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I've been working on my 2001 Kawasaki Ninja 250 all day pretty much after it sat for about 2 years. I'm having some weird problems the internet hasn't yet helped me solve. It seems like every solution I find gives me new issues to work through. My research has led me to dead ends now so I guess i'll post here and see if anyone has answers for me.

Last night I took out the carbs and did a full and thorough clean. I assembled the bike today and found that it would start but only with the choke off (after frustratingly trying to get it to start for a long time with the choke on, doing research and realizing that my fuel/air mixture was probably too rich). It was running for about 30 glorious minutes during which time I was able to do a couple tests. When it first started running, the throttle had almost zero response, but after about 10 minutes it gave me a little more, then a little more. Eventually it was giving me a pretty quick response, but it would not rev above about 4/5000 rpms. It would rev up a little to 5000 then drop to 4000 then rev then drop, like it was struggling. At this point I thought what the hell, maybe if I just ride it a little bit it will clear up.

I put the bike in gear and it was moving! however I found the same problem was happening, at full throttle the bike was only moving like 10 mph in 1st gear and it was really jerky - revving up and then couldn't handle it. I made it about half a block, tried to kick it in to 2nd for the hell of it and then the bike died. During my walk of shame back to my house I tried to start the bike up again several times but to no avail.

Since I knew my mixture was too rich I decided to adjust it and see if that would fix the problem. I went from 2 1/2 turns to 0 turns and tried to start the bike every half turn. After a jump start, and about 2 1/2 turns (again) the bike came back to life but now dies when I give it any throttle - this was the problem I was having that forced me to stop riding 2 years ago.

The bike died again but I've been able to get it going again with a little starter fluid - now it will start, revs immediately to around 5000 or 6000 then slowly drops to about 4/5000 and stays there. When I give it any throttle it dies.

Bonus weird/maybe related thing: the line that carries fuel from the tank to the carb its leaking gas at the petcock/line connection point. It's not a TON but it's a noticeable amount. Maybe about 1/2 tsp/10 seconds. The fuel line doesn't seem blocked or kinked... Water and air run through it pretty well. there is an inline filter but i'm not sure how to take it out.

What should I do? The bike is old, used, and banged up but it's my first and only bike and I'd really love to get her back on the road.
 

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Hmm, first of all, if the petcock has screws rather than rivets holding it together, you can get a rebuild kit from K&L rather than having to replace it. Should cost $20 or so.

Without being there, it's kind of tough, but I'd recommend setting the left and right pilot screw to 2.5 turns out initially. Then get the thing running and slowly tighten the idle stop screw until the idle speed drops down to spec. I've got an '09, so I'm not sure what it should be precisely. The idle speed should probably be roughly 1250rpm.

That should be enough to get it running. But, you'd probably want to do a bit more tuning before you're completely finished. Chances are, this would be good enough.
 

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within your carb work you made sure that both needle jets are present? And that needles were assembled properly inserted below and not above their retainers?
These are 2 common carb assembly errors which could very well contribute to exact symptoms you describe.
 
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