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    covered on this page -   

          D.I.M. (Did it Myself)    TOOLS & TIPS

    The Workshop

    When I first began riding there was no question of working on my bike myself, no way. For starters I'm clumsy, impatient, don't really understand engines or technical stuff. Plus the thought of doing something wrong made sure that even for the simplest of things I would pop down to Chasbikes in SE1 regularly. Eventually the mechanics there encouraged me to think about doing very minor things, whether this was an effort to give me confidence to try or just to cut down on the number of times I'd pop in for a chain adjustment I'm still not sure. What I do know is that without that kind of establishment where you can quite simply stand over your mechanic, ask questions, help and hinder, I would never have seen how simple some things are nor have had the courage to even consider working on my own bike.

    Once I'd bought my ZZR the fear of doing something wrong was intensified, however following my accident in Oct 2003, two very good friends helped me to put my bike back on the road. Watching Steve and Andy working on my bike made me think about maybe having a go. Andy was always quick to reassure me that there wasn't a lot I could do wrong. I bought the Haynes manual, but to be honest it put me off a bit (I've never been one for reading instructions). One of the boys at Chasbikes showed me quite clearly how to adjust my chain, so, finally one day I had a go and it really was quite simple. The feeling of having "Done it Myself" was one of such pride you would have thought I'd built the whole bike!

    Things are not always so straightforward but I think I learn from my mistakes, non of which have been too bad or costly. Following shows my progression from chain adjustments to today and will continue to plot my mechanical/technical development.

    D.I.M. - Did it Myself

    Jan 04 

    Hugger fitting

    Difficulty -

    turned out to be too much for me!

    Fitting a hugger might be simple for some. Andy reassured me by phone I could do it, I had the right tools so I was off and running. This early in my mechanical education I had no knowledge of soft Kawasaki screws and ran into trouble getting my old chain guard off. Screw 1 came out fine, no. 2 wasn't having any of it and the head was soon almost unrecognisable. I tried everything I could think of, hammering a straight screwdriver into the mess in an attempt to get some grip, to no avail. I then had the brainwave to try to use the chain guard to turn the screw as it was flexible enough to bend. As the whole shebang was attached to what seemed to me to be a major part of the bike I wasn't overly worried. 


    However when that soft thunk came and I realised I had just managed to break the fitment clean off the swingarm I was more than a bit worried. How could metal be that soft? A quick phone call to Andy (who seemed to find it quite amusing!) confirmed I couldn't exactly ride without a chain guard. Another quick call to Chasbikes confirmed if I was patient they'd see what they could do. So all in, a bit of a disaster really, but I didn't panic and it didn't put me off. Chasbikes created a bracket for the hugger to attach to and I kept the original fitment and had Banjax ally weld it back on when my ZZR was repaired again in Jan 05.

    Mar 04



    Race Cans

    Difficulty 2

    (with a little help from a friend!) 

    Well I'd been hankering for a pair of nice loud cans, I found an offer from Venom (Motad) on Ebay, but I didn't entirely trust Ebay back then so spoke directly to Venom to ask if I could do the deal straight through them, which I did. Mikey (then, my riding buddy) offered to help me with them, which, while normally "help" would entail me watching other people do things for me, I can honestly say I did well over 50% of the work myself.


    Getting the old cans off was a doddle, getting the new ones in place was a bit trickier as we had some trouble fitting one of the tertiary pipes into the can, but we got there in the end. We ended up having to finish the job another day as we needed to order in some gaskets (I now never forget to order any possible gaskets in advance!) and some exhaust paste.


    Lining the pipes up and getting them just right took the longest but again it was a great feeling to see what I'd managed with a little help from a friend!

    Aug 04

    Oil & Filter

    Difficulty 2

    New Chain & Sprockets.

