1989 Kawasaki EX

You can't buy one this clean!

Well, actually, you could, as we sold this one to a San Diego Motorcycle Riders member. Visit onelist.com to join our community.

When a shop or dealer is selling a used bike, you have no idea what you're getting. You have no idea of the bike's history. Unfortunately, there is a built in ethical dilemma in reselling used vehicles, especially motorcycles.

This EX came into the shop as a crash estimate. The estimate came to over $1400 to fix it and get it to the condition it was in before he crashed it. You'll notice that the paint scheme is the red one from 1988. `88 also had the silver frame, footrests, triple clamps, and swingarm. The only frame available was from a 1989 model (in black) so that legally changed the year of the bike.

Apparently, the guy had inadvertently wheelied it over from a stop. The bike came down on the left side. In the end, the front fairing and rear tailight cowl were smashed. Further, the left turn signals, mirror, and clutch lever were also broken. We later found that the oil pressure switch was broken by the exhaust header being caved into it. the left down-tube of the frame bent up, puncturing the generator engine cover. Further, the frame was bent enough that it interfered with the shifter and it was stuck in gear.

The guy that brought it in couldn't afford the repairs -- they were as much as they had paid for the bike. I told him he could take it to a salvage yard, where they may or may not give him any money for it. Then I thought about it and offered him $50. Next thing you know, I'm the proud owner of a wrecked EX 500.

What other places won't do to a bike they resell:

No shop goes through the effort to make a bike perfect: it just costs too much. I spent over $1000 and 40 hours of labor to make the bike perfect. I was going to sell it to my brother in law, but he ended up picking up a cherry Katana 600.

Stripped down EX-500

I removed the engine and completely disassembled the motorcycle, cleaning every part in the parts washer. I got a new frame, rear tail section, mirrors, fairing stay, generator cover and gasket, turn signals, and tail light lens. I also had to rebuild the front forks, as one of the seals was showing signs of blowing oil. I rebuilt the forks with a heavier oil, and raised the oil level 15mm. Together, these alterations help make the forks dampen bumps better. New steering stem bearing were installed along with EBC HH front brake pads, Dunlop K591 rubber front and rear, and RK/Afam chain and sprocket kit for good measure. I wasn't kidding when I said the bike would be perfect.

When reassembling, I also got various bolts that were missing or damaged along with new gas tank mounting rubbers. I totally disassembled, cleaned and re-lubed all of the pivots in the rear suspension. The bike only had 18,000 miles on it, but the grease had dried and the components were stiff.

Almost done...

I had the gas tank and front fairing repainted. I also had clear coat applied over the new decals I got from Kawasaki. Before throwing it all together, I did a full tune-up, adjusting the valves, sync-ing the carbs, and cleaning the air filter, changing the spark plugs, coolant, oil and oil filter. The spark plug wires were pretty stiff, so I threw in some NGK racing wires. I wanted crisper carburetion, so I got a Factory Pro Ti jet kit, too.

I think that's about it. That's the way bikes SHOULD be resold, with all renewed components, not just made to be pretty. If I ever got into the business of reselling bikes, I'd have to install new tires and chain and sprockets at the minimum.


  • Factory Pro Ti Config 01 jet kit. 132 mains, top clip on needle
  • Continental Sport 2000 tires kick ass - 110/90-16 and 130/90-16
  • Max-Blue headlight for visibility