A Winters Tale

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Fiddling with an FZX More picture & stuff here




My FZX 750 as bought, it was a very tidy bike to start with, I bought my 1987 FZX750 in June 2006. After using and enjoying it for the summer that year, over the winter months I decided to carry out some modifications to enable the use of some decent tyres / brakes.  This is the story of how it evolved……………………………


October 2006

First thing on the agenda, was the tried and tested modification of fitting the rear swing arm from a Yamaha XJR 1300.   I scoured E.Bay for a week or so before anything worthwhile came up, I didn't really want one from a crashed bike so tended to keep away from the breakers yards. Eventually this one turned up which was being sold by a guy in Scotland. He was making a drag racer out of his XJR so the swing arm was surplus to his requirements.  £58 lighter in my wallet, and a few days later it turned up on my doorstep - covered in filthy old oil and dried on Scottish sheep shit !

After a good clean up which took ages with lots of Halfrauds degreaser and half a pound of Semtex, this is what was underneath all the crap!  It came with the wheel and frame spindles so I can't complain

Having got the swingarm, the next item to acquire was the rear wheel,  of which there certainly didn't seem to be too many about. Not a single one came up on E.bay and the breakers were wanting a kings ransom for the tattiest of examples. In desperation I registered onto the XJR Owners Club Forum, and shoved a request on for anyone who had a wheel they could flog me. Within a few hours I was contacted by a guy somewhere in Bucks who had one he'd bought for an FJ project he was working on but no longer needed. He wanted £150 for it, but it did have a new Metzeller Roadtec tyre fitted, new bearings, a disc, sprocket and spindle, all this AND it's powder coated gold!.  I got him down to £130 so was a happy bunny - the new tyre alone would have been around £130!  Picking it up turned out ok too, a mate of mine had just won a set of alloy wheels on Flea Bay for his Robin Hood (Westfield looky likey sports car) and they were just 6 miles away from where the bike wheel was. So, we shared the petrol cost and I jumped into my better halves Honda Civic and rattled off down the M6 to fetch them all - better than all that messing about with postage etc! 

The wheel as bought, that disc will have to go though - it's 'orrible


The sprocket looks ok but It'll be changed for a new one when I get the new chain
The XJR Owners Club Forum also became a good source of other bits as well, the rear brake caliper & carrier bracket came from there.  
Once most of the bits had been collected it was time to get to work, first of all the original rear swing arm was removed and 19 years worth of accumulated English AND Japanese poo  (there really isn’t a lot of difference, except the Japanese poo is slightly more yellow !) was cleaned out of all the nooks and crannies. Next job was to check the condition of the bearings in the XJR swingarm, and the original FZX pivot shaft which had to be re-used. Both measured up ok. 
The original pivot shaft & pin from the FZX has to be used in the XJR Swingarm. Although the outside diameter of the pivot shaft is the same for both bikes, the pivot pin that passes through the centre of them has a larger diameter on the XJR.  It could be used but the mounting holes for the swingarm in the frame of the FZX would have to be enlarged to accommodate it, and I really didn't want to start drilling the frame.
A little drawing here should explain it a bit better:



In the photo above the difference in diameters of the XJR pivot pin and the one from the FZX can be seen. On the left is the XJR shaft with the pin inserted into it - the diameter of the pin can be seen sticking out at the top.  The ones shown on the right are the FZX pin and shaft separated. Although  the XJR shaft is the same O/D all the way along and the FZX one goes narrower in the centre the bearing surfaces at the end of the 2 shafts are the same O/D. The XJR shaft & pin are also the same length as the FZX, making this a nice easy conversion.  The XJR swing arm uses twin shocks as does the FZX, so there’s no messing about with having to convert a monoshock swingarm .  To answer a commonly asked question: fitted to the FZX, the XJR Swingarm is about 25mm longer to the centre of the wheel spinde than the FZX one. 

Removing the original FZX swingarm, compared to the XJR arm it looks really flimsy 



After all the crud has been cleaned out


The XJR swingarm fitted

Before fitting the XJR swing arm new bearings were installed, there was nothing wrong with those already in there but for what they cost it made sense to change them while it was all apart. Talking of cost, Wemoto wanted £28 EACH for the swing arm bearings.  After knocking one out I took it to my local bearing suppliers and got the pair for under £20.  They are like most bike bearings, just a standard size so it pays to shop around before buying from a specific bike parts dealer.
After fitting the new bearings and assembling everything together, there was a bit of side play in the swingarm that I wasn't very happy with. There wasn’t much in it but it was there, so it all came apart again and the shaft was re-measured to make sure it was within tolerance and round.  It was perfectly round  but about 1 - 2 thou of an inch undersize according to the bloke at the bearing suppliers. No sign of any significant wear was apparent. There was nothing else for it but to order a new one from the local Yamaha dealer and hope it cured the problem . It was only £12 but when it arrived it was measured and found to be just that thou or so bigger than the original. It was bolted up again and this time everything was fine.    


