove the stock relay, then position the TST relay in its place. It can still move laterally and axially, so mount it with zip ties to constrain it like so, then reconnect the harness (my wife did a great job on this one):


The relay is located under the left side fairing and can likely be accessed without removing the fairing, although it will be tricky to constrain with the fairing on. Probably worth a try before tearing the bike apart. Location of relay below for context:
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
Helmet Decor

Having matching gear makes your bike look that much more awesome, so I nerded out and modified the wife's matte black Shoei Qwest to have a matching racing stripe that compliments the Pearl Solar Yellow of the Ninja 400. Plus it gives the bike an extra 5 HP boost, so totally worth it from both the looks and performance department.

Decals are high quality stripes from Award Decals. They are meant for football helmets, but no reason why they can't fit on a motorcycle helmet. Color is Dark Yellow Gold, which matches the bike color perfectly. Width I got was 1".
https://awarddecals.com/product/football-helmet-stripes-1/#!

It was a lot of work, but I eventually got the helmet looking professional. I used a sharpie and a straight edge to locate the contours and cut openings. I went piece by piece, making sure everything appeared aligned before applying the next piece. Small errors look pretty bad on the stark black helmet, so you must be precise. See pics below for the final result.



And the aftermath. Overall a pain in the ass but also highly recommended if you are a masochist. Use IPA and Q-tips to remove any sharpie marks or dirt from the tape surface.
 

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Thanks so much Pat for all your work uploading all the great info and photos. It's going to be real beneficial to future readers and I know the ECU removal info will be of help to me. Cheers mate. :clap:
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Pat you are the BEST. For a bike that's for your wife, you sure are modding it a lot.
Glad you are enjoying it. I have a lot of fun working on motorcycles; been doing it since I was in high school. It's also a great medium to teach my wife how to maintain/modify the bike. I'll have to post some pictures of my 2015 FZ-07. There aren't very many stock components left.
 
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