YAMAHA FZ750

It’s been a long time in the mak­ing, but it’s fi­nally here: Steve ‘Stavros’ Par­rish fi­nally rides his Yamaha FZ750 Su­per­stock replica.

Classic Motorcycle Mechanics - - CONTENTS - WORDS: STEVE PAR­RISH

Steve Par­rish takes his superstocker for a first ride.

It’s been a hard slog but it’s fi­nally turned a wheel in anger – my Yamaha FZ750 Su­per­stock replica. The idea for this build came from a num­ber of sources. Firstly, edi­tor Ber­tie and I have the odd lun­cheon to­gether along with a num­ber of other as­so­ci­ated cads and bound­ers from the mo­tor­cy­cle in­dus­try and he had just taken over CMM and drunk­enly (and fool­ishly) sug­gested I do some­thing for him. It was then that the seed was sown. I be­gan to think of what bike I re­ally wanted to re­store or build. I had an RG500, so that was out, but then I re­called my last ever race bike: the Loc­tite-backed Yamaha FZ750. I rode it for two sea­sons – 1985 and 1986 – and took it to Ma­cau for my last race in Novem­ber 1986. I loved that bike and it seemed ap­pro­pri­ate that I should re­build an FZ. Fi­nally, with me be­ing asked to do var­i­ous pa­rade laps and the like, I re­alised I wanted some­thing of my own that I could take out of the van or off the trailer, fuel up and just hit the track. Of­ten peo­ple like Yamaha them­selves or Wi­gan Yamaha have helped with new bikes at events like the Thun­der­sprint. Thing is, they were al­ways new ma­chines and ev­ery­one else would be rid­ing some­thing pe­riod. I needed my own bike…

“For a first shake­down test things went very well, but we still have a few bugs to iron out. Dyno time will sort the gap in the power de­liv­ery. Best thing though was the at­ten­tion that the FZ was grab­bing in Sil­ver­stone’s pit-lane. She’s stun­ning!”

But what bike? Well, I didn’t want some­thing finicky or highly-strung, so the four-stroke, four­cylin­der Yam sounded like the best bet. I put the word out and my mates at Wi­gan Yamaha came up trumps when they found C406 PRN for a grand. I picked the bike up when I was head­ing to the Isle of Man. It was ragged, it prob­a­bly looked bet­ter than it was, but the full-fair­ing hid a few night­mares – not least the Ham­merite painted frame! The good news as I picked the bike up was that the engine it­self ran like a dream – solid mo­tors, these five-valve Yams. This was where the hard work be­gan – and ob­vi­ously I wanted to side-step some of this if at all pos­si­ble. En­ter stage-left Daryll Young and IDP Moto. They not only ser­vice and re­pair bikes but make spe­cials and un­der­take restora­tions – they’ve re­cently been be­hind the restora­tion of the Pro-am Yamaha RD250LCS. The strip­down was a sim­ple af­fair: me, Daryll and his man Paul Smith took the FZ apart in three hours and nine min­utes. With these ini­tial stages of the bike be­ing well doc­u­mented in CMM we started to get of­fers of help – yes, even ones that meant I had to pay in ad­vance. I also man­aged to hook up with my orig­i­nal me­chanic, Dave ‘The Mush­room’ John­son, who was in­valu­able as he told me what lugs and brack­ets to an­gle-grind away when I was next at IDP Moto. The frame was go­ing to be stripped and painted by KAS Ra­ce­paint in Ket­ter­ing and one of the sub­con­trac­tors – Malc Upex – was go­ing to polish the swingarm that we had. Here is where we hit a snag with the dry build of the chas­sis. This swinger wasn’t from the orig­i­nal bike, but from a stash of old parts I still had and we soon found that the thing wasn’t the eas­i­est to fit. Turns out the one that didn’t come with the bike it­self was a later swingarm with dog-bones rather than the orig­i­nal. We de­cided to cross this bridge later… KAS Ra­ce­paint was also go­ing to be look­ing af­ter the body­work, which brought me a pleas­ant dilemma. I had two op­tions on the paint scheme – ei­ther the ‘orig­i­nal’ sil­ver/red of the road bike which we mainly ran in 1985, but with the var­i­ous spon­sors’ lo­gos, in­clud­ing Loc­tite or the full-on red/ white of the main Loc­tite spon­sor from a year later.