When the swingarm was fitted it soon became obvious that as it moved up and down with the suspension it was going to catch on the insides of the exhaust silencers.  I'm keeping the original exhausts on my bike because I think they look rather cool (I'm funny like that!) and I'm not really that bothered about having a loud zorst.  Anyway, seeing as how the original silencers are staying, a way had to be devised of pulling them away from the swing arm. They bolt to the rear footpegs, so what I did was pack out the pegs with spacers to make them sit a little further off the frame, then as the silencer mounting bolts are tightened they pull them away from the swing arm. It only needs about 1/8" to clear.  You can see in the shot above where the spacers need to be inserted.


November 2006
November.......month of the National Motorcycle Show at the NEC.  I went along for one reason only - to chat to the people on the Hagon stand.  I suppose the original shocks could have been re-used, but I really wanted some new ones that looked a little less cumbersome. The original shocks on the FZX look like the result of a partnership between Yamaha and Massey Ferguson!  They ain't pretty!
Nope - I wanted nice new ones that actually looked like they belonged on a motorbike and not a dump truck, so Hagon were the people to talk to.   The problem was - that none of the techy guys were there the day we went, only sales staff, so nobody could answer my questions about spring rates / length etc. I was given the 'phone number of the tech bloke at Hagon and I rang him the following week as instructed, because the show would be over by then and everything would be back to normal at the factory.  He was a very nice man - a very very nice man. He spent over 1/2 hour chatting to me suggesting springs and length etc. In the end I decided on a pair of 2180 adjustable shocks which were made and delivered here in about 10 days.

Shortly after the NEC bike show, the missus and me went on a trip to Newcastle upon Tyne for a pissy up weekend with some friends.  We'd heard of a place there called Westgate Road that has a few bike shops, so it would be really rude not to go check it out. The wives were dismissed to do some shopping to get them out of our way and us lads headed down there.  There's not so many shops there now but apparently a few years ago it was wall to wall with places selling bike bits.  One shop we came to was a proper old bike spares suppliers, it even had that lovely indefinable "bike smell" so I was drawn in to price a chain for the FZX.
The old chain although not very worn was too short now the XJR swingarm & wheel had been fitted, so instead of the original 106 link chain length it had to go up to a 110 link. The cheapest I'd been quoted so far for a DID 535 (50VM) X link gold chain was from B&C Express and they wanted £95.  The guy in the shop said he could do it for £75 but he didn't have a 110 link only a 114 so I took that - always handy to have a few extra links anyway. Unfortunately he didn't have an XJR rear sprocket in stock either so I had to get that later (bought from Gingerparts on t’interweb, great place to buy bits from).  Newcastle is shit for a night out unless you're 15 years old or fancying a good fight but you can still get some cheap bike bits there! 
Amongst other things, the front sprocket cover needed a lick of paint. A few weeks prior to starting the work modifying the bike, the clutch slave cylinder had sprung a leak. That was soon sorted but sometime in the past the cover had been brush painted, and the leaking fluid had caused the paint to peal off. The only cure was to completely strip it and start again.


The sprocket cover after stripping the old paint off. I used Nitromors but rinsed it well with cold water afterwards, leave that stuff on for too long and it will start to burn into the alloy so all traces of it must be removed. My rubber glove sprung a leak doing this - burned like hell!!   

After spraying it black

December 2006
 For the rear brake line,  a stainless steel braided thingy was ordered from H-E-L. They are great people to deal with, especially for special lines such as the ones needed for the FZX project. Just measure up - carefully - and they’ll make them to your specs then deliver themto your door within 3 days - excellent stuff!  
 The drawing below shows the brake line size to order when using an XJR swingarm on the FZX. The length is 72cm minimum if the line is routed as I did it and assuming the original FZX master cylinder is used.  The banjos should be straight (not angled) and placed in a plane of 90 deg to each other as shown.  There’s no problem using the FZX master cylinder because the XJR caliper is basically a bottom mounted version of the FZX top mounted one.   I ordered stainless steel fittings and clear covered stainless braided hoses for all my brake lies



The HEL braided stainless rear brake line

Eventually the rear brake calliper and bracket arrived from the guys at the XJR forum, so they were painted up and trial fitted to check the angle of the dangle! (as opposed to the tilt of the kilt – ‘tis a Scottish swingarm!)

