Things have been progressing apace on the ZXR750 front. And the good thing is, that I’ve managed to do pretty much everything by fixing what’s there, rather than having to go out and buy new bits. This pleases me for a couple of reasons. Firstly, because I’m a tightwad. Secondly, because it makes it more of a restoration than an exercise in shopping. I’ve seen no end of restorations in magazines like Practical Sportsbikes which seem to consist of a) buy bike in pretty good nick, b) buy a load of new parts off eBay, c) pay someone to fit the parts. And while there are some really nice bikes that come about like this, I’d rather put the time and effort in to repair and restore what’s there rather than buying new stuff. Take the brake calipers for example. The pistons were stuck, one of the insulators is missing, the seals were shot, and they’d been repainted by an idiot. Oh, and they were the wrong calipers anyway – they’re off an L, not an H model. Worse than that, the Tokico four-pot calipers were never really that good when they were new. 20 years on they’re not going to get much better. So, the sensible thing to do would be to buy a lovely reconditioned set of Nissin calipers that have already been converted to fit. Only I didn’t. I wanted to restore what was there, so I spent the best part of a week up to my elbows in some really nasty chemicals, stripping, cleaning, and rebuilding with new seals. I’m sure that I’ll go ahead and buy the Nissin calipers at some point anyway, but now at least I can kid myself that this is a performance upgrade, rather than just because I can’t be bothered to restore what’s there.
Anyway, after a long and protracted battle with a leaky set of oil-cooler unions, things are all back together, and I’m going to declare phase one of the rebuild complete. So without further ado, a picture:
Kind of looks OK from a long way away. But, there’s still plenty to do. Firstly, I have a swinging arm from an H2 to slot in there. This saves a good few kgs over the H1 arm, and also looks a whole lot nicer. I need a good workshop to borrow for a weekend to do this though. Or at least somewhere with some rafters that I can suspend the bike from while I whip out the old one. Then if you look closely at the exhaust mount you’ll see that it’s currently a bit of a bodge. Because the rear end has been jacked up with some shortened tie-rods, there’s less clearance between the pipe and the torque arm, and so the exhaust hanger needs to be lengthened. I’ll make up a new hanger when I get a spare bit of aluminium plate to work with. At the front end, things are in pretty good shape. As mentioned earlier, I’d like to replace the calipers (and master cylinder) with something more modern to bring the braking up to scratch. But for now, what’s on there is working as well as it can be expected to, so I’ll leave it there. And then, of course, there’s the bodywork. At the moment it’s really a mishmash of panels that kind of look OK from a distance. Look closer, however, and you’ll see that the paint has faded from ‘Kawasaki Firecracker Red’ to a kind of orangey-pink. The l/h panel has been resprayed black at some point. The seat unit looks OK at first, but really needs a total respray. I’m going to keep the number boards, but will replicate the black and gunmetal stripes from the original seat panels. All of this I can do myself, it just takes time, and because I don’t have the facilities, I really need warm weather too. The wheels really need to be blasted and recoated, but remember what I said earlier about being a tightwad? Yup. I’ll just clean them up as best I can for now.
All in all, I’m quietly chuffed with how things have gone so far. Some things have been a bit of a pain to complete (I don’t want to go into the saga of the exhaust studs…) but that’s part of the enjoyment of this kind of project. And it makes the bike a lot more personal, as it’s my time and effort that have brought it back from it’s previous state of dereliction. I’d best start planning some adventures to have with it now.