Build project

On the Kais!


undefined The Kawasaki ZX7R gets a new Ohlins TTX shock and Ohlins cartridge kits installed up front.

I’ve known the lads at Kais Suspension for years; they’ve always helped me out with set-up and parts. It’s a long way for us to go to Atherton, near Manchester to have the work done, but Andy and Johnno do a great job and always make us welcome. They were able to book the work in to fit the cartridge kits into the front forks at a moment’s notice. Andy had everything done with the correct weight springs, new seals and oil installed, done and dusted, by the time breakfast was ordered and finished at the local eatery!

I remember the improvement to the handling of my GSXR600 with similar parts - it made such a difference and was so impressive, it took seconds off my lap times almost everywhere. I’m hoping for the same effect on my ZX7R!

I’m really pleased with the way this new kit looks too. The bike’s starting to look more like a race bike now.




Build project

Stripping off

After parts being delayed and some lost in the post we have had to put the engine building on hold at the moment.

To keep myself busy I got started on stripping the paint off the frame and swingarm. Not only does it look the part it also allows me to check for any frame damage to the welds under the paint. After all this bike had been raced before, so best to assume it has been crashed before.

I managed to get hold of some heavy duty paint stripper, but even that took 4 coats to get it all off. There are a few little stubborn bits that I will need to remove by hand.

There is no damage to the frame underneath and now I have the factory finished look of brushed aluminium.




Racing news

NEC Motorcycle live show

Had a good day at the NEC Motorcyle Live bike show today. It was great to see some old faces. Even though it has been 5 years since I last raced it was nice to see that the friends we made along the way before still remembered me.

Thudersport GB, the race club that are hosting the Golder Era Superbikes race series had their own stand. It was great to catch up with them all ahead of the season and I got to have a look at the 2015 season winning bike on the stand a very nicely prepared FZR 750. 

Ritchie Thornton at NEC Motorcycle Live


I got talking to David Stewart (above), one of the Thundersport GB organisers used to race a Muzzy ZXR750 in the German superbikes so was very keen to hear about the how our Kawasaki was coming along.


Build project

Engine out ready for the overbore


undefinedundefinedundefinedWe have made some good progress on the bike over the last couple of days. The Thundersport GB Golden Era superbike regs state that 750cc bikes manufactured before 1998 are permitted to be overbored up to a maximum displacement of 860cc. With my bike being a 1997 ZX7R I have taken the opportunity to overbore 1.5mm which takes the displacement up to 779cc. Not quite the 860cc maximum, but there is no larger kit that would be considered reliable.


 The engine is now out and the cylinders are off. They will soon be sent off for the rebore work. 

My dad below examining the cylinders for wear :)


Build project

1st time out on track

Since we picked up this bike we've been working hard on all its upgrades, but it’s never actually been ridden properly. We needed to get it out on a track to give it a good test. I couldn't wait!

A track day was booked at Brands Hatch – one of my favourite circuits. With the winter on its way this was going to be the last decent opportunity to get out on a race track this year.

It was nice to get my own number on the bike :)


The first couple of sessions were tricky. Although the sun had come out, the track was 2.5 degrees C, wet from the day before and I had slicks on! Lucky for me, by the 3rd session, the track was completely dry and I could really start putting the bike through its paces.

The bike went really well. There were a few carburation issues, but nothing serious enough to stop me from riding it properly. With the bike being completely different from stock, there was a lot of tweaking required as far as suspension components go, but by the end of the day I was hitting some good lap times.


All in all, I was happy with my first time out on the bike. There’s still plenty of work to do, but I am confident that the initial work we have done has made improvements to the bike.

Time to start work on the engine!

Build project

Time to lose weight

With a dry weight of 203.4 kg and a wet weight 227 kg, this model of ZX7R is far from being a lightweight machine. Of all the bikes I will be up against I doubt any are this heavy in stock trim. If I want to be competitive, then bike needs to lose some weight.

The standard wheels, swingarm and forks are all very heavy on the ZX7R, and because it’s all rotating mass and un-sprung weight, it’s the best place to start losing it.

So I’ve fitted a lighter swingarm, forks, wheels and brakes. None of this was a direct fit and it took lots of research, advice and much head-scratching, but we got there in the end. I am very happy with the results.


Build project

It's alive!

The bike was bought as a non-runner, but we knew a mechanic who worked on it; he reassured us that it was a good machine. Having a ZX7R road bike already, I felt confident I knew the model of bike well enough to get it going.

For a start the battery had less than 1 volt in it! So I changed it with a spare one I had and it fired up on full choke pretty easy. Of course there was more.

The bike sounded rough - it wasn’t firing on all cylinders. I felt one of the headers and it wasn’t hot like the others. I then changed over the HT lead with one of the others (at both plug end and coil end of course) and the same pipe was still not getting hot. I had 4 new plugs - that were originally for my road bike - so I stuck them in. The bike then started firing on all 4, but still didn’t sound like it should.

Next I went to clean out the carbs. So I took the tank off and realised - as I walked across the garage with it in my hands - that the tap was faulty and didn’t turn off properly! With a garage and clothes now stinking of petrol, I noticed the colour of it was almost like a 2 stroke mix; very dark. Chances are the bike has done nothing since the previous owner last took it out and the fuel has gone off.

The carbs were not the cleanest inside, so I gave everything a good wash in clean petrol. The pilot jets were the worst with some looking completely blocked.


Putting it all back together I also noticed that one of the earths to the sub-frame had snapped off its ring connector, so I crimped another one on.

I put the tank from my road bike on, which had good fuel in it; fired it up and it sounded much better. I let it slowly warm up and it was running and sounding great.

There’ll be lots done to this bike to try and make it more competitive for 2016, so watch this space.

Build project

It all starts here

After a lot of research, planning and considering finances I purchased a 1998 Kawasaki ZX7R to race in the Thundersport GB Golden Era Superbikes class. I have been keeping an eye on the 2015 season and it looks like a good race series with some fast riders. I have always ridden in stock race series previously, so having the option to improve the bike will be a new experience for me and one I am excited about.

I already own a 1996 ZX7R as my road bike and the original plan was to track convert that one. However, when looking at the costs in getting all the parts required it made more sense to buy one that had already been track converted.

Got it back late last week after work and took some pictures. They are not the greatest because I could not get alongside the bike in my tight garage! Better pics to follow...

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