Showing posts with label ZG1000. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ZG1000. Show all posts

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Installing LED lighting on the ZG1K Rat Bike

The mighty ZG1K modified Concours is just about done.  I've been plumbing the depths of the wiring loom working out how to integrate LED headlights and indicators into a 1994 electrical harness based on much less efficient bulbs.  Jumping into the future like that freaked out the existing flasher relay that manages how quickly they blink.  

If you're running big, old, inefficient bulbs, you get a nice steady indicator and hazard flash because those bulbs are heavy loads on the circuit.  The LEDs barely use anything at all by comparison, so suddenly the indicator relay is flashing so quickly it looks like a strobe light.

There are various ways to address this, but I think the easiest is to get an adjustable flasher relay (ten bucks on Amazon).  It plugs directly into the harness and can be adjusted for an indicator as quick or slow as you like.

I've still got to wire up the horn and headlights, but the bike is close to finished wiring wise.  I hope to be out later in the week checking off the other details and making sure everything is ready to go.  It has always been a quick bike, but now it's a ninety pound lighter quick bike.  I'm looking forward to seeing what it can do when it's finally road ready.

The ZG1K started out as a café racer conversion, but the muscular feel of the big-4 Kawasaki engine and the heavy duty frame made it look like more of a drag racer than a café racer.  Once I'd stripped it down I went with what I had.  If it had been a light weight single or twin engined machine then the café racer angle would have worked.  Had that been the case I would have gone with a finished, painted look, but once I started down the muscle bike route I started thinking it'd look better as a Mad Max themed post apocalypse rat bike.  Seeing Fury Road was how it got renamed the ZG1K Fury.

Mad Max: Fury Road isn't short on motorcycle inspiration.  The art direction in that film is amazing.

The paint on the bike wasn't too bad (it was rattle can but nicely finished and badged), but I ended up taking a sander to the tank one day and liked the result with the Kawasaki decal half sanded off; it felt much more radioactive that way.

With the old style round headlight but running LEDS and the stainless steel, drilled mounts I made for it, the bike looks old fashioned and rough but with weirdly futuristic details.  The rear lights look like they come out of Battlestar Galactica, but then the rest of the body panels (only where they are needed to cover up plumbing or electronics) are finished in some cut aluminum from the heat-shield that fell off my Mazda a couple of years ago.  Once committed to the rough look, I went looking for ways to stay consistent to it.  Ironically, the least ratty thing about the bike are the refinished and painted rims I had done before these whole thing started with a carb failure.  They never went on the original bike while it was on the road and they are by far the most perfect feature on this one that aims for imperfection.

Technical and aesthetic ideas for the custom bike were collected on a Pinterest board:

Once I've got everything together it'll be a review of all the main systems to make sure everything it tight and works well.  I'll bleed the brakes, make sure the engine is tight and dependable and then see how often I can get out on the thing.

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Busy Winter Garage & Kawasaki Industrial Art

I never intended to become hooked on Kawasakis.  The motorcycle fixation of my younger self was always Hondas, but when I finally got into motorcycling it was Kawasakis that kept appearing in the right place at the right time, and they've generally been good to me.  To date I've owned three Kawasakis, two Yamahas and a Triumph; not a Honda in sight.

After selling the Yamaha XS1100 custom project bike last summer I decided to double down on the wounded Concours which, in spite of a lot of work and money spent, wasn't sellable.  When I can ride I ride but when the snow flies I tend to get busy in the garage, and this winter is no different.

The winter garage is a busy garage.  The Tiger's having a rest while I work on the Concours custom.  Before the spring season begins the Tiger'll have new fork oil, spark plugs and a coolant flush.
The Concours is in an unprecedented state of undress.  With the rear end removed and the plastics off it looks like a completely different machine.  Yesterday I removed the coolant reservoir located under the oil cooler behind the front wheel.  It's going to get relocated to the back of the battery box so it's out of the way of rocks being kicked up from the road.  There are a lot of after market options for a coolant reservoir, so finding an alternative that fits well in the new location shouldn't be hard.

