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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The New V-Twin Beast

The New V-Twin Beast

With Winter drawing in, frosty mornings, and my GPZ500 not entirely making it through its MOT test, I was offered a bike from a mate at a price I couldn’t refuse.

So I took the GPZ off the road last week in favour of my new sensible Winter bike:

Yes, it’s a Honda VTR Firestorm.  1000cc of filthy great V-twin hairy-chested bastardness!

It wasn’t without pain – very shortly after buying the bike, before I’d had a chance to get it up to speed, I had what I thought was a sudden box full of neutrals.  After pulling over, and walking a long way back down the road, I found the chain:

I’ve never seen a chain break on the roller pin before!  Luckily it went straight off the back of the sprocket, rather than through my leg, or the engine, or the head of anyone behind me…

A new chain sorted that out, and I got my first taste of a big twin.

It’s a bit like riding a horse!  It sort of gallops along lazily.  It’ll plod along sounding like Mr T on a treadmill, but then you look down and you’re in three figure speeds!

It’s very strange.

It only revs to about 9,500, but will just saunter up to the limiter in any gear at any time in a constant barrage of power – and I’m talking from 2000 rpm here!  It just doesn’t feel or sound like it’s getting there quickly, but it bloody well is!

In fact, I did read that when it was released, it was the fastest ever bike 0-60mph.  I’d believe it.

There’s not much up the top end, and it’ll run out of steam over 140mph – but maybe that will be a bit safer for my licence!

And it sounds like The Devil!  The vibrations from the twin Micron race cans would even terrify Jenna Haze or Stoya.  Proper porno power!  I feel like I should have more chest hair and a medallion!

So that brings me to the handling.

Well, it’s December, and around freezing most of the time – and then towards the end of the week, it rained.

It was hard to say much about the handling, because it’s on damned Pirelli Super Corsas with less tread than a Mumbai taxi!  The bike pretty much tried to murder me at every opportunity!

The first I knew was pulling onto the road one morning in the rain, letting off the throttle gently and weaving like a hooker walking down the aisle!

I visited several bike shops on Saturday, all of who pissed themselves laughing at my when I said what tyres the bike sat outside on the icy road was wearing!

Thankfully, the last one was where I swapped them for a brand new pair of Pirelli Angel GT’s.

Anyone will no I’m a massive fan of the Angel ST.  They’re flawless.  Knee-down from cold on the roads, good for Summer, Winter, snow, track days… I’m on my 4th or 5th set on my ZX9R.  The GT is supposed to be the same, but with more wet grip and even longer lasting!

Instantly, without even having had a chance to scrub them in properly, they’re better.  Loads of confidence and stability, and I’ve been able to have a bit of a play already.  The steering is much slower than the Super Corsas, but I’ll soon get used to that.

I never wanted a V-twin before, but now I seem to have got one, I’m starting to see why so many absolutely love them!

All I need now is some warm, dry roads to scrape my knees on it!