The plan was to replace the original torque arm with one I'd seen for sale on E.Bay from a guy who makes them from billet alloy. However,  after a closer look at them I decided that they weren't very strong for £35, so I bought some alloy off him instead for a fiver and made my own

The torque arms the guy on E.Bay was selling, only fastened to one side of the brake caliper and swing arm mounting bracket. This home made one has a mild steel backing plate which straddles both brackets and makes it a much stronger unit.


Here it's temporarily fitted to make sure it's not going to foul on anything

After almost 20 years the rear footpegs could be forgiven for looking a bit shabby - and these did look very shabby!  While they were off they were rubbed back to shiny alloy then painted black in the centres and finally treated to a coat or two of clear lacquer

Starting to rub it down

Polished and lacquered.

The next thing to find was an XJR rear brake disc, I really didn't like that disgusting "saw tooth" thing that came with the wheel!  Of all the parts that I had to source for this conversion, the rear brake disc had to be the hardest. A guy on the FZX forum mailed me to say he had an XJR wheel on his FZX with a standard brake disc and he'd be willing to do a swap - great!  Only it turned out that he lives in Poland!
Superb, thinks me! I'm off to Poland in January, so maybe we can meet up and do the swap? Nope – not a chance, he lives in Wroclaw and we're going to Krakow - miles away!  I wanted to wait until after Xmas before posting anything off , it was bound to get lost or pinched over the festive season given the vagaries of our wonderful British postal system, but he wanted to do the swap before the holidays - so do it we did, and hang the consequences!.
About 2 weeks later - around 3 days before Christmas eve - a parcel arrived at the house......While I was out, typical!  That meant a trip into town to the head post office to pick it up, where I had to do battle with all the short tempered Xmas shoppers and office party piss 'eads,  but needs must when the Devil drives and all that crap!
Being Christmas I didn't pay too much attention to it when I got home - I mean, how excited can you get over a brake disc?  I opened it up, and it looked ok so I just put it on my workbench and left it there 'til January!  I had some serious festive drinking to do, and bikes were as far away from my thoughts as they'd ever be,

January 2007
Early January, We were all once again sober(ish!) so time to get back to fixing up the bike if it was going to be on the road for summer 2007!  The brake disc from Poland was retrieved from my bench and offered up to the XJR wheel, and guess what? ...............The bugger didn't fit - Damn!!   All that time wasted.  Damn damn and damn again - in fact DAMN!!    I needed to get this sorted now because until the back end was safely on the ground I couldn't really take the forks off to start on the front. (in the end I did just that and almost ended up with a disaster of mega proportions on my hands!)   I mailed Polish guy and it turns out he had a Thunderace back wheel on his bike - not an XJR one. Easy mistake (Doh!) but it didn't help me, so once again a plea was put out on the XJR owners forum for a brake disc.
Nothing happened for about 4 days, then I got a mail from a bloke in Runcorn - spitting distance from here - saying that he had a disc but it was a very old one and if I wanted it I could have it for £20. Having been caught out once I asked if he'd mind sending me a photo of it, which he was kind enough to do and that night it landed in my inbox (what did we do before t'internet?)   I opened the photo, and he wasn't kidding it was old, I think the Romans had left it buried in his back garden!  In fact it was so old it looked just like the original ones on the front of the FZX......  Hmmmm!   It couldn't be..... could it?  I swiftly popped into the garage removed one of the front brake discs from the FZX wheel and hey bloody presto ........it went straight onto the XJR wheel - result!   All that time spent dickin' about and I had one here all the time - you gotta laugh eh?


The FZX front brake disc on the XJR rear wheel..........See, it does fit!


The completed back end
Finally for the back end, if an XJR chainguard is being used then about 12mm will have to be trimmed off the front of it.  If that’s not done it will hit the head of the bolt that holds the silencer to the footpeg.  I lost 2 chainguard bolts after they fell out before I realised what was happening – Actually Satinblack told me what the problem was – Thanks Satin!     


That just about finishes the back end mods now so I can crack on with the more complex plan of replacing the front end with something more suitable……………But that’s on another page and another chapter!

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