    Difficulty 3

    (more muscle needed)

    Mikey convinced me that an oil and filter change was not beyond me. By now I was proficient with chain adjustments; I knew how all my bodywork came apart and in what order it went back together. I read the relevant Haynes section and set about it. With a ZZR half the battle with any job is getting all the relevant bodywork off, this task is made even longer if you have crash bungs as you need to take the crash bung bolts (main engine bolts!) out every time. Once I became confident that the engine wasn't going to fall out without these crucial bolts in place I relaxed. I needed some help to get the filter off and out from between the header pipes - this is still a difficult task to this day but otherwise I did good. I left the bodywork off in anticipation of the next days task - chain & sprockets!


    We'd bought an angler grinder to get the chain off as that's what I'd seen the lads use at Chasbikes. I had fun cutting the chain off and diligently attached the new chain to the old to thread it through, again as I'd seen done before. Getting the sprocket off the back wheel wasn't too bad although I did need help to crack the nuts open. This was also my first introduction to a torque wrench. If I hadn't had help there is no way I would have got the front sprocket off. With me standing on the back brake and Mikey using the arm of the paddock stand on the wrench for leverage the bike was still lifting before it finally cracked open. As we didn't have a chain tool I'd gotten a split link to use temporarily until I could pop into Wheelpower to have them put a fixed link in place. Getting the split link on was much harder than we anticipated but we got there in the end.


    We've since bought a chain tool although it doesn't work on all chain types as we discovered later.

    Sept 04

    Brake Overhaul

    Difficulty 3

    My brakes were in a bit of a state, again Mikey convinced me I could do it. I did manage it, learning a few lessons into the bargain; do one pot at a time (two, diagonally if they pop easily), much easier, you need lots of brake fluid for this job, do NOT use mole grips, EVER on your brake pistons.

    In the end only the dust seals needed replacing, the pistons were pretty worn but they'll do for now. New pads as well of course (you should always replace your brake pads when you overhaul the calipers). It took me all weekend basically as it took me a while to realise that without anything to push the pistons out with like a compressor the best way was to do one at a time. Splitting the calipers apart was hard. Apart from some advice and a bit of muscle Mikey was able to just observe. Go me!



    Mar 05

    Running Repairs

    Difficulty 2

    (pride goeth before a fall)


    After feeling chuffed with myself swapping a broken indicator for simply a scuffed one, I was feeling relaxed and confident enough to have a go at fixing my broken heated grip on the throttle hand. Motrax had very kindly sent me a replacement grip so it all seemed pretty easy really...

    It all started so well. Rather than just jump in feet first I used my head and tested the replacement part first, plugged it all in, switched them on and yes it works, so far so good. I get the bar end off (R&G bar ends, fitted myself you know), tug the old grip off, no big deal. I try to put the new one on, bearing in mind I'm basically twisting the throttle tube as far as it will go one way, twisting the grip further and pushing at the same time, turning it all the way back to the stop and twisting it again... well it wasn't working. So I tried a bit of WD40, thinking that at least it would evaporate and then it wouldn't slip whilst the throttle was in use... no good. So I tried some grease (getting desperate by now). Got it 3/4 way on.. wouldn't go any further. So I'm giving up, trying to get the damn thing off again now to think of a new idea... my hand hurts from the twisting and its a real effort... SNAP... my heart fell through my chest, that horrible feeling, when you know you just did a bad, bad thing.

    Not good. I took the switchgear apart and sure enough, where the cable ends slot into the tube, I'd broken the housing. I felt like the biggest idiot in the world. It got worse when I tried to get the damaged tube out of the grip... I broke the top of the tube off... I can laugh about it now but I admit that at the time I put it all in the garage and went into the house and refused to come out for the rest of the day!

    I ordered the replacement part from Cradley which unfortunately comes prefitted with a grip. I managed to get this off by coating the whole thing with fairy liquid and peeling the grip back down over itself. Once I'd managed to get the broken tube out of the new heated grip (with some help from Mikey) I used fairy again to coat the tube and the grip slipped on easy as pie.

