[me!]  [back to my page]
Programmer's Reference to the Ninja 250
"Motorcycling common sense they forgot to tell the programmers."

"Programming is the Great Game. It consumes your body and soul. When you're caught up in it, nothing else matters. When you emerge into daylight, you might well discover that you're a hundred pounds overweight, your underwear is older than the average first grader, and judging from the number of pizza boxes lying around, it might be spring already. But you don't care, because your program runs, and the code is fast and clever and tight. You won."
- Orson Scott Card

 [yeah, this is me]

The information provided on this web page is for programmers only. Please refer to the appropriate O'Reilly 'Motorcycling (for programmers) in a Nutshell' handbook for official information. Individual results may vary. Not to be taken internally. Use DOT4 brake fluid only. Chill before serving. Do not drink and drive. Refrigerate after opening. HANG UP AND DRIVE!

 [dashboard] So  [odometer: 10,732.9 miles] the miles are adding up -- now getting close to 11,000 as I write this part of the page. I bought the bike -- brand new off the dealer's showfloor -- on the last day of March, 1998, just one day before I started working at IMII in Palm Beach Gardens. I did intend on starting a bike page long before now...but all of you obviously know how things get:

[c:\] m:
[m:\] cd dcitu
[m:\dcitu] nmake -f dcitu.mak

For  [daylight?!] those who have known me for any length of time, you'll no doubt remember this isn't my first bike. Just before turning 16 years old, and for the 2 consecutive years, I drove around on a 1987 belt-driven Kawasaki GPZ-305. Great way to motor around Toronto and up hwy 400 to Algonquin Park. (Perhaps I'll eventually find a picture or two to scan.) That was probably my only vehicle to come close to the infamous 'Undercover Porsche', my 1980 VW Rabbit diesel, model L. Red. Of course, red. With plumes of smelly black smoke escaping from the tailpipe...!


...but my Ninja, pictured here in one of the 2 parking spaces that I pay for but rarely use due to the "homeowners' association" (also known as the Condo Nazis, they told me that I was bringing the price of properties down by parking the bike outside, and that I'd be fined and/or evicted from the complex the next time I left it there overnight), is quite different from any of my past vehicles.

First  [hint: grease the chain] thing to learn is that the motorcycle isn't maintenance-free.

Actually, there was something else I learned even before I greased the chain for the first time.

(Which reminds me: do not grease the belt on a belt-drive!)
Driving to work maybe 2 weeks after I'd purchased the bike: I'd decided to see how much it would cost to fill the gas tank once I ran it dry. Things to remember: Learning the 2 items listed above will prevent you from having to learn the following 2 items: For the curious-minded: 5$ in gas every 270 miles.

[root@sys7 /]$ ls -la
total 106
drwxr-xr-x  17 root     root         1024 Apr 26  1998 .
drwxr-xr-x  17 root     root         1024 Apr 26  1998 ..
drwxr-xr-x   2 root     root            1 Jan 15  1998 bin
lrwxrwxrwx   2 root     root           17 Jan 29  1998 boot -> /dev/null
drwxr-xr-x  20 root     root            3 Dec 10 11:17 etc
-rw-------   1 root     root       104250 Dec 12 16:32 core
drwxr-xr-x   2 root     root            6 Dec  7 21:45 dev
lrwxrwxrwx   3 root     root           17 Jan 15  1998 sbin -> /dev/null
lrwxrwxrwx   6 root     root           17 Dec 11 00:23 tmp -> /dev/null
lrwxrwxrwx  21 root     root           17 Apr 26  1998 usr -> /dev/null
lrwxrwxrwx  13 root     root           17 Jan 12  1998 var -> /dev/null
[root@sys7 /]$ rm -rf *_

 [who me?!]

Sometime just past 8000 miles, I drove it over to Jupiter Cycles & Accessories; initially, I was going over for a simple oil change, but before the morning was through, I wound up with a new rear tire on the bike. I got there around 7:30am, gave them my name, handed over the keys, and then went on a 1-hour walk to give them time to get the oil changed. When I came back to pick it up, the conversation went something like this:

- Will you be paying with cash or credit?
- Humm...am I reading this right?
- Anything wrong?
- 160$ for an oil change?
- An oil change?! Weren't you the one who wanted a new rear tire installed?
- Oh!
Oh well -- just the previous day, I had commented to my co-workers that the rear tire was nearing the definition of bald. Now I wont have to worry about it for a while.

[root@sys3 /]$ ps -aux | grep bald
[root@sys3 /]$ kill -HUP tires
From what I gather,

September  [welcome to my living room!] 1998 brought some exciting times: my first real tropical storm of significant force, Hurricane Mitch. When I woke up at 4am and saw how the wind was pushing so much garbage around outside, I decided to drive the bike right into the living room.


- What were you doing?!
- I was trying to learn how to use DOS.
- But you got rid of everything! How did you do it?
- I was trying every command listed in the C:\DOS directory.
- In alphabetical order?
- Huh...yeah...how did you know?
- Let me guess: you got up to the the F section?
- Yeah!!!
- Want to hand me those DOS installation disks over there?
- These ones?
- Yes...the ones under the stack of fridge magnets...

   C:\DOS> format.exe
   Must specify drive letter.

   C:\DOS> format.exe c:
   Are you sure? (Y/N) _

 [right side of wheel]
 [left side of wheel]
Alas, the time for me to do my very fist chain adjustment has come at hand. The first two were done at the store -- at at 1000 miles, and the last one just after 8000 miles when the rear tire was replaced.

Last weekend, I noticed a rattle at low speeds. My first few attemps at finding the cause were unsuccessful. Eventually, I noticed that the chain was loose enough that when stopped, it was touching part of the frame. Thus the cause of the noise.

So I proceeded to remove the pin, loosen the bolt, fix the tension, and get everything back together. Twice -- since the first time around, I made the mistake of putting too much tension on the chain. Other than remembering to put gas in the bike every 250 miles or so, this is probably one of the simplest things I've done to increase the performance and feel of the bike. It feels just like it did when I first took it off the dealer's floor.

Things to note:

  • buy some spare cotter pins (there are none in the the toolkit under the seat)
  • keep the alignment tick marks balanced on the left and right side

[UP] [E-mail] charette@writeme.com
Stéphane Charette, 20 December, 1998