The 7 inch round headlight with built in LED indicators showed up from Amazon but I'm still waiting on the tail light.  I'd initially thought of doing some kind of front fairing but now I'm going bare bones with only metal framing to mount the light and minimal instruments.  

I purchased some stainless steel framing and I've been cutting it into muffler mounts and the rear light fairing bracket.  That rear fairing piece is going to be as minimal as possible as well.  Perhaps even a box for the rear light in bare frame.  Visible girder frame pieces are going to become a part of what this will look like when it's finished.

I took the instrument cluster apart to see if any of it was salvageable (it wasn't), but the insides look like something out of the DaVinci Code!

Some 90° brackets on the upper fork clamps has me ready to try some headlight mounting ideas.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Naked ZG1000 Custom Inspiration

Some Andy Warhol-esque ZG1K shapes to get a feel for what the bike will look like:

I'm still thinking purple with asymmetrical gold racing stripes, but that might change again.

Cardboard cutouts of the side panels I need have gone to the metal shop.   I'm going to prototype some 3d models on the printer at work and see what various shapes look like before doing the final cuts in metal for the rear section.

While that's going on I've got to get the front cowling figured out, which is what led to the video...

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Fury Project: final drive & body panels

With the snow finally falling I've had time to start into the naked Concours project.  The first thing that needed addressing was the final drive unit which was leaking from the inner seal.  When the Clymers manual says you can do it but it's a big pain in the ass, it's best to have a practised hand do the work.  I took the unit off (easily done as it's held on the drive shaft by four bolts) and loosened all the fasteners on the inner plate.  

Two Wheel Motorsport, my local Kawasaki dealership, said they could do the work and estimated two hours of shop time and a twelve dollar seal.  I dropped off the unit and got a call back four days later saying it was done.  It was a nice surprise to find that the work took less than an hour and my $250 estimate was suddenly a $120 bill.  You hear a lot of negative talk about dealerships but Two Wheel did this job professionally and quickly, and then didn't overcharge when they easily could have.

I cleaned out the shaft drive end and re-greased everything.  Reinstalling the unit was easy and straightforward.  With the grease holding the spring in place I was able to simply slot the drive unit onto the shaft splines and re-torque the four nuts.  Everything went together smoothly and the drive feels tight and positive.

Since this was the only mechanical issue with the Concours I was able to begin thinking about the customization side of things.  With over 100lbs of plastic and metal removed from the bike I needed to start thinking about how to minimally dress this naked machine in order to cover up the plumbing and electrics.  Having a metal shop at work means handy access to fabrication tools.  Our shop teacher is also a Concours owner and is eager to help with panel building.  He suggested I do cardboard cutouts of the pieces I need and then we can begin the process of creating metal body work.

Body work craft day in the garage.
Doing the cutouts is tricky even in cardboard.  The left side cover goes over some electronics including the fuse panel and needs to bulge outward in order to contain all of that.  The right side is more straightforward but still needs cutouts for the rear brake wiring and rear suspension adjuster.  I'm curious to see how close the metal cutouts come to the cardboard templates.

The shop at school has a plasma cutter and we should be getting a laser engraver shortly.  With such advanced tools I'm already thinking about engraving panels.  Collecting together a bunch of line drawings of iconic images and sayings in a variety of languages would be an interesting way to dress up the minimal panels on this bike.  If the laser engraver can work on compound shapes I might drop the gas tank in there and engrave Kawasaki down the spine of it where the gold stripe will go rather than looking for badges or decals.

I enjoy the mechanical work but now that the Concours is working to spec I can focus on the arts and crafts side of customization.  Next up is trying to figure out how a minimal front panel that contains the headlight and covers up the electrical and plumbing at the front will look.

Monday, 28 March 2016

Parts on Order Makes me Stop & Consider

Over the Easter long weekend I've rebuilt four carbs and put them back together again.  Unfortunately they won't go back on nicely thanks to two decade old rubber boots, so they're on order.  It's nice to have a forced day off.

