Supporting Your Bike While Servicing
Though covered in the service manual, many people use creative methods to support a bike while servicing it. This often results in tip-over accidents. Below we list methods that are proven to work, as well as general tips for preparing your bike for service.
Make sure you can stabilize the bike somehow while applying brute force. For example, you can sit backwards on the bike while tackling the rear axle nut. Another example is to start loosening the oil drain bolt on the sidestand and then switch to the centerstand.
Disconnecting the Battery
If there is a chance you will work on electrical components, it is a good idea to disconnect the battery. Remember that some wires are hot even when the key is in the OFF position.
To disconnect the battery:
You'll see many ways of supporting your bike in this article. But if you're serious about working on your bike, you should really consider buying quality front and rear stands. They make working on your bike easier, faster, and safer. And, if you own one of the many modern bikes that come without a centerstand, having at least a rear stand is a very good idea.
This is one area where spending more money and buying the correct tool for the job makes a lot of difference. Cheaper stands tend to not be very stable, which can make them dangerous and, in the long run, more expensive.
One really important deficiency with cheap stands is that they don't fit a lot of bikes right out of the box. And how, you ask, do you make them fit? Why, by bending the arms further apart or closer together. Really. This makes them no longer in line on all planes. No matter what you do, one side will be a bit off. Good stands are adjustable.
This problem is especially critical with front stands that go into the ends of the forks. When popping the bike up onto one of them, you have to hold the front tire to stabilize the forks or else it goes off to one side. And, they are still incredibly unsteady if you touch the bike.
One of the other problems with these is that the front tire does not want to come out, because the bike is not lifted very high off the ground. A Pit Bull stand, on the other hand, brings the bike up nearly 4".
The pictures below show one of the cheap kind of front stands that go into the indents on the very end of the forks. These are HIGHLY UNSTABLE. There are several other things that are not even bike stands that would be more stable than this (read further).
There are so many brands of stands, so what to look for is not the brand but the TYPE. Stands that are one piece of bent round tube tend to be weak.
Bend-to-fit stands are especially awful, whether front or rear. They can be used but are more likely to drop your bike than quality stands.
All of this means that good stands have more production costs and thus more expense. But it's still cheaper to:
If you want to get really good stands, Pit Bull is considered by many to be the top brand. They can be (literally) tossed around the paddock/garage for more than a decade and still work as designed. There are other good stands. Look at the design and get something sturdy.
There are two kinds of front stands: Those that lift by the bottom of the forks ("fork lift") and those that go under the lower triple. Of these, the triple tree stand is more versatile.
For maintenance, if you want to do anything other than take the front wheel off, the triple stand is the way to go. Some people prefer a fork lift for track days. Pit Bull makes a stand that will convert to both. This video from Sportbike Track Gear explains some of the options and how to use Pit Bull stands.
Be careful when you use a front stand. You have to either use a centerstand that is tall enough to keep the rear wheel off the ground or a rear/swingarm stand along with the front stand. Having the rear wheel on the ground and the front on a stand is just one small step more stable than the bike standing by itself on its own 2 wheels. Also, make sure you take the bike off the front stand first.
You should really only use the centerstand/front stand combination for short-term projects (less than one day). Longer than that and the rear stand adds noticeably more stability to the whole setup.
A triple tree stand works with a pin that inserts in the hole in the triple. A standard pin with its sleeve adapter will work for most bikes, but you can get separate pins for specialized bikes. Some stands are sold with an assortment of pins. You can look at the Pit Bull fitting charts to find which pin fits your bike. The EX250F uses the standard pin, and the 250J takes pin #1.
These work in a fairly obvious way. Many modern bikes can be fitted with spools for the stand's feet to fit into (the EX250J, for example):
For the EX250F, you'll need paddles that rest on the swingarm. Some stands have feet that can be changed from paddles to spools, and some only fit one or the other.
Just make sure to, if you're using a front stand, put the bike on the rear stand first and take it off the rear last.
Economy vs quality stands
A Totally Biased Review
A lot of people either can't afford to or don't want to spend the money on a Pit Bull stand. I can sympathize, but when it comes to tools I cannot agree. Recently I had the opportunity to pick up an "economy" rear stand for literally a song, so I figured at the very least I'd have something to post a comparison about.
