New rear shock for my ZZR

Well, what a busy couple of days this has been.

Some time ago a group of us had a good old bash at adjusting the rear shock absorber on my ZZR1100, but the adjuster rings absolutely refused to budge no matter what we did, so eventually we had to give it up as a bad job.

Since then there has been a long road to reach the point where the shock could be replaced.

Firstly, what to replace it with? A genuine Kawasaki replacement shock, like for like, was stupidly expensive. An Ohlins replacement was still very, very pricy. I settled on replacing it with a ZZR1200 shock as they have the remote adjustment I wanted, and they can be bought brand new from the US.

As my wife was heading over that way to visit her sister I saw a chance to save on the international mailing costs and got her to bring it back with her – only that backfired – the shock was removed from her suitcase after it had been checked in – the shock was missing when she got home – many phonecalls later, no agency in the US would accept responsibility – the security agency said it was the airline decision, and the airline said it was the airport security. Eventually the international calls were going to cost me more than I’d paid for the shock!

I had to reconcile myself to the loss, and after a while I stumped up and bought another shock, from the same place, and paid for the international postage – it arrived safe and sound a week later, no doubt having been flown over on an aircraft just like the original would have…..

With the shock ready to go, there was the question of getting the suspension linkage machined down – the new shock is narrower where it connects to the suspension linkage. I got a spare linkage and took the shock and linkage along to Dunfermline Motorcycles where they machined the linkage down and replaced the roller bearings for me.

The last main piece of the puzzle was the suspension linkage arms – the dog bones – I needed shorter ones to compensate for the slightly shorter shock length. After a few emails to a German company, helped along by an online translator, I finally had the new dog bones, and all that remained was to screw up my courage and do the job…

A friend had already done this to his ZZR, and reckoned it’d take at least 2 days.

Easter weekend was nominated as it gave me two days to work on it, and 2 days spare in case it took even longer…

So, first job was to loosen the lower bolts securing the shock absorber, and then go about getting to the top bolt. That involved removing the seat, fuel tank, and then all the electric gubbins mounted beneath the seat, on the rear mudguard, and the the rear mudguard itself needs to be detached, to finally get access to the top bolt of the shock absorber.

Bike in bits

Despite my fears, all the bolts undid without too many problems, but the very last one, securing the suspension linkage arm to the bike frame, could be withdrawn enough to release the linkage because the nice new stainless steel exhaust was blocking it.

bolt blocked by exhaust

At least the old shock was finally out!

old shock out

The new suspension linkage was giving me problems – one of the sleeves was too tight to let the bolt pass through.. solution was to use the sleeve from the old linkage, but that meant the sleeve was too long. This meant cutting the excess off the sleeve with the angle grinder, and then very carefully filing it down, again with the angle grinder, until it was the correct length. That took an age to do – grind, stop, measure, grind, stop, measure, etc etc etc!

Once that was done I turned my attention back to the exhaust. With the silencers removed, the under engine mounting bolt removed, and all the nuts loosened off at the engine block end, there was a little bit more play in the exhaust, but it was stubbornly refusing to budge far enough..

The solution was a roof bar off an old roof rack, and a hydraulic car jack – give me a lever long enough and I can move mountains! With the new linkage finally in place there was a small issue getting the exhaust back in place – a bit of persuasion with a lump hammer and a foam mat to protect the exhaust, and it snapped back into place. Phew.

Then the next issue – the new dog bones were slightly too tight where a bolt had to pass through one end. The bolt was 12mm, and the hole was a tiny fraction under 12mm. Hmmm. I had metal drill bits up to 10mm, and the from 15mm up. Dammit. A quick trip into Gemini Tools in Falkirk secured a 12mm drill bit, and that opened the holes out enough to pass the bolt through without it being loose.

It took a while to connect it all up – the swing arm needed jacked up to get everything in alignment, but eventually it was done and the new shock was finally in place, and all the bolts torqued up.

top of new shock

new shock in place

Then followed the long job of getting everything back in place – and that was indeed a long job! All the exhaust fittings to the engine had been undone, and fiddly is not the word!

I had been worried that with the electrics all disconnected, including the bike alarm, that on reconnecting it all there would be problems with the alarm, but I needn’t have worried, it all went back together with minimal problems.

There was a small amount of swearing when, having refitted the tail fairings, and the sports rack, I discovered I still had to fit the left side pillion footrest hanger, and that meant removing the sports rack and tail fairing again. Grrrrrrr.

Finally, it was all back together, and it fired up first time – lights all working, indicators working, heated grips working – looks like the bike is back in business!!

Now all I need is a chance to take it for a test run..

Still outstanding is a wee bracket to attach the shock’s remote adjuster too. I have a pattern made, now just need to get it made – hopefully a mate is going to be able to help me with this.. Meantime the remote is tie wrapped safely out of harms way.

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One thought on “New rear shock for my ZZR

  1. Pingback: A year of motorcycling | Mike's Blog

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