If you're ever rebuilding carbs on a ZG1000, and the airbox on it is more than ten years old, it's a good idea to get some airbox ducts (that connect the airbox to the carbs).  Supple, soft rubber is important when connecting these up.  I tried for a frustrating couple of hours to get them to join properly.  This is especially difficult when the inner boots are rock hard, even when warmed up.  Steve suggests new carb boots to cut down on swearing, he ain't kidding:

Sixty bucks and should be here by
I contacted my local dealer and they can have boots here by Wednesday.  They're charging less than they are going for on ebay or online retailers.  Score one for my local.  Sixty bucks means less swearing and an easy install.  Wayne, the Yoda-like parts guy at Two Wheel, says you're lucky to get two decades out of a set as they harden over time and eventually split.

With the weather going sideways again, there won't be much of a chance to ride any time soon.  Hopefully this means I can get this odyssey finished and the bike back on the road by the time the weather clears again.

The airbox ducts/boots that need replacing - the old ones are not only beaten up, but they've gone hard.
Even putting heat on them doesn't soften them up.  Note the flat spots up by the airbox that show you which
way to turn the boots.
Heating up the airbox boots - but they're too old!
A big empty where the airbox and carbs usually go

This ordeal has me rethinking things.  My wife suggested I unload everything except the old XS1100 and buy a regular motorbike that is more dependable.  When I started riding I got a dependable bike that just needed some cosmetic work.  It was so dependable it was tedious.  Since then I've gone back in time and enjoyed the world of carburetion and two decade old rubber, perhaps a bit more than I wanted to.

I genuinely enjoy mechanics, but never when there is a time demand on it.  I've already missed three riding opportunities because of the stuttering Concours, and this irks me.  The idea of wiping the slate clean and moving forward appeals.  I started riding late and moving through a number of bikes seems like a way to catch up on my lack of experience.  Maybe it is time to put sentiment down and move on.  I didn't start riding to watch the few lovely days we have in a too-short riding season pass me by.

A Tiger?  In my garage?

The little Yamaha and the KLX are gone now, netting me about $3000.  As it happens, a 2003 Triumph Tiger is available just over an hour away for about that much.  Come the end of the week I might be able to say, "a tiger?  In my garage?  Must have escaped from a zoo!"

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Lessons Learned From Rims, Tires & DIY

So, the rims are back from Fireball Coatings.  They look fantastic, but I'm a bit baffled by the process.  Mark, the owner, suggested getting candy coated gold, though I'd initially said I'd just go for the plain gold.  After being convinced of the upgrade the process took longer than expected (about 20 days instead of a week) because he was out of the product needed to do it.  Communication wasn't a strong point during this wait.

I was worried about tolerances changing on the inside of the rims, but I was assured that they  would be masked off.  The end result has a fair bit of over-spray, which isn't easy to clean up (which I guess bodes well for the rims themselves in regular wear and tear use).  With a Dremel I've been able to clean up the over-spray and I've begun to rebuild the rims for re-installation.

The final bafflement came when Mark said that black bits dropped into the process and there are minor imperfections as a result.  They are barely visible, but his explanation was that no one does gold candy coat on rims.  This begs the question, why up-sell me on them then?  All the strangeness aside, they do look fantastic, and I'm looking forward to seeing them back on the bike again.  The final cost to coat two rims was just over $300 Canadian taxes in (or about a dollar fifty US).

I'm not sure what I'd do differently next time as I don't have much experience with industrial coatings.  I think I'll give Fireball another go in the future though, just not if I'm on a tight timeline.  I imagine less finicky (ie: rims without a shaft drive hub on them) parts would be less of a headache.  They had a coated motorcycle frame on the floor at the shop that looked spectacular.  Mark figures he can coat all the basic parts of a bike (frame, swing arm, exposed bits and pieces) for about $1000.

