The New ‘Crap Bike’ – Yamaha FZR600R

The New ‘Crap Bike’ – Yamaha FZR600R

After around 6 years of service, the GPZ500, or as I fondly refer to it, The Crap Bike is being retired.

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It’s rideable and fixable, but after new front wheel, head bearings, welding to repair the exhaust, wheel bearings, and many more hours work, it will still be just an old slightly less-crap bike.

So I decided it was time to upgrade.

I looked at what I could get for as little as possible that would do for a commuter – not even considering something a bit fun this time (apart from a CBR600F that tempted me…). It was CB500 and EN500 city, with a slim chance of snagging an SV650 to join my V-Twin stable.

Then a friend with some unfortunate circumstances offered me his bike. I dismissed it instantly, as I knew he’d done loads to it, and didn’t think he’d appreciate me killing it through the Winter.

I was wrong, and he gave a good price – and so here is my new, sensible commuter (which I’m not sure I can call ‘The Crap Bike’):

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Ooh yes! My very first bike was a blue and white Yamaha TZR, so this was going back to my roots!

I picked the bike up, realising that this would be the first time I’ve ever ridden a 600cc bike on the road, the rest being on track, and pootled it home to see what I’d bought.

It wasn’t running great, possibly needing a carb balance, but I was happy with the deal in whatever state, and you can’t buy a 19 year old bike and expect it to not have any issues. And it had been stood for a good while.

Other than not wanting to pull away or rev at the top end, the low-down grunt was ok. It felt much lighter and flickable than I’d expected, and with those combined it was already seeming like a good commuter.

It felt old, and with the speedo showing up to 180mph, it seemed the bike was barely moving as I was doing around 60mph – I thought that might be a bit of an effect of using such a small portion of the speedo, as a really good one may get just over 150mph back in the day.

The front brake isn’t as sharp as I’d like, but I can put R600 calipers on and sort that out, and tyres are all good.

I took it out for a blast the next day to see if I could blow the cobwebs off, stopping off for a few pics as I tried to get lost down country lanes as I got a feel of the bike.

After about 25 miles I headed back towards home, having given it beans and not scared myself. But then, after the VTR ripping my arms out on the throttle, what could I expect from a tiny old 600?

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Then I accidentally over-revved it and it was like flicking a switch!

The sound changed as all four cylinders suddenly woke up. I got back on the power and hooooly poop!

The front lifted as the race can snarled out its true potential, and I revved out the first few gears to see what it had got.

It’s got more than I thought!

The exhaust note was now reminding me of the 600 track bikes I’d been on, hitting that sweet spot at about 13,000rpm where it’s like a drill being rammed into your eardrum.

I was suddenly approaching the corners “quite a bit” faster, and now KNOW I need to sort out the front brakes.

It also means a track day might be back on the cards!

Who was it who told me 600’s were crap on the roads? And that old bikes are slow and heavy?

I think this little old FZR600R could make me fall in love with Yamaha again!

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Eff Yoo, Friday 13th

Eff Yoo, Friday 13th

I’m not superstitious.

So when the radio this morning advised that statistically there are more car accidents on Friday 13th than any other day, I pretty much ignored it.

Riding into Birmingham I’d done 90% of the journey when I thought “I’ve done this without any kind of incident!” – before a car pulled straight out in front of me at the very next roundabout!

I had both cameras running, so figured at least I’d have some interesting footage from it…

Except when I arrived at work I found the helmet camera had switched itself off having filled the memory card around 10 mins before Death tried to put me over his side.  The Veho on the bike would still have a great angle on it, though!

But the other camera only gave me a corrupt file that I can’t view!  Argh!

Later, I did some minor servicing work on the bike with the petrol tank off.  Everything went smoothly, and I had it all back together quickly, grabbed a sammich from a local shop, and headed back home from the garage.

I’d got a mile or so before the bike started feeling a bit strange.  I checked the reserve switch, but the engine cut out.

Figuring I’d had the fuel switched off, I gave it full choke and the engine started again.  Dropping the choke back to idle it cut out and died again.  Full choke and it started again, and then even cut out on choke, and this time wouldn’t start at all.

