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Discussion Starter #1
Hey all,

I've got a '14 300 with 30k miles on it. I really keep up with my maintenance, and just did the valve adjustment myself. The motor runs great, smooth, good power, and only makes some slight ticking noises I would associate with age. However, my transmission has very slowly gotten more and more knock-y and lashy. So when I roll on and off the throttle, it feels like my chain is just totally loose, but it is not. The chain is relatively new as well, DID X-ring chain. Very nice chain btw. And when I changed the sprockets, the rubber dampers in the rear wheel looked okay too.

A few things I have picked up on about this issue:
-it happens in all gears. Therefor, it is not related to a certain gear specifically
-when changing the sprockets, I noticed there was a lot of rotational play in the countershaft, it would rotate perhaps 30-40 degrees back and forth if I remember, it felt like a lot, but my numbers may be inaccurate.
-yes, its still there when my chain is tight, with brand new JT sprockets.

Although drivetrain lash is quite well overcome by good throttle technique, it is still quite annoying.
Is there perhaps a certain single or pair of gears in the transmission shafts that is needing replacement? That is the only thing making my ride not feel premium anymore.
Any help is appreciated.
-Mike
 

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Is it possible you're feeling jerkiness in the engine and not the trans? These bikes are known for having kind of jerky throttles at low speed transition and something may be exacerbating that.
The internal drivetrain is all gears so unless something is seriously going wrong the internal slack can't really change much.
 

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Even if the rubber dampers are good in the cush drive, there will most likely still be a lot of slop.

With the rear wheel off the ground and the engine in gear, see if you can spin the wheel back and forth without moving the chain/sprocket.

We've shimmed numerous cycles, but our Kawis have been the worst -

https://faq.ninja250.org/wiki/How_to_shim_the_cush_drive

I like to use ABS plastic for shims, cut in rectangles to fit snugly between the rubber damper and the wheel.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Dont think its my engine, the motor runs really happily. No noises with the lash either. Perhaps I will investigate the rear cush drive, shimming could help if thats the issue, but I am not sure if it is.

That's also the thing, it is not limited to low speed, I know what jerky throttle response is like at low rpms and such, and this bike didn't do this when I bought it, although that was almost 20,000 miles ago.... I've beat the bike hard since I got it, no crashes, but just a ton of wringing it out and hard shifting. But it was my understanding that most bikes, even sport bikes, if actually maintained, could reach well into the 50-100k miles range. And that transmission "gears" were basically a lifetime item.

I havent tried rolling the rear wheel to see if it moves *without the sprocket moving*, but I know it rolls *with the sprocket*. Like I said, the countershaft where the front sprocket is mounted has a lot of rotational play when the bike is in gear, just sitting. Then again, I am not experienced servicing any other bikes, but I am almost sure the lash I am experiencing is coming from the transmission, because my clutch also has rotational play, when I serviced it a few months ago.

I replaced the clutch, and its great. However, the basket had similar rotational play in it. And get this, for example, when I am engine braking to a stoplight, and finally pull the clutch in, then sometimes I will put the bike in neutral for long lights, and when I let go of the clutch in neutral (engine running of course) I'll hear a "clank", that is the transmission becoming slightly loaded from clutch drag. If that makes sense, it's hard to explain, but I guess what I am trying to say is that the lash is experience-able without the rear wheel even moving, or it being in gear.

I bought the bike for 2k, at 12,000 miles, and now its at right under 30,000 miles, only minor cosmetic damage and a slightly bent right bar. Is it worth the money to potentially replace the transmission or sub components of it? I'd value the bike at around 1500-2000, it's in better shape than when I bought it, but it does have much more wear. Im worried if the trans actually does blow, the bike is totaled. (which may be typical of any sportbike, but even doing the work myself, I am wondering if its worth it)

What options do you guys think I have? Would all 6 gear pairs on the shafts be worn evenly, and just had worn teeth? In which case I would just need all new gears? Or is there a "master" gear that comes off the crankshaft that could be worn down alone? Which is more likely? I would think 1st gear would be way more worn than any others except maybe 6th, but I guess it is a constant mesh straight tooth tranny, and they could all be evenly worn... If its a 500-1000 dollar fix in parts alone, I don't think I would do it, just sell the machine to a learner and save for a new machine.

Any more thoughts guys? Thanks for the input.
-Mike
 

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So the transmission gears are in constant mesh but only the gear you're in at the time has any load on it so the gears won't exactly wear evenly.

As far as rebuilding; the trans and engine cases are one unit do to get to the trans you're pulling the engine completely apart as well. It could be done fairly economically if you're doing it yourself but paying someone else would probably put it beyond economical repair. Youd be better off buying a used engine off eBay.

I have a difficult time thinking that simple geartrain wear could get bad enough for you to really feel it without something outright failing from the wear.

You said you rebuilt your clutch. Was this issue there before the rebuild? The clutch has some parts that can fail causing looseness (there are damping springs that can break etc). Its not a common issue I've heard of on the 300 but its fairly easy to get to and inspect so it might be worth a shot.
 