Buy 'em online and you're looking at a lot of money for tires
unseen and possible long on the rack.
The tire portion of the process was handled by Two Wheel Motorsport just north of Guelph on Highway 6.  It's my first time doing motorcycle tires (everything previous was well rubbered when I got it and sold safetied as is).  What I've learned is that motorcycle tires are expensive!  And evidently wear out much sooner than car tires (odd considering how they are supporting much less weight on lower mileage).

The tires from the dealer were about forty bucks more per tire than online, but you're buying them on the internet sight unseen, and they might be cheap because they're stale.

I got the benefit of very experienced Concours owners in the parts department helping with tire choices rather than depending on the generic tire size finder online.  No one seems to support the OEM Dunlops that originally came with the bike twenty two years ago, so selecting ZG1000 tires is about preferences rather than manufacturer's recommendations.

The tire pricelist from the Toronto
Motorcycle Show - 2 Wheel was
cheaper, and could get the weird
size for my Concourse.
I was going to go with Bridgestones, but when a guy with over a million miles ridden (!) suggests the Michelins if you want good handling and amazing mileage, I didn't ignore him. 

All was well until I got the $600 bill... for two tires!  I think my last car change was 4 Yokohamas for the Mazda2, and it cost $650 and included balancing and installation.  Like I said, bike tires are expensive!  It was $35 to install each tire - ninety nine and change for the work.  I think I got charged for tire disposal even though the rims were bare, and even though I asked for a 90° valve stem on the back I didn't get one (though I don't think I was charged for it).

I thought maybe buying tires at the Bike Show would save money, but the prices listed weren't as good as the sale prices offered over the desk at Two Wheel, and they didn't have the weird sizes I need for the Concours anyway, so that isn't a way out.

I used to be a tire guy at Canadian Tire when I'd just gotten out of high school.  I know my way around the tools involved.  In the future I think I'm going to try and get tires and bits and pieces online and then do the install myself.  I'm going to install balancing beads on my current tires.  If they work as well as advertised, balancing (the only part that requires expensive machinery) won't be necessary.  When I do the tires on the XS1100 I'll do them in-house and see how it goes.

Speaking of in-house, the last frustration was removing the bearings.  I took them in to school figuring that the autoshop had a press and could take them out easily.  They sat there for a week before I finally took them home and knocked out the bearings in ten minutes.  While there for the week they managed to lose my bearing retaining clips and the front bearing spacer as well, so I'm having to spend another $20 at the dealer replacing parts they lost.  The moral of this story?  Do the work yourself.  You learn more by doing it, and you're less likely to lose parts you need to put the thing back together again.

The missing bits and pieces should be in this week, I should have the bike back on its feet by this weekend.  I'm looking forward to seeing how it looks with its new kicks on.

Parts Costing

                      TIRES                            Online      Dealership   Difference
Michelin Commander II 150/80/16       $174.45        $213.79        $39.34
Michelin Commander II 130/70/18       $208.00        $244.54        $36.54
                                                      money saved buying online   $75.88
                                                      + gas & time going to and from the dealer (online delivery is free)

Dealer parts total:  $458.33+$4 (shop supplies) = $462.33 (don't see any charge for the valves)
Online order total: $442.61 (including a 90° rear valve & a front valve)

Labour Costing

Dealership installation of two tires (with new valve stems, no balancing, no disposal - though they charged me for that anyway):  $99

How to change your own tires.

Monday, 15 February 2016

The Machine As Narrative

Eighteen months ago I found a 1994 Kawasaki ZG1000 sitting in a field.  It was in pretty rough shape, unused with grass growing up through it.  I was immediately drawn to it, though I was worried about transitioning from my relatively modern, fuel injected, first bike (an '07 Ninja) to this twenty year old, carbureted machine that clearly needed TLC to be roadworthy.  

