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Old 04-05-2015, 10:25 PM   #1
downshift
Forrest Gump
 
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Call Me: Gabe
Location: Westerly, RI
Odometer: -5
Bike: 1994 Yamaha FZR600RF
Posts: 1,568

Default '94 FZR600 Project - "The Ugly Duckling"

“Why?” That’s the question I’ve gotten throughout this process more often than any other and it’s a fair one. Of all of the bikes, by all of the manufacturers, from all the different countries of the world why did I pick this one? There’s really nothing particularly special about it. It doesn’t have a racing background, it wasn’t the fastest bike of its time, it wasn’t/isn’t super rare, it didn’t look the best (nor does it now); it didn’t have the best handling or the best ergonomics or even the most reliable components. Funny thing is that that’s what made me choose this bike: it’s different and no one else in their right mind would do what I’ve done to this truly unremarkable machine. When you see someone who owns an FZR it’s usually a guy new to motorcycling, with not a lot of money, wanting a sportbike “because I need something more high performance”, and it’s usually missing most of body work from being thrown down the road by a previous owner without the money to replace it. This is what makes it the perfect project for someone with a strong sense of irony and a lot of free time. I sold two other perfectly good, much more desirable, and quite frankly far better bikes to fund this little hipster excursion. However, I did it because there’s really no better feeling than being on a bike that you’ve “built” yourself and turns heads (even if the reason it draws attention is because it looks like the nineties came back from the dead and barfed on the fairings). The entire FZR line (250, 400, 750, and 1000) and the genesis family of engines really are the forerunners of Yamaha’s modern production sport motorcycles. I had hoped that with this project I could somehow pay homage to these titans of the late 80’s/early 90’s and put a nice example of one back on the road as a reminder of our modern roots (even if I was still in diapers when this thing rolled off the assembly line ).

TL; DR: I’m a hipster trying to talk about a time in motorcycle development that I’m arguably not old enough to understand


Anyways, I had one of these in college and ended up having to sell it for book (or was it beer?) money for the upcoming semester. I swore one day I'd have an FZR again and give it the treatment I couldn't afford to give it at the time. And here's that "build". Sorry it's not as exciting as Sav's TT build or Mike's race bike that's worth twice as much as my car but for the rest of us peasants...


What it looked like the day I got it:















Needless to say, it needed a bit of work. Although she looked rough, everything was there. Plastics were in good shape and it was mostly all original which is sort of rare with these bikes since most of them haven't survived in their original form for this long. I started to make a list of things that I wanted to do to it with most of them being cosmetic. Originally, I wanted to do a full-on restoration but as I thought it over more and more it made less and less since. I really wanted to preserve what the bike was and not try to make it into something it isn't so I decided to steer clear of any "mods" that would attempt to do so (i.e. no front end swap, no motor mods, no swingarm swap, etc.). If I wanted an R6 I would have just bought one, at least that was the line of thinking at the time. That doesn't mean that Yamaha got everything right on this bike from the factory. The forks are glorified pogo sticks, the 18" rear wheel has almost no modern sport tire options, the rear shock might as well be a can of soup, and the motor eats intake valves for breakfast...




List of planned/completed work:

Engine:
  • Head rebuild [Status: Done]
  • Factory Pro Shift Kit (this thing is a misshifting monster) [Status: Done]
  • EBC Clutch + Heavy Duty Springs [Status: Done]
  • New plugs, wires, and DynaTek Coils [Status: Done]

Suspension:
  • Front Fork Rebuild (Single Rate Racetech Springs, Fork Seals, Gold Valve Emulators, etc.) [Status: At Johnny's]
  • Fox Twin Clicker Rebuild/Install (really fucking hard to find) [Status: At Johnny's

Brakes:
  • Front + Rear M/C Rebuild [Status: in progress]
  • Front + Rear Caliper Rebuild [Status: in progress]
  • S/S Brake Lines Front + Rear [Status: on order]
  • EBC Sintered Pads Front + Rear [Status: on order]
  • Repaint rotor centers [Status: Done]

Wheels and Tires:
  • Powder coat rims [Status: done, thanks darren!]
  • 17" Rear Wheel Swap [Status: done, pending trials]
  • New tires (Bridgestone S20 EVO, 110 front 140 rear) [Status: Done, thanks smutty!]
  • Front + Rear wheel and sprocket hub bearings [Status: Done]
  • New chain and sprockets

Cosmetic:
  • Cleaning (oh god, the cleaning) [Status: ongoing...]
  • Derusting/Refinishing (electroplaing fasteners, breaking seized bolts, the works..) [Status: Mostly done]
  • Touch up frame paint [Status: Done]
  • Repaint swingarm [Status: Done]
  • Powder coating [Status: Done, thank darren!]
  • Restoring fairings [Status: ongoing, lots of time and money here]


As you can see, most of the work I've put into this has been trying to undo two decades worth of neglect. The limited modifications I've made/am making are more aimed at improving the bike and not trying to change it into something it's not. I consider the "mod" portion of this "resto-mod" to be tasteful but maybe not everyone will think so. It's been a great experience so far getting to know this bike and it'll be a happy day when it's back on the road. May 3rd is my first track day and I'm hoping to really put this dino through it's paces. It's going to hilarious seeing people's reaction to this bike rolling up surround by a field of modern beasts. But that's half of the fun right? Doing something different than what everyone else is doing.