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I don't think you want to get into the trans at this point, and I'm not sure you'd even find an obvious problem in there.

Clutch baskets do wear, but I'm not sure if that type of wear would do what you described - but it could.

Check the cush drive first. Snug it up and see if there's any change. If not I'd look into the clutch basket next.
 

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If the damping springs are broken or collapsed it would do as described. But the cush drive is a good place to look.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Well you guys were right! I was able to observe a very slight play in the cush drive when parked, and opened it up and shoved some milk carton plastic in it and the lash was significantly reduced, perhaps 90% better. Didn't think the amount of play I was seeing would make that big of a difference compared to some of the horror stories I have seen online about 250s and practically flopping sprockets.

However, my cush shimming has seemed to wear down very quickly and it is now only slightly better than before the shimming. I put multiple layers of the plastic pieces between the blocks, enough to make it tight enough that I had to put most of my body weight onto the wheel when wiggling the sprocket piece back on to get it to seat.

The rubber as I found before, looks to be in good shape, no tearing or visible deformation or anything, just play that I want out. Should I just get much thicker pieces of plastic and shim the heck out of it and mallet the sprocket back on? It was complete bliss for about half a day, then it was back to lots of clunking.

Thanks for pointing me the right way guys, pretty sure the cush drive was the issue. Just need it keep it fixed.
Thanks in advance.
-Mike
 

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I use pieces of .060" ABS plastic sheet the size of the contact area, and it hasn't ever changed.

It's a snug fit, but force isn't needed to get it to go back together.
 

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Well you guys were right! I was able to observe a very slight play in the cush drive when parked, and opened it up and shoved some milk carton plastic in it and the lash was significantly reduced, perhaps 90% better. Didn't think the amount of play I was seeing would make that big of a difference compared to some of the horror stories I have seen online about 250s and practically flopping sprockets.

However, my cush shimming has seemed to wear down very quickly and it is now only slightly better than before the shimming. I put multiple layers of the plastic pieces between the blocks, enough to make it tight enough that I had to put most of my body weight onto the wheel when wiggling the sprocket piece back on to get it to seat.

The rubber as I found before, looks to be in good shape, no tearing or visible deformation or anything, just play that I want out. Should I just get much thicker pieces of plastic and shim the heck out of it and mallet the sprocket back on? It was complete bliss for about half a day, then it was back to lots of clunking.

Thanks for pointing me the right way guys, pretty sure the cush drive was the issue. Just need it keep it fixed.
Thanks in advance.
-Mike
Can't you just get a new set of those rubber things from Kawi?
 

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It's likely the bushing rubber has deteriorated. I would go ahead and replace the bushings and see how that goes.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Hmm, it feels healthy, flexible, no cracking, and for the most part, no visible wear at all. The new one is about 50 dollars, I guess that's not a bad price to pay, but I am just wondering if even the new one may have play that is unwanted, and if 50 bucks later isnt *50 bucks better*, then it wouldn't have been worth the cash.

I think I will try to shim one more time, I didn't put a lot of shims in the first time, so maybe I'll give it one more go, and if it doesn't hold off, I guess I'll just buy a new damper. I've ridden a 300 of the same year with like 1000 miles on it, and it does feel good. So perhaps a new damper would be good performing.

Any more thoughts? Thanks again guys.
-Mike
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Hmm well this sucks.

So I changed out the shims and put thicker ones in and the fit was great. Nice snug fit and put it back together.

So now the lash feels worse? The chain has the right slack and everything as well. I noticed on this ride also that my transmission is having a worse and worse time shifting as well. It sometimes fails to get into first gear, just grinding as if I was trying to without the clutch, but obviously I am, and the clutch is in perfect health, I recently replaced it, and the cable, and it is setup correctly, and the clutch action itself is perfect. 1st and 2nd gear are becoming troublesome. They are around the neutral point and the shift between the 2 gears is usually a hefty one, but there has been more often grinding between 1 and 2 lately. Not always but under certain circumstances. Sometimes I will pop out of 6th gear as well under high load. Oil level is good and recently changed as well, and engine runs like a champ.

Im starting to change my mind, and revert back to what I was thinking before, in that this is a transmission problem... The lash is just as bad with the shimmed cush drive, and shifting and general transmission use is becoming more and more difficult, even with as good of technique as I can use, it still is rather clanky and rough. Maybe my shift drums and forks are getting beat up or maybe I have a bent fork, but shifting aside, the lash is still ever present. it's so bad that I believe it causes my clutch to actually slip even when the lever is out completely, and I can hear/feel it.

Im going to research some costs of parts, but I am starting to think this is going to lead to me just selling the bike soon. Realistically it would take me probably about a month to pull it apart, diagnose, order parts, and fix it, and if the parts are already hundreds of dollars, it might just have to go.

Any more thoughts? Rather disappointed in this unfortunate outcome...
-Mike
 

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Discussion Starter #16
UUUHG.