One of the reasons I got into motorcycling was to re-spark my dormant love of mechanics, which had been prompted by Matt Crawford's brilliant little book, Shopclass As Soulcraft.  I briefly battled with worries about my abilities and working on motorcycles (of which I had no previous experience).  When you get a car repair wrong you tend to roll to a stop surrounded by a big cage.  If you get a bike part wrong it can throw you down the road.  I'd been away from mechanics so long that I was afraid I'd lost the touch.

Once I got my hands moving again they quickly remembered what they once knew.  My ability to repair machines hadn't been unused, it had simply been focused elsewhere, on IT.  Those years of rebuilding cars and working in the industry quickly came back to me.

The Concours was stripped down, old gauges were fixed, oil lines repaired and it sailed through safety.  The old dog immediately rewarded me with a ride up to Blue Mountain though a snow storm, and a ride around Georgian Bay.  The only mechanical failure as the bike began to rack up miles was Canadian Tire's fault.

By the end of the summer the old Kawasaki had ridden down the back straight of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and clocked up over thirty thousand miles on the odometer.

This winter I've been deeper into the bike than ever before.  Besides maintenance items like spark plugs, I also had a close look at the tires, and elected to retire the mis-matched, old tires.  With the tires off and the wheels naked, I looked into industrial coating options.  Fireball Performance Coatings is only about half an hour away in Erin.  After meeting with the owner Mark, I went with a candy coated gold that'll gel nicely with the red/gold trim look the bike is developing.  The rims are done and are currently at Two Wheel Motorsport getting Michelined up.  Future bike projects are definitely going to make use of Fireball's coatings.

This week things start to go back together in a big way.  With the tires and rims back I'll be popping in the new bearings, putting the balancing beads in (first time trying them), and installing the wheels back on the bike.  With the wheels (and disk brake rotors) back on I'll be able to finally finish the rear brake lines and reinstall the rebuilt calipers.  It's a lot of bits and pieces that need to come back together, fortunately I've been taking photos as I go (a good way to keep track of what goes where).  Between that and the Clymer shop manual, everything should come back together nicely.

A big part of taking things apart is cleaning them up, even if parts don't get replaced.  I've been into many dark places that haven't seen anyone since 1994.

The clean and shiny drive disk in the rear hub - it's what the shaft drive feeds into.

A cleaned up shaft drive housing on the back of the bike.
The rear suspension is cleaned up, but it needs a good greasing.
Owning an older motorcycle can be frustrating, but it's also very rewarding.  The operation of the machine is only one part of your relationship with it.  By laying hands on the mechanicals you become familiar with your motorbike in a new way.  That mechanical relationship integrates with the riding relationship, creating something richer.

It might be nice to have a newer machine that always works, but even if I could afford that, I don't know that I'd sell off the Concours.  It's nice to have a machine I'm this intimate with.

As I finished writing this Triumph emailed me with a link to the new Street Twin configurator.  That'd be a lovely machine to start another story with...

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Pretty Calipers

The brake caliper rebuild moved into the 'nerd-lab' downstairs where my son does his lego and I usually focus more on digital tech.  With Why We Ride playing on the projector I got to enjoy HEAT while I rebuilt the rear caliper.

The only time I had to go out to the garage was to blow out the caliper pistons with compressed air, otherwise it was some light bench work while watching a very pretty film.

I'm still monkeying around with 3d modelling tools.  I'm trying different resolution settings on the Structure Sensor.  I also tried using itseez3d instead of the factory software.  It made for an interesting variation (itseez3d uses the ipad camera to take a lot of texture photos which it mixes into the model).

It only took me a couple of hours to sort out the fronts and have everything looking sharp.  Blowing out the pistons was a bit trickier as there are two on the front and the smaller one (less surface area) didn't come right out with the air.  I'm worried that I scored them too much removing them.  I guess I'll see when I put them all back on the bike.

The front calipers are cleaned up and blown apart, waiting for their rebuilds, probably later this week.
3d model of the rear caliper reassembled.
Compared to the rusty lump it was before, it's night and day.  I can't wait to feel the change.
The rusty, pockmarked disk bolts got dremelled clean and repainted too.