Barbie's guide to valve adjustments

Today I'll be showin' ya how I adjust the valves on my cutie Ninjette. As you'll soon see it takes quite a while, but its not very difficult or anything.

So, like, to start with I really need to let 'cha know when to inspect/adjust your valve clearances. Your owners manual like suggests adjusting them 'bout every 6000 miles, but that number is kinda arbitrary if ya know what I mean. If the bike is ridden only by your grandma on Sunday's to get to church via back roads, the valves may only need to be adjusted half that often. If the bike is ridden at, like, really high rpm's often, the poor little valvies might need to be adjusted twice that often. So yer riding style has a lot to do with how often you'll need to tackle this procedure. I decided my valves needed to be adjusted after I was zoomin' through dah twisties trying to keep up with Ken's friends on bigger bikes for about 600 miles. Ever since that ride my poor little Ninjette, like, hasn't idled smoothly anymore, and the engine is now like slow as a snail climbing through 3000 rpm. These symptoms led me to believe that a valve adjustment is in order.

Anywho, to do a valve job you need your engine at room temperature and the bike on its centerstand.

First take the fairings and gas tank off the bike.

Then remove the right sparkplug coil.

Now the official Ninjette service manual says to remove the radiator. Since I tend to adjust my valves pretty often and I hate draining the coolant all the time, I've found a way to avoid doing it. If you haven't changed the coolant in a long time, or its your first time ever adjusting screw and locknut valves, ya probably want to remove the radiator. However, if, like, yer gonna do this a lot and yer dainty like me, you can drill a hole through the weld that holds the right hand coil mounting bracket onto the bike and can remove the bracket. This allows you to get the valve cover off without removing the radiator.

Next I remove the four valve cover bolts. For those of you following along at home who are attempting this without a torque wrench note how loosely these bolts are attached. If you're more than 6" tall you could probably really crank down on these bolts. Like, I highly suggest you NOT do this. So like whatever, you've been warned.

I tap then around the perimeter of the valve cover with either the butt end of a screwdriver or a rubber mallet to loosen the gaskets a bit. And gently lift and slide the valve cover out the right side of the bike without damaging the gaskets, which should be stuck to the engine.

Now I take a large flat blade screwdriver and remove the two plastic screw panel thingies on the lower left of the engine. Behind the large one is a bolt that I can, like, twist counterclockwise to turn the engine. Behind the small one I can see the timing markings on the flywheel.

Using a really big socket wrench with a 14 mm six pointed socket, turn the bolt that cover you just removed counterclockwise until you can see a the TDC bump on the flywheel that like approximately lines up with a notch on the engine case. Like everyone knows, the engine is now at TDC also known as Top Dead Center. When it's set to the right place, the pointy parts of the cylinder 1 cams look like my arms when cheerleading and spelling "Y". If you put your finger on the valve tappets on cylinder 1 now they should, like, wiggle a bit. Anyway, it should look something like this:

Now we are, like, ready to measure the first pair valves. Right now we are ready to measure the intake valves on the left side of the bike. The gap for the intake valves should be between 0.08mm and 0.13 mm if they are outside this range its possible to damage your engine. Here is what the measurement procedure looks like with the official valve clearance tool for the Ninjette.

Now since I do this all the time, I happen to have the official valve clearance measurement tool for my Ninjette. However I realize that many of you at home won't purchase this tool if you aren't going to be checking your valves frequently, so I'll also demonstrate with some standard SAE feeler gauges. Note that in this case 0.003 inches is, like, ever so slightly less than 0.08mm and 0.005 inches is ever so slightly less than 0.13 mm.

Now based on my measurements the outer valve is a hair less than 0.08mm and the inner valve a little more than 0.08 mm, so I am going to loosen both of them. Oh my God, I almost forgot. Let me give ya the low down on what different valve settings do to the engine for a sec. Like, running the valves tighter than spec may actually increase the top-end power. However this usually causes the bike to idle, like, really rough and will probably shorten engine life drastically. This is because tight valves tend to overheat, and may tulip into the cylinder head and/or erode the valve seat. Running them looser will decrease top end power and make the engine a bit noisier, but generally the engine will last a lot longer. Even though the inner valve is within spec, it's, like, barely within spec and I really want both of the valves to be set to the exact same clearance if possible. The engine runs best this way.

So I take my handy Ninjette valve adjustment tool (part number 57001-1220) and adjust the valve.

First I loosen the lock nuts a little bit, then I loosen the screw until I the feeler gauge drags between the cam lobe and the top of the valve tappet, but moves with moderate pressure. Then I tighten the lock nut back up, while keeping the screw in place with the screwdriver.

Now that the intake valves have been adjusted lets move on to the cylinder 1 exhaust valves. These clearances should be between 0.11mm and 0.16mm. If you're using the SAE gauges that's, like, between 0.004 inches and a teeny weenie bit bigger than 0.006 inches. If the exhaust valves have to be loosened you might wanna give yourself some more room by taking out the bolts that hold the radiator in place. The radiator will then be supported by the hoses and you'll be able to move it around a little to make room for your tools. If you still can't get enough room to adjust the valves properly, you'll have ta drain the coolant and remove the radiator as indicated in the manual.

The adjusting the valves second cylinder follows the exact same procedure as the first. The only difference is you have to work around the extra metal brace thingy that keeps the cam chain assembly rigid. Luckily, I have, like, small hands and am, like, very flexible from all of my Yoga, so I have no problem doing this. You shouldn't either with a little patience.

Picture of right hand side of the engine with cover off?

Once I adjust the right hand cylinder, I like to go back and measure the clearances for both cylinders again to make sure I have everything set correctly. Luckily on the Ninjette there aren't too many valves to check, so it shouldn't take you very long. Then I clean any dirt, grit and oil off of the cover gasket without dumping any nasty stuff into the engine. Then I simply put all of the pieces I took off to get to the valves back where they belong. I now start the engine up and listen to it.

If your valves were tight, and you adjusted them to the looser side of spec, you might hear some more, like, rattling noises than you are used to hearing. If you hear any LOUD grinding or banging, or the throttle doesn't seem to respond properly you may have to open things up and take another look.

My Ninjette is purring like a kitty cat so I'm off for a ride. See ya later!

Picture of Barbie in riding position??

Barbie is a trademark of Mattel Incorporated.
Mattel Incorporated has not endorsed this procedure nor had any input into this web page.
Kawasaki Heavy Industries has not endorsed this procedure nor had any input into this web page.

The authors of this page intend it to be a demonstration of a basic valve adjustment. It is not intended as a step by step instruction manual to perform this procedure yourself. Always follow the procedure indicated in your manual or have the adjustment done by a qualified mechanic.