What’s the use of buying a mile-sucking sport-touring machine if you have to grab a bunch of overtime just to make the payments? Ah, that’s where the next round of Project Re-Cycle, a joint venture between Cycle World and BikeBandit.com, comes in. Our mission: To find a nice, used semi-sporty bike that we could transform into a white-stripe wonder, an inexpensive sport-touring mount to take you and your "stuff" there in comfort.
Filling the bill perfectly was the first-generation Yamaha FZ1. It was built in great numbers, with production starting in 2001 and concluding after the 2005 model year, so there are plenty of them out there and a fully developed aftermarket to support them well into old age.
Why Gen 1? Yamaha’s second-generation FZ1 featured an aluminum frame, sure, but it also received a short-stroke version of the YZF-R1′s engine, sportier styling and a much smaller fuel tank. In moving the FZ1 toward the racier end of the spectrum, Yamaha disappointed many fans of the first-gen bike looking for more performance with the same utility. Partly because of this shift, the pre-2006 bikes remain popular among those looking for a quick, versatile motorcycle.
Fairly cheap, too. The Kelley Blue Book pegs the retail value of the FZ1 as $3100 (2001 model) to $4400 (for an ’05). Come springtime, FZ1s for sale pop up on craigslist and places like the Yamaha FZ1 Owners Association board like weeds through driveway cracks. Better yet, for the purposes of shopping and support, there are almost no changes from year to year save for colors. Our donor bike is a well-cared-for 2004 Skunk (the black/gray combo) showing 32,000 miles and a small sampling of upgrades. It would turn out to be an ideal platform for our project.
ENGINE AND DRIVETRAIN
Yamaha’s famous first-generation YZF-R1 engine received relatively minor modifications for use in the FZ1, so it packs a brawny midrange surge and a sizzling top-end rush into one relatively compact package. Among today’s hottest bikes, the stock FZ1′s 122 rear-wheel horsepower doesn’t seem so impressive; but back in the day, the Yamaha bested all its naked-class competition, including the Kawasaki ZRX1200R and the Suzuki Bandit 1200S.
While not so many first-generation R1s lived long enough to prove the engine’s durability, FZ1s are a different deal. Typically ridden by mature riders, FZ1s are more likely to have put on the miles. Our bike logged an average of 4000 miles a year, and Oklahoman Denise Dickenson owns a 2001 FZ1 that recently turned over 200,000 miles. A maintenance log posted to her blog (fz1grl.net) shows it needed nothing more than routine items. So, we had no concerns starting with a bike with 32,000 miles under the wheels.
The first step involved some basic maintenance, including a valve-clearance check (19 were in the middle of the range, one exhaust valve at the lower limit), sparkplug inspection (gaps good, tips clean) and some time spent on a slightly rattly EXUP valve. Yamaha used a guillotine-style exhaust valve in the collector to boost low-end and midrange power. Its bushings can run dry and the twin cables can go slack over time. Following directions posted on the Yamaha FZ1 Owners Association site, we disassembled and lubed (with a copper-free, high-temp anti-seize compound) the valve components and then rigged the cables. Ah, quiet.
We noticed significant drag in the clutch and throttle cables, so all three were replaced with OE items from the BikeBandit.com store. While messing around with the carbs, we installed a Dynojet Stage 1 jet kit to the baseline specifications and the DJ124 main jets. Smaller DJ122 mains are recommended with a stock exhaust, but we installed a Two Brothers Racing M-2 Black Edition slip-on muffler. The TBR can slipped into place in just minutes and impressed with its great build quality and low weight—4.8 pounds, 7.4 less than the stock system. We wanted to try the M-2 because it can be fitted with the P-1 PowerTip noise suppressor. That combo hit our noise meter to the tune of 97.8 dBA in the SAE J1287 test; the pipe scored 101.2 dBA with the P-1 removed. On the road, the system sounds wonderfully throaty but is probably right at the edge of acceptable for sport-touring duty.
The final piece of engine-related work was the addition of a K&N OE-replacement air filter—don’t forget to install the provided foam gasket around the filter flange.
When we were done, we succeeded in failure. That is, we failed to harm the FZ1′s good-natured low-end power, rippling midrange or any of the clench-your-knees-to-the-tank top-end. Throttle response improved markedly over the notoriously lean stock setup, though the baseline settings seemed a bit rich at idle and just-cracked throttle. Nevertheless, combined mileage (highway and backroad) remained at the FZ1 norm of 40 mpg. We’ll keep tweaking the carbs before the big Yami goes back to BikeBandit.com,.
Amazingly, after 32,000 miles, the stock chain on our Skunk was in great shape. But because we wanted to change gearing, it was replaced by a fresh D.I.D #530 VM X-Ring chain. The stock chain has 116 links, so we ordered a 120-link VM and trimmed it to fit. This golden beauty curls around a Vortex countershaft sprocket in the stock 16-tooth size while a Sunstar steel rear sprocket counts one fewer than the original 44 teeth. Raising the gearing slightly puts the FZ1′s engine in its vibratory sweet spot at 75 mph and has the side benefit of making the analog speedometer nearly accurate. This 6-percent-taller gearing does little to blunt the FZ1′s acceleration in lower gears or take a point off its backroad fun factor.Read Full Post | Comments(0)