In July 2008 my job changed dramatically. In addition to the convenient 12 mile from home office which meant bicycle in summer and tolerable car journey in winter I inherited another office 30 miles away - only thing was it was in London, and the opposite side to where the local (slow) train goes. (I also had to take a 25% pay cut for the pleasure of moving from contract to perm but that’s another story.) One week in and I was ready to resign. I was leaving home at 6:30 and usually not making it in for 9. I was also rarely home by 7:30. I know lots of people spend that amount of time commuting but I have better things to do than sit in traffic jams every day. So I started hanging around in bike shops. I wanted a bike that would be comfortable all day, handled well and had loads of low end torque – so sport bikes were definitely out.

I had pretty much decided on a new FZ6 Fazer, which also happened to match how much cash I was prepared to spend. After my second test ride I took the FZ1 out. Too much money said I, Zero % said the salesman. The bike was fantsatic to ride. Nice and comfy, but this was an all out sports bike. Completely mental but you had to rev the socks off it to make it go. Not quite what I had in mind for commuting and not too keen to start messing with the fuel mapping on a brand new bike. In the same shop they had a low mileage 02 “Generation 1″ bike. This one had carbs and is already regarded as a modern day classic by many. Took it out for a test ride and an hour later I bought it – for a lot less than I had been planning to spend on the 600. Collected it on 10 July (in the pouring rain) and joined the ranks of the born again (bikers). Here it is at the dealers:

Now to start transforming it to the bike I really wanted it. Here is the story so far.

  • Back end looked awful so chopped off the bottom few inches of the mudguard and moved the number plate up
  • Hated the look of the rack so took it off while I tried to find some standard grab rails. Put on a Rentech rail and finally (with the onset of autumn) put back the rack and bought a top box on ebay to hide it. Still think its ugly but it is very useful
  • Found some TCP side panels and fairing lowers going cheap on ebay. Fitted these and discovered that Yamaha changed their blues between 02 and 03
  • Started experimenting with different screens to stop my head bouncing around at motorway speeds. Finally settled on the TCP screen

The next thing was to turn it into a decent handling bike. When I picked it up it was really sloppy but to be fair it improved a lot with tuning the suspension. Still I’m not the lightest person around and did not want an expensive rebuild – so on to part 2

  • Replaced front and rear springs with Hyperpro progessives. Thanks to Deefer for the help (to be honest my main contribution was getting in his way)
  • Replaced dog bones to raise the Rs end by 25 mm
  • Fitted Scott Oiler in anticipation of winter
  • Had Ivan’s SO jet kit installed (thanks Mike). An absolute must for the bike. Now wonderfully smooth all the way up from 1500 RPM and goes like a rocket when you get the revs up
  • Fitted Quill titanium can. Phoned to order a stainless one and got the ti for almost the same price cos their apprentice had messed up the blue colouring (only did 2 inches instead of half way)
  • Fitted Oxford heated grips as it is looking and feeling like a cold winter
  • Fairing resprayed to match rest of bike. (It would actually have made more sense to spray the rest as the fairing was in better nick but I prefer the bike colour). Again thanks to Deefer.
  • Fitted LED brake / tail lights – I am rather keen on seeing and been seen
  • Tomtom rider. Had been planning to mount my phone – but by the time you add the cost of the aquabox, custom cable and headset it wasn’t worth the effort.

Here it is today, and its still cost me a lot less than a new 600 would have. (4 Nov 08). Have now done 3k miles in under 4 months. Previous owner only managed 11k in over 6 years. Will replace the pics next time there’s a day without rain or snow and I can get it clean. I’ll even take that damn box off if its a weekend and light while I’m still home.

Not much to go now!

  • HID Headlights
  • LED side lights – well the originals looked yellow against the new headlights
  • LED rear indicators
  • Replaced rear LEDs with brighter ones. Pics below have one of each (old and new). Hard to believe but the left bulb is actually brighter than the standard bulbs.
  • Lost the rest of the rear fender as it still looked silly with the new indicators
  • Flush mount front LED indicators
  • A pair of Motrax Hootaz (horns). These are grrreat!!!

Here it is on 23/11/08. Sadly the day had both rain and snow but the rear cowl came off to trim the fender so I sneaked down the drive for some pics during a gap in the weather before putting the rack and box back.

That’s all folks, it is only a commuter after all (ermmm mostly) … although looking at the pics the downpipes could do with some attention!

Minor updates

  • Just put the lower fairing back after a respray
  • Put on the rear single seat cowl. This has been on and off several times as I can’t decide if I like it.
  • Renthal 758 bars and ends. Slightly wider and less swept back which is a more comfy riding position. Will be changing the ends as I don’t like the skinny ones.
  • Fitted Nitron race shock. Had got good results with my previous attempt but the ride was a bit harsh as the spring was good and the shock wasn’t.
  • Pulled forks 10 mm through the yokes.
  • Autocomm comms system. Have to plug in now but much better quality than I had with the bluetooth headset. (Courtesy of annual half price sale when they launch the new model).
  • GYTR risers – dropped bars by 1″
  • Flipped mirror stalks around. This look weird but now I can actually see behind me and not just my shoulders
  • Oberon foot pegs.

Almost forgot – I tried the D. Fabbri double bubble screen. Hated it so it now in my box of bits in the garage.
Mirrors have been flipped back for a while. Worked well but I kept bashing them on things (vans on the motorway and such). Eventually got fed up with the noise from the TCP screen and replaced it with an MRA vario. More protection than standard and fairly quiet. If I pull the vane right up I get better protection and more noise. Protection nowhere near as good as the TCP but much much quieter. Some more things I have done along the way:

  • Braided stainless steel hoses
  • Sintered disk pads front and rear
  • Removed AIS – completely useless bit of kit that makes changing plugs nearly impossible
  • Fitted a polished (Fazer) chain-guard. This is the one bit that really came out of last winter looking worse for wear
  • Clear tail light unit with integrated flashers. Just in case I need separate indicators for MOT I rerouted the cables through the rear compartment so that I could pop these back on in under 5 minutes
  • Ditched the single seat cowl for good
  • Avon Storms front and rear
  • Removed top box and rack as I’m not currently commuting
  • Hand guards are Acerbis and only on for the winter. I do have muffs but it hasn’t got that cold yet

Update 15 April 2012.
Sadly I encountered diesel on the Robin Hood roundabout in Newbury on 13 September 2010 on a dry day. The damage was minor enough that I was able to ride it back to the office. I had no choice about telling my insurance because I did a fair amount of damage to a car on the roundabout. I was really annoyed that they chose to write it off.

I replaced it with an identical model. I managed to retrieve the exhaust, rear shock, satnav mount, side panels and footpegs before it was destroyed. Apart from the my new bike is standard in appearance, with the exception of clear lenses on the tail light and (standard) indicators, oh and a full monty.

Final update July 14th 2013.
Traded it in today. Nothing wrong with it and still a fantastic bike - but decided it was time for a new one.