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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey!

An intro; in the 90's I rode a number of bikes, my first ever (after getting a licence) being a 1992 GSXR 1100.

So ... my experience on GSXRs might predate that of many folk here. (Might even predate folk!!)

OK, so ... yeah not the easiest bike to ride straight out of the riding test (we could go straight from 125cc to 'anything' in the UK here back then) but its owner (not even my bike) felt that with my aviation skills and general car driving skills, it was OK . and it was. Didn't fall off, didn't get into any trouble, and just took it easy .... to start with.

Anyway, I had a number of bikes myself a few years later and rode that GSXR 1100 a fair bit too.

Point being, I survived unscathed on a range of bike capacities from my KR1S to FJ1200, but as you can imagine jumping pretty much straight on to a GSXR as my first real bike experience was ..... sublime.

I mean, I could use words like scary, breath-taking, intense, stuff like that, but it wasn't quite like that, I sort of mentally prepared myself for what the technical difficulties of riding a heavy powerful big bike would be.

But I recall the experience a lot more than 'just a big bike'. I mean, I 'lost' myself in the bike, I connected with it. somehow. There was something 'else' I experienced. I can't say I really got much of 'that' with the FJ12, but I did on the KR1S too.

I wouldn't go so far as to say a 'religious' experience, but definitely 'zen', if that makes sense, to some of you at least.

I know (well, looks that way on youtube, right?) that a lot of guys hoon around and treat bikes as big toys to go fast on. I'm not going to knock them for it, nor trying to make out that my experience is somehow better than others. But, actually, going 'fast' isn't the thing for me. I mean, OK, so I ended up going fast, but that is a secondary consequence. For me it's about creating an interaction between me, the bike and the road. There is some sort of 'art' in getting the power down in just the right way, on just the intended curve that you plot out in your mind on the road ahead.

Well .. that's how I recall it ... 30 years ago ... and from a number of conversations that have prompted me to think over that experience again, I have decided to see what the experience will be like if I do that over again.

So I have acquired a rather neglected 750 L0 that I have been fixing up the last 2 weeks (there is a story to share later about that). Not even had a chance to ride it yet because it wouldn't even start when I got it.

Well, I have now stripped the front end down and washed all the grime from that end of the bike and out of the intake ducts (still thick with grease at the other), fixed the issues (was showing fault codes), replaced all the brakes, service stuff of course, quite a few other things just 'bad' from neglect, sad really. It now starts and runs nice but is quite tappety at the top end. I am hoping and trusting that a dose of valve adjustment (and I'll throw in a replacement cam chain and manual tensioner too) will cure that, praying it's not suffering top end bearings or something baaad.

It's fit and ready to be ridden on the road as of this afternoon, and I will get it MoT'd (UK's required annual road test) on Monday. It'll need a bit of riding to make sure the dirt has burned off the intake valves (and with the help of some fuel conditioner), before I attempt a valve adjustment.

So you find me on the brink of a 'moment' ... still not ridden it .... will I experience that zen-like engagement with a bike again, or .... meh ... I'm just an old man misremembering his younger days, and foolish for doing this again.

I really don't know.

I have, at least right at this moment, this sense of sweet anticipation. It might all fall flat on Monday after the first ride (hopefully not literally, and at least not a breakdown/failed MoT, but who knows), or it might be totally golden and I revive some special experiences and come back full of beans from the ride.

I wonder ... strange emotions TBH. I mean, what I recall is a memory of a sensation 30 years ago, and yet the feeling of it is still there, as if yesterday ......

I was debating not posting this until after the first few rides, who knows might hate it and sell the bike immediately. But seems more 'real' if I share the experience, going from 'before' to 'after'.

Pretty sure I am either a crazy old coot, or cool middle-aged dude for doing this. Not sure there is an in-between for me. We'll find out in the next day or so!

Thanks for having me here!
 

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Welcome Sir! Pics are encouraged and appreciated. Pics of ANY 1100 are mandatory! I have an 89 and feel exactly the same way. That big, heavy, and sometimes I’ll mannered lump steals your heart but man does it give back when you ask. The FJ1200 is also a bike I would like to have.
 
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Happy to oblige with the 750 L0 I have now, this was taken today, its (hers/his?) final prep prior to the MoT.

.... all and any good wishes for its successful inspection, warmly received!! ....

