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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've only ever checked and adjusted the tappet/lock nut type valves so I don't think the method I used with the feeler gauges works the same with the valve buckets.
I have always pushed the feeler gauge even if it takes a bit of force, and then slide it back and forth and see how much resistance it has to sliding between the valve and the tappet.
For instance, I can try a .23mm and it goes easy and feels too loose, so then try .25 and it goes in nice and when I slide it back and forth and feels perfect. Then I try the .28mm and it hits a slight stop but I can still get the gauge in by pushing on it and when I slide it back and forth it feels exactly the same as the .25mm??
I think I'm doing it wrong. I'm guessing that if the gauges stops at all then it is too big and my clearance is the next size down? It's hard to explain what I mean but I am wondering how you guys check your clearances? Do you go by the force it takes to push the gauge in or how well it slides back and forth once it's between the valve and bucket?
I also read somewhere that the Ninja 300's valve buckets have a slight concave to them that will allow you to insert a gauge that is actually too large?
So, if the gauge stops at all when trying to insert it then it's too big even if I can push it in with slight force?
It is driving me nuts and I've checked the valves 100 times but I don't want to button everything back up until I know my clearances are correct.
 

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Hmm I think I know what you are talking about. I have not done the lock-nut type valves before, but I have done the shim-under-bucket type adjustment on multiple bikes, and multiple times on my 300.

When I am checking valve clearances, I will go up in thickness until I find the gauge that just purely will not fit.

I generally choose the gauge that doesn't have any trouble getting the initial slide under the cam lobe. I don't use the friction sliding force of how hard it is to slide it around once I've gotten the gauge in. So in my case, I use the insertion force to determine fitment.

Plus, if you shove a larger gauge in, you'll read the clearance as too high. Then you might put a thicker shim in, and make an already nominal clearance tighter, and accelerate the need for a new valve clearance adjustment. I would tend to set the valve clearance slightly larger than smaller, since the gap closes over time generally as your valve seats wear. So if you're splitting hairs between two clearance gauges, go with the reading on the thinner blade, and shim hanging towards the size that makes the clearance slightly larger if you are torn between readings.

That all said though, I still aim for the middle of the spec when setting valve clearances, but my shims adjust in sizes of 0.05mm, and 0.05mm is a significant fraction of the adjustment range, which is usually about 0.10 - 0.20mm or 0.20 - 0.30mm. Two shim sizes up would be too much in any case where the clearance was already in spec. So most often, the adjustment goes from a too tight clearance to a pretty wide clearance with going down in one shim thickness change.

I also measure the shims myself with a micrometer. Not all shims are identical. I sort them based on their true thicknesses, and use them in places to get the clearance I want. A 3.85mm shim may actually be 3.84 or 3.86mm. And that deviation you can use to your advantage to get a more finely tuned clearance.

Make sure you apply oil or assembly lube to the shims and buckets when installing, and turn the crankshaft multiple times after you do the shimming to then re-verify the clearance again.

Hope this helps.

-Mike
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I noticed that with shim thickness. In the manual Kawasaki list their shims as being 2.75mm, 2.80mm etc. but mine were something like 2.77, 2.78, 2.75 and 2.80 (I forget the actual numbers but they are not all either 2.75 or 2.80.
I think maybe whatmight also be giving me trouble is that the bucket spins when I’m moving the gauge around. I’ll try it with your method and use that. Thank you sir!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
What I was doing was I'd keep using larger gauges and they would be increasingly harder to get under the cam lobe, but still moved around just fine once under there. If it sticks at all when trying it then I'll say the next smaller size is my clearance.
 

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That sounds fine. I think they design these things with a tolerance as well. No two humans will do the exact same valve job most likely, and it's no big deal.

But yeah, the valve shims vary in thickness actually quite a bit. So when you do the equation to choose the correct next shim, use the actual thickness of your current shims, not the numbers on them.

Sounds like you already had your head in the right place though, so all good!

-Mike
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
That's a good point as well with the tolerances. Undoubtably we all probably do it a bit different and it ends up okay. I always second guess myself with these things because if I put my bike back together and find I've done it wrong it'll be a pain in the ass to take it all back apart haha. Thanks again Sparky, gonna get out in the shop and tackle it this morning.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
What I was doing was I'd keep using larger gauges and they would be increasingly harder to get under the cam lobe, but still moved around just fine once under there. If it sticks at all when trying it then I'll say the next smaller size is my clearance.
The only thing that sucks about using this method is that I know my number 2 exhaust valve measures too tight at .20mm so out comes the cam again.:whistle:
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Bingo! I’m confident I got them all correct using that method. I should gave taken a picture but when I had my cam out I could see where the feeler gauges actually contact the cam lobe (since I shoved different gauges in about 300 times) and the gauge only contacts a strip along the bottom of the lobe less than 1mm wide (should have taken a pic) but I think thats why it is easy to push oversize gauges in on accident. And if the buckets are concave like someone mentioned it would make it easier to get a wrong reading. Glad I took the time to fix it because it would have eaten me alive:devilish:
A tip for anyone removing their cam/s to shim the valves. Dry a spot on the chain and cam sprocket so you can mark where they meet with a sharpie. I’m sure Im not the first to do it but it made putting the exhaust cam back in a 1000 times quicker and easier. Still count the pins and make sure the marks align with the head as well. Thanks again Sparky!
Automotive tire Gear Motor vehicle Locking hubs Rim
 

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Indeed I did the same thing on my cam chain! I used white paint, worked a charm as well.

