New member here so I’ll give you a brief introduction…
I’m 32, a sound designer (Winter) and newly qualified motorcycle instructor (Summer) based in the West Midlands. Formerly I was an elecronics and electro mechanical engineer. After almost a decade of ill health (from which I was never expected to recover) I was given the ok to start riding again at the beginning of last year so I got myself a near mint '96 VFR750 that was being sold through friends at a pretty good price. Also in the garage is every bike I’ve ever owned. My first bike is what looks very much like a Yamaha RD125LC MkII but is actually a derestricted production prototype that was available at the same time as the first TZR. A battered old Kawasaki GT550 on which I did 140,000 miles before it rotted and died. The last bike I owned/rode before the VFR was one of the last aircooled GPZ750’s (the A5 model) with the full fairing rather than the half fairing of earlier models. Under the dust it’s almost all original and in excellent condition barring some slightly unpleasant corrosion. I’ll be restoring that to concourse condition over the next couple of years. Also in the garage but belonging to my older brother is a Z1300-6 which needs alot of work but is otherwise mint. There’s also my VF1000 of course.
It’s an '84 C reg that I swapped for a mobile phone (and a couple of beers for delivery) over a decade ago. When I got it, it was a non-runner and in very poor shape indeed hence not actually exchanging any cash for it! It had been ratted by the previous owner (a good friend of mine) and has had it’s rear subframe cut, jacked up and re welded at the most rediculous angle. The bodywork, while there, isn’t really worth talking about as it’s so bad. Almost immediately after I got it I set about stripping it down, getting things shot blasted, repainted… The works basically. My plan back then was to turn it into a supercharged streetfighter/show bike/dragbike with bare but mirror polished bespoke aluminium bodywork and many other modifications including numerous electronic devices such as semi/fully automatic gearbox mods, traction and anti-wheelie control. Stuff to make it accelerate as fast as physically possible basically, as a drag bike I wanted it to be a damned good one! I’d given myself a target of three to four years to get it all done but after the first year my health failed and it has remianed untouched ever since. As it stands, it’s in bits although almost everything mechanical has been repainted or polished to an extremely high standard though some reconditioning of the engine and gearbox is still on the cards. It would be easy to get it back to a rolling and running chassis, though lacking bodywork and a sensible exhaust. If I was to make some panels up and get a legal exhaust, I’ve every confidence that it would fly through an MOT once rebuilt.
As it’s frame has been modified like it has, I can’t see the point in trying to restore it to original condition so my plan is still to create a rather individual bike… Although a little different to the plan I outlined above.
One of the most enjoyable things for me on a bike is (perhaps surprisingly) low speed stuff. Supermarket carparks with very tight turns are a place I love to be as long as it’s quiet and safe. Doing tight hairpins and performing U-turns while travelling at about 15mph and getting the pegs down is about as thrilling as it gets for me, not that I’m averse to normal or high speed stuff in any way, I’ll often be found in Shropshire and Wales riding the A and B roads with my brother as long as we’re both free and the roads are dry.
It was only last year that I learned of the gymkhanas in Japan (Here’s about the best Vid I’ve seen). All low speed stuff but on and incredibly small and tight courses against the clock. Only a few weeks ago though I heard that the first one had been held in the UK, with more planned over the coming months. Immediately my thoughts turned to finding a suitable bike. Most bikes used for it in Japan are small and light 250-400’s with a few 600’s. People do go on larger bikes but they’re not so competitive. I had been thinking of buying something like a VFR400 then fitting crash bars and the like to suit but then I though, “What about the VF?”. In all honesty, it’s probably one of the worst bikes that could possibly be used for it because of it’s sheer size and weight but as it’s sitting there in my garage, in bits, unused and unloved, it almost seems a sensible option… And given that I’ll be needing to do alot to it to get it to the high standard of finish that I want, I think I might as well just do it anyway… And instead of having a streetfighter/drag/show bike, have a streetfighter/gynkhana/show bike. The latter certainly would be easier and less costly altough I could still make a very good looking (if unusual) bike from it. As for practicing this gymkhana stuff, one of my fellow instructors is very interested in doing it and we already have permission from the boss to use both the training grounds and the company ER-5’s.
Mechanically, I want to replace all the engine and gerbox bearings, the camchains and tensioners, and the cam followers and the shafts on which they sit (they’re a bit rattly). I’ll be checking everything else in the engine too and replacing anything that is out of tolerance. Lowering the ride height a little would be handy and I plan to shift the upper radiator under the seat (it just fits at an angle) so I can have a neater/less bulky front end. I’ll be getting a stainless (downpipes) and aluminium exhaust (collector/outlets) system made, the collector and outlets will probably take the form of a belly pan. It will be rejetted to suit, I hope to get a little more bottom end power out of it if possible. Crash bars with nylon sliders will be clamped to the main frame (should help stiffen it a little) and the rear subframe as well as sliders/protectors being placed on other vulnerable points. I’ll be making the lights, bodywork and instument clusters myself.
Do you guys have any further advice though? Are there any sensible mods that might be good for low speed work (I’m a little worried about cooling and the carbs overheating) or any other problems I should be aware of?
Many thanks, Shreddie.