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Other photos .....
The GSXR 1100 is going to be tough to get a photo of. It's not like today when everyone had a camera in their pocket. I'll dig deep and see. 'Fraid it was stolen around '98, I think, and before that I only had a clunky 35mm SLR, so not exactly a thing you take on a ride! Nor is taking lots of photos for future memories something that dawns on live-for-the-moment 20 yr olds! ;)

I actually gave the FJ away to someone who really wanted it in 2001, his desire to own it seemed greater than my desire to focus on perfecting my skills with the KR1S, but probably have a photo of that somewhere. Pretty sure I know where there is a photo of the KR1S, regrettably sold that in 2005 as I went abroad for 'work', apparently they sell for like £10k or something now. 60 bhp in a 110 kg frame is proper fun! ;)

The FJ ....
Sure, @Tinsnips , if you get a chance try one. The FJ was (/is) an interesting bike, I mean in many ways it was pretty comparable with the GSXR 1100 of the day in outright performance and a bit of effort, but poor on left handers as I was forever scraping the centre stand on the floor if I forgot which bike I was on, but wasn't much better right handers as the peg/clearance wasn't much to talk about.

We used to ride them out together. The FJ only has 5 gears, but didn't really need more gears in between such was its urgent torque. Could've done with a taller overdriven top, though, for high speed cruising I guess.

From a rolling 80 mph in top, IIRC it'd actually beat the GSXR to 120, took about 3~4 seconds. I think mine had some improved intake and 140bhp, about the same as the GSXR. It was really a super smooth experience rolling on the power and just winding it up to that sort of speed without hunting down the gears. The thing with the FJ was that it took physical strength to counter-steer the thing through fast bends, I mean like pushing the bars as hard as you could to counteract the trail forces, in some situations. In other words, it didn't really 'do' bends in a way that connected you to the road like the GSXR did, it was an actual piece of steering effort. It went round them, and did it fast, but I think you'll find you 'drive' around the bends on an FJ rather than 'riding' around on the GSXR, if that makes sense. It doesn't communicate back to you very well the limits of its capability and doesn't invite you to push its limits, and if you do you might come unstuck so don't trust the feedback from the FJ too much as it has tons of torquey power to get you into deep trouble at the wrong point in a curve! Good luck with that! :D
 

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Oh, great write up on the FJ. I had one for a short stint. I actually put more miles on it than the owner. They roll very well. I felt it to be a competent sport tour bike. You ain't running with a gixxer 1k but............... it'll get down fairly well. I'd say well enough to put a thrill in ya.

Good on you mate. (as you'd say, I'd say dude lol)
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Frankly, so long as the engine is sound then I have got a spanking deal on the bike so won't mind even if I have to change every bearing on it, and likewise I don't really mind the prospect of changing bearings out for new, then you've got yourself ... well .... new bearings!! LOL.

I think I might have to change the front wheel bearings, I'll try to sweet talk the examiner on that one ('cos I will do them soon anyway, make sure the chassis is sweet), but the rest seem OK to me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
All good on the test! Now legally tested and the rest.

No advisories at all, but the headlight aim was out. They fixed that as part of the service, which was good. I have had the whole of the front end off to clean it up, so I reckon either the previous owner had adjusted it when it was not fitted properly, or maybe I have not fitted the front fairing back properly. Either way, its in the right place now and I'll mark a spot on the wall now when it is aligned 'right' to check in the future if the front has to come off again.

To my general relief, there seems to be nothing problematic to report just at the moment. Engine and gearbox sound fine, the gearbox changes are so smooth I guess everything has worn in just very nicely. This is a 50k mile bike. No gearbox whine and not too bad tappety from the engine, sounds pretty much like I would expect for a 50k engine that's not had clearances checked.

Chain sounds slightly less 'clonky' than before, probably a bit stiff after being unused for a while, I'll be getting that swapped out.

One snag I was not expecting is that the front wheel wobbles under hard braking. I changed the pads for the test, so will need to give those a time to bed in, and I'll get the wheel up in the air and check for 'straightness' of rotors and rim.

Tell me ... aren't the rotors meant to be floating slightly? The 'locator pins' (whatever they are called) are solid, I thought they were supposed to have a slight lateral tolerance in them, maybe they have corroded up?
 

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Excellent write up. If you aren't, you should be a journalist, or novelist or something, lol. Welcome to the site. Nice collection of bikes you have had in your lifetime. I rode an FJ1200 once in my early 20's. BIG bike. Felt very bulky and heavy to me at the time. But DAM was it fast. I ride a '95 GSXR750W now, and love it. Don't care too much for the new ones. I can't get the connection I get from the old carb bikes. Sure hope you find us some old pictures to drool over. Good luck, and stay safe out there.
 