Very nicely done! Hopefully when you next ride it, you will find newfound mid-range torque, and a stronger idle. Let us know!

-Mike
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I hope so too and glad I checked them. I was contemplating it since my bike only had just over 10,000 miles and I don’t normally rev it out that much. I still had 2 valves out of spec once I figured out how to use my feeler gauges lol.
 

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Interesting finding. Actually, I always had a valve or two on exhaust pretty out of spec every time I went in there, until I replaced my piston rings, gaskets, and changed to full-synthetic oil. Quite odd.

I ran my 300 on conventional cheapest of the cheap until I hit 40,000 miles. Track days, hard canyon riding, high speed stuff, hot and cold, you name it. All because I would change the oil pretty frequently with how much I was riding. But after that work, I switched to Amsoil full synth for metric bikes, and last time I was in there for a valve clearance adjustment, they were all almost exactly in spec. I think I may have changed one shim, and it didn't need to be changed. I remember thinking it was almost a waste of time to have gone in there, because it didn't need adjustment. I kid you not. Next time I do my valve clearance inspection will probably be 65-70k miles.

I can't really explain why this was the case. Most times I went in there, the valve clearance adjustment was clearly needed. Last time, it just wasn't. Ams was the only full synth oil I found that didn't make my clutch feel grabby, and didn't make my cam cam make more noise than usual. It has worked better for me than even 300V. I don't think the Ams is anything really special, but I think it just has none of the stuff causing my issues that other oils have, and that was why the conventional worked quite well also.

First time I've ever had an experience where oil 'mattered' that much. Maybe it is just a coincidence, and other things caused that change, but still. I would also recommend a manual CCT when you start getting into higher mileages. I am no engine expert, but I would believe a loose cam chain due to a poor tensioner would cause more valve train wear, and would probably make your valve adjustments be more severe each time. As I mentioned to OP in a DM, my cam chain has stretched enough that the stock tensioner just can't hold it right anymore, even a brand new unit. I still have that brand new unit in a box, because I put the Spears MCCT in and never looked back. Maybe the cam chain tension plastic guide has also worn, causing my situation, but the MCCT just has the range of adjustment I needed and it has never gotten loose or needed an adjustment since I put it in, for real.

TLDR, I highly recommend a MCCT and a good quality full-synth oil for this bike as you get into mileage above 20k. Trust me. If I had known sooner, I wouldn't have done it the way I did.

Sorry for the ramble, it's just fascinating stuff.

EDIT: After my rambling about MMCT's, I am reminded that my GSX-R needs one. I have only had bad experiences with the standard automatic ones and only good experiences with manual ones...

-Mike
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I had a manual cct on my last Ninja 250 and they are good peace of mind. I was wondering whether it was a potential problem on the 300 especially since I just had it on and off 4 times compressing the spring over and over. I think I may get one the next time I do a valve check.
In all those miles did you ever have an intake valve tighten up or were they all exhaust valves? All of my intake valves, the .15mm gauge slipped in easy and the .18mm was a bit sticky pushing it in. I wouldn't be surprised if that's the way they came.
On other bikes I've had the transmissions seemed sensitive to the type of oil so the shifting would get notchy pretty quickly after changing the oil. On my 300 it seems like no matter the oil it shifts notchy or just a bit more "harsh" then I'm use to. Maybe it's the slipper clutch? I've only had pre-gen 250's and both of them shifted like butter. I just ordered a quick shifter so I guess this summer I'll really thrash the transmission:ROFLMAO:
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I might actually try that Amsoil next time. I'm going to take my bike for one good run this spring and change the oil just to rinse out any dust that got in the top end from the valve adjustment. Even though I kept it covered when I wasn't working on it, the bike is in a small woodshop with a furnace made for a house trailer so she throws around some dust (kept it off every time I was working to keep dust down).
 

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Ah nice. Yeah cover the open engine parts while working!

Try the Amsoil. They have literally marketed it as an oil geared towards smoother shifts and clutch use. It does indeed do that. I also experienced the harsh notching of the shifting on other oil, and this significantly helped.