    I did have the extra job of now having to refit the throttle cable etc, but surprisingly this bit was easy, it was quite obvious where everything went and it all popped together neatly.

    I just wish I'd thought of fairy liquid sooner!

    Apr 05

    Clutch Cable

    Difficulty 1

    In putting all my new panels back on my ZZR (including fitting various replacement brackets etc) I discovered that my clutch cable was routed incorrectly and what was more when I tried to rectify it, it was actually badly split. There was no way I was going to take all the bodywork off again for a clutch cable, so I managed to fit it without removing any panels at all and after a couple of goes managed to route it in a manner that didn't get in anything's way. Haynes was useless on this point, it only tells you to attach your new one to the old to pull it through, but of course this assumes correct routing in the first place, duh!
    May 05

    More Brakes

    Difficulty 2

    (see, it gets easier with practice!)

    Overhauled the rear caliper on the ZZR and the front on the GPZ. Back was so much easier than the front being just the one pot. The GPZ brakes were a mess however having only one caliper (to the ZZR's two) it was a relatively simple and easy task.

    Once again dust seals were replaced and new pads fitted. In the case of the GPZ packing seals were also replaced.

    Even without overhauling the caliper learning to bleed your brakes is very useful, it's surprising what a little bit of air in your lines can do to your brakes' responsiveness. 

    June 05

    Flushing Coolant System

    Difficulty 2

    I'd been having problems with the ZZR over heating so we tried bleeding the system, there was a fair amount of air in there so I went out and bought a new batch of coolant and read up on the Haynes section for the cooling system. It didn't sound that hard, and it wasn't.

    A bit like an oil change, drain it all out, pop the garden hose in, flush it through, fill up and then bleed (top and bottom)


    June 05

    More Chains

    Cush Drive Replacement

    Difficulty 2

    After the success I had with the ZZR I wasn't too worried about doing the GPZ. When I took the front sprocket cover off I was amazed how easily the sprocket came off - it had a different type of closure, instead of a big bugger of a bolt it has a small locking mechanism and two small bolts to hold that in place. Ran into trouble when I put the new sprocket on in that I assumed those little bolts had to be super tight, and broke one right off. (This is where a torque wrench comes in handy) 

    It is very hard to know which things need all your strength to tighten and which just need to be snugged up. I persevered, replacing the rear sprocket and getting the chain on. Our chain tool wouldn't work with the fixed link so we used the split pin, although I was a little dubious I believe up to and including 500cc is OK with them.

    I had noticed some free play in the rear wheel so ordered a new cush drive which I popped into place whilst the wheel was off, the old one was badly worn.

    Collected the new bolt at the earliest opportunity, then came the bit I expected to be hard - drilling out the broken bolt. I drilled into the bolt with a bit about half the size of the bolt thread. Once I'd gotten about 1-1.5mm in I use a star drive screwdriver head to wedge into the hole and simply unscrewed the bolt. Sorted.

    Sep 05

    Brake Switch

    Difficulty 1

    The brake light for the front brake hadn't been working for some time on the GPZ, however as I don't brake without using the rear it wasn't a huge priority for me.

    Chatting with the lads at Wheelpower it was confirmed that it would be the switch and sure enough when I looked the push pin was broken.

    A simple matter of unscrewing the throttle switchgear and removed the old part (1 screw) and putting the new one in place and fitting the switchgear back into place. The only tricky bit is making sure everything lines back up and remembering what angle it was set at to start off with (I just did it by eye). Easy Peasy.

    Nov/Dec 05

    Running Repairs & Fault Finding

    Difficulty 1

    The bodywork on the GPZ needed some attention only I wasn't quite sure what to do about it. My one attempt at fiberglassing a crack in the ZZR's mudguard was already gaping and proving my repair skills lacking. I asked in my friendly local auto store, K & K Autos in Southfields what products he had and came out with a tin of fiberglass paste. I had a go on the rear panels and sure enough with a good rub down with coarse grain sandpaper and a bit of patience the paste seemed to work well. Much easier to mix and deal with than fiber sheets. I moved on to more complex cracks and even missing fitments (embedding washers in the paste to form new fixing points). So far all repairs have held up *touch wood*.

