Kawasaki ZR550 – Update on my lovely old hack

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    Stock ZR Update

    I have to say my time with my ZR550 got off to a poor start….Once I got the old girl out on the open road it was obvious that the carb set up was miles out and at least one of them had a sticking float bowl so the bike was pissing fuel everywhere. As I checked over the bike I also noticed the fork seals were leaking now too. Marvellous, I had done 32 miles on the bike at this point, a couple of months after i bought it in the middle of the bad winter everybody seemed to forget about quickly this year.  I am not conversant with setting up carbs myself so I sent the bike to a local shop who had done an impressive job on setting up a ZR7 I had ridden recently. The bike was nothing less than transformed and was so much better to ride too, with that lovely smooth delivery that only the very best fuel injected bikes emulate even now.

    While the bike was in with the shop they also swapped out the fork seals and did an oil and filter change. While I am capable of doing this stuff myself, I just thought 'why not?' Also I just wanted everything done in one hit so I could get on with enjoying the bike. Then pretty much immediately the battery gave out…I must admit at this point I could of happily pushed the thing into a ditch and left it there. But no, I gritted my teeth and bought another battery and fitted it. I had still done less than 100 miles on the bike and so far all I had done with it was payout! It was as I changed the battery that I remembered just how insanely fiddly the seat is to get on and off in order to get at it. In the end I removed one of the locating brackets and used two elasticated straps to hold the bugger down! Crude but effective.

    From that low point things have improved markedly, helped more than a little by the record breaking summer we have enjoyed this year. I put the ZR to work commuting, a 90 mile round trip for me through Worcestershire and Warwickshire. The little 550 lapped it up, having only covered 216 miles over the last 6 years it was like it was finally released to enjoy itself. With every mile the engine response became crisper and the slightly 'sticky' brakes sharper. I even used the bike on camping trip to a beer festival, loaded up with 'throw-overs' and a tent…it was like being a  teenager again! I have taken it to local bike meets and for a few runs in around the great roads that surround where I live and I enjoyed riding it so much that I have now wound doing more miles on the old tub than any of my other more glamorous bikes. The ZR is what I call a 'low pressure' bike. I just drag it out, thumb the starter and go for a wander. Nearly 3000 miles have been covered in the last few months, the bike passed the MOT without drama recently. However, the expense hasn't quite stopped, it has needed a new fuel tap and I fitted a pair of Avon tyres…the tyres on the bike dated from the early 1990s!!!








    So after a shaky (and expensive!) start the 550 has proved to be a good little bike and I aim to keep using it over the winter months while the flash Italian bikes continue to hibernate under blankets in the garage!   


    Crazy how these hacks with unburstable engines tend to get more use than the flashier stuff in the garage. They definitely got things right with those ZRs.


    Well after 18 months I have sold the ZR…after an iffy start I really enjoyed the 4000 miles I did on this bike. But I need the funds to shuffle my bikes about a bit, so it had to go sadly. Sold to a local chap so hopefully I will still see it about


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