Hands On: Aftermarket Bodywork Fitment

Body (Re)Building the Right Way

1. In a perfect world, motorcycles would never tip over. Unfortunately, it's not unusual for motorcycles to hit the ground in the real world. Be it a crash or just a tip-over, these accidents result in various degrees of asphalt-induced bodywork reshaping. Damaged bodywork can be replaced piece by piece through your local dealer at a premium price (enough to exceed the total value of the motorcycle in some instances), or you can replace the whole set with fiberglass aftermarket bodywork for significantly less money (but remember to factor in the additional cost of a paint job and fitment). Aftermarket bodywork is especially applicable if the bike is being race-prepped for noncompetitive track events or actual competition like this Suzuki GSX-R750. With a little research on the subject (calling the aftermarket bodywork manufacturers for prices and features), you should be able to determine which fiberglass and hardware will work best for you.

2. Start by securing the motorcycle in a spacious work area. Remove the old body panels, saving (and separating, if necessary) all the OEM hardware in labeled containers. Remove the front fairing and bracket by removing the fasteners that attach the bracket to the frame. If you're going racing, rid your motorcycle of all unnecessary components, such as the seat and helmet locks, lights and switches. Lay out and inspect all the pieces on carpet or some other soft floor surface. A small free-standing workbench covered with a towel or carpet will also come in handy.

3. Start with the lowers. Before mounting the bodywork on the motorcycle, assemble the fairing lowers with the help of clamps, an extra set of hands or duct tape. Look for a close fit between the components with even gaps. Locate, mark and drill (original-size holes) the dimples where fastener holes need to be. (Use clamps or a volunteer's grasp to hold the two sides in place.) Drill and rivet the two sides together using rivet washers on the inside. Follow that with the radiator shroud. Drill and rivet each side using three to four rivets. For added rigidity locate the top rivet about one inch from the top of the shroud.

4. There are plenty of colorful windscreen choices. They can range from high visibility to being highly visible. To avoid the risk of cracking a windscreen while drilling it, order a predrilled windscreen. If you must drill through a screen, use a high-speed drill with very light pressure. Using a Unibit will further reduce the chances of cracking. For best results, mount the windscreen to the upper while working on a bench. Have someone hold the upper while you match the windscreen to it, to verify an acceptable fit. Mount the windscreen starting at the rear. Match the contour at the rear of the upper to the rear of the windscreen, then mark and drill the two rear holes. With two screws placed in the holes that you just drilled, tilt the windscreen upward to locate the two front holes. Mark and drill the front holes. Locate two mounting screws in the front holes, then mark and drill the remaining holes.

5. Attach the upper fairing to the lower with two fasteners on each side. (This operation is best performed off the bike.) Determine a good location for the hardware on the upper/lower mating surface. Spreading the fasteners far apart will help the fiberglass retain its shape. For all types of fasteners, drill the back panel (the lowers) first. Locate the "nut-tab" at the desired location. Mark the desired location of the hole, remove the tab, then drill the panel to accept the fastener (quick-release quarter-turn or standard fastener). Assemble the pieces together, mark the upper, then drill the appropriate-size hole. Repeat the process for the rest of the fasteners.

6. At this point the fairing can be mounted onto the motorcycle. Slide the assembled lower fairing under the bike. Locate the fresh-air ducts and attach the upper, lining up the ducts. Hold the upper in position while you insert zip-ties through the old mirror holes. Be sure to use the OEM rubber grommets in the mirror bracket. Attach the upper and lowers together with the appropriate hardware. Lift and slide the lowers onto the upper mounting bracket (near the carburetors), and apply the fasteners. Step back and inspect the fit at this point. There should be approximately two inches of clearance between the tire and the chin of the lower fairing. Ensure that the fairing is pointing straight forward. The next mounting point is the front. Make sure that the nose bracket is on straight, then mark the location of the nose-bracket fastener. Remove and drill a 1_4" hole in the appropriate location. Reinstall the upper, then sort out the bottom fasteners on the lower. These fasteners and brackets may be left out and replaced with zip-ties for better ground clearance. Inspect all contact points and trim if necessary. Apply heat-reflective insulation to the fiberglass if there are any points of contact with exhaust. All leftover wiring may be bundled around the nose bracket.

7. Drill the centers of the fender dimples to the same size as the original fender holes, and mount it using the standard hardware. To ensure that the fender will go on straight, drill one side first and then the other (after you have lined it and marked it on the bike). You will need a couple of 6 x 10mm nuts for the rear mounts. Align the front fender so it's parallel with the tire, then mark and drill the rear holes.

8. To mount the seat cowling, some items may have to be relocated, such as the fuse box, solenoid, igniter box and radiator catch tank. Work the seat over the subframe and into position by tilting up the right side of the seat cowling. Mark and drill the centers of the dimples as well as all areas of ill-ad-vised contact, such as the muffler hanger and subframe rail. Remove the seat to trim it.

9. A good tool to use for trimming is a jigsaw with a fine blade or a grinder with a cutting wheel. Cut to about 1_16" of the desired line, then use 80-grit sandpaper to finish and smooth the edges. Verify that it now fits cleanly, insert the OEM rubber inserts and sleeves, and attach it. If you cannot find better hardware to mount the seat, use the OEM hardware, which works fine. Remount the saddle, schedule an appointment with your painter, and go riding. SR

How and why

Our '95 Suzuki GSX-R750 test bike is being fitted with bodywork supplied by Air Tech (619/598-3366), which also supplied the fasteners and Unibit drill bit. The nose and tach brackets were supplied by Yoshimura R&D; of America (909/628-4722). A different style of instrument and nose-bracket combo was provided by WRM Engineering (707/542-5232). The windscreen-and-screw kit is available through Targa (714/362-2505). To accomplish this project it will be necessary to have the following tools at your disposal:

  • Basic hand tools
  • Large-head aluminum rivets and washers
  • Zip-ties
  • Duct tape
  • Rivet tool
  • High-speed drill
  • Unibit drill bit (1_8" to 1_2")
  • Jigsaw with fine-tooth blade or grinder
  • 80-grit sandpaper
  • An assortment of 6mm fasteners

This story was originally published in the August 1995 issue of Sport Rider.

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