ZXR 400 H1 RESTORATION
WEMOTO'S SAM HAS GOT A PROJECT ON THE GO - HERE'S HOW HE'S DOING...
It was a cold, windy day when I finally got my motorcycle licence. I had travelled to Chichester to chop in my trusty, flawless and incredibly reliable Honda CBR 125 R7. I’d found a 1989 Kawasaki ZXR 400 on the Internet which I’d dreamed of owning as a first bike, ever since I was a child and now I had passed my test and ditched the L-Plates it was irresistible!
It was the day that everything changed because the immaculately presented, incredible sounding 400cc sports bike I’d gone to pick up and was, at first, over the moon with - soon turned out to be riddled with problems. Unfortunately, still being a novice at the time, I had no clue what to look for when buying a new machine.
Immediately after returning home, I realised it didn’t seem to be quite right. Despite its looks, sound and general “coolness” (as I’d have put it on the day). To ride it was clunky, sluggish and at any slight bump in the road it had a habit of often violently jolting the bars to the left… Then when its first MOT came round a few months later it failed, on almost everything! “Merde!”
Front fork seals - Brakes - Steering head bearings - Fuel tank wasn’t adequately fastened to the frame itself due to a threaded mounting bolt - Slightly sticking throttle, and much more…
Lacking bike knowledge and money at the time to have it repaired professionally, and quickly realising that the bike would not return to roadworthy condition for quite some time, it got relegated to the back of my garage under a cover. Also under the usual “I’ll get started on that next weekend” story.
Unfortunately that next weekend didn’t come until nearly three years later. I was in there working on my Kawasaki ZZR600 in when I thought I’d take a gander at the old girl. And when I did the motivation and ambition hit me like a ton of bricks.
New mission: Get it back on the road, get it running, get it stopping, get it turning and looking better than ever before. I instantly knew it would not be done by “Next weekend”. And some of the existing problems had only grown twice as bad as they originally were after being sat in a damp garage. But this was MY Ninja, and in my own mind it deserved it!
Also, it’s a very sentimental project for me, as while I was studying Motorcycle maintenance and repair at the local college. I became good friends with a guy named Laurence. He was fascinated by the rare 400 Ninja (Being the 1989 H1 variant) and he always egged me on to get it completed. My friend “Lanky” Laurence was tragically killed in a freak motorcycle accident in early 2012. The last conversation we held the afternoon before was focused on us getting said Ninja back on the street…
However, due to various setbacks and delays work didn’t truly start till around autumn 2013 So far it has been very slow going and even though progress has been made, many more issues that need sorting have been discovered. The old saying “Even the problems have problems” comes to mind! It has revealed itself underneath its immaculate appearance to in fact, require a total overhaul from the inside out. I have been documenting everything I have done so far, and will be keeping you all updated on progress and further problems that, lets face it, probably will be found as I journey through this project. I'll keep you posted!
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