I had – by now – also man­aged to sort what wheels we were go­ing to have: the orig­i­nal ran 16in front and 18in rear but I wanted a bet­ter choice of rub­ber, so a pair of 17-inch­ers were found. The front was a 120/70-17 from an FZR1000 and the rear a 160/60-17 from a 1994 FZR600R 4JH. With wheels set­tled on, brakes could also be sorted. Many dif­fer­ent types were con­sid­ered from Bluespot calipers from late-1990s R1s and the like, through to ‘pe­riod’ an­chors like AP Lock­heeds, but – in the end – the lovely peo­ple at Har­ri­son BILLET came good with their BILLET-6 calipers, chomp­ing on Galfer discs. By now I’d got the engine ready for blast­ing – so the holes were all sealed up and off it went to Red­ditch Shot­blast­ing. Around the same time the Har­ris broth­ers – Steve and Lester from Har­ris Per­for­mance – had fi­nally an­swered my phone calls and al­lowed me to pop down to visit them in Hert­ford so I could get some foot-pegs/rearsets made up, but only when they could have the rolling chas­sis to take the ap­pro­pri­ate mea­sure­ments from. By now I’d opted for a mixed early sil­ver/red scheme but with some of my own touches – like gold wheels – which com­ple­mented the gold bits on the engine. Ahhh the wheels: with IDP be­ing next door to the Na­tional Col­lege of Motorsport, they helped us by let­ting me ma­chine-up some 23 and 30mm spac­ers so the wheels would fit. Fi­nally, to­wards the end of 2014, we had the rolling chas­sis and the painted engine in situ and we thought we were on the home straight. How wrong we were! Some help on the bud­get side of things came from my old em­ployer, Yamaha. The knack­ered and rusty ra­di­a­tor was lit­tle more than trash and at around £890 (2014 val­ues, ob­vi­ously) I was wor­ried I may have to sell a kid­ney to cover it. Thank­fully Yamaha UK looked kindly on my beg­ging let­ter/email and sorted the brand-new re­place­ment ra­di­a­tor and lots of other spare parts. I know, I’m a lucky sod, but they also have first dibs on the bike should they wish to dis­play it any­where, so it’s a rolling show­piece for their ex­cel­lent spares range for older bikes. They don’t shout about it, but they re­ally should do. Come the end of 2014 and I had a dead­line to hit: get the bike in some shape for the Mo­tor­cy­cle Live event. This meant a trip down to Har­ris Per­for­mance where the boys did me proud by sort­ing me the foot-rest and han­dle­bar as­sem­blies. On the

same day I even flew to Braden­ham, where Mid Nor­folk Mould­ings were based as I wanted to get a re­place­ment set of body­work for the se­condary all-loc­tite paint scheme. As it stood, KAS painted the new body­work as the orig­i­nal scheme – just in time for the NEC show. We didn’t have an ex­haust to put on the bike, but Steve Adams from Lucky7 Moto helped out by lend­ing us his Rac­e­fit ex­haust from his lovely FZ that graced CMM’S March 2015 cover. That lend of the ex­haust wasn’t a long-term so­lu­tion, but that came later: much later as it hap­pened, but only be­cause the FZ lay dor­mant for a fair few months dur­ing 2015. By the au­tumn of 2015 we wanted to get the bike to run for the first time. We got some in­di­vid­ual K&N Stack Fil­ters cour­tesy of Per­for­mance Parts Ltd and mar­ried the mo­tor up to those and the most beau­ti­ful pipe ever made… Some­how, from just a se­ries of old pic­tures and orig­i­nal draw­ings that Pete Gib­son had made back in the day, Tony Greenslade who now runs Gib­son Ex­hausts crafted a thing of great beauty that sounded di­vine. You know where to go if you have an FZ now… It was strange but as the bike looked more ready to roll than ever – I wasn’t. I was busy as usual, as was IDP Moto, it took un­til the end of Oc­to­ber 2016 for us to fi­nally roll the bike back onto the ramp and do those fi­nal, fid­dly jobs to get the bike run­ning and then run­ning on its wheels with the new Galfer brake discs in place. Fi­nally hear­ing that five-valve mo­tor bark through that amaz­ing Gib­son pipe was emo­tional, it had taken so long to get to some­thing that could (fi­nally) run un­der its own steam. It was sod’s law that it would then take the best part of nine months be­fore we could hit the track. Sil­ver­stone would be a fit­ting place for my first proper ride on the Superstocker, but how would it take it? I knew from ex­pe­ri­ence I wouldn’t be able to swing a leg over it and it be per­fect, but how far off would she be? In the pit-lane with Daryll (hand­ily as well as IDP, he’s a race span­ner too, and helped Tar­ran Macken­zie to his Su­pers­port 600 ti­tle last year) and snap­per Shroom, it was or­gas­mic when the bike fired into life once more – there’s some­thing about a race pipe on a four-cylin­der Jap bike – even if this one is stan­dard and not even race-tuned. The day it­self was a bit murky, with some rain, so I tried to avoid the ses­sions when the H2O was out in force. Af­ter the first cou­ple of laps, the bike wasn’t do­ing any­thing it wasn’t sup­posed to. Chas­sis-wise we’ve ob­vi­ously gone from a 16-18in tyre combo to the two 17s. Now, I don’t need this to be a mod­ern­han­dling bike, but in the fast turns at Sil­ver­stone the FZ was plenty sta­ble, but per­haps I’d like a lit­tle more ‘flick­a­bil­ity’ through the slower chi­canes. Even think­ing back to the orig­i­nal, the FZ was al­ways more sta­ble and not quite the out-and-out sports­bike that its ri­val the Suzuki GSX-R750F was, but over­all the han­dling was very good in­deed. I need to re­mem­ber that – com­pared to my old Su­per­stock racer – we are on pro­duc­tion road tyres now,