The stand is a PSR (Power Stands Racing) and can be purchased from MotorcycleGear.com and many other retailers. It's $55, but it only comes with the spool attachment, so if you have a bike like the EX250F that doesn't have spools, add the swingarm flat lifters for an extra $15. Add shipping and you're up to $85.
The Pit Bull SS Rear Motorcycle Stand comes with a convertible spool-paddle attachment for $145 shipped from Sportbike Track Gear.
First impressions of the PSR were that it seemed to be of OK quality. The stand ships disassembled, and online reviews were very clear that the stand should be bolted together TIGHT or the arms would shift under load. Upon assembling it, I was disappointed at the fit and really not impressed, possibly because I have PB stands against which to compare and pass judgment. My overall impression is that I'm glad I got my Pit Bulls, and if both had been in the store at the time I bought mine, I would still have made the same decision.
The tubing outside diameter of the PSR is 1 1/4" - Pit Bull is 1 1/2". Wheels are 3 3/4 Pit Bull and 2 3/4 PSR.
Since the holes in the PSR don't match up, the two parts of the frame that are supposed to fit together and support each other don't, and all the weight is on the bolts.
On the PSR, the cross bracing on the legs is not welded all the way around. And the welds that are there weren't done particularly well.
The width adjusters on the Pit Bull are beefier and have a much better design. The two right photos show how the Pit Bull SS adapter flips over to accommodate either spools or swingarm paddles.
As with most tools, you get what you pay for. If you plan on using something for years, it pays to get a quality one.
Followup after using the PSR
Despite the crappy looking welds, once bolted together firmly it does feel solid when in use. It takes some fiddling to get the paddles lined up properly, but that may just be an adjustment issue on my part. One thing I did notice is that you have to be very careful about where on the swingarm you lift it. Put the paddle in the wrong place and it hits the sprocket nuts. This is quite common on cheap stands and may lead you to think there's something wrong with your brake caliper, as the wheel won't go around like it's supposed to.
I guess if you're really in need of a stand "now" and don't have the funds get a high quality one, get this one. But I still recommend that you save up some money over time and get a Pit Bull. Nothing about this stand excites me or made me rethink my choice in getting a Pit Bull the first time around.
Alternatives for Supporting the Rear End
Luckily, the Ninja 250F has a centerstand, so it can be used to support the rear end. A few comments about using the centerstand:
Alternatives for Supporting the Front End
Depending on what exactly you need to do, this can be done in a few ways:
1) If you need to work on the forks, you will have to prop the engine. Of course, you will have to remove the lower fairing for that to work. Be sure to put the bike on the centerstand to reduce the weight on the exhaust headers and make the bike stable enough so it won't fall over. Examples:
You can prop the front on the drain bolt or the headers, or both. Use the one you're comfortable with.
You can also prop the engine with a jack or jackstand (which goes under the oil drain bolt). This method is less stable, but allows you to raise or lower the front end smoothly.
2a) If you have access to an overhead beam, a ratcheting tie-down (with a large ratchet mechanism) can be strung between the top triple clamp and the beam (or two beams - see picture below). Run your strap under one side of the triple, around the rear of the steering stem, then under the triple on the other side and back up to the rafter. Make sure it pulls evenly on both sides of the triple.
If you use this method, be careful not to put pressure on any cables or wires, and ensure that the tie-down is pulling on the center of the bike. This is not the best way to do it, but can be useful when supporting under the bike isn't an option.
2b) A better way to do this is to loop the tie-down through the frame. There are two reasons for this. 1. It's impossible to do it around the top triple without removing a bolt holding the ignition wires in place. 2. You can't remove the triples when you're holding the bike up by them.
You don't need to disassemble anything for this option; it doesn't pinch or touch anything important, and it's fast. It's as stable as it gets when suspending a bike like this and on the center stand (meaning the front end swings a bit). Make sure you loosen any bolts while the front end is still on the ground. If your bike doesn't have a centerstand, you have to also use a rear stand.
3) If you just need to take the front wheel off, you can:
The obvious downside is that this is not very stable. Taking off both wheels with the front end supported in such a way is not recommended.
Working on the Engine
If you plan to work on the engine, you should get an engine stand.