    A starting problem ended with my buying a starter motor from a breaker. In this instance I had the fitting done by Fins however my diagnosis was correct and the problem was sorted. In diagnosing the problem I swapped out the solenoid for the one in the ZZR just in case it was that, checked all the fuses etc.

    Having cracked the fitment on the GPZ's exhaust I bodged various fixes, created a new hanger, even had a pie tin on it at one point. I had a new piece fabricated which is now held on with jubilee clips which will see me through to finding a new exhaust (system is an all in one job).

    Dec 05

    Clutch Replacement

    Difficulty 2

    Perhaps this should be classed as a difficulty 1, however I did make it harder for myself. Immediately following the replacement of the starter motor the clutch went. OK, it had been slipping a little but it was still a shock when it went.

    I don't have a manual for the GPZ so got some help and advice from the UK Bike Forum. I won the plates on Ebay at about half the normal price. I requested the springs (they hold the plates) to arrive at the same time. They didn't send them. I'd taken the day off to do this (and wait for British Gas) so I had to get on with it anyway. I figured even new plates on their own had to make some difference. 

    Drained the oil and got the cover off, slightly tricky to free the cover. Got the spring bolts out OK. Installed new plates which had been soaked in oil beforehand as advised by several sources. Replaced springs and decided now was a good time to use the torque wrench. Had a quick gander at it to remind myself how it worked. Set it and got to work. I didn't pay enough attention to realise what I thought was 6.5lbft was actually 65lbft. (Our torque wrench only does something like 45-100) Needless to say the first bolt sheered off and shot across the garage... After a brief pause I carried on, 5 bolts was a lot on such a small circle, 4 would do for now. Got it all back together without any further help from the torque wrench, replaced the oil. It took forever to get the old gasket off the cover, I ended up taking the whole thing into the kitchen (it was cold!) and scrubbed it off in the sink!

    I had a lot of trouble adjusting the clutch cable but I got it to a point it stopped making a horrible metal grating noise. Took the bike out to test (by now it was dark) and got about 1/3 mile before I stopped kidding myself and realised it was still the same. Wasted effort? Well, lessons were learned.

    Springs arrived, along with a new bolt. At the first opportunity I started the whole thing again. Obviously I was careful not to damage the new gasket. Once ready I stuffed kitchen towel all around the clutch basket (I didn't want metal shards in the clutch) before starting to drill out the broken bolt. I got about 2mm in then simply inserted an allen key and undid it.

    Fit the new springs and replaced the bolts (carefully). Put everything back together and refilled the oil. Had no trouble this time with the clutch cable which I felt was a good omen, and indeed everything was fine. Took it for a run and was back in business, better than ever.

    Jan 06

    General Maintenance

    Difficulty 1

    Front and rear brake pads fitted to GPZ, along with clutch cable and indicator fixed. Brake pads pretty easy although pistons needed a little bit of care and coaxing to retreat without ruining seals. I can see the winter has taken its toll on the seals and will definitely have to replace all dust seals when I overhaul the brakes come spring time/warmer weather. 

    Clutch cable was quick and simple, routing on the GPZ is so obvious and easy!

    Apr 06

    Carb drain &

    Coolant drain

    Difficulty 1/2


    I was suffering some running problems so after a few suggestions online I tried to drain the carbs. This should be a simple task - there's a small plug at the base of each carb that when removed allows the fuel held in the carb to drain out along with the sediment that builds up over time. No 1 went easy, but No 2 having already had the head ruined by the previous owner snapped off. I'd ordered a pair of new plugs and removed the bowl off of the problem carb to drill out the old plug. Wasn't to be so having already removed the bowl and drained off the sediment and fuel was happy that the end result had been taken care of. I was amazed how much sediment was dried solid in the base of the bowl, so much so I took the bowl off the other which I had already drained. Sure enough there was still a lot of sediment that the drain hadn't been able to take care of.