but I would hazard a shrewd guess that to­day’s road tyres are bet­ter than the race slicks we were al­lowed to use more than 30 years ago. Sus­pen­sion-wise the thing was su­perb at the front – but needed work at the rear. The forks were re-valved with noth­ing more than new parts and that in­cludes nor­mal weight fork oil but the feel­ing from the front was just per­fect. The front just coped ad­mirably with ev­ery­thing – espe­cially those awe­some front an­chors! The Har­ri­son BILLET six-pots and Galfer discs/pads are more than up to the job and – if I wasn’t care­ful – they were pow­er­ful enough to have me on my arse, espe­cially in the damp con­di­tions. As to the rear – well – it was one of the parts that I picked up along the way and it was never re­ally in­tended for the FZ so I found it lacked a lit­tle in the damp­ing de­part­ment, so we’ve al­ready (since the test) got that sorted. The mo­tor does need some fine tun­ing. From low-down in the rev-range it’s dis­tinctly woolly and lean – we’re talk­ing around 3000-4500rpm here, but then the thing re­ally comes on song and from the mid-range of 5500rpm it fair takes off to­wards the 11 thou red­line. This also means the bike isn’t so good off the throt­tle when go­ing into some of the cor­ners. We know what to do here: dyno work needs to be done in con­junc­tion with some car­bu­ra­tion changes to match up that lovely pipe, the non­stan­dard air-fil­ters. Over­all though I have to say we need more end-game ‘ooomph’ too. These as stan­dard prob­a­bly pumped out noth­ing more than about 90bhp at the rear wheel, so I reckon we need to get some bite to match the bark. Per­haps we should have put an FZR1000 Ge­n­e­sis lump in it? But then, it wouldn’t be an FZ750…

Con­clu­sion

The bike was never go­ing to be per­fect off the bat – but our ‘in­stal­la­tion laps’ were pretty damn close. That’s what comes of hav­ing Daryll and IDP in your cor­ner. If a race-spec crew chief doesn’t know what to do, no-one will. We know what to do go­ing for­ward and this gives us a win­ter to fine-tune the FZ. What has im­pressed me is that – in a Sil­ver­stone pad­dock full of top-notch bikes – peo­ple came to look at our FZ. That’s some com­pli­ment. Over­all I’m so im­pressed and very pleased with the bike. It was never the aim to have a pixel-per­fect replica of one of my old race bikes, more a ‘mod­ern homage’ which looks pretty much the same if you squint. What we have is some­thing amaz­ing to look at and (will very soon be) amaz­ing to ride. It’s been a long four years with some pe­ri­ods of in­ac­tiv­ity but fi­nally the FZ is (sort of) done. Some fi­nal tweak­ing over win­ter will make this ma­chine spot on. Would I do it again? Yes, you bet I would. Wouldn’t you?

PHO­TOS: IAN ‘SHROOM’ BURGESS, MOR­TONS AR­CHIVE, DON MORLEY

BE­LOW: Four years in the mak­ing but worth ev­ery minute. And penny.

RIGHT: The bike, as bought for a grand.

ABOVE: We do have pho­to­graphic ev­i­dence of the old boy get­ting his knee down on her, hon­est we do.

BE­LOW: This beats mod­ern track-day tackle hands down.

IN DE­TAIL: 1/ Mo­tor is cur­rently stock and stan­dard apart from fil­ters and needs a fet­tle to fill a dip in the torque. 2/ Gale­speed levers look trick if not orig­i­nal race-spec circa 1985. 3/ More mod­ern 17in rims have ex­cel­lent BILLET-6 calipers and Galfer discs. 4/ Cus­tom-made Gib­son repli­cates what we had back in the day.

ABOVE: Stavros on his FZ back in the mid-80s.

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