by Lee Meyer
When I started this project, it was supposed to be a simple paint job to repair a scuffed fairing on my ZX 11. I removed the body work and sent it off to become a different color, then I stared at the naked hulk and began to think. This is, I believe, when the dementia started. I must have become slightly deranged, possibly out of touch with reality all together. All thoughts of cost and effort vanished. That silver frame had to be changed to black.
A buddy and I tore the thing into a gazillion pieces, tagged and bagged all the parts like at a crime scene, and put aside the only assembly to remain untouched–the engine.
Frame, swingarm, tree, fork legs and all related doo-dads were packed up and hauled off to Best Coat Inc. of Blaine, MN, where we discovered a little problem. Most of these parts were already powder coated from the factory. All that coating had to be removed before the new coating could be applied. Dick at Best Coat said he knew a guy who could sandblast the old stuff off. It would not be cheap, but it could be done. Deal.
A couple of weeks later I picked up the parts and the bill. The total cost was $470.00. $130.00 of that was for stripping the old coating. Best Coat does a ton of custom bike stuff, so, as expected, the parts looked great.
I installed new swingarm bearings and steering head bearings, and things were ready to go back together. Almost. As long as the forks were apart, why not give them some attention? I ordered up Race Tech Gold Valve Emulators, springs and bushings, and installed them with new seals.
These cartridge emulators will give the feel and performance of expensive cartridge forks. Installing them took a couple of hours of screwing around, but it wasn’t that hard. I tossed all the factory damping adjusters and valves. I drilled the damping rods for more flow and welded up the stock valving holes. Rebounding damping is now adjustable with different fork oil weights, and compression damping with the Gold Valve. The bummer is that you have to fish the little bugger out with a coat hangar to make an adjustment then reinstall it with the spring and cap. The directions were quite good and included recommended initial settings and even a 1-800 number. The parts for the forks cost approximately $275.00.
Next in line? The front brakes. The stock rotors seriously warped last year, so new brakes were a must. Ferodo has a kit just for this common problem. These new rotors were a full-floating ductile iron superbike variety. They are unlikely to warp and have a much better feel. The Ferodo pieces had to be installed on stock carriers, so the old rivets had to be ground off to remove the old rotors. Installation was a breeze with new floater buttons and pads supplied. The kit cost $519.00. This may sound expensive, but Kawasaki rotors would cost about the same dough.
As I had become Joe Custom, I thought it would be neato to have nice white gauge faces instead of boring black ones. Before my motorcycle mania I’d been somewhat of an old car freak and part-time restorer. I knew of a place that restored automotive gauges, clocks etc. with bitchin’ results. I placed a call to Clock Doc Inc. of Sewanee, Tennessee, and a man named Bill claimed this was a job he could do. I packed up the tach and speedo and shipped them off. These people at Clock Doc were swamped with business from the old car world, so patience was in order. After a couple of months and a few phone calls to verify things with Bill, my gauges came home. Boy oh boy, did they look sweet! But I had forgotten to have them deal with the needles. I now had white gauges with white needles, hmmm.
Off to the hobby store I went to get some fluorescent red paint and itty-bitty paint brushes. Using some ancient unused model-building skills I very carefully hand painted the needles. Installed on the bike they look so good that you would swear on your mother’s eyes that Kawasaki put them there. Perfect right down to the tiny part numbers. Perfection didn’t come cheap. Cost= $455.00.
Now I have a completely assembled bike minus all the body work. That’s still in the paint shop. I have also ordered an Ohlins shock to update the rear. It is on back order, of course. Riding season is here, and my bike looks like Skeletor. Next month we’ll have this thing wrapped up, and we’ll ride it. See you then.