On partzilla, individual gears are about 50-85 a piece, a single shift fork is 50, and drums are 112 a piece. Worst case, if all of that was shot, it would be many hundreds of dollars in parts alone. If the actual gears in the trans are okay, and I just need a new fork or two and a drum, its still over 200 bucks, perhaps best case. But then I'll need some new gaskets, new fluids, probably some new bolts that are consumables and must be replaced once removed, and the bolts and gaskets are probably at least a hundred for all of them...

This is not looking good. Best case, if only a few pieces in there need to be replaced, probably looking at 300+ in parts only. Worst case, looking at probably 6-700 dollars in parts only... Those numbers don't look too great to me. That is probably well approaching half of the selling value of the bike, without even factoring in the weeks it would even take me to fix it. I am all for doing the work, but I think Id rather put hundreds of dollars into the new bike fund instead.

What do you guys think? I could sell it to someone learning to ride, and that could be someone's cheap entry into learning to ride.
I just keep putting in a hundred dollars here, a hundred there, a new set of head bearings here, fixing up the cush drive, it all just keeps adding up, and I might be in for just getting a new bike. Again, on a steep budget since I can't work much during school, and if a fresher bike can start saving me money, I am in.

Any more ideas before I start thinking about listing it up? Thanks for the help guys.

-Mike
 

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Unfortunately without pulling it apart you can't even begin to estimate the cost involved.
The decision all rests on what you're comfortable with. Pulling the engine apart is no small job and can easily lead to a can of worms. On the other hand you're not going to get much for the bike with the known issues. I wouldn't feel comfortable selling a bike with trans problems to a new rider. It would be better sold as a project for someone looking for such a thing.
There's no good answer unfortunately and you're likely going to take a hit either way.
Personally I'd pull it apart but I'm also a professional mechanic.
If you have the time and patience and it sounds like fun (and you are completely happy with the bike otherwise) I say have at it.
If it sounds like a big pita and you've been eyeing something with a bit more jam anyway then get what you can for it and start looking for an upgrade.
 

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Hmm well this sucks.

So I changed out the shims and put thicker ones in and the fit was great. Nice snug fit and put it back together.

So now the lash feels worse? The chain has the right slack and everything as well. I noticed on this ride also that my transmission is having a worse and worse time shifting as well. It sometimes fails to get into first gear, just grinding as if I was trying to without the clutch, but obviously I am, and the clutch is in perfect health, I recently replaced it, and the cable, and it is setup correctly, and the clutch action itself is perfect. 1st and 2nd gear are becoming troublesome. They are around the neutral point and the shift between the 2 gears is usually a hefty one, but there has been more often grinding between 1 and 2 lately. Not always but under certain circumstances. Sometimes I will pop out of 6th gear as well under high load. Oil level is good and recently changed as well, and engine runs like a champ.

-Mike
A couple simple things come to mind.

Are you sure the chain is not too tight? Did you check it in every position by spinning the wheel? I'd just confirm, and make sure it's not too tight or has inconsistent tension.

It also sounds like there may be a clutch issue. Does the clutch completely disengage when the lever is pulled in? Does it creep forward in gear with the clutch in?

Popping out of top gear is not an unusual problem for the Ninja. I believe there is a kit with a new spring that cures it, and doesn't require complete trans disassembly. Might want to look into it. Pretty sure there is info here somewhere.
 

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He seemed pretty confident about the clutch setup but yeah its always a good to go back and double check anything that you've worked on. If something is broken in the clutch it could cause weird issues. Also to ensure the clutch is (at least externally) engaging all the way just make sure there is slack in the cable with the clutch lever out.
Since the clutch is fairly easy to get to it might be a good idea to go in there and just give it a once over.
I'll have to check out that 6th gear issue. Its not one I'm familiar with.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
There is play in my clutch lever, and it doesn't creep on me at all. Clutch action seems by the book. It has new springs as well when I replaced it. The chain is not too tight, I have tightened it to the spec. The chain is in excellent shape, I put in a DID X ring 520 chain a few thousand miles back, and religiously keep it clean and lubed. Zero kinking, stiffness, or changing slack whatsoever.

Yeah you guys may be right, it's very hard for me to assess without opening it up. I have helped my buddy drop his 250R motor before, and do some piston work on it, so at the least I am generally familiar with the process of getting the motor out and apart, but I have not split a crankcase before. Perhaps you guys are right, maybe I should list it as a project bike and get what I can. It's a real shame, literally everything else on the bike *in terms of performance* is in excellent condition. It rides great, the motor is running extremely well. I just don't want to open it up only to find I can't afford the fix or similar situations.

Has anyone else noticed the transmission gets a little finicky if it has been a while since the last oil change? I used to notice that more with synthetic oil. It would refuse to shift sometimes, clutch would feel grabby, ect. And then it would be completely remedied by a nice oil change. Kind of went away when I went back to conventional oil. My CCT was sounding awful with the synth oil I was using, lots of clicking, but as soon as I went to conventional, that stopped. Perhaps I will do another oil change, and see if there's any improvement. It hasn't been long at all since my last change, but it was right after the valve job.

Thanks for the comments, more are appreciated.
-Mike
 
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