Less of a mess? Bodger that

Un­do­ing a life­time of poor main­te­nance is now reach­ing a more pleas­ing con­clu­sion

Practical Sportsbikes (UK) - - On Our Bench - Thanks CMSNL: cmsnl.com Ven­hill: ven­hill.co.uk Black Widow Ex­hausts: black­wid­owex­hausts.co.uk

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

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