I sat on a handy bench to chomp my sammich thoughtfully, trying to work out what I could have cocked up – or more likely, as with every job I’ve ever done on this bike, what major, crippling destruction had randomly befallen the GPZ500 this time after I’d done a simple job on it.

I was getting full spark and could hear the fuel pump, but didn’t have any spanner to get the tank off, so had the lovely prospect ahead of me that I’d have to push the bike back a few miles to the garage…

And this is the hottest day of the year so far (hotter than in Brazil, don’tcherknow)!  And of course I’m in full protective kit as always, with the added bonus of a pair of denim jeans under my leathers because I’d been at work!

Luckily, I hadn’t got far before a biker pulled over to see if he could help.  I asked if I could jump on the back and he could take me to the garage to grab some tools to get my tank off again, which he happily did – you have to love the biking commuinity!

He was on some Suzuki big cruiser-type bike – it’s actually my first ever ride on a cruiser in my 14 years of biking, albeit only as a pillion passenger.

After grabbing tools and getting back to my GPZ, I thanked Cruiser Rider for saving my life, and got to spannering.

It was actually an easy fix – trapped fuel line where I’d mover the position of the main wiring loom – so I sorted it all out quickly and went home for a shower!

So I’m not actually dead or anything, but it hasn’t been the best Friday 13th, either.  Maybe there is something in it, after all?

The Mean Green Machine

The Mean Green Machine

Bikes are fast.

The Kawasaki GPZ500s I’ve been riding around on over the Winter wasn’t as much of a let-down as I’d expected, compared to my Kawasaki ZX9R.  It’ll still do 0-60 in about 4 seconds – which is plenty to beat most stuff on the road, and top end of around 110mph will also match your average car.

GPZ500s

This weekend I finally got around to stripping the wiring loom of my ZX9R, and with a bit of bodged soldering (some of it on wiring and not just my -ing thumb!!!), I got it all back together and pushed the started button.

…And nothing happened.

I angrily glared at all the beautifully re-wrapped wiring for a while, Stanley knife in hand, before coming to the conclusion that the battery was probably too flat to even turn the starter motor.  I plugged the charger in and left it overnight.

I actually lost sleep in anticipation of getting up early to take it out for a shakedown run (if it started), and bounded into the garage with confidence in my mechanicing, held the starter button down and revelled in the roar of the Leo Vince Moto GP exhaust!

Even climbing onto the ZX9R it feels so much more serious than the little old GPZ.  The seat is higher, bars are miles away and lower, and then you have to try three times to lift your feet up high enough to put them onto the footpegs!

ZX9R Cleehill

This was like going from my very first TZR125 onto my first ‘big bike’ (a ZXR400).  Rolling down the driveway the taught suspension was immediately apparent.

I’d done this on a rare snowless day a couple of months ago, letting the clutch out the same as I would on the GPZ and feeling the back end snaking all over like a happy dog.  That was trying to kill me.  So I let the clutch out far more carefully this time…

Wow.

I know I’ve blogged before about how great superbikes are.  About how they are so mind-bendingly fast they really – no, REALLY – shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near the public roads.

God was now in my right hand, and I’d have thanked Him if I wasn’t trying my best not to giggle like a schoolgirl.

Half expecting the electrics to cut out at a critical moment, I opened the throttle and instantly saw silly speed.  Even after the GPZ this is like a whole new level of relentless, penis-shrinking power!

I didn’t even give it everything, because I didn’t want to end up on my back with the bike on top of me.

The familiar part of my brain was still there reminding me how last Summer I used to pin that throttle open and be a bit bored waiting for stuff to happen.  It’s amazing how quickly your brain adapts, and soon wants another 100hp.

Going back to a smaller bike was a lot of fun.  It was like back to the roots.

But then going from that and back to a full-on beast of a ZX9R?

It’s not just fun – it’s like tasting Heaven!

Now I just have to remember how to use it around the corners…

ZX9R Rockingham