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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I’m betting others have done as much agonizing over this as I have and there’s precious little information out there, so I figured it might be a good time to start documenting our options.



I’ll start off with the technical challenges to replacing our rearsets:

  • The brake-side rearset is held in place by the swingarm pivot shaft. What does this mean? This essentially means you need to remove the shaft that connects the swingarm to your frame in order to free the right hand side rearset mount. Clearly Kawasaki never intended for us to replace these easily.
  • (On ABS models) the line running from the ABS sender to the rear master cylinder is a fixed steel pipe. This means for any significant adjustment in setback, you will need to either bend or replace the steel pipe connecting these two to account for the extra distance.

And the not-so-technical challenges:

- Availability. Let’s face it, the Ninja 650 isn’t a real aftermarket part magnet, beyond a few superficial items, when compared to the 400 and its bigger brothers. What is available is extremely expensive, hard to find, or both.



Having done a rearset change only yesterday, I will give the following advice to solve at least the first technical hurdle. You have two options to deal with the swingarm pivot depending on how much work you want to put into this. Both of these rely on you keeping the bike vertical and the rear tire suspended somewhat to unload the suspension. I recommend a wheel chock and a jack lift (I used a car jack with a piece of 2x4) against the oil pan.

- Detach the swingarm. I won’t go into detail here because it’s not the method I chose, but you will probably want to at least uncouple the swingarm from the rear shock so you don’t have loaded suspension trying to exert any pressure on the swingarm.

- Use a round rod to take the place of the swingarm pivot bolt. Find a rod the same diameter as the swingarm pivot, take a rubber mallet and use your replacement rod to drive out the swingarm pivot in situ. You will need to unload suspension for sure, but I managed to do this without detaching the rear shock.

I chose to use the second method. To do this I spared myself the search for a rod and just went to eBay to buy a swingarm pivot from a parted out ‘17+ 650. I think I paid maybe $20+shipping, YMMV. If you want to look for a rod, I would strongly suggest that you try to find one that matches the following dimensions as accurately as possible:

19.90mm
0.7845”.

That’s the measurement of the OEM swingarm pivot using some cheap calipers so +/- a rounding error is probably OK but I obviously won’t guarantee success. Don’t try to use just any old diameter rod. It may work fine just pushing the pivot out but you won’t be able to reverse the process easily. You might as well just detach the swingarm at that point.

Unbolt the nut from the swingarm pivot on the shifter side. Place the replacement pivot against the one in your swingarm and use a rubber mallet to gently hammer the end of your replacement, driving the original one through the swingarm and out the other end. You may need to try this a few times, and indeed I needed to adjust how much tension/slack was on the rear tire. With the rear tire entirely off the ground I couldn’t get it to go all the way through — it would catch on the far side bushing. Once I lowered the bike a little I managed to give it a good thwack and push the original rod through. If it gets stuck 75% of the way through that is what is happening. The other side of your swingarm has moved up/down just enough that your new pivot is hitting a bushing and not making it all the way through. Good luck!

CAVEAT: If you are using a spare swingarm pivot as I did, you will need to replace the shifter side rearset first, THEN bang through the replacement pivot, THEN replace the brake side rearset, THEN bang through your original pivot back.

ALSO: I'm also not a mechanic. I don't think I'm doing any damage to any bearings or bushings by using one pivot to drive the other one out but there's a chance that it's somehow bad for your bike. Do your own research if you think this could harm your ride. And as always, make sure you TORQUE everything down after you're done! Locktite and a torque wrench are your friends :)

Feel free to add advice/thoughts/technical details, etc. I don't mean to position myself as an expert on the subject but only posting since I have literally not seen a single other writeup on the process in all my time searching the internet :)

I’ll update this post with some useful photos of the parts I’m talking about when I get a chance just to keep this from being a giant wall of text.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Now onto the options. Feel free to add anything you find, but obviously we’re hoping for firsthand experience.

RSV Racing: Rearset Z650-17 - Rsvracing

Price was half that of other options I could find online, and YouTube channel Tremonte’s experience with the <‘17 set seemed to indicate they were quality items. They’re made to order so expect some time for fabrication. I reached out to RSV a number of times and there were some slight delays but nothing out of the ordinary for our current COVID times. Shipping was fairly quick from Thailand to Canada.

Installation was a mixed bag. I had a very hard time installing the brake switch and had to trim down the brake switch spring but ultimately I made it work. Photo below. This is the configuration I used, but obviously trimmed the spring more after I wound the brake switch in further. I also reversed the direction of the screw that holds the lever spring and added a smaller nut on the end since everything interfered with the brake switch. This was probably the most annoying part of the whole installation. If RSV is reading I would love to hear if you have any suggestions on how to streamline this because it was very confusing!

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The master cylinder was only set back an inch or so and the hose from the ABS sender didn’t require too much bending. I’d say it was negligible in the long run and I didn’t worry about kinking or breaking the line. Anything further back and I would seriously consider getting a replacement hose.

Ultimately everything went together cleanly. Here is the after:

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In the last photo the shifter linkage is actually installed incorrectly. This gave me reverse race-shift pattern. Kicking the pedal down rotated the gear selector counter-clockwise. To fix this I adjusted the position of the transmission connector to be above the 3 o’clock mark so pushing the pedal down actually rotates the gear selector clockwise.

Happy to answer any questions about my setup.
 
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