    I happened to spot the coolant drain whilst I was putting everything back together so decided as I knew the coolant was pretty thin to drain the system and refill it. No bleeding is required on the GPZ but its always a good idea to run the bike with the rad cap off whilst topping up the system to let any trapped air out.

    May 06

    Fault finding (electrical)

    Difficulty 8!

    OK, maybe 8 is a bit of an exaggeration but I do think this has been my most difficult task to date, possibly because of my lack of patience. At least when something breaks or cracks you can see the problem and get on with fixing it. With electrics you can't see where the break is - well I couldn't! When I finally found the broken wire I was ecstatic with joy. I didn't solder the wire back on myself - I don't have an iron, Beaky did it for me. Learnt the rudiments of working with a multi-meter though and cleaned lots and lots of connections, removed all the bodywork, removed the side stand and its switches, removed the ignition barrel, tank, coils, the list is endless! Got there in the end though!
    Sept 06

    Chain again

    Cush Drive Replacement

    Difficulty 1/2

    Having done it once before it was pretty easy really. I only needed supervision with the Abba Stand (haven't quite got the knack of that yet) and a helping hand to get the back wheel back into place whilst holding all the necessary bits in place.

    I was a tad disappointed to need to do the cush drive but when I look back now it is 16 months since the last so really given that this bike does pretty high mileage it's actually pretty good!

    Oct 06

    Clutch Replacement

    Difficulty 1


    Since having the head gasket and piston rings replaced I've been meaning to do and oil & filter change. Given that the clutch had slipped a few times recently I figured at made sense to do the clutch at the same time as the oil needs to be drained to do the clutch plates.

    Having done it all once before it was literally a piece of cake even the Abba Stand was easy. I managed to reuse the clutch casing gasket saving myself a tenner or so. No snapped bolts this time, easy in, easy out. Clutch performance is much improved as a result. 

    Mar 07

    Clutch Replacement

    Difficulty 1

    This really is becoming the easiest task to do on this bike, even if using the Abba stand has been made harder by the drop of the bike over the winter bending the sidestand to just such an angle you need to have the sidestand up whilst finishing off the correct placement/tightening of the stand. In fact, yes, that bit is the most difficult part of the job. All done and dusted in about 15 mins. 

    Feels great as a result. Didn't bother doing the oil as it was only about 1k miles old, just poured it back. Didn't need to change the gasket either (as its off and on so regularly!).

    & Brake Overhaul

    Difficulty 2

    The GPZ's front brake has been calling me for some time but I had been deaf to it's pleas. For this reason the task was harder and mankier that it needed to be. Both dust seals were pretty much hanging off and both pistons were really disgusting, so much so I was actually a bit ashamed. 

    I really must remember to look out for some cheap replacement pistons as both are badly pitted. The improved performance is really something else!

    May 07

    Oil Change & Cush Drive Replacement

    Difficulty 1


    Well I could do an oil change on the GPZ in my sleep I think; getting the filter off couldn't be easier (unlike the ZZR) no tools required for that at all (just rubber gloves against the grime). I try to use a nice thick oil in the GPZ as it does seem to thin out quickly and it can get through a couple of extra litres between changes.

    I needed to tighten the chain anyway so it seemed like good time to drop out the back wheel and replace the cush drive. It could have waited (it's been worse in the past) however the 5mm play has been noticeable whilst riding and I had a new one ready.

    July 07

    Carb Clean & Investigate

    Difficulty 3


    This should be pretty easy really, but it gets a 3 as there are some things you do need extra hands for - getting the tank off and on is pretty fiddly, and getting the diaphragms back into the carbs is a complete joke (I gave up and got Mike to do it as I just don't have enough patience)

    Draining the bowls, again should be easy, but as one of the drain plugs is ruined and cannot be removed you have to take off at least one bowl, and once at the underside may as well take off both bowls for a good clean.