Enough talk, time for more pictures!



Engine Work


Head work, back from the machinst
















Carb Rebuild. Removing those EPA plugs and $200 in gaskets...










Factory Pro Shift Kit Install and new clutch











Ignition








Wheels and Tires:


Powder coating and new tires














Picture limited...see next post!
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Originally Posted by Mr. Kurtz View Post
If the owner decided tomorrow that we'd change business models and start selling a product that would allow you to force bees to sting babies, I'd stay there as long as they kept compensating me the same way.
Current Track Day to Crash Ratio: 10:3
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Old 04-05-2015, 10:25 PM   #2
downshift
Forrest Gump
 
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Call Me: Gabe
Location: Westerly, RI
Odometer: -5
Bike: 1994 Yamaha FZR600RF
Posts: 1,568

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Cosmetics (in progess)

Powder coated goodies
Brake Caliper hangar, exhaust hangars, bars ends, etc.











Nickel electroplating fasteners, levers, and clip ons

















Swing arm, Engine Cover, rotor, and exhaust paint
(yes, that's a cycle gear magazine being used as mask)


























I think that about sums up most of the progress I've made so far. It's been lots of fun and I'm super excited about getting her back on the road and eventually on the track. Right now I'm waiting on the suspension pieces from Johnny and a couple misc bits I forgot to order a couple weeks ago. And here's a picture of the moment of truth when she fired the first time after the head rebuild! (I was sort of nervous about that one).



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Originally Posted by Mr. Kurtz View Post
If the owner decided tomorrow that we'd change business models and start selling a product that would allow you to force bees to sting babies, I'd stay there as long as they kept compensating me the same way.
Current Track Day to Crash Ratio: 10:3

Last edited by downshift; 04-05-2015 at 10:39 PM..
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Old 04-05-2015, 11:18 PM   #3
csmutty
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All this work so that Tony can deny you on track for having a dinosaur?.
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Old 04-06-2015, 12:33 AM   #4
Olympus
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This is the best project iv seen on born.
Congrats man.
I admire the dedication and the ability to see something finished ahead of time. Good job
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Old 04-06-2015, 05:34 AM   #5
Joey Lawrence
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Good for you. Now are you going to plate it ride it in the road? Or track only?
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Old 04-06-2015, 06:01 AM   #6
ctbandit
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Damn, lots of work here. Keep it up dude!
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Old 04-06-2015, 06:07 AM   #7
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Call Me: Gabe
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Originally Posted by JBlanchette View Post
Good for you. Now are you going to plate it ride it in the road? Or track only?
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Both, it's currently plated and registered for the street. The FZRs are actually surprisingly comfortable so I'm planning on buying an extra set of wheels + rotors and throw some sport touring rubber on for the street. The wheels for these things are stupid cheap on ebay (~$30 for the front and $~80 for the rear) so it makes sense to have a track only and a street only set of rubber for it. I'm planning on putting at least 1000 miles on street riding on it before I take it to the track just to make sure everything is ricky tick with it. 130mph on the Thompson straight isn't the right time to be finding out the chain's too tight or some bolt wasn't torqued to spec...
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Originally Posted by Mr. Kurtz View Post
If the owner decided tomorrow that we'd change business models and start selling a product that would allow you to force bees to sting babies, I'd stay there as long as they kept compensating me the same way.
Current Track Day to Crash Ratio: 10:3
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Old 04-06-2015, 07:20 AM   #8
lucky6600
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Keep up the good work. Only have done this kind of project yourself understand the rewards can bring.

Keep up the good work!
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Old 04-06-2015, 07:43 AM   #9
Kurlon
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Have you considered finding an FZR400 frame and swingarm as a way of dropping weight while keeping everything bolt up?
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Old 04-06-2015, 08:00 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by downshift View Post
When you see someone who owns an FZR it’s usually a guy new to motorcycling, with not a lot of money, wanting a sportbike “because I need something more high performance”, and it’s usually missing most of body work from being thrown down the road by a previous owner without the money to replace it.
Ha! My first bike was an FZR600, and I was exactly that guy. I have to say, there is a certain joy that comes from screaming down the road on a very "analog" feeling I4. I certainly miss it.
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