Is It a ZXR?? Is It a Blade??.......This....... is Eds story.........
Before reading this please know that I had very little expertise in these things and was just bonkers to attempt it!!!
During this time riding and loving the great handling of the bike I did find myself wanting more power even though I did upset a lot of much bigger machines. So...
I started getting the idea of putting a ZX6R lump, but the sump looked too deep to clear downpipes etc, but my hunger grew for this little beauty to be a stealthy fighter and upset as many bikes as I could find to conquer.
|My mission took me to A1 bike breakers in Ashford, Kent where I was friendly with a guy called Rick ( sadly no longer with us ), who was a top bloke and when I told him my plans was eager to help. So with an engine trolley we went around the place looking for suitable kit, when I saw a picture of a fireblade on the wall in exploded view showing the engine very clearly. I thought that's it! its tiny it must go, within minutes we found a RR model magnesium headed minter. We put the thing on the trolley and offered it up to the bike and looked like it was meant to be. I handed over £1100.00 for the lump zorsts, carbs, cables, airbox, pipes, genny, starter, pumps the whole caboodle.
That was it, I was committed now.
The bike got taken into the house ( no wife type then you see ) and stripped the bike down. When it got to the bare frame lots of measuring and marking took place till I was happy it would go. Then consuming some big brave pills out came the hacksaw and angle grinder. I cut off the top engine mounts, the lower rears and the upper rears. The engine got stood upright on blocks and the frame gradually had bits shaved off the beam section until it slotted over the engine. More measuring and marking later and I gave the frame to my brother Andy to make new top and lower rear engine mounts. This done I drilled the mounting holes and put in temporary fixings so as to line up gear box sprocket and so the upper rear mounts could be sorted, again brother to the rescue. Upon its return a bit of fettling to sort chain guides out and with that, it was in!
Now the awkward stuff!
I tried to make 1 good airbox from mating the two together, no chance, I hadn't allowed for the carbs had I? and they sat to one side of centre unlike the ZXR. So I made an aluminium one out of scraps and once again gave to bruv to make proper. I have to be honest this still sorting as it is scruffy but it works very well with the carburation and that's what counts! Next the electric's which were sorted by mating the two looms and help from friend Domonic. The exhausts were suprisingly easy to fix really by shaving 2 inches off the collector length and on it went with a little bodged braced welded on. Front and rear end went on and tank filled with fuel and with a big throaty vrrrrroooooommmm from the debaffled carbon can she was alive. With no sense for the law I jumper on it still no seat lights panels etc, ( I sat on the subframe rails ) I road it up the road to try it out. within about 400 I had to head back, too mad to ride with no seat needed head on straight to ride this beasty that was for sure.
Ok so all ancillaries on 2 hours later once again I was ready, the chain was rubbing a little on the frame, but I was going mad with anticipation I had to have a go. I left my home and turned out on to the main A299 Faversham to Margate road gradually picking up speed saw the rev counter completely of the scale ( still using the ZXR one and not being recalibrated you see ) so forgot about that and concentrated on the Speedo. Happy all was well with the little rocketship I turned back from Faversham and it was time to give it a handful before 3rd gear was finished with it had already gone passed the indicated 190kph limit on the clock and on it went into 4th and then 5th to find the needle buried to the stop pin before hitting 6th where my bravery ended as the road became crowded in the distance and I though better of it. A little play around the bends was called for so of I went to play. The bike had lost none of its agility, but now raged liked a bull to tear itself around the bends and eager to get to the next. This was too much I never thought it would be this good, surely something had to be wrong, but no it was the bike I had wanted it to be and more!
This bike was meant to be, even the original fairing still fitted with only the tiniest of filings being made to fit around the engine casings and a small widening piece made to increase the width where the lowers meet under the downpipes. The radiator wasn't pretty and the rad pipes also a little shoddy, but the experiment had worked and I was chuffed.
I rode it around for a while upsetting lots of people and friends alike and took it to Cadwell Park for a track day, great fun and too much for me to cope with at times, the power out of the corners was immense, such a tiny bike and such power it flew. We did 6 successful sessions when disaster, the framed cracked!!! My baby had had all it could take she broke the day was over and so was the frame.
In my stupid pissed off state I sold the bike and thought that was it, but the guy that bought it had the frame sorted and painted it gloss black, well sort of gloss black, more black with dirt chucked at it.
He had it for 3 years and left it in his garage all this time apart from taking it to North Weald to drag race it.
Last year I found the need for a bike again after not having one since the ZXR and I started looking around, couldn't decide what to buy, when the guy with the ZXR asked if I would interested in buying it back, he assured me the bracing had worked and a deal was struck. I had lost all my confidence on the road and found it a real handful to control all last year and only took it out a few times.
This year I bought a 1000 EXUP and it was far easier to ride, nowhere near as aggressive and helped me regain my composure. A friend asked if I fancied a track day to sort myself out and to practice cornering etc and I accepted. We went off to Mallory Park with the ZXR and his FZR600. The first session was very poor because it had been raining and the condensation built up on my visor making it hard to see and trundled round in last place very unhappy. The sun then came out big time and the next session was a different story, by the end of the first lap I was in the lead and really happy with the feel of the bike, I had got it back, this felt good. 2 more sessions went the same way and I was able to relax and have a play and try different ways of braking and cornering. No less than 7 people stopped to say " what the f*** is in that thing a 750 " ha ha the plan had finally worked a "ZXR400, blade engined stealth nutter bastard" .
I have decided that it will stay a track bike now as I am not very good when it comes to prettying up things, I like the slightly tatty look as it helps with the stealthyness.
I will never sell it again and next year it will see lots more track days.
So if you see a double-bubbled ZXR400 coming up behind you "Look Out" it might be me about to swallow you up.