    Nothing was obviously amiss but who knows, only time will tell if the time was spent well!

    Sept 07

    Carbs, Carbs & yes, more Carbs

    Difficulty 2

    Practice does make things easier. I have lost count now of how many times the carbs have come out and gone into the new GPZ. What I do know is I could probably do it in my sleep, and I no longer worry if I'm doing it right. Investigated, cleaned, swapped bits between sets of carbs, broken nails, lost bits of flesh.. Still if it's fixed I'm happy!
    Feb 08

    Shock replacement

    Difficulty 3

    Well I'm saying 3 but in reality it was easy, it was just hard work to get those bolts loose. In my case I did spray all of them with some WD40 a good 15 mins before I got started and of course given that I was essentially doing two bikes (to strip the donor bike and then remove the offending broken one from the good bike) it had a good long while to work at the grime on the good bike. It was very difficult but perseverance paid off as did thinking off different ways to try and get better leverage. I ended up largely using my boot on the socket wrench whilst using all my strength to hold the joint of the wrench at the extension. Some of the bolts were very awkwardly placed making that impossible but again using another wrench as an extension tended to help.

    I did have a slight problem in that the top of the new shock was wider than the old one and the bushing protruded a little to far so I simply filed it down until I could get it into the opening. Seems to have done the trick and I haven't seen any side effects yet.


      Tools & Tips


    This is by no means a definitive list and is intended for the nervous beginner. The following is my opinion born of experience only I am by no means qualified to preach on this subject so cannot be held accountable for any cock-ups if you follow my advice. It is intended only as a rough guide.


    The first thing you should do is invest in a tub of copper grease (get copper grease, no other works quite as well). If you complete every job with your copper grease at hand using a thin coating on all your screws and bolts you won't have as much trouble getting things off next time you come to work on the bike.


    My main tool kit I received as a driver one Christmas (upon request) to keep in the car. I very, very rarely used it back then but these days we are inseparable. Its a Halfords kit in a leather holder and from memory contains;


    Adjustable wrench (or monkey wrench as they call them from where I come from)

    Socket wrench 3/4 inch drive

    Socket wrench extension

    sockets 8mm-17mm

    2 pairs pliers (one larger, one smallish)

    Multi Driver (screwdriver with lots of heads)

    12 different heads for multi driver

    Wire brush

    set of allen keys (metric)


    and a couple of other small items.


    This is enough to get you started, in fact its not often I use other items. Although I do sometimes use Mikey's spanners when a socket wrench won't quite fit. You'll need a much larger socket for your wheel nut if you intend to adjust your chain, the GPZ is a 24mm, and the ZZR 27mm. You may also need a 3/4 to 1/2inch drive converter as most large sockets are 1/2" drive.


    I don't recommend a torque wrench unless you know what you're doing with it!


    Don't forget your bike usually comes with a tool kit. Whilst many of the items in there are intended for emergency only the spanners are fairly robust.


    Before you start any job make sure you have a clean starting point. Make sure you have enough rags if the job is intended to be messy (draining oil/fluids) along with something to put old fluids in - you cannot just tip them down the drain! Use a sheet of cardboard or something like it as a surface to place all bits you remove from the bike so you cannot accidentally lose something on the ground.


    Most of all - take your time. Do not attempt any job with a deadline. If it's not going well, stop, take a break and then come back to it fresh. Some people find it helpful to use a digital camera to take picture along the way to help them remember where things go, or to number parts for the same reason. I'm lucky that I have a good memory so do not normally have a problem with this.


    Whatever happens don't get angry with the bike, its not it's fault. Stop, phone a friend (preferably with more knowledge than you!) if it's going wrong.


    Remember, relax and have fun, it's all part of biking.


    Oh, and girls, be prepared to get dirty!




    Copyright 2003 by Girlie_Biker/Girlie-Biker.  All rights reserved.
    Revised: 07 Jul 2012 11:45:21 .