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Excellent write up. If you aren't, you should be a journalist, or novelist or something, lol. Welcome to the site. Nice collection of bikes you have had in your lifetime. I rode an FJ1200 once in my early 20's. BIG bike. Felt very bulky and heavy to me at the time. But DAM was it fast. I ride a '95 GSXR750W now, and love it. Don't care too much for the new ones. I can't get the connection I get from the old carb bikes. Sure hope you find us some old pictures to drool over. Good luck, and stay safe out there.
That is nice of you to say, about my write up.

Yes, the difference is very much that the FJ IS fast but, I'd say, doesn't feel it, whereas other bikes may feel fast and may or may not be (as the case may be! ;) ).

But in my view that is one of its dangers. The FJ was ferociously fast and could feel like a learner bike at times (if not a very heavy one!!) and that is bad-dangerous. The KR1S felt like you were already doing 100 at 50 ( .. and kept going to ever dizzier speeds) so that was a very healthy 'warning'.

I am finding this 750 L0 feels 'fast' even when not going very fast, which is a good thing because to me that suggests it has the 'right' sort of feedback and is telling the rider what they need to know.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Welcome Sir! Pics are encouraged and appreciated. Pics of ANY 1100 are mandatory! I have an 89 and feel exactly the same way. That big, heavy, and sometimes I’ll mannered lump steals your heart but man does it give back when you ask. The FJ1200 is also a bike I would like to have.
Regret no GSXR pics but I have found some of the others.

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Uh, that is a KR-1S. You don’t see those every day. Very nice! Two stoke FTW!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Uh, that is a KR-1S. You don’t see those every day. Very nice! Two stoke FTW!!
Yup.

And when I found that photo today, it sounds pathetic saying it, but I did just stare at it for several moments with reminiscent memories streaming back and I cannot say I was unmoved.

That bike, funny really when I think about it now, but it was being sold not too far away, and I just sort of 'bought' it. Rode it back to my friends where I was living at the time and it overheated. I mean, these days, grumpy old arse I am, I'd have taken it straight back and demanded my money back. Nope, not in those days, reminds me not to be so gloomy and have a more carefree outlook. Difficult now after decades of bad things!

That same evening I decided there was something seriously wrong and stripped the engine down there and then. Never taken an engine apart before, can't be that difficult, surely!!? ;)

It was pretty easy on that TBH, take off the top which contains the KIPS valves, then the cylinders just unbolt, one at a time, left the rods and piston attached to the crank. Only needed to take one off I could see which had gored itself into the wall. Found a replacement, new rings, installed, etc.. Really not that much money and that was pretty much the only thing that ever went wrong with it after that. It loved to rev, nothing much below 5k, stalled between 5 to 5.5k (can't use the engine there) and get it into its power band ... weeeeeeaaaahhh .... !

I found it utterly impossible in slow speed manoeuvres, the steering lock/range what hilariously useless, and it'd stall out if you went too slow, I was never confident enough to do a U-turn, so it's just as well it weighed in at 110kg, so easy to manhandle!

It is that lightweight revvy power I am reminding myself of with the L0, even though it has the power of the FJ!!
 

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Is there any bike, before or since, that has ever worn Kawasaki colours so well!? :love:
As a Suzuki guy I gotta say the livery on that is outstanding. Very cool bike to have in the memory bank. Welcome Sir.
 
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Of course the green is (was) a proper full on Kawa green, a slight shade shift when photographing an old photograph! ;)

Very evocative for me, seeing these old pictures again.

Also as a Suzuki initiate, I'd say there is something very special about the 'original' blue and white Suzuki GSXR scheme. When I started this escapade of reliving my GSXR youth it was absolutely the full on blue and white I thought I wanted.

As it happened, as I have discovered, you can't really quite get that after the 1100s, the colours weren't quite the same 'match', if that makes sense. I guess it was close enough up to K3, but after K4 they seemed to drop the impractical white rims (and added some black/darker tone areas). I mean, sheesh, forever cleaning those if you want it to look pretty, but without white rims ... ? :oops: :D

I didn't have a choice on this latest bike's L0 cola colour, intentionally, it just presented as a good buy at the time. But in a way by making such a definite move away from blue and white it sort of feels a bit more of its own genuine experience. I mean, I'm not 'reliving' the past, more having a foot in the past but moving on to a new adventure. The cola colour scheme has grown on me, TBH.

This latest L0 is its own thing, it is not a 'replica' of a past experience. I think that is a good and positive thing to move forward with.
 
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