Less of a mess? Bodger that
Undoing a lifetime of poor maintenance is now reaching a more pleasing conclusion
ou might remember from the June issue that I’ve bought a ZX-7R in need of tlc. It’s fundamentally sound, but showing the ‘handiwork’ of an inept previous owner. I’ve been steadily working my way through the bike, correcting bodges (some minor, others real head-shakers) so I can get it back on the road and enjoy what’s left of the summer.
My plan to fire it up and go from there was knocked off course early on as one issue led into another. Before I knew it I had bits of the bike all over my conservatory floor – alas I’m not lucky enough to have a garage or shed at the moment, so the conservatory is the next best place. At least the light is perfect for working in…
When I removed the spark plugs, the socket was reluctant to come back out of the recess on cylinder number two. Mmmm, that’s not normal. So I removed the rocker cover and the reason became apparent. Sometime previous when someone’s been in to do the valve clearances they’ve pinched one of the O-rings that sit between the head and camshaft carrier pushing it into the spark plug access tunnel – hence I had to retrieve the socket with pliers.
New O-rings were just €8 from CMSNL, and while I was on their site I also ordered a new cam chain guide (€17) as the old one had become brittle and was breaking up, plus a new rocker cover gasket (€35).
The original downpipes are no longer casting a rusting relief over the front of the bike. I’ve replaced them with a shiny new stainless steel system from Black Widow. The lads on the mag recommended them, having previously been impressed with BW’S pipework on Jim’s old ZX-6R and Damian’s Thundercat.
I must say, I agree, and I’m not easily
impressed. I’ve fitted loads of exhaust systems to bikes and cars in the past and often mass-produced stuff is a swine to fit because everything is manufactured there or thereabouts and it all requires bending, prodding and persuading into place. Not this system. The precise nature of the engineering meant it was really easy to fit. Nothing needed bending or pulling – it all just slotted into place.
It bolts up at the head, then the downpipes attach to the mid-section, then that to the tailpipe with springs. I bought new studs while I was at it, partly to make it easier to get on and off and also because what were in the head were ever so slightly too short to accept the clamps and nuts. I didn’t want to force the nuts onto the old threads and risk stripping them so new studs was the best solution all round.
Fitting the new pipe hasn’t only improved the aesthetics (and performance, I hope), but it’s also saved a whole lot of weight. The original downpipes weighed 5.5 kilos on their own, the Scorpion end can a further 3.1kgs (an OE can would be nearer 5kg). The complete Black Widow system only just over 3.5 kilos; a big difference.
While I’m waiting for the parcel from CMSNL, and for Jim to drop off a new battery and plugs (thanks), I’ve turned my attention to the brakes. I’ve never known why Kawasaki insisted on covering its OE lines with steel coils – they always rust and look just plain nasty. My ZX’S are now all in the bin, along with the lines, replaced with Venhill (quality, easy to fit and only a phone call away if I need anything else). The front now runs twin lines in place of the original split arrangement, so that’s another weight saving. Replacing the caliper half mating bolts has also made a massive difference to the look of the front of the bike for little work.
By next issue the Kawasaki will be running and wearing a new radiator. I may even get my first ride provided there are no more bodges waiting for me to find…
MY PLAN TO FIRE IT UP AND GO FROM THERE WAS KNOCKED OFF COURSE EARLY ON AS ONE ISSUE LED INTO ANOTHER. BEFORE I KNEW IT I HAD BITS OF BIKE ALL OVER MY CONSERVATORY FLOOR. AT LEAST THE LIGHT’S GOOD TO WORK IN
Still with that manky old pipe on it, those manky old brake lines too Mick Smith
New studs all round make pipe-fitting dead easy
We’ve seen worse, but not too often. YUK
Fitted straight out of the box. Super light too
Stunned expression due to pipes all fitting from the off
Looking way better than the hound of two months ago
Not far away from fire-up now
There’s lovely – and all in five minutes flat