And yeah, all my valves would get out of spec and tighten up, but moreso the exhaust valves. I think that is normal, since the exhaust valves get so much hotter so much faster. IIRC there is a real, proven reason the exhaust valves live a harsher life, I just forget what it is exactly. But yeah they all needed adjustment when I did it, but the exhaust ones were the only ones I've ever had be super close to no clearance before.

Try the Ams. Make sure you get the 10w-40 with the blue cap, "Metric Motorcycle oil", kinda marketed towards sportbikes and the like. I run it in my GSX-R and my 300, and it just works great.

-Mike
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Awesome thanks I will try the Amsoil. I’ll try anything if it might help shift better. Never had a bike before that if you have to be absolutely perfect with the clutch or else you get a clunky shift. It’s really bad 1-2nd gear, moderately bad 3-4 and fine 5-6 gear. Really not a huge deal but it drives me nuts. I don’t see other people really complain about it except maybe shifting from 1-2 so I wonder if its just my bike. Wish I knew someone with another 300 to try.
 

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Well 1-2 yeah that's just how they are. I think the extra clunk 1-2 and 2-1 is just the positive neutral equipment working. It actually has a centrifugal clutch inside the gearbox, and it only allows you to shift to 2nd or higher gears when the bike is moving above a certain speed. And by design, I believe the weight of that centrifugal item just makes those gears more crunchy.

Other than that, the rest of the gears you will find newfound smoothness and every shift will be more discrete. It will feel more.... once, as opposed to and mid-shift catching or grinding.

In your case though, yours does sound a bit more finicky than most. I have ridden at least 3-4 ninja 300's, and none of them required me to be "absolutely perfect with the clutch or else you get a clunky shift". My bike with so many miles does seem to have some heightened drivetrain lash, but no clunking.

Check your chain tension, clean the chain, check your rear wheel alignment, adjust perhaps both the engine and handlebar clutch cable adjusters, and make sure you actually pull the clutch all the way in the instant you click through gears. Also, it's easy to miss-shift slightly if your shift pedal is too high or too low, so if you check all that and the issue persists, try moving the shift pedal height a hair. I found stock I had to lower the shift pedal a decent deal, and I run GP shift on CFM rearsets now, and it has to be LOW for me to get positive downshifts (pulling the pedal up).

Hopefully that helps. If all of that doesn't make it not like how you were saying it is, then you may have a dragging clutch, worn basket, warped plates, worn throwout bearing, etc. I will say after having worked on my GSX-R without a slipper clutch, the slipper clutch by design seems to be way more finicky about overall stack height (thickness of clutch plates). I got my 300 with a slipping clutch, and I replaced with OEM plates. Although, I found the worn plates were barely thinner than the new ones. Like visually I absolutely couldn't tell the difference. The new plates have worked great for maybe 20 or 30 thousand miles though. This is all a last resort though, so only get in here if your issue persists or seems abnormal.

What area of the states are you in by any chance? Odds are you can find someone in the area with a N300. I am in the Pacific Northwest, Seattle area. Hopefully you could do a side-by-side comparison.

-Mike
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
I keep my chain tension correct and chain clean and rear wheel aligned so I don't think it's that but you may be onto something with the shift pedal being too high. Once in a while I hit neutral when shifting to 2nd so that could be a clue.
Also could be the slipper clutch I just cant get used to which is what I suspected in the past. I wish I could convert it all back to regular.
It isn’t bad enough that I’m convinced it’s a problem with a bad part clutch etc. and also put 7,000 miles on it and it hasn’t gotten any worse (or better), just clunky as usual haha. It’s something I can’t exactly put my finger on but I cannot get consistent smooth shifts. Even back on my first bike when I had 0 experience with my learners permit I taught myself how to ride in the city, I never really had any issue with shifting smoothly. Just something about this bike. The previous owner did drop it (why he sold it to me for a good deal :) ) so maybe it did put something out of whack?
I’m in Maine and there are some 300’s around but I don’t know anyone who has one.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Hey Mike, do you use an aftermarket seat? That’s one thing I need to upgrade eventually. Anything over an hour and the seat doesn’t cut it the way it jams me forward into the tank. I don’t see too many options but Saddleman looks good if they still make one for the 300?
 

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I actually don't use an aftermarket seat. I have been meaning to find something as well, but I haven't. If you find yourself sliding into the tank, maybe get some tank grips if you don't have them already. That's a pretty universal problem with sport bikes is that your arms and legs get tired of supporting your body slipping on the seat. I got the StompGrip pad sheet, and cut out my own bits.

In my opinion, tank grips are absolutely mandatory on any sporty ish bike, or any bike that the tank is part of the rider interface. I hate riding without them.

If you've already got tank grips, then I also suggest moving your bars or footpegs. Clip ons and rearsets didn't make the bike 'more comfortable' to me, but it did make controlling the bike easier, which I guess also is technically making it "more comfortable". Stock controls are pretty neutral and upright, but there's no one-size-fits-all. Start adjusting!

-Mike
 
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