Kawasaki ZZR600

The Despair Shop – Kawasaki ZZR600

Kawasaki ZZ600 dashboardScottie emailed me t’other day to tell me he had a couple of the sort of tired old bikes that I like to buy to either break or do up. This time it was a Suzuki SV650 that had a bad case of road rash and a rather forlorn looking ZZR600 that hadn’t seen a cleaning rag in many a long year. Just my sort of thing really. Both were loaded in the back of the van and transported back to the Despair Shop for a full and frank assessment.

I won’t mention the SV any more as I may cover it in another article – this is all about the knackered Kwaka. Don’t confuse a knackered Kwaka with knacker lacquer – the latter brings lustre to your cluster, the former just eats your bank balance. I hope that helps.

Anyway before I dive in to the depths of despair I like to give the bikes a good going over to make the all important break or beautify decision.

The initial pawing over revealed the following:

Good points:

  • Reasonable mileage (20 something k)
  • Engine not seized
  • Complete
  • Good tyres
  • Electrical gubbins all worked
  • Decent Scorpion exhausts
  • Looked well cared for until it got abandoned.

Bad points:

  • No V5
  • Engine running on 2 ½
  • Carb 3 pissing petrol
  • No battery
  • Dirty. Really dirty. Not in a slutty sort of way though, which was a shame.
  • Tank really nasty inside.
  • Front brakes very draggy.
  • Both exhausts leaking.

I figured the first thing was to bung a battery in at a massive cost of about 25 knicker and have a go at getting it to run properly. This bike is never going to be worth a fortune so I can’t spend a fortune on it but as going through the carbs costs nothing I figured it was worth doing to see where it took me. Carb 3 was clearly over fuelling so it was off with the bowl to have a look at the needle valve  which had the tip half hanging off. I always have a few spare so changed it and that was that fixed.

The ZZR has an electric fuel pump that runs when the engine is running, it cuts off when there is enough pressure between it and the carbs. Any leaks show themselves quickly and clearly.

When the bike was left to tick over it would be ok for a while and then would go rough as the fuel spilled from the bowl to the venturi. If I disconnected the fuel pump and let it run it would clear after a few seconds and run great until the bowls got too low so I knew I was on the right path, which was confirmed when I opened the carb up.

So with that sorted I put it all back again only for carb number 4 to go and do exactly the same bloody, bleeding, bastard thing.

Anybody that has had the airbox off on one of these will understand my frustration – it’s a complete pain of a job, whoever designed it obviously didn’t like motorcycle mechanics.

Anyway, got that sorted, must remember to order some more needle valves, I’m getting low now.

Kawasaki ZZR600 calipersNext job – calipers. I am bored of doing these now, it seems that just about every bike I do these days needs caliper seals doing – not because they leak but because the brakes stick and drag. The seals make the caliper pistons retract when at rest and if the grooves that the seals sit in are all gummed up they can’t work properly and the pads remain in light contact with the discs even when at rest. If you suspect this on your bike apply the front brake, release it and push the bike. If it is hard to push get a rubber mallet and give each caliper a good thump. If the bike now rolls more easily you know the seals are knackered and the calipers need rebuilding. Another good way to know if they are shagged is to see if they have the word “Tokico” on them.

Anyway. Look, that’s not the only thing, the tyres were half flat and needed pumping up, that done it rolls really nicely now, the back brake is fine.

The bodywork got a good clean up, it’s not immaculate but the market round here is for sub thousand pound bikes so it will have to do, a half decent paint job would take a bloody good bite out of a grand and I would only lose money on it.

By using the correct cleaning materials the bike looked a lot more presentable, the back to black did a particularly good job on the instrument pack and switch units.

T-cut did it’s usual good job, as did the old faithful autosol chrome cleaner.

Expense so far 25 quid for the battery and 12.50 for the caliper seals, two parts the square root of bugger all for the cleaning stuff.

Just for a change the fork seals were fine, no amount of bouncing up and down produced the slightest of mists on either stanchion so that was a nice surprise.

The chain needed a good clean and lube and a slight adjustment to make it spot on.

Now the tank. I don’t know what Kawasaki make them out of but the tanks on these 80’s bikes are quite often really bad inside, this one was no exception. I emptied it and flushed it through a good many times and it came up better than expected. You can go all the way and treat it with phosphoric acid before coating the inside with one of several specially designed coatings such as POR-15. They are all very expensive and often don’t give the desired results. Another way to do it is to get the tank completely dry and then bung a good sized handful of nuts and bolts in there. Shake it about for quite a while – not too hard, you don’t want to dent it, then empty the rust out. The tank must be 100% dry or it won’t work. The pile of rust that came out of this one was substantial. I filled it with fuel, it won’t rust with fuel in it. I bunged in a second filter between the tank and the pump to catch any loose particles that didn’t come out with the flushing.

The leaky exhausts were easily dealt with – the clamps were not tight enough where the cans join the down pipes. I took them off, smeared some Gun Gum sealant around the end, reassembled and did the clamps up fully. Sorted.

So this was an easy one really, I’ll give it an oil, filter and coolant change and a set of plugs so I can say it’s fully serviced and that will be that. It’ll  be another 60 or 70 quid or so on the bill but I can live with that.

So with all that done the only other thing I have to do is apply for the V5. The HPI check comes back clean so it’s just a formality – don’t let a missing v5 put you off if you run an hpi and it comes back clean, it’s only 25 quid and in normal times it takes about 4 weeks to come through. Sadly with this sodding virus it’s taking a lot longer so it may well be a good while before I put it up for sale. It needs to have an MoT in the mean time but I fully expect it to pass  I have done enough now to know what to look for. It will be a really good buy for somebody.

More despair and destruction next time, tatty bye until then, Dave.

 Article provided by David Powell